Chateau Ste Michelle 2011 Dry Riesling Columbia Valley
Over the past year or so I have become a Riesling convert.
As a red wine lover I began to appreciate Rieslings during various wine tastings at the NW Wine Academy. At about this time we also bought an apple peeler that we would bring out for dinner guests with kids because it made getting the appetizers together a fun experience.
As the kids turned the crank on the apple peeler (it peels, slices, and cores all at the same time) I would put together a cheese board to serve with the apples. Riesling is a perfect match for both cheese and apples.
Riesling is also very good with fish, Asian food, mild curries, salad, and grilled oysters.
It’s all about the Brix
Many German Rieslings are further divided into categories that indicate harvest. I think this is best understood by those of us in the Northwest familiar with Brix (sugar levels in fruit). Thanks to the 15+ year Peach O Rama marketing campaign by Metropolitan Market, many Seattleites understand Brix. ( The peaches at Met Market will knock your socks off!)
A refractometer measures the sugar levels (brix) in a peach at picking time. A brix reading is in degrees.
I went to the Met Market website to get their description of Brix as it relates to peaches and here is what they had to say:
17-18° Unbelieveable peach! Almost goes beyond the human threshold for pleasure.
15-16° Extraordinary peach. Aromatic, juicy, flavor packed, very sweet.
13-14° Excellent, sweet tasting, flavorful. Met Market brix level standard.
11-12° Inconsistent ripening and flavor
7-10° Will not ripen properly.
Now take what you just learned about peaches and apply that to Riesling………
from my class notes…..The density of grape must is measured on the Oechsle (osh-le) hydrometer scale –an indication of grape ripeness and sugar content.
Juice that is 75° Oechsle = 18° Brix
German Riesling Categories
You will see the Riesling categories described below on German wine labels.
Kabinett 67-82° Oe fully ripened when picked at normal harvest. Light bodied, low in alcohol, usually dry
Spatlese 76-90° Oe late harvest, greater intensity, dry or a touch sweet
Auslese 83-100° Oe select harvest, very ripe
Beerenauslese 110-128° Oe berry selected, noble rot (botrytis) honeyed sweetness, rare, expensive
Trockenbeerenauslese 150-154° Oe dry berry select (shriveled grape) weather must be very hot to achieve. Rare, rich, sweetest
Eiswein 110-128° Oe very ripe frozen grapes carefully picked before dawn
At 12% alcohol the 2011 Dry Riesling from Ste Michelle is likely a Kabinett which puts it in the range of the most desirable Brix level of a Met Market peach!!
Chateau Ste. Michelle is well known for their Riesling (for more than 40 years). Their Johannisberg Riesling won the now-famous Riesling blind tasting sponsored by the Los Angeles Times in 1974.
They now offer up to eight different Rieslings:
- Columbia Valley Riesling
- Dry Riesling
- Harvest Select Riesling
- Cold Creek Vineyard Riesling
- Eroica Riesling
- Eroica Ice Wine
- Single Berry Select
- Waussie Riesling
“Our award-winning Riesling portfolio ranges from the number one selling American Riesling, the Columbia Valley Riesling, to the ultra-premium Eroica Riesling made in partnership with Ernst Loosen, owner of the Dr. Loosen Estate and their 200-year tradition of producing Riesling in Germany’s Mosel region. Although Riesling is synonymous with the growing regions of Germany, Alsace and Austria, it finds an idyllic home in Washington state. The success of our Rieslings is credited to the quality of fruit from Columbia Valley vineyards. Riesling grapes benefit from the warm days and cool nights during the growing season in the Columbia Valley. Warm, sunny days fully ripen the grapes and bring out the variety’s incredible aromatics, while cool evenings preserve the crisp acids essential to quality Riesling fruit.” Chateau Ste Michelle website
“Eroica may well be the best dry Riesling made in the United States…This is truly a world-class wine, capable of holding its own with top renditions from Alsace and Germany.” The Washington Times
For me, Chateau Ste. Michelle Dry Riesling is the perfect crisp and refreshing summer wine with notes of white peach and mandarin orange. I think I am going to follow the advice of winemaker Bob Bertheau and serve it this weekend with grilled oysters.
IFBC (Int’l Food Bloggers Conference) is just about a month away and even though I have been to Ste. Michelle Winery many times I will attend their special food blogger event on the eve of IFBC (a handful of tickets are still available at this writing). Afterwards I will share the experience here, but in the meantime check out the various Rieslings on the Ste Michelle website and click on the Recipe Pairings tab for links to suggested recipes to pair with their wines.
(note: I am not receiving any compensation from Chateau Ste. Michelle or Metropolitan Market. But I do receive a reduced conference fee at IFBC by writing a blog post about something related to the conference events or speakers. I have purchased all wine myself for tastings—it was already in my wine closet actually when I decided to write this post!)