Idaho V. Germany? Hint: one’s closer to you
My wife sometimes complains that too often I’ll open a bottle of wine, sit with a half a glass or a full glass, then never touch the bottle again. It’s true.
I’m interested in tasting more than I am in drinking. The exception is low alcohol Rieslings. Those I drink…all the way down to the bottom.
Yesterday night I was sucking on a 1999 von Schubert Maximim Grunhauser Abtsburg Riesling Spatlese. It’s around 8% alcohol. It’s a beautiful, somewhat exotic, wine that delivers that alluring petrol quality you look for in German Riesling, as well as still very fresh and ripe stone fruit flavors like peach, pear and apricot. Good stuff!!
But…as I enjoyed this quaffable bottling my desire to taste overtook me. I went looking for something to pair it with. Something similar, but different enough to pique my interest. I went digging though the closet where many of our wines quietly sit i the dark….Nothing. Until I got to the very back where I found something I have no idea how I obtained:
1998 Ste. Chapelle "Special Harvest" Johannisberg Riesling…from Idaho.
I had no idea what to expect from the Idaho Riesling. I hadn’t seen it in years, had never tasted it before and knew very little about the winery beyond it being one of the better known in that state.
I chilled it, uncorked it, and poured. What a GREAT surprise!!
The wine was sweet, as it should be, but carried substantial acid backbone that made it feel fresh and bright. It didn’t have the same amount of petrol aromas that the von Schubert deliver, but the notes were definitely there. And the alcohol was in the neighborhood of 8%. It’s a wine the compared very nicely with the German Riesling and would certainly appeal to some over the German. As I work during the day I tend to ingest coffee, Diet Pepsi and water. But these two wines could convert me into a day drinker.
That said, here’s the take away: Take a chance. Look to Idaho, Missouri, Michigan, Texas, New Mexico, Massachusetts and "other" states for something different. These wines likely won’t be on your retailer’s shelves unless you live in those states and even then they likely won’t be there in any number. But the Internet abounds with access to such wines.
I need to plug a client here, Appellation America. They probably offer more reviews of "other states" wines and focus editorially on areas outside of CA, WA, OR and NY than any other publication out there. And they deliver links to about 3,500 wineries across the country.
Give America’s wineries a chance and explore what’s out there. America is becoming a winemaking country with as much diversity as nearly any winemaking country on the globe.