Monday, January 17, 2011

“The Composer” - Rasa Vineyards Riesling 2009

There's a reason why Riesling is on the rise in Washington State, especially when they taste as wonderful as "The Composer" produced by Rasa Vineyards located in Walla Walla.

Riesling, with strong roots from Germany, has been planted in American vineyards since the 1800s. In fact, it was one of the first grape varietals to be grown in Washington in the early 1970's.

This aromatic white grape has gone in and out of fashion, and at times even resulted in fluctuations of acreage. The finest Rieslings are grown in Germany, Austria, Alsace and believe it or not, Washington State. At this time there are over 4,404 acres of Riesling planted in the state. Riesling produced from Washington grapes can range from dry to sweet, with even a few vintages of Late Harvests and Eisweins.

The "Composer" Riesling is produced from some of the oldest vines in the Columbia Valley AVA (planted in 1974), the Bacchus and Dionysus Vineyards at Sagemoor Farms located near Pasco on the southwest slope facing the dramatic views of the Columbia River below. These two sibling vineyards are separated by a small dirt road. So when the Naravane brothers, Billo and Pinto, of Rasa Vineyards winery were offered access to some of this old vine fruit, they couldn't say, "No." And we Riesling lovers are grateful for their nonresistance.

The nose of "The Composer" is rich with heady aromatics of pear, pineapple and floral, with slight undertones of mineral and petrol. It quenches the palate with its bright and crisp acidity, yet giving layers of fresh orchard fruit - apples, peaches and pears. The sweetness is delicate (1.6% residual sugar), not cloying, while leaving the palate with a lingering clean finish. I sat and pondered "The Composer" for a long time, from the nose to the finish, as it is a very expressive and complex Riesling. Beautifully done. Applause.

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