30 Second Wine Advisor: Riesling trio

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In This Issue

 Riesling trio We wrap up a month of Wine Focus on the styles of Riesling with a quick look at three good examples of this noble grape from around the world.
 Attention Facebook users! We're adding a dash of Web 2.0 flavor with a WineLoversPage.com presence on Facebook.
 Connoisseurs' Series This exceptional program offers rare, limited-production California treasures. Call The California Wine Club at 1-800-777-4443 to join or learn more. For a fun & unique holiday gift, remember The California Wine Club. Call 1-800-777-4443 or visit www.cawineclub.com. Mention The 30 Second Wine Advisor and save an additional 10%!
 Turnbull Wine Cellars 2005 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($49) This Connoisseurs' Series offering is nicely balanced, very enjoyable now, especially with rare red meat on the table, but it should reward years of cellar time.
 This week on WineLoversPage.com
In recent contributions from our columnists, Daniel Rogov covers the "war" between the Rothschilds, and Neil Duarte takes us on a wine-and-food tour of Umbria. The WineLovers Discussion Group" gets into a technical discussion of a cheap Riesling that reeked of paint.
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Riesling trio

It's the first day of December, so we're scheduled to shift our monthly educational Wine Focus to a new subject.

I've still got tasting notes on three good Rieslings from around the world, though, so let's take today to wrap up up the November topic on the styles of Riesling around the world. There'll be time enough to move on to December's topic ("Head for the foothills: Piemonte") in Wednesday's 30 Second Wine Advisor.

To make a long story short, these recent tasting experiences point up to me both the variability in style that prompted November's study, but they also show that the underlying character of the Riesling grape can push through style differences to make a wine with some consistency of varietal character.

Today's featured wines, presented in brief format below, include Rieslings from Austria (Hiedler in Kamptal), Australis (The Wilson Vineyard in Clare Valley) and Washington State (Kungfu Girl from the Columbia Valley).

Curiously, the Australian wine, a six-year-old vintage showing some maturity, came closer to the classic German style than any of the other Aussie Rieslings I've tasted this month; the Washington State wine, despite its "pop wine" name and label, showed serious Riesling quality in a dry, aromatic white; and the Austrian Riesling was a real treasure from the Danube, rich, minerally, crisp and dry.

Read on for my tasting reports:

Hiedler 2006 Urgestein Kamptal Riesling ($21.99)


Clear light gold. A subtle but intense mix of elusive fruit, perhaps a whiff of apple, a hint of tangerine, a touch of ripe strawberry, adding up to an appealing sonata of scent that seems both fruity and floral. Bold palate impression, intense white fruits that follow the nose, shifting into a distinct "rocky" minerality that's a trademark of Austria's Danube vineyards. Crisp, mouth-watering and very long in the finish, apple and pear and just a touch of that subtle tangerine. Remarkable wine, not downright cheap in the $20ish range but a strong contender against the competition at that price point. Fresh, clean and potentially ageworthy under a sturdy Stelvin-style screw cap. Fine with halibut steaks braised in clam juice with browned onions and garlic. Importer's winery fact sheet: http://www.skurnikwines.com/
U.S. importer: Michael Skurnik Wines, Syosset, N.Y.; A Terry Theise Estate Selection. (Nov. 28, 2008)


The Wilson Vineyard 2002 Polish Hill River Clare Valley Riesling ($18.99)

The Wilson Vineyard

It's very difficult to open the Stelvin-style metal screwcap on this six-year-old Australian wine. It was so tight that I couldn't break the seal by hand and ended up resorting to a pair of pliers. Very ripe aromas, mango and pineapple and a lot of that characteristic Riesling "petrol" scent. Abundant tropical fruit flavors follow the nose, a touch of fresh-fruit sweetness shaped by sufficient acidity, although it perhaps falls short of the steely acidity of a top German Riesling. Holding up well after six years from the vintage; only the petrol betrays its age, but there's certainly no loss of fruit. Fine with roast free-range chicken. Website: http://www.wilsonvineyard.com.au U.S. importer: Oenophilia Inc., Hillsborough, N.C. (Nov. 29, 2008)


Kungfu Girl 2007 Columbia Valley Washington State Riesling ($12.99)

Kungfu Girl

Clear, pale brass color. Good, fresh, appealing but not over-ripe apple and mango scents. Crisp and fresh white fruit on the palate, structured by tart, snappy acidity. Comes across as fully dry, with a slight, pleasant almond bitterness in a long finish. Fine at a Thanksgiving banquet, well paired with both light and dark turkey meat, and outstanding with chilled shrimp. Made by Charles Smith Wines, Mattawa, Calif., http://www.charlessmithwines.com (Nov. 27, 2008)


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Turnbull Wine Cellars 2005 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($49 retail; $41 per bottle for half or full case orders by Connoisseurs' Series members)


Inky blackish-purple all the way to the clear garnet edge. Plums and a whiff of Cabernet blackcurrant cassis gain complexity from attractive oak elements, dark chocolate and subtle spice. Full Cabernet black-fruit is nicely balanced by crisp acidity and substantial but smooth and palatable tannins, with tart black fruit persisting in a very long finish. Nicely balanced, carries its 14.5% alcohol well; very enjoyable now, especially with rare red meat on the table, but it should reward years of cellar time. Although its 83% Cabernet Sauvignon content allows it to be labeled full varietal, the tech information reveals a slightly offbeat but appealing blend of 7% Cabernet Franc, 5% Syrah, 2% Merlot and 1% Petite Verdot in the blend, aged 17 months in 50% new French oak. Winery Website: http://www.hartwellvineyards.com (Nov. 15, 2008)

FIND THIS WINE ONLINE: The Turnbull Wine Cellars 2005 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon was a recent shipment in California Wine Club's Connoisseurs' Series and is available for additional orders by Connoisseurs' Series members. Call 1-800-777-4443 to join or learn more.

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This week on WineLoversPage.com

Rogov's Ramblings: The War Between The Rothschilds
Ever since the 14th century, the French and the English have had problems relating to each other. In no case has this been better demonstrated than the "war" between the London and Paris branches of the Rothschild family.

Vino e Cucina d'Italia: Umbria - A Wine and Food Jewel
Most wine and food lovers who visit Italy seem to focus on Piedmont and Tuscany. ... However, there is much more to Italian wine and food than these most appealing destinations. One such area, located just east of Tuscany, is Umbria.

WineLovers Discussion Group: Riesling or a can of paint?
A wine lover's ugly experience with a mass-market Riesling that reeked like a can of paint inspired a technical discussion of volatile acidity and other wine flaws on the WineLovers Discussion Group.

Last Week's Wine Advisor Index

The Wine Advisor's daily edition is usually distributed on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. However, we're skipping some editions at this point, and the Wine Advisor FoodLetter, customarily distributed on Thursdays, has been on break. I hope to resume it before long.

 Nouveau what? (Nov. 28, 2008)

 Affordable holiday red (Nov. 26, 2008)

 The gift of wine (Nov. 24, 2008)

 Complete 30 Second Wine Advisor archive:

 Wine Advisor Foodletter archive: