Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Renaissance Riesling

In the late 70’s I remember drinking a lot of Riesling from Chateau Ste. Michelle. At the time, Riesling was “the” grape in Washington State. As the Washington wine industry grew, French red varietals took over and especially here in Walla Walla. In the late 90’s we saw the Riesling grape slowly find it’s way back with German winemaker, Dr. Ernst Loosen who partnered with Ste Michelle to produce, Eroica, which received many awards and accolades. And it was just a few years ago when another renowned winemaker from Germany, Armin Diel, arrived in Washington to partner with the Long Shadows Consortium and launch what would soon to be another Riesling, Poet’s Leap, which would also be well received by the wine critics.

Almost a year ago in May, Steve and I went on a two day tour of the appellations in Washington State. Our gracious host was Gilles Nicault, general manager and winemaker for the Long Shadows Winery in Walla Walla. Of course, after two days we were overwhelmed, but began to understand the “sense of place” – the terroir, which was Gille's mission for us. One of the many, many highlights was touring the Wallula Vineyard in the Horse Heaven Hills appellation that also happens to grow 120 acres of Riesling on land that sits above the Columbia River about 1200 ft. And that fruit will be going to one of the largest producers of Riesling – Pacific Rim, a branch of the eccentric Bonny Doon wines. The Pacific Rim facility is located in Richland, Wa.

And there is more to read about Riesling - - it is back and will be bigger than ever! Consider the above an introduction to that versatile white grape that can be fermented dry or off-dry - - Riesling. Read the Prodigal Grape from the Washington CEO magazine, by journalist, Steve Bjerklie.

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