Rating rieslings


July 23, 2008|By ROB KASPER

Riesling is all about balance.

This wine walks a tightrope between sugar and acid. Too much of either and it becomes either overpoweringly sweet or mouth-puckering sour.

Yet when the balance is right, it is a pleasing wine for summer - an excellent companion for cold seafood, spicy salads, even barbecued ribs.

As I sampled 18 foreign and domestic rieslings recently, I found many that fell off the tightrope, and several that succeeded.


How they fared

Favorite Foreign

Albert Seltz 2006 Vin D'Alsace

Mittelbergheim, France

13 percent alcohol by volume, $16.99

Local distributor: Bacchus Importers

Lean and clean, this pale white from Alsace had crisp, subtle fruit flavors. The sugar was there, but it made itself known softly, and the acid did its job without biting.


Karl Erbes 2007 Riesling Kabinett

Mosel, Germany

8 percent alcohol by volume, $18.99

Local distributor: A Vintner's Selections

Sweet but under control, this Mosel riesling had a delightful floral aroma and flavors of honeydew. A refreshing wine well matched with chilled soup or vegetable risotto.

Favorite Domestic

Chateau Ste. Michelle 2006 Eroica Riesling

Woodinville, Wash.

13 percent alcohol by volume, $23.99

Local distributor: Republic National

An interesting collaboration between Chateau Ste. Michelle winemaker Bob Bertheau and Dr. Ernst Loosen of Mosel, Germany, who blend grapes from vineyards in the Columbia and Yakima valleys. This wine, my overall favorite, seems to capture the best of riesling winemaking from both sides of the Atlantic with its crisp mineral notes and lush fruit. There are also winning aromas of lime and somewhat peachy flavors. It's a wine that would go well with cold crabs.


Chateau Ste. Michelle 2006 Cold Creek Riesling

Woodinville, Wash.

12 percent alcohol by volume, $17.99

Local distributor: Republic National

Soft with aromas of lemons, this wine, grown in the warmer reaches of the Columbia Valley that yield small but mature berries, is rich and full of fruit. It's big enough, I think, to try with barbecued ribs.

Chateau Montelena 2006 Potter Valley Riesling

Calistoga, Calif.

12.3 percent alcohol by volume, $23.99

Local distributor: The Henry Wine Group

This light-gold beauty, with honeysuckle aromas and controlled sweetness, is another good match with cold crab dishes.

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