As each year this is the season when I pick my Riesling wines of the year in each of the four categories of the IRF Riesling Taste Profile: dry, medium-dry, medium-sweet and sweet. This year the best sweet Riesling is so amazing that it must come first. It is amazing value for money costing just 1% of what a Riesling TBA from Egon Müller-Scharzhof, the world’s most expensive (and possibly also most delicious) white wine would cost, so this isn’t a wine only for billionaires. Once again Riesling’s democratic and inclusive spirit triumphs!
Best Sweet Riesling: 2015 Riesling TBA “F” from Framingham Wines in Marlborough/New Zealand
Dr. Andrew Hedley, the winemaker of Framingham since 2001, really is the Dr. Riesling of New Zealand and this may be the most amazing of the many great sweet Rieslings he has made. There’s not a hint of the dried fruit aromas that usually dominate wines of this kind, instead it smells of fresh grapefruit, pear, acacia honey, jasmine and white tea (and normally I don’t write that kind of string of adjectives!) The freshness of this wine must be tasted to be believed, and the brilliant acidity masks much of the 25% natural grape sweetness that it contains making the wine uplifting. How can a wine this concentrated taste this light and refreshing? Theoretically that acidity should taste at least slightly rasping at this young age, however, the doesn’t-want-to-ever-end finish is positively silky. What more can I say? The wine is $49.99 for 37.5cl from www.klwines.com and if that’s too expensive, then the 2015 Riesling Auslese “F” from Framingham is also breathtaking and costs just $29,99 for 37.5cl.
Best Medium-Sweet Riesling: 2015 Vignoles from Keuka Spring Vineyards in the Finger Lakes of Upstate New York/USA
For a couple of years August Deimel was the rising star winemaker of the FLX with worst ration of media attention to wine quality, but all that changed this year so I have to refer you to my e-book for Kindle Rock Stars of Wine America #3: FLXtra (see below) published before all that happened in order to stake some kind of shaky claim to having “discovered” August. The new wines from Keuka Spring that have made the most noise are his Gewürztraminers, closely followed by his unoaked Cabernet Franc red, then the Rieslings. For once I’m breaking my own rules in an utterly unacceptable manner and giving this award to a non-Riesling, because August’s 2015 Vignoles has a stunning pineapple nose and on the palate the kind of acidity-driven racy power that I usually associate with great Riesling Spätlese wines from Germany. Savor the erotic tension of this medium-sweet white, then swallow and count how outrageously long the finish of this beauty is! Just $14.99 from www.keukaspringwinery.com.
Best Medium-Dry Riesling: 2015 Brooks Estate Riesling from Brooks Wine in the Eola-Amity Hills in Oregon/USA
Chris Williams has been the winemaker of Brooks Wines since the sudden death of founder Jimi Brooks back in 2004. Although the main focus of the winery remains bone dry wines in the style that Jimi pioneered, in recent years he has successfully developed a range of additional wines that are less uncompromisingly dry. The 2015 Brooks Estate Riesling is not only the best of those, but also the most exciting Riesling I ever tasted from Oregon. The nose of white peach, fresh quince and herbs leaps out at you, but it is also dangerously subtle (beware all ye who enter, because it could suck you right in!) The concentration and hardcore minerality of this wine means that you barely notice the few grams of unfermented grape sweetness that are hiding in there somewhere. It’s a huge mouthful although it weighs in at a very conventional 12.5%, and the finish is rolling thunder! This wild beast from the volcanic Jory soil of the winery’s Estate Vineyard is only just beginning to stretch its wings and will soar for the next decade or more. $24 from www.brookswine.com.
Best Dry Riesling: 2015 The Knoll from Kelby Russell of Red Newt Cellars in the Finger Lakes of Upstate New York/USA
No doubt I will be criticized for picking yet another wine from Kelby Russell as my Dry Riesling of 2016, but The Knoll is the most deliciously radical Riesling innovation in the FLX and the 2015 is the best vintage to date (2013 was the first). Beware the grapefruit and smoke that emanate from this glass! In spite of the gigantic energy of this wine that makes it seem to vibrate on your tongue, it is super-delicate and diamond-bright; another Riesling paradox! This won’t be released for about a year so you I’m afraid that you’ll have to be patient. However, the 2013 is drinking beautifully now and you can find it out there, for example for $35 at www.vintryfinewines.com in NYWC. For more about Kelby Russell and the new wines of the FLX see my Rock Stars of Wine America #3. Here’s the link to the Kindle Store. To read it all you need to do is to download the free Kindle app before ordering. ENJOY!