'Aromatic white wines." That's all I told Bohemian staffers who assembled for this blind tasting. Upon the reveal, there was much exclamation that Riesling could be so dry and refreshing. Who knew?
Trefethen 2014 Oak Knoll District Dry Riesling ($25) The back label bears the International Riesling Foundation's dry-to-sweet scale, a consumer aid too often lacking from Rieslings on the market. It's considered dry if it contains less than 10 grams of sugar per liter (almost seven glasses of wine), at a pH below 3.3. This has only 5.2. By comparison, a 12-ounce Starbucks latte—before adding sugar packets—contains 14 grams. We loved this wine's honeydew melon and dusty lime-rind aromatics, its tart, citrus palate and tantalizing, long finish. Classic Trefethen.
Cartograph 2014 Greenwood Ridge Vineyard Mendocino Ridge Riesling ($28) It's so young, winemaker Alan Baker said as he handed over a bottle of this not-yet-released wine, "it doesn't have its 'Rieslingness' yet." I differ. Riesling may display aromas that have fruit analogs: peach, lime and apple, for instance. But it may also have a Rieslingness, an intoxicating, meta aroma of mineral, honey, citrus oil and flowering vines all rolled into one. That's what this wine shows a hint of, along with a searing, dry, lemon-lime finish. Zippy now, but save a bottle or so—it will likely gain intensity in a few years.
Chateau Montelena 2013 Potter Valley Riesling ($25) Montelena's Bo Barrett clearly enjoys retelling his theory of Riesling: "It's like walking down the street in a Speedo: you just got to keep your fruit together." Here comes honeysuckle, white raisins and poached pear. Bright acidity keeps it on the up-and-up.
Terra Valentine 2013 Spring Mountain District Riesling ($36) The scale printed on this bottle stops at "dry" with a "heart," and how cute is that? This feels like a barrel-aged Pinot Gris, or a saline Albariño, with leesy richness, agave, lime pith and a little bitter melon.
Clif Family 2013 Potter Valley Riesling ($22) Day one: citrus pith and grapefruit. Day two: peach ice cream and cinnamon. It's a nice wine—just don't drink it all at once.
Stony Hill 2013 Napa Valley White Riesling ($27) Floral, subtle and typical Stony Hill. A softer version of the Cartograph.
Gustafson 2014 Dry Creek Valley Riesling ($20) Sweet pine sap and lemon verbena, with tropical fruit, candied lemon and pineapple, and the white grape from "Fruit Cocktail."
Bouchaine 2014 Las Brisas Vineyard Carneros Riesling ($24) Here, more residual sugar brings out sweet peach flavors. Bright acidity keeps it enticing.