Friday, December 28, 2007

Riesling Excitement

There are times when you drink a bottle of wine and you get excited about the whole idea of wine all over again. Everything fades away but this one glass of magical liquid, and it's better than any other wine you remember. And if you weren't expecting to be blown away by the wine, it makes it all the more sweet and exciting. This is one of those times.

The wine responsible for all this excitement is the 2006 Lazy Creek Vineyards Riesling from the Anderson Valley which is quite simply the best domestic riesling I have ever had. How good is it? It blows the Eroica riesling (from the partnership of Ernst Loosen and Chateau Ste. Michelle) out of the water, and that's a pretty darn good wine. And, should this matter to you, if you put it in a brown paper bag, no one would guess this was a US riesling.

Mary Beth and Josh Chandler are the new owners of the second oldest vineyard in the Anderson Valley, and they make this wine the organic way. The Chandlers do not have a tasting room so much as they have a vat house where tastings can happen, if you make it down the lane and over the bridge spanning the creek, past any horses that are coming along the same road, and into their front yard. My parents did just this a few weeks ago, and scored this bottle from the Chandlers' 2500 case production. Lazy Creek's web site is (still) under construction, but it does list a phone number in case you are interested in visiting or getting your hands on some of this great wine.

What made the Lazy Creek riesling so great? Oddly enough, it was about what this wine wasn't--it wasn't sweet, it wasn't overly fruity, it wasn't flabby, and it wasn't over the top. Instead, it had restrained aromas of apple, lemon blossom, and sea spray that seems to come from the nearby Pacific Ocean and gives it a mineral edge. When you sipped some it was bone dry, with flavors of dry, tart apple, citrus, and stone. It was made with grapes picked from old Anderson Valley Clone #49 riesling vines brought from Alsace, and the result was a super, elegant, and well-delineated riesling of exceptional value. It was also excellent QPR at about $24.

I couldn't find this wine online, and the Chandlers seem to sell most of their production to loyal mailing list fans. A selection of Lazy Creek wines is available at K&L Wines, however, and ranges from $17 - $40. I've had their pinot-based NV red table wine at a Slow Food dinner at Oz Farm in Point Arena a few years ago and it was terrific, as was their chardonnay and their gewurztraminer which is similarly dry and elegant.

Like their neighbors at Navarro, Lazy Creek Vineyards seems determined to stay small, make excellent wine, and sell most of their wine directly to their customers--all of which will keep me excited about their wines for years to come.


Anonymous said...

this sounds like one to try. thanks as usual for the tip. I'll be signing up for the mailing list pronto.

Dr. Debs said...

I'll be eager as ever to hear what you think.

KG said...

Their Gewürztraminer and Pinot Noir are also fantastic. Say hello to the rooster when you visit.