Monday, February 16, 2009

Riesling from Washington State's Columbia Valley

This year, one of my goals is to learn more about Washington wine. I'm starting my journey this month, and decided to take my first steps with a white wine.

Washington may be better known for its Cabernet Sauvignons and Merlots, but it makes white wine, too. The climate seems especially well-suited to Rhone varietals and Riesling. It's been a while since I had a Riesling, so I picked the latter.

The 2006 Long Shadows Poet's Leap Riesling was a very good QPR choice. ($20, Wild Walla Walla Wine Woman; available elsewhere for $17-$24) While higher in price than many domestic Rieslings, it has character and finesse. It comes from fruit grown in the Columbia Valley, which is Washington state's largest appellation. It includes within it six other smaller AVAs, and the most plentifully planted grapes are Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Chardonnay. Syrah and Riesling are also planted there in what qualifies (for Washington, anyway) as a "desert" climate of less rain and damp maritime influence.

This excellent domestic Riesling had aromas of seaspray, apples, peaches, and a hint of petrol--kind of like driving through an oceanside fruit orchard in a beat-up pickup truck. There was a slight spritz on the palate, along with flavors of melon, peach, and apple. The wine's aftertaste was juicy and a touch off-dry. This wine receives consistently high reviews from wine critics, and sells out quickly (both the 2007 and 2006 bottles are already sold out at the winery) so if you see some, nab it.

An aromatic, fruity, and flavorful wine such as this one is perfect with spicy Asian food. I made a doubtless inauthentic but extremely good stirfry of chicken, Chinese eggplant, oyster sauce, chiles, onion, garlic, and basil and it was delicious with the wine. The bottle's slight sweetness meant there was no acidic clash between the spices in the food and the fruitiness of the wine.

I'm off to a good start with my Washington wine lessons. Next month--a red.

6 comments:

dhonig said...

Guess what got an "89" from Steve Tanzer. {{hint hint}}

michelecolline said...

Any idea what the yields are for that wine? They used to be quite high back in the eighties.

AJ said...

You are off to a good start. Armin Diel does a great job of crafting this wine. Besides all the wonderful flavors I was impressed by the beautiful balance the wine exhibits.

Kori said...

Great start to your Washington wine journey. I've had the 2006 Poet's Leap several times over the past year and really enjoyed it as well. I've really been impressed with the talented winemakers that Allen Shoup has brought to Washington State from around the world for Long Shadows. If you get a chance, I encourage you to try John Duval's Sequel Syrah as well (even though it's well over $20).

Dr. Debs said...

michellecoline, I'm not sure of the yields relative to the past--they're probably on their website. And I'm glad the choice passed muster with AJ and Kori--though I think the Sequel is not in my budget at present! However, I got a Tamarack Cellars blend and a Kamiak White Blend to try in the upcoming weeks.

rj's wine blog said...

you might also want to try chateau ste michelle's eroica, if you haven't already. it's a really nice washington riesling...

http://www.ste-michelle.com/wines/eroica/eroica_riesling.cfm