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Wine

Best Riesling

Riesling is made from an incredibly aromatic grape that is commonly grown in Germany, France, and the New World. The grape itself has a higher sugar content than many other wine grapes, and many wine makers chose to honor this quality by crafting their Rieslings to exhibit this sweetness. Alternatively, Riesling can be made in the dry style, with very little residual sugar left in the wine after fermentation. These wines can often seem sweet at first sip, where the aromas of bright fruit overwhelm the minerality, but finish crisp and dry as the actual flavor of the wine overpowers the aroma towards the end of a sip.

In Germany, where Riesling is one of the most common varietals, the cool, northern latitude climate gives these grapes a lower sugar content and a higher acidity. Because of this, traditional German Rieslings are usually on the dry side. Riesling grown in warmer climates, on the other hand, often have more sugar and flavors of peach and lime. These grapes lend themselves to the sweeter style of Riesling and can even be left on the vines late into the season until they dry out slightly, increasing the sugar content and creating a wine that is sweet enough to be a dessert.

Columbia Valley Kung Fu Girl '12

Columbia Valley Kung Fu Girl '12

A great wine with an in-your-face name, Columbia Valley Kung Fu Girl '12 is an off-dry wine that's great with spicy curry dishes and fresh sea food. This wine has an incredibly complex flavor that includes notes of mandarin orange and stone that are balanced by plenty of acidity that cuts through the subtle sweetness. The bouquet is big and bold and features aromas of lychee, peach, mint, and citrus. Since it's not as dry as Old World style Rieslings, this wine is perfect for those who like things a bit on the sweet side.

Heinz Eifel Riesling Spatlese '11

Heinz Eifel Riesling Spatlese '11

German Rieslings tend to run on the dry side, but for those who like things sweet, there are a few excellent late-harvest German Rieslings on the market. One such wine is Heinz Eifel Riesling Spatlese '11. Since the grapes have been left on the vines past normal harvest, the flavors have had plenty of time to concentrate, and the sugar level has increased. The resulting semi-sweet wine is full-bodied and rich, with notes of stone and ripe fruit. It's ideal as a desert on it's own, or paired with an after dinner cheese plate. If you enjoy sweeter wines at dinner, this wine is also excellent paired with rich, spicy foods such as Thai curry.

Chateau Ste. Michelle Columbia Valley Dry Riesling '12

Chateau Ste. Michelle Columbia Valley Dry Riesling '12

If you're looking for an excellent Riesling for an incredible price, look no further than the Chateau Ste. Michelle Columbia Valley Dry Riesling '12. Frequently sold for under $10 a bottle, this wine has all the complex aromas you'd expect in a Riesling for less than half of the amount you might pay for a comparable bottle. Well-regarded by critics, this wine scores in the high 80s. It's fruit forward and aromatic without being in the least bit sweet. In fact, the rich nose of mandarin orange and white flowers quickly give way to a strong acidity and a clean, bone dry finish. The dryness and intense aromas of this wine make it a favorite to pair with shellfish, especially oysters.

Francis Coppola Sofia Riesling '11

Francis Coppola Sofia Riesling '11

A film maker who has made a great name for himself moonlighting as a wine maker, Francis Coppola makes some of the best wines in California's Napa Valley. The Sofia Riesling '11, a Double Gold Medal winner at the 2013 San Francisco Wine Chronical, is an off-dry wine grown in one of Northern California's cool microclimates. Reminiscent of Old World Riesling, this wine is off-dry and acidic, with flavors of spice and honey, and aromas of lime and mineral. There's not much sugar up front, but there is a little sweetness to the finish, making this wine one that you'll want to return to for another sip. Since it's fairly dry, it pairs well with seafood, and since there is a hint of sugary sweetness to this wine, it's also excellent with any spicy dish.

Kilikanoon Mort's Block Watervale Riesling

Australia produces some of the best New World Rieslings, and Kilikanoon Mort's Block Watervale Riesling is one of our favorites. This wine scores incredibly well with professional wine critics--often in the mid-90s. It's a beautiful straw-yellow color that will darken to gold as the wine ages over the next few years. The citrus flavor is quite pronounced, with notes of lemon, lime, and orange. Additionally, this wine has flavors of stone, ripe fruit, and floral aromas that are well-balanced by a high acidity. The perfect blend of sweet and sour, this wine is excellent with seafood and spicy dishes and will continue to develop as it ages over the next few years.

Penfolds Eden Valley Bin 51 Reserve Riesling '12

Penfolds Eden Valley Bin 51 Reserve Riesling '12

Hailing from southern Australia, Penfolds Eden Valley Bin 51 Reserve Riesling '12 is our favorite Rieslings. This wine has won a number of gold medals and has been consistently rated in the 90s by professional wine critics. The climate in this part of Australia is similar to that of Southern Germany and Northern France, where Riesling is most commonly grown. Since it's a relatively cool latitude, the drier characteristics of the wine are able to shine through. An acidic wine, the flavor has strong notes of lemon and other citrus that are well-balanced by aromas of apple blossoms, jasmine blossoms, and a touch of bitter citrus peel. This is an incredibly aromatic wine, and one that will continue to mature for the next few years, reaching its peak between 2014 and 2020.

Poet's Leap Riesling '12

Poet's Leap Riesling '12

Poet's Leap Riesling '12 is a complex wine that's perfectly balanced. Though it's from Washington state, it's grown in a slightly warmer climate than its native Germany and as such is able to develop a bit more sweetness than Old World Rieslings typically have. The nose is absolutely dry, though still intense, with notes of white flower, tropical fruit, and citrus peel. Once you take a sip, the natural sweetness will take over, showing off flavors of dried fruit, fresh flowers, and honey. The finish is rather long and incredibly clean. Wine critics have been quick to praise this vintage, which has scored a staggering 94 points in Wine Enthusiast. The sweetness in the wine makes it a great choice to balance out a spicy dish or to start off an evening as a before-dinner drink.

Robert Oatley Signature Series Riesling '11

Robert Oatley Signature Series Riesling '11

A "darned good drink," Robert Oatley Signature Series Riesling '11 is a South Australian wine with an excellent flavor that will continue to develop over the next 5 years. 2011 was an excellent year in Australia, with weather patterns that particularly benefited Riesling grapes. Like most Rieslings from this part of the world, this wine is dry and acidic, with notes of lemon-lime, orange blossom, and orange sherbet. Though it's a clean, uncomplicated wine, it's one of the best in recent years, frequently scoring in the 90s with professional critics.

Trimbach Cuvee Frederic Emile Riesling '06

Trimbach Cuvee Frederic Emile Riesling '06

Riesling is a white varietal that usually holds up well to a few years in the cellar. If you're looking for an excellent vintage that's ready to drink right now, Trimbach Cuvee Frederic Emile Riesling '06 is an excellent choice. Over the years, this wine has developed a deep gold hue and aromas of white peach and honey that are well-balanced by flavors of stone fruit, citrus peel, and stone. Grown on the border of France and Germany, this wine is from the historic home of Rieslings and is perfectly balanced between a dry, crisp mouthfeel and a luxurious, sweet aroma.

Eroica Riesling '12

Eroica Riesling '12

A New World Riesling with Old World sensibilities, Eroica Riesling '12 is one of our Best Picks. This wine has intense aromatics, with lots of orange blossom, typical for Washington state Rieslings. The flavor, however, lacks the pronounced sweetness often seen in American Rieslings. Instead, the wine has an intense minerality and notes of spiced apple that perfectly compliment the long, acidic finish. As a predominantly dry wine, Eroica pairs well with seafood and spicy Asian dishes, including Thai and Indian curry.

Crystal Beran
Crystal Beran has spent the past 10 years immersed in the exciting and delicious world of food and drink. She has honed her cooking skills as a baker, a caterer, and a personal chef, and currently spends a good deal of her time training the next generation of young chefs. Her work as a wine steward has helped her to develop a discerning palate and a love of excellent wines from all over the world. Over the years, she has had the good fortune to visit wineries in Northern California, Tanzania, France, and Italy. In her spare time, she brews beer and invents delectable dishes to share with friends, family, and students.
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