Category Archives: Riesling

Two 2013 German Rieslings

Bruno M. 2013 Kreuznacher Kronenberg – Nahe Riesling, Bernkasteler Kurfustlay – Mosel Riesling
Both 100% Riesling
Mosel- 10.5%ABV, 21.7g/L residual sugar, 6.3g/L acidity
Nahe – 10%ABV, 22.5g/L residual sugar, 5.8g/L acidity
$3.99 at the San Diego, CA store on 3 June

A Tale of Two Rieslings: sampling these two, side by side is like a good riddle – hard to crack. They are very, very similar, so much so that I wouldn’t even suggest trying to find one singly or choosing one over the other. The following are my observations after a quick pop and pour and letting them come up to a more appropriate temperature once taken out of the fridge.

These are two, nice, sweet Rieslings with good mouth feel and a touch of minerality, which you absolutely can’t go wrong with at $3.99 per bottle. They are semi-sweet by residual sugar numbers in the U.S. but sweet by German standards. Buy them both and do a blind tasting. Maybe it’s the wistfulness in me for not having sampled more regional Rieslings while in Mosel last summer (don’t get me wrong, we had our fair share, but there is only so much Riesling you can even sample, let alone drink in one trip) or maybe its just remembrances of relaxing alongside the Mosel River, but I find these both really tasty. They’re not complicated, but if you don’t mind sweet wines, give them a shot by all means. These are *not* trocken (and the numbers and the palate don’t lie). Like most sweeter wines, they’d pair great with spicy Asian food – we cooked up some Thai barbecue chicken and Thai beef salad with a generous amount of birds eye chilies.

Now, for some non-alternative facts: According to the trade info at Grapex (see bottom of post for more info), the Mosel is less sweet than the Nahe and also has more ABV (0.5%) and acid. The difference is pretty negligible but it is identifiable in taste, and the Mosel has a touch more minerality to it. The Nahe is the more floral of the two, both in nose and on the palate, as the literature states. Melon and lychee predominate on the palate. Mouthfeel is darn near the same and is silky, slightly viscous.

If you are interested, these are distributed out of Germany from MO-RHE-NA which is an export association.  They have a very comprehensive PDF of the wineries in their portfolio that might make planning a German wine trip fun (

Grapex Trade Info:,


Macrae Family Winery 2011 Riesling

Cole Ranch AVA, Mendocino County, CA; 12.9% ABV
$7 at the Richmond, CA, store on 26 October

macrae_2011_rieslingSo, let me start off by saying that I am not a Riesling aficionado, because this wine strikes me as interesting and tasty and possibly the sort of thing Riesling lovers get excited about, but I am certainly not an expert on what makes a properly good Riesling (or about anything else, really  🙂 ).

Those of you who like petrol aroma and flavor in your Riesling, this is your wine!  The petrol aroma is immediately evident on the nose.  The palate follows up with a full dose, very close to an oily minerality which I will probably incorrectly call “flinty” (perhaps “shale” is more accurate?).  These are followed by well-integrated lemon, tart green grape / apple, and yellow pear.  The wine is slightly off-dry, but I thought the acid provided reasonable balance, especially on the finish.  As you can probably tell, I found the petrol component a bit unnerving at first, but after a bit, especially as the wine warmed from fridge temperature, I found it quite interesting and mostly good.

The next day, the minerality is reduced, the texture is more watery than oily, and the pear seems more white and floral than it’s previous “ripe yellow”.  However, the petrol is still there, and I still like it.  Anyone who’s tried this wine, what did you think?

Castello del Poggio non-vintage Riesling

Provincia del Pavia IGT, Lombardy close to Piedmont, Italy; 10.5% ABV
imported by Zonin USA
$4 at the Richmond, CA, store on 22 March

CastelloDelPoggio_NV_RieslingI recalled previously liking another white from Provincia de Pavia, northern Italy, so I was quite interested in this wine, since I think of Riesling generally doing better at more northern climes.  This wine has some of the delicate yellow fruit I associate with Piemontese whites, and while not quite what I was expecting, on the second day I thought it was really very good.

In the first couple pours, I thought this wine showed similar, slightly floral delicateness in the fruit as the previous Piemontese whites I’ve tasted, but without enough acid to balance the wine’s sweetness.  After a bit of air, the wine shows rich yellow apple with maybe some ripe pineapple, with slight acid of green apple and pineapple, and perhaps a slight oxidized character.  Although I thought the Waugh Riesling had good fruit / acid balance, a couple regualars thought there wasn’t enough acid.  In this wine, I thought there wasn’t enough acid to balance the fruit and sweetness.  However…  Seedboy, who usually loves tart wine, wrote, “The Castello del Poggio Riesling, Provincia di Pavia, Piemonte, is delicious. Dry, minerally, balanced, no petrol. I am buying some more.”  When I queried him, he replied, “I don’t even think it is sweet. It is fruity.”  That was not my perception at all, but maybe, in a possible Grocery Outlet situation, multiple incarnations of this non-vintage wine are being sold at once?

Trying it again the next day, I still think the wine is a little sweet, but the fruit / acid balance seems better and, wow, is it delicious.  The flavors have integrated into a very elegant wine.  This wine, although with a more aged character, is really lovely.

Waugh 2014 Riesling “Riccanalle Vineyard”

Santa Barbara County, CA; 11.5% ABV
$5 at the Richmond, CA, store on 7 March

Waugh_2014_RieslingAfter DavidLikesWine posted this link to notes on this wine, I was quite curious about it.  I opened one tonight and liked it very well.

After a small amount of air, the wine showed nice flavors of yellow mango, yellow apple, pineapple / lemon, acidic white pear, and at times a slight something in the conifer family (yew? cypress? pine?  I like it!).  I found this a tasty and interesting version of Riesling.  The fruit is more solidly ripe and tropical than I’m used to, and slightly off-dry, but still with plenty of tangy balancing acid.

Cameron Hughes “Lot 347” 2011 Riesling

Lake County, CA; 13.2% ABV
$4 at the Richmond, CA, store on 1 July

CamHughes_2011_RieslingFrom the description on the back of the bottle, I figured this was made in an off-dry style.  It turns out it tastes like a dessert wine even though it’s not as sweet as a dessert wine.  It tastes of honeyed, dried yellow pear and some apricot, acid of fresh white pear and nectarine, tinge of golden raisin.  I would guess the sweetness level is roughly between those of a German Kabinett and a Spätlese.  Like many wines with sugar and acid, the rest in the bottle was totally fine the next day.

Ektimo 2012 dry Riesling

Sonoma County, CA; 12% ABV
$4 at the Richmond, CA, store on 23 June

Ektimo_2012_RieslingAs promised on the back label, this wine is indeed quite dry.  Even so, I didn’t like it very much at first, as it seemed dominated by heavy yellow fruit (melon and some apple) and bitterness of skin or rind.  I thought it was not good at all, but it seemed kind of structured and maybe better the next day.

I came back to it after it had been stoppered in the fridge for about 3 hours, and it surprised me by having opened up very nicely.  The fruit flavors, more delicate and delineated than at first, also included some white pear / flowers and green apple.  The finish is still slightly bitter, but much less so, and it’s a suitable balance to the pleasantly ripe fruit.

I had been looking forward to seeing what this wine was like the second day, but my wife beat me to it and finished it off.  So I guess I’ll just have to stop there, with the recommendation that it seems like a decent buy for the money.

Cascade Range 2012 Riesling

Rattlesnake Hills, WA; 12.1% ABV
$4 at the Oakland, CA, store on 16 March

CascadeRange_2012_RieslingThis off-dry Riesling shows flavors of yellow flowers, yellow apple, some lemon and a little green grape skin.  It’s on the riper side, but not too heavy, reasonably balanced by acid, and modestly complex and delineated.  It was well received at a dinner of Asian hot pot.  Solidly Drinkable.

Apaltagua 2013 Riesling Reserva

Curicó Valley Estate Grown, Chile; 13.5% ABV
imported by Global Vineyard, Berkeley, CA
$5 at the Richmond, CA, store on 5 March

Apaltagua_2013_RieslingReservaI have liked Chilean Sauvignon Blancs, so I thought I’d try this Chilean Riesling, especially since I couldn’t recall having seen one before.  It’s a reasonable wine for the style.

The wine tastes of ripe lemon, yellow apple / melon, and some green apple.  I can almost, but not quite, call it “floral.”  The fruit has nice ripeness with a gentle mouthfeel, but there is also plenty of crisp acid, some (flinty?) minerality, and perhaps a small amount of supporting oak.  It seems to be totally dry.  The style reminds me of the New Zealand Rieslings I’ve tasted, but the fruit here is more complex, ripe, and full.  However, that’s not saying very much, as I have generally disliked those thin and acid NZ Rieslings.  This Chilean Riesling is an interesting and reasonably tasty wine that I think would be good with raw shellfish.

The next day, the rest of the wine in the bottle was more forward and integrated, but otherwise much the same.

Snoqualmie 2012 Riesling “Winemaker’s Select”

Columbia Valley, WA; 10.5% ABV
$4 at the Richmond, CA, on 17 Dec

IMG_1375I’ve had this bottle for a while, and the wine may be gone from stores by now.  It just never seemed to be the most interesting choice.  If anyone missed it, I don’t think you missed all that much.

The off-dry wine has rich flavors of yellow apple with some lemon / yellow grapefruit and a trace of green apple.  To my taste, it’s somewhere between grape juice and what I think of as a “real wine”, and I would prefer it to have more acid, but it’s easily quaff-able, especially for the price.

Philipps Eckstein 2011 Riesling Spätlese

Graacher Himmelreich, Mosel, Germany; 8.0% ABV
$5 at the Oakland, CA, store on 18 Dec

PhilippsEckstein_2011_RieslingSpatleseI seemed to think it had been a while since I had had a Spätlese, and I wasn’t sure what to do with one, so I asked Lim13 (who reviewed the 2010 Philipps Eckstein Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett here).  Among his suggestions were having it with a course of cheeses, fruits, and nuts, so I tried it.  I got a piece of Bleu d’Auvergne cheese, roasted almonds, and assorted raisins (golden, red, and brown).  (I prefer blue cheeses that are more aged and musty, not so much those that are fresh-milk-like and tart.)  The combination was delicious, and the wine went nicely with it.  After the sweetness of the raisins, the Spätlese did not taste especially sweet, more like a slightly off-dry Riesling.  It showed fairly simple flavors of yellow apple with some green apple, and some yellow flowers, in an elegant taste.

I tasted it again the next night by itself, and my impressions were surprisingly similar.  I had remembered Spätlesen being sweeter than this one and, while pleasant and tasty, there was little complexity to it.