Riesling was one of the first vinifera varieties planted in
Washington, dating back to late 1880s. Much later, in the early
1970s, there were more acres planted to Riesling than there were
Probably because Riesling is the most versatile, complex and
food-friendly of all the noble grapes. And because back then, many,
many people preferred a sweeter wine. In the next two decades,
winemakers started making some Rieslings drier because of the
demands of the market. We can safely say that no other
varietal has been crafted to express so many different styles from
bone dry to ice wines and everything in between.
Rieslings have very floral aromas, a crisp, vibrant character
with peach, citrus and apple flavors that morph into apricot as
they age. When noble rot or botrytis attaches itself to the skins,
the resulting wine is a concentration of sugars and flavors to
produce a wine of incomparable intensity.
With Ann Vogel’s Harvey’s Butter Rum Batter recipes, the
versatility of Riesling was the key that unlocked the synergy door.
Riesling has just the right amount of sweetness and acidity to pair
with apples, pork, pineapple, ham, red pepper flakes and
Riesling is all over the place when it comes to residual sugar
(RS). It can have a ton of RS, making it a late harvest or ice
wine. Or it can have as little as a Chardonnay – around .5% – and a
crisp acidity for food friendliness.
Germany has been making some stunning Rieslings for a few
centuries and it’s to Riesling what Bordeaux is to Cabernet and
Merlot – the bench mark. That’s why it’s so cool when German
winemakers come to Washington to make wine with Washington
Washington has 6,320 acres planted to Riesling. The most
expensive is the Long Shadows Poet’s Leap Ice Wine at $85 for a
half (375ml.) bottle. It’s made by one of my favorite German
winemakers, Armin Diehl. This being a very special and labor
intensive wine, it’s to be expected.
Other Washington Rieslings are as little as $3 for a 750 ml and
continue up to around $20. These more expensive wines tend to have
more work put into them and are generally drier.
There are three major Riesling producers in Washington State.
Hogue, Ch. Ste. Michelle and Pacific Rim. All three have received
numerous medals from around the world for their Rieslings.
For the Harvey’s Pork Chops with Apple Compote, try the Chateau
Ste. Michelle Columbia Valley Riesling. This wine is a blend of
grapes from all around the Columbia Valley made in an off-dry style
at 11% alcohol and 2.2% RS. $10.
Pacific Rim’s Columbia Valley Riesling is crisp and slightly
sweeter, a lovely wine with fiery red pepper flakes and juicy sweet
pineapple in the Harvey’s Glazed Ham with Pineapple Chutney.
Another blend of grapes from around Columbia Valley made in an
off-dry style at 11.5% alcohol and 3.1% RS.
Cheesecake was made to be paired with Riesling. That being said
we’ll move to a Riesling from another longtime giant in the
Washington wine industry, Hogue. Their Late Harvest Columbia Valley
Riesling was picked mid-October through the first part of November.
It has 11% alcohol and 5.4% RS and at $10 a bottle is a total
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