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
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
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