10 Top Value Rieslings

A variety of quality Rieslings at value prices


As I tasted Riesling last week, I considered some of the reasons for its lack of wider popularity. Some say it's because the wines range from dry to very sweet, but I’m not convinced. I think one of the reasons is that too much Riesling out there relies on that sweetness to make the wine appealing, leaving consumers wanting more from their wine.

What follows are 10 of the best values I tasted, wines that can bring a lot of interest to the table even if there’s enough sugar present to make almost anyone enjoy them (though not all of the wines are noticeably sweet). This set of wines would actually make for a good introduction to Riesling, with at least a wine or two that will make your palate stop and reconsider.

My full set of notes, over 40 wines tasted, will be released on Thursday. Hopefully by then your interest will be piqued! Now on to the wines.


White wine image via shutterstock

2010 Von Unserm Riesling Trocken Balthasar Ress Rheingau 12% $15

Shy on the nose, with lightly stony notes over peach pit and wildflower aromas that have a slight green herb edge. This starts out a bit tight, acid-driven and lean on entry, though it gains weight and power in the mouth. The texture really is quite fine, showing richness without sweetness on the mid-palate while delivering some lovely walnut-inflected orange pith and lime fruit that shows a touch of salty quartz minerality. The finish is all minerals and acid, very refreshing and moderately long. A fairly sophisticated Riesling that should have broad appeal. 89pts

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2011 NxNW Riesling Horse Heaven Hills Columbia valley WA 13.0% $12

Light apricot, raw nut meat, dried flower and peach aromas are balanced and fairly intense. This shows a really fine balance of intensity and complexity in the mouth while remaining fairly dry and medium to light weight. The flavors build on the palate, starting off with subtle lime and blood orange flavors that gain hints of minerality and dried apple peel on the mid-palate before showing more apricot notes, all while retaining a nice blood orange overlay on the fairly long finish. Not intense, but nicely detailed. 89pts

2011 Chateau Grand Traverse Riesling Semi-dry Old Mission Peninsula Michigan 12% $12

Well this is a different bird. Smells of petrol and honey with some earthy dried fruit aromas and a strong floral/gardenia top note. A little sweet on entry, but the acid quickly snaps this back to dryness. There's a rich, almost stemmy quality to the fruit here, with more of a treacle than honey flavor on the palate accenting the lime zest and slight white cherry-toned fruit. The finish is savory and fairly long, with a touch of appealing pepperiness. This is pretty dry for "semi-dry," and the acid/sweetness balance is just about where I like it. The relatively unusual flavor profile will keep this from enjoying a wider audience, but I do like the savory complexity here. 88pts

2011 Domäne Wachau Riesling Terrassen Federspiel Wachau 12.5% $14

Very aromatic, with a lovely array of fresh citrus fruit, earthy apples, and floral and spice aromas over a fine base of dusty minerals. This is a touch spicy in the mouth with a white peppery accent to the herb-inflected ripe apple and lime pith fruit. There's also a mineral edge here that adds nice cut to the mid-palate, which gains weight in the mouth turning fairly powerful and rich, if remaining dry. The back end shows a slight licorice note that tops the modest green apple and peach-toned finish. Firm, well-balanced and complex, this lacks a little verve in the mouth and shows a touch of heaviness. 87pts

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2011 Georg Albrecht Schneider Riesling Niersteiner Paterberg Kabinett Rheinhessen 10% $15

Deep and ripe on the nose with lovely, lifted wildflower perfumes over hints of currant and apple fruit. Fairly sweet and powerful for a Kabinett, this shows off slight flashes of red fruit along with apricot flavors, all topped with lime and quartzy mineral flavors. Some orange notes show up on the back end and are joined by pithy citrus notes on the fairly long and fairly sweet finish, which shows a touch of that red berry fruit again. For lovers of sweeter wines. 87pts
 

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Top 10 Value Rieslings

1.
Balthasar Ress Riesling Trocken Von Unserm (2010)
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2.
Nxnw Horse Heaven Hills Riesling Washington (2011)
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3.
Chateau Grand Traverse Riesling Old Mission Peninsula Semi-Dry (2011)
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4.
Freie Weingärtner Wachau Domäne Wachau Riesling Smaragd Loibenberg (2011)
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5.
Georg Albrecht Schneider Riesling Spätlese Niersteiner Hipping (2011)
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6.
Heinz Eifel Riesling Auslese (2011)
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7.
Dr. H. Thanisch Estate Riesling Qba (2011)
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8.
Dr. Fischer Ockfener Bockstein Riesling Qba (2011)
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9.
Joel Gott Riesling Washington (2011)
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10.
Sawtooth Riesling Late Harvest Snake River Valley Idaho (2010)
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Comments

  • Snooth User: Al Faison
    196612 155

    Really surprised to see the subject of today's post. After spending a week in "The Valley of Zin", Sonoma Valley, all you can come up with is where to get a good burger? Really, Greg, to us Zin lovers, that's quite an insult. Any future Zin articles in the plan?

    Mar 12, 2013 at 2:23 PM


  • Snooth User: Mark Suss
    951226 137

    I'm surprised a finger lakes riesling didn't make it on the list but love to see the Michigan and Idaho on the list. I've never had a wine from either state but now I'm going to seek them out.

    Mar 12, 2013 at 2:57 PM


  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 201,220

    H iAl,

    Still working on my list of dozens of Zin tasting notes. patience please, you'll have them next week!

    Hi Mark,

    I'll be tasting NY rieslings later in the year, tough to taste wines from everywhere all at once!

    Mar 12, 2013 at 3:12 PM


  • Snooth User: Al Faison
    196612 155

    Wow, was that a fast response! Thanks for the heads up. I'll gladly wait for your comments as I have found your reviews very helpful. And what you think of one of my favorite Zin producing areas (and hopefully my favorite producer, Joel Peterson at Ravenswood) will be well worth the wait. Thanks for the kind attention to my comment!

    Mar 12, 2013 at 3:23 PM


  • Snooth User: steve666
    392767 152

    I find the strong petrol aroma of some rieslings off putting, particularly in some TBA. I like most rieslings, in fact it is my preferred white wine (whites constitute less than 1% of my consumption of wine).

    Mar 12, 2013 at 3:29 PM


  • Snooth User: lakenvelder
    Hand of Snooth
    544484 506

    Looks like I will have to be disappointed with trying any of these wines. I do not see any in the approved import list for Kansas.

    Mar 12, 2013 at 4:37 PM


  • Snooth User: Zuiko
    Hand of Snooth
    540750 755

    Riesling has been my favorite grape for the past several decades. I love the west coast versions and those from Germany, even though they are quite different. The best I've had from CA, WA and OR were the later harvested ones, showing complexity, depth of extract and body. The earlier harvested wines had trouble matching Germany's mineral, fruit, acid balance and overall quality. Many years ago, Chateau Ste Jean had a few Belle Terre and Robert Young vineyard late harvest Rieslings that gave Germany fits. But it wasn't just Ch. Ste Jean that was making great LH Rieslings, Wente had their handwritten label Arroyo Seco LH wines. Navarro had some really great LH wines as well. There have been very few dry Rieslings that I've tasted over the years from any country that could match the quality of west coast late harvest Rieslings or German Kabinett/Spatlese wines.

    Mar 12, 2013 at 7:30 PM


  • Snooth User: steve666
    392767 152

    Trader Joe's has a late harvest wine from Germany in 375 bottle that I just love. It is made from the Ortega grape which is very similar to Riesling but it doesn't have the petrol characteristics. The best year was 2004, but the 2005 and 2006 are pretty good. It has oscillated in price over the last 5+/- years between 15 and 25usd, it is now 15. If it wasn't so much sugar, I would drink it all the time. It is luscious. The name is something like Anselmann.

    Mar 12, 2013 at 7:57 PM


  • How can you compare riesling wines, and not include any from Canada; especially the Niagara Areas including the Beamsville Bench? Riesling is my "go to" white wine that I prefer over most Chardonnays.

    Mar 13, 2013 at 4:48 PM


  • Greg u really missed out on alsacian riesling...zind humbrecht, Marcel deiss, weinbach. The unspoken Kings Of riesling...

    Best regards from sweden

    Mar 15, 2013 at 3:36 AM


  • On slide #5 (Wachau) there is an image of Gruener Veltliner bottle rather than Riesling! :-)

    Mar 18, 2013 at 12:06 PM


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