Tasting Notes with Jim Beauregard: A fine Riesling from Washington state

By JIM BEAUREGARD October 02. 2018 11:55PM

When one thinks of Riesling, Germany often comes to mind first, followed by the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York, but these are certainly not the only places in the world where great Rieslings are made today.

White wines tend to be made in more northern climates, as they often have a shorter growing season and ripen before the fall frost. Of course, growers in many cooler regions tend to keep some of the grapes on the vine into the fall to collect increasing sugar and lay the groundwork for the production of great dessert wines.

All of this means that Washington state makes a good home for the growing of Riesling. While wineries further south on the West Coast were going to town in the 1960s, Washington only had a couple of vineyards. By the year 2014, though, there were more than 800 producers in the state, and the number continues to increase.

The Columbia Valley AVA (American Viticultural Area) is located in a huge valley comprising some 11 million acres in eastern Washington. The soils in that region tend to be sandy, and this is quite important, as a certain little bug by the name phylloxera doesn’t like sand at all. Both white and red wines are made there of course, but let’s take a look at a particularly good white that I had the good fortune to encounter last Friday at Angela’s in Manchester:

Ravenna Riesling, 2017: Corvidae Wine Co., Columbia Valley, Wash. 13% alcohol by volume, $13.95, Angela’s Pasta and Cheese Shop, Manchester. Lemon gold in the glass, crisp, clean nose, with primary aromas, and medium intensity. Citrus and stone fruit are present. The palate is just off-dry, really closer to dry, of medium-plus acidity, medium alcohol that is well integrated, medium body and medium-plus flavor intensity that encompasses apple, pear, lemon, lemon peel and peach. Long finish and a very good one. Ready to drink now.

This one isn’t going to be around all that long, I suspect, because the flavor is great and the price is right, and the distributors have already had to order more to keep up with demand. If you happen to be anywhere near Angela’s today, you might want to swing by and pick one up on the way home.

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And for the beer lovers among us, something to get ready for winter: Founders Porter: Founders Brewing Co., Detroit. 6.5% ABV; 45 International Bitterness Units. 12-ounce bottle, $2.49. Black beer under a light brown head, with the nose loaded with malt. The palate is thick and creamy, heavy, rich with multiple flavors including grain, chocolate, coffee. The flavors develop all the way through to a very long finish. Filling and delicious.

Contact wine and beer writer Jim Beauregard at tastingnotesnh@aol.com


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