Originally from the Rhine region of Germany, Riesling runs the gamut from bone dry to lusciously sweet, with a searing brightness or a rich weight—and often both. Long ignored by Americans, Riesling’s fortunes began to rise in 2010, when New York City restaurateur Paul Grieco began pouring it exclusively at his two Terroir wine bars. Since then, more than 500 sommeliers around the country have joined in an annual “Summer of Riesling,” pouring at least three versions all season long.
More than 35 Oregon producers are currently tackling the fast-growing grape, perfectly suited to our fickle growing seasons. “Riesling is losing its reputation for being cloying, because winemakers are balancing the lush fruit with great acidity,” says Janie Brooks Heuck of Brooks Wines. In November 2009, Oregon’s take on the grape splashed into the national spotlight, when Brooks’s 2006 Ara Riesling was poured at President Obama’s first state dinner. We invited Brooks to share notes on her current faves.
2010 Chehalem Reserve Riesling $24 dry
A perfectly approachable introduction to the drier side of Riesling, this lively, lean wine with flavors of white peach and lemon zest will complement any meal.
2010 Argyle Riesling $18 medium dry
This multidimensional, floral wine shows how complex Riesling can be, with bright acidity, clean minerality, and a juicy sweetness delivered by pleasing notes of peach and apricot.
2010 Big Table Farm Riesling $28 dry
Showcasing a different approach, this wine is barrel-fermented in neutral oak, bringing out strong butterscotch aromatics balanced by tangy lemon flavors.
2011 Love and Squalor Riesling $18 dry
Local chefs and new-age sommeliers love this punchy wine for its acidity. Full of lemon, white grapefruit, and lime tones, it’ll make your mouth pucker—and then ask for more.
2011 Anam Cara Cellars Nicholas Estate Riesling $22 medium dry
The slight sweetness of this bright wine is balanced by a refreshing minerality; its lush flavors of tropical and stone fruits capture the fading summer in a glass.