By Kori ~ January 17th, 2011.
Riesling has become known as Washington Stateâ€™s signature white variety. Washington is the largest Riesling producing state in the United States. And, Washington Stateâ€™s own Chateau Ste. Michelle is the largest Riesling producer in the world. Chateau Ste. Michelle is Washington Stateâ€™s founding winery with its roots dating back to the repeal of Prohibition. In 1976, Ste. Michelle built a French-style chateau in Woodinville, just northeast of Seattle. While all of Chateau Ste. Michelleâ€™s vineyards are located on the east side of the Cascade Mountains, all of their white wines are made in Woodinville.
We recently had the opportunity to taste two Chateau Ste. Michelle Rieslings in a blind samples tasting, the 2009 Eroica Riesling and the 2007 Ethos Late Harvest Riesling. While very different styles (the Eroica is off-dry and the Ethos LH is very sweet), both wines were excellent. Speaking of styles, Riesling is one of the most versatile grape varieties. It can be made in many different styles from bone dry to very sweet, reflect the regional character of where it is grown, and is extremely food-friendly. And, it is probably the most age worthy of all white wine varieties.
Eroica is a joint venture between Chateau Ste. Michelle of Washington State and Dr. Loosen of Germany. Winemakers Bob Bertheau and Ernst Loosen work together every step of the way to produce a world-class Riesling from Washington State grapes. The partnership launched in 1999, and the 2009 vintage is Eroicaâ€™s 11th vintage. Eroica is named for Beethovenâ€™s Third Symphony. We have found Eroica to be consistently excellent from vintage to vintage.
With only 120 cases produced of the Ethos Late Harvest White Riesling, you might find it difficult to get your hands on any. But if you can, you are in for a decadent treat. This special wine was made from select Riesling grapes that were left on the vine longer in order to achieve the natural condition of Botrytis, or noble rot. Botrytis concentrated the sugars and flavors of the fruit, which led to the distinct honeyed character of the wine.
2009 Eroica Riesling [Chateau Ste. Michelle & Dr. Loosen] (Columbia Valley, Washington): Pale, straw yellow in color. Very aromatic with white peach, honeysuckle, and a hint of lime on the nose. More white peach, lime, passion fruit, and a hint of minerality come through on the palate. Off-dry and medium-bodied with crisp acidity. Well-balanced and refreshing with a long finish. Residual Sugar: 1.63%
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Received as sample, suggested retail $20; Available elsewhere, $18
2007 Chateau Ste. Michelle Ethos Late Harvest White Riesling (Columbia Valley, Washington): Golden yellow in color. Gorgeous nose with honey and butterscotch aromas. Honey, butterscotch, and orange notes come through on the palate. Very sweet and medium-bodied with crisp acidity. Well-balanced with a long finish. A delicious dessert wine. Residual Sugar: 22%
Quality: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Received as sample, suggested retail $35 [375ml]; Available elsewhere, $37
Filed under: American Wine, Dessert Wine, Five-Bangs For Your Buck Wines, Riesling, Washington State Wine, White Wine, Wines Over $25, Wines Under $25