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.Stechap

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.

8 Responses

  1. Chris Campbell - October 19, 2006

    It is great to hear someone applaud the appeal and quality of lower alcohol wines. Many overlook these wines in favor of the higher alcohol fruit bombs and are missing out on elegance and unique experience they provide.

  2. Lenn - October 19, 2006

    I’ll have to add that winery to my “hit list” for 50 in 50.
    I’m writing them up this weekend probably, but I tasted some awesome riesling from Michigan for the next installment. I was floored by the quality.
    And hey…interesting to see NY lumped in with CA, WA, and OR….maybe we’re getting somewhere 😉

  3. Ryan Scott - October 19, 2006

    Colorado is an up and coming wine region, visit my blog dedicated to colorado wines to find out more!

  4. WineBoy! - October 19, 2006

    Well done! America is very much becoming a winemaking nation and there are plenty of wineries around the country to explore.
    One winery that is from New Mexico that you might find in a store near you is Gruet winery (they are widely distributed throughout the U.S.)Sparkling wine from New Mexico? Like you said “Take a chance.”

  5. tom - October 19, 2006

    WineBoy….Indeed I’ve had the Gruet on a number of occasions and your are right. It’s a fabulous wine. Next store in Texas too there are wonderful wines being produced.

  6. tom - October 19, 2006

    That’s funny because as I was writing this I specifically thought of you. I was not sure if you’d find my inclusion of NY to be one person’s acknowledgement of NY’s arrival or if you thought I’d jumped the gun. For the record, I think NY is on a tier by itself in terms of recognition. CA, OR And WA are at the top in terms of recognition, then comes NY, then below NY comes the rest of the continent.

  7. Mark - October 19, 2006

    Amen Tom and Lenn. Add Ohio to your list of “other” states making some compelling, low-alcohol whites, riesling and otherwise. But don’t tell TOO many people — we like the prices just the way they are.

  8. John - October 20, 2006

    Great posting. Love to hear people talking about wines from the “other” states. Add North Carolina and Virginia to that list.

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