For much of the past decade, riesling has been the top white wine grape in Washington — and vying with cabernet sauvignon as the No. 1 wine in the state.
A lot of this is because of Chateau Ste. Michelle. The Woodinville winery produces more than 1 million cases of riesling per year, making it the world’s largest riesling producer. That’s right: No other single winery in the world makes more.
Thanks to Ste. Michelle’s lead, many wineries are crafting world-class rieslings from Northwest grapes.
For the summer issue of Wine Press Northwest, we conducted a blind tasting of 100 Northwest rieslings. Here were some of the top wines. Ask for them at your favorite wine merchant or contact the wineries directly.
For the complete list, go to winepressnw.com.
Want to take a deeper dive into riesling? The Riesling Rendezvous takes place July 17-19 in Seattle.
Chateau Ste. Michelle 2014 Eroica Riesling, Columbia Valley, $20: This is the wine that led the American Riesling renaissance 15 years ago, and it’s still one of the best. Bright aromas and flavors of orchard fruit and citrus are backed by crisp acidity. (12% alc.)
Côte Bonneville 2015 DuBrul Vineyard Estate Riesling, Yakima Valley, $22: This stunning riesling is loaded with aromas and flavors of honeysuckle, pear, pineapple and candied ginger. It’s all backed with gorgeous structure. (10% alc.)
Pacific Rim Winemakers 2014 Sweet Riesling, Columbia Valley, $11: One of the nation’s leading riesling producers has crafted a beautiful off-dry riesling rich in flavors of apple, orange zest and poached pear drizzled with lavender honey. (8.5% alc.)
Latah Creek Wine Cellars 2015 Familigia Vineyards Riesling, Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley, $10: One of Spokane’s original wineries continues to craft some of the Northwest’s best rieslings, thanks to clean, crisp notes of lime zest, honeydew melon and apple. (10.5% alc.)
College Cellars 2015 Sagemoor Vineyards Riesling, Columbia Valley, $12: The staff and students at Walla Walla Community College have put together a delicious riesling with notes of apple, Asian per, peach and lychee. (11.5% alc.)
Sawtooth Winery 2014 Classic Fly Series Riesling, Snake River Valley, $18: Among the best rieslings in Idaho is this delicious example from Sawtooth. It opens with aromas of lime, apple and minerality that lead to beautifully balanced flavors of apricot, peach and ginger. (12.3% alc.)
Westport Winery 2014 Elk River Riesling, Yakima Valley, $26: Winemaker Dana Roberts used grapes from famed Red Willow Vineyard to craft a complex riesling with dusty minerality, apricot and Ginger Gold apple, all backed by food-friendly acidity and a kiss of sweetness. (12% alc.)
Poet’s Leap 2014 Riesling, Columbia Valley, $20: One of Washington’s best Rieslings is this international collaboration between Germany’s Armin Diel and Walla Walla’s Gilles Nicault, part of Long Shadows Vintners in Walla Walla. Aromas of Granny Smith apple and lime lead to flavors of lemon pepper and Asian pear. (12.9% alc.)
Waterbrook Winery 2015 Reserve Riesling, Columbia Valley, $12: This is a classic, thanks to aromas of Key lime juice, spearmint and Bartlett pear. Flavors of sweet lime, Granny Smith apple and tropical fruit are backed by startling acidity. This off-dry riesling is perfect with spicy Thai, Vietnamese or Indian dishes. (13.5% alc.)
Tsillan Cellars 2015 Estate Dry Riesling, Lake Chelan, $18: Based on the south shore of Lake Chelan, this destination winery has crafted a delicious riesling with aromas and flavors of orange blossom, lime juice and crisp apple. (12% alc.)
Mercer Canyons 2014 Riesling, Yakima Valley, $13: Winemaker Jessica Munnell crafts yet another superb riesling with hints of pineapple, mango and apple, followed by flavors of candied ginger, tropical fruit and peach. (12.9% alc.)
Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue run Great Northwest Wine, a news and information company. Learn more about wine at greatnorthwestwine.com.