After patiently waiting seven years, I now have an answer to a simple question: Is this wine any better with age on it?
What was a beautiful, moderately complex, refreshing Washington state riesling in its youth is now a moderately complex aged riesling with notes of tarry white peaches, white flowers, slate, stone, and nowhere near enough acidity to balance the wine, alas. If less successful Clare riesling tends to be not quite sweet enough when it ages, then this wine is a different side of a similar coin: although there’s just enough residual sugar here to work with aged riesling notes, there isn’t enough acidity to balance it out (event though I do detect some acidity here). It’s just too soft, somewhat flabby, and a disappointment (although better than a Chehalem riesling from Oregon that I tried earlier in the week; that one only had six years on it, but it had sadly become flabbier than your average Outback Steakhouse patron).
Thanks to Terroir wine bar in New York, I now know that New York riesling can age. So: where are the Left Coast rieslings that can survive a decade?
Chateau Ste Michelle
I know I’m biased because I lived there for a few years, but honestly: is there any better state than Washington when it comes to producing excellent quality wine at reasonable prices? Take this wine: it’s not expensive, but it gives you pretty much everything you’d want from a glass of riesling. Beautifully pale, a straw-gold yellow, it smells of white sage, orange-blossom honey, and wet stones. It’s got just enough residual sugar to please anyone who likes wine, not just wine nerds, and yet there’s enough acidity there to balance it out, resulting in a lovely, lush, yet not yet over the top summer’s drink. This is one of those rieslings that I’d be proud to server at Thanksgiving dinner: complex enough to provide interest to anyone paying attention, and yet straightforward enough to be liked be everyone at the table.
In short: good job.
Postscript: Judging by the winery’s Web site, this is the last vintage finished with cork. I’m glad to see that.
This wine shows a simple nose of something like Libby’s fruit cocktail, which strikes me as fairly clumsy. There’s also a smell there that doesn’t seem right – is it sulfur? dirt? something more sinister? Finally, there’s also a noticeable amount of CO2 in the glass – not enough to be really spritzy, but enough to form bubbles in the bowl.With a bit more time, the bad smell blew off, and the fruit resolved itself into something more like low quality airline soap. Yeah, soapy – and almost like unripe avocado. It’s not particularly appealing but at least it’s original.In the mouth, the CO2 is much more noticeable, and the overall effect is of a heavy, simply fruity wine that dies on the palate. There’s no perceptible acidity to back up the heavy fruit, and for all of the dunderheaded fruit, the overall mouthfeel is thin and unappetizing. It’s just not pretty. I’d suggest you lace it with fresh strawberries and serve it with a Sunday brunch buffet at the nearest Waffle House.Kiona
Price: US $6.99
Closure: Plastic cork
Date tasted: December 2007
—For the record, I do believe that Washington has fantastic potential for great Chenin Blanc – the L’Ecole No. 41 can be incredibly good. This one, however, misses the mark.