Riesling: #1 in the Big Six Grapes

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As a sommelier, I know what some consumers don’t love about Riesling – not knowing what you’re getting in terms of dryness or sweetness. Here’s a little help with that.

Brooks Winery – Ageable Oregon


Meet Oregon’s Brooks Winery, producers of structured, elegant and ageable Pinot Noirs and Rieslings. John and I were thrilled to visit and get the chance to taste their 2002 Janus Pinot Noir (still a baby!), to add to our experience of having tasted some of their extraordinary older Rieslings.

While the Pinot Noirs are indeed superb, its the dry, detailed and mineral-driven Rieslings that really define Brooks. Janie, the owner, told me they bottled 23 different Rieslings this past harvest – I’d call that a serious commitment to Riesling, and I could not be happier about it.

What are they like? Well, Janie loves to remind me of the Pebble Beach seminar where I and several other Master Sommeliers pegged it blind as a top-level Alsace Grand Cru Riesling! I would liken her style to the stony-but-creamy style of Alsace’s Trimbach or Paul Blanck wineries, but you should really try them for yourself.

Janie refers to the Riesling program as the living legacy of her brother Jimi, the pioneering, Riesling-loving vintner who gave life to Brooks’ Riesling identity before sadly passing away just before harvest in 2004. Neighboring vintners kicked into gear to help complete Brooks’ harvest and winemaking that year, and Janie carries on that incredible spirit through the wines and their tasting room, which is a must visit when you are in the Willamette Valley. Here is our video interview of Janie and her winemaker Chris Williams:

Drink Riesling all Summer: How to Tell How Sweet It Is (and Why You Shouldn’t Sweat Sweetness Anyway) 

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Summer is the perfect season to embrace Riesling in all its juicy, refreshing glory. Why? Because it’s the vinous version of the cooling quaffs you’re already drinking: tangy fruited wheat beers, Margaritas, Mojitos, Mai Tais. Riesling even has the same flavor range–fruits from citrus to tropical; mouthwatering acidity; in many versions heady aromatics mimicking agave, mint, and flowers; and, depending on where it’s grown and the winemaking style, some sweetness.

The Summer of Riesling: Kick it off with my German Riesling Video


It’s officially the Summer of Riesling 2014! With this quick and beautiful German Riesling video you can kick it off right and boost your knowledge of one of the iconic of the iconic Riesling regions. Geeky somm’s like me are passionate about German Rieslings and once you delve into the different styles, you’ll see why. There’s something for every palate and every plate! And there’s no better wine to drink in the summer time with outdoor, picnic and seaside fare, from bivalves to BBQ’d ribs.Tonight I’ll be at a gathering of very geeky and very knowledgeable somm’s, tasting great Rieslings from all over the world. I’ll post some pics on my Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, and I’d love to hear what Rieslings you have tee’d up for summer sipping. Check back here for more Riesling videos in the coming days and start sipping summer in a glass. You’ll love it!