I believe this is the most common first taste Riesling in America-for good reason. This is dang good and cheap enough to be a place that people are willing to begin their journey into a wine that isn’t quite as familiar.
Hi guys, Mark Aselstine with Uncorked Ventures. I started talking about Riesling a couple of days ago and I always find that when you are trying to source a varietal of wine that you may not the most familiar with maybe is a little more obscure starting at its most basic makes the most sense.
I did a little bit of research and I wanted to find what’s the kind of first large production Riesling that somebody might try. In that case, that’s this bottle of Chateau St. Michelle and it’s Columbia Valley. If you are not very familiar with Washington, Columbia Valley, in essence, is the entire state of Washington’s growing region.
Chateau St. Michelle is an important winery up there for a couple of different reasons. First and foremost, it’s the first commercial winery in the state of Washington. Secondly, it’s the largest production winery. They kind of carry an undue amount of influence. Everybody equates in large part as Mondavi is to Napa they will say Chateau St. Michelle is to Washington. In reality, they carry a much higher percentage of the overall production for the state and quite honestly this Riesling is priced around $10 or so. You will see this at your local grocery store, your local drug store, assuming your state is apart of the 21st century when it comes to alcohol sales. Your local wine store probably carries this or version of it as well, or at least they should. It is outstanding kind of so …
Riesling at it’s core has an icy quality to the wine. That carries both this icy quality and then I don’t know if you will be able to see it but I am going to drop a picture on here too. The back of the bottle, for a lot of reasoning’s, carries this scale that goes from dry to sweet and then each producer either decides to put it on or not. In my opinion, everyone should be using it because the style of Riesling changes so much if it is a very dry wine to a very sweet wine.
This is, as you might expect being a large production version of the varietal, this is right in the middle. You can kind of see with price point and distribution you don’t want to turn anybody off. You don’t take a stand one way or the other. You make a good, solid, quality wine that you make a few bucks on per bottle and then you sell a whole lot of it. We have seen this kind of model before and then Chateau St. Michelle also has a couple of higher end versions that we will get into the next couple of days.
If you are going to buy Riesling tonight, it will probably be this and quite honestly you are going to be happy with it.
Secondly, at least maybe not secondly but as we go down the line, there is a little note here on the bottom and it says 100% vinifera rootstock. For most people when they buy this bottle, have no clue what that means. Let’s take a step back and talk about how grape wines are actually produced these days. A long time ago we imported vines from France, for the most part into the United States and in to Washington State. Almost immediately they were attack by phylloxera. Phylloxera and a couple other pests are endemic to North America. There is St. George and some of the other kind of rootstocks that have evolved here have some defenses against it. Most of the European grapevines do not have any. In essence, you would see phylloxera get into the vineyards and they’d have 80 or 90 percent of the vines destroyed over the course of the year. Most of what we drink now in this country starts with St. George or another American rootstock. On top of that rootstock, we grafted on the international variety’s that you kind of expect to see in wine.
This is not that. This is Riesling on its own Riesling rootstock planted in the ground. Over the years, the wine industry has gotten better about controlling vineyard pests by not creating kind of these mono cultures in the vineyard where it’s only grapevines and nothing else. You have other plants, you have other animals, you know you hear that a lot in the organic and sustainable aspect of stuff but Chateau St. Michelle thinks they have done a good enough job with that even with kind of more conventional farming practices that they don’t have to graft on to American rootstock. I think that adds a little something to the wine that ends up being produced.
We talked a lot about native yeast on grapes and I think there is kind of smoothing and less hard edges with that. I think that is true with the rootstock stuff, as well.
Once again, this is Mark Aselstine with Uncorked Ventures and this is an initial look at Riesling. This is really … When we buy a $10 bottle of Pinot or Cabernet I end up saying God how does somebody drink this and say I want to buy fifty bottles for a bottle after that. That is not the case here. I think that is partially because Riesling is so unknown and kind of something still struggling for acceptance here in America where you know maybe the price point has to be lower to get people in the front door. This is a much higher quality offering then you would find for a lot of other varietals for the same price point.
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