One of the most versatile grapes of the wine world, Riesling can be used to create everything from dry table wines to deeply sweet dessert wines that are some of the biggest cult darlings of the vino world. If you need proof, check out the bulk of Germany, where many producers offer a half dozen or more wines all made from this single grape.
We make Riesling here in the U.S., too, and Washington’s Chateau Ste. Michelle is one of the biggest producers in the country. Today Ste. Michelle shows off just how versatile Riesling can be, offering a horizontal tasting of three versions of Riesling all from the 2011 vintage, each at a different level of sweetness.
Thoughts follow. Each sells for under $10.
2011 Chateau Ste. Michelle Dry Riesling Columbia Valley – A pale and very dry wine, with peachy notes drowned out by minerals. Very crisp but overwhelmed by minerals, with a heavily acidic finish. Needs food to balance things out. 12% abv. B
2011 Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling Columbia Valley – It just says “Riesling,” but this medium-dry wine is the middle ground in this lineup, a more familiar wine that Riesling fans will find familiar. The fruit is understated but authentic and flavorful, apricot and apple character balanced by lemon-infused tartness and a bit of zip on the tongue. Easy-drinking solo or with a meal. 11% abv. B+
2011 Chateau Ste. Michelle Harvest Select Sweet Riesling Columbia Valley – Progressively sweeter, this mild dessert wine features lively sugar, peaches, and caramel notes on the finish. Not as sticky-sweet as a German Spatlese or Auslese, but offering plenty of candy-coated character to satisfy a sweet tooth who still wants a wine he can drink with dinner. 10% abv. B+