A Ranting Riesling ReactionRequires a Response
by Dan Berger
Reader Comments... [11]

Mr Oak Barrel, Wine Sales Manager
Caviro, USA, Minneapolis, MN
I agree with Dan. California can make great Rieslings from easy consumable to real Beerenauslese style. The "other" critic is too germanophile to experience wine, without regard to where it was grown. Great wine is everywhere. I fondly remember some great Riesling Dick Arrowood made at St. Jean, 20 years ago. 25 years ago I was a retailer buying 2000 cases of German wines at a crack! Yet you can't find that many today in any store in Minnesota. BTW, German ancestry is claimed by the highest % of Minnesota residents! As long as the wine glass is empty, IT WAS A GOOD WINE!

Steve, Riesling Fan
Bay Area, CA
I'm one of the lucky people that can get a hold of many styles of Rieslings produced all over the world. I'm not a taster, but a true drinker of Riesling, bottles and bottles with foods of all kinds. Like Dan, I find the vast different styles of wine that Riesling is capable of being made into as one of its strong traits. But I can also understand what the Rebirth Reader is trying to get at. Riesling's greatest strength is its ability to reflect terroir. Sure a winemaker can change things up with how and when the grapes are picked for different ripeness levels and control final sweetness levels, but nothing can replace old deep rooted vines that ripen *slowly* and absorb a myriad of flavor nuances from the mineral types found in Germany's Mosel or in Alsace's Rangen, like volcanic soils (Clos St. Urbain and Clos St. Hune). Great winemakers alone do not make a great wine. They also need a great vineyard site. Among terroir, there are sites that are fine and then there are those that are truly spectacular. Isn't the whole point of Appellation America to help find and recognize the terroir here? Until those sites develop a consistent track record and an *identity*, truly great wine made from Riesling will not exist here. I love Pears, and I love the many varieties of Pears. Everyone will have their favorites, but among Pears, I can say the Comice stands out as one of the great Pears in every Pear lover's mind. Similarly, wine from a great vineyard site will stand out. When I can name the Appellations in America that produces a truly astounding Riesling, I will safely say that we can make a great wine from Riesling just like in the Mosel or Rangen.

Kathy Lovin, MCFE
The Vineyard Express, ABQ, New Mexico
Have a look at the wines of New Mexico and you may be more than surprised; register it shock for some! Gruet Winery, a world-class producer of sparkling wines in the methode champenoise, is here and all grapes are NM grown! And, Rieslings are remarkably tasty; especially those from the State's largest grower and wine producer of Rieslings: Ponderosa Valley Vineyards, who produce dry, 1.8% residual and late harvest Rieslings.

~ Chef Kathy Lovin

Nicole Wolbers, Retail
Santa Barbara/Hamburg
I agree that American Riesling can be great (eg. Finger Lake), but I strongly disagree that there is more good American Riesling than German Riesling (even in the US you get great and dry Rieslings nowadays). One should not forget that the sweet style Riesling was especially promoted according to the UK and US palate!! The author probably never visited German in the recent times to see what is going on and that German consumers prefer the dry style (almost half of the production is nowadays dry!!).

Myril Kreuder
Southern California
For a great Riesling, have you tried Stony Hill? A truly remarkable Alsatian style.

Donn Rutkoff, Wine Sales
San Francisco area, CA
I sell German wines and live near Napa. California, New York and Washington make some good Riesling and a lot of bland ones. German and Alsatian imports to the US, overall, are excellent. But the cheap ones kill the category. Most Americans are missing out by skipping over the whole category after drinking a bland cheap wine and condemning all Rieslings, and their lack of fluency in either French or German is a contributing factor. The American wine consumer can't read the label and doesn't know how to select out the bland wines.

Mark Bunter, Consultant
Bunterwine, Monterey, CA
Dan, well said, er, written.

Jack [Fork & Bottle commenter] – I love a good rant! You really know how to foam at the mouth online, dude. You sure know a lot about obscure grapes in strange places. Maybe you should work in one of them. Maybe you could get a job in Germany, with the Riesling Gestapo. ha ha ha ha. Seriously, foam away, it makes for good entertainment. I do it myself sometimes. Alone, late at night, mostly, after too much Schloss Danberger.

~ Mark

Kellen Moore, Owner
Bon Boniere Partners, Northern California
Good grief. The only thing lacking in Riesling from the States is availability. Germany produces "some" good Rieslings, but there sure are some expensive turkeys in the mix! Our local ace off-the-shelf provider just quadrupled his section of domestic Rieslings and found - to his surprise - THEY SOLD OUT QUICKLY. Of course they did. Some were fruity, some icewines and others so tart I was kissing my own cheeks. All of them from the States and each much fun. However, I did not go back for the bone dry Rieslings, I found I prefer a little fruit from time to time, as do my guests. Anyone who cannot find a decent stateside Riesling (except New York, please!) has not been to Washington State or Oregon, let alone California, then there are so many southwestern boutique vintners I can't count them. We're just starting to see market space open up again now that the Chardonnay train is slowing. But it may be a personality thing. Some people taste one good wine and then want all the rest to duplicate that one experience. I enjoy wines like people, some are pips, some characters, some boring and some atrocious. But surprisingly, they all seem to have someone to love them. I just wish some of them wouldn't take up so much shelf space.

Carmine Indindoli, president
Indindli Family Vineyards, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, CA
The "fork and bottle" guy from Santa Rosa and his Riesling comments. I need to say that he is way out of his league to write what he did. A "fork and bottle guy" doesn't sound like a grapegrower or a winemaker guy. Maybe he should talk about great forks and great bottles, then, I might read and respect his input on those items because I grow grapes and make wine, but know very little about "forks and bottles".

Alf and Mary Bertleson and I tried our hand at growing "White Riesling" in Russian River Valley back in 1976. We were not successful. We did not have any experience with "cool climate viticulture"… we were "fork and bottle guys" trying to grow wine grapes. Today I grow "White Riesling", albeit a very small amount of it, on our home ranch. We grow very, very good Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and after many trips to the Mosel, to the Alsace and the Rhein, we now understand the "Riesling". We make a world class Auslese style, and in the right vintage, a Beerenauslese style wine. It can be done here, it is very difficult and not likely that the consumer would pay the price required to achieve that wine in the vineyard. But to say it is not possible would clearly have to be the comment from a "fork or a bottle", not from a grapegrower or a winemaker.

RJoneikies, Consultant
It's consistently amusing to read articles and responses by people such as Mr. Dan Berger. It's equally entertaining to read other readers responses of support for such grand statements as his (paraphrasing a bit) "There is a higher percentage of great American Riesling, than there is of great German Riesling". A statement like that points out a couple of things: Mr. Berger has not tasted enough American Riesling and he's never traveled through the wine regions of Germany. It also points out that this is a man not serious about wine.

Who with any experience or training, could possibly claim that a country with more than 800 years of wine making experience does not make wines that are as "great" as those of a country only a fraction as old? It clearly also needs to be pointed out that the bulk of the lab analysis protocols, now used world wide to help better understand viti/viniculture and to improve the quality of wine, were developed in Germany. On what would the Germans have possibly developed these, now global, standards if not Riesling? The contributions of German wine history and research run deep throughout every wine region in the world and if America is producing "great" Riesling, the reasons why will be as obvious as THEY'RE USING CLONES DEVELOPED IN GERMANY.

America does produce fine Riesling. One only needs to think of Washington State and two wines come to mind: Eroica (Chateau Ste. Michelle) and Poets Leap (Long Shadows project). But again, both these wines were developed through co-operation with German wine houses and wine makers.

I keep saying this, in the wine world there is just too much bombast and posturing and not enough experience. Please Mr. Berger, you know something about wine but for your own peace of mind, travel to Germany and learn a little humility.

Jim Hammond, wine writer/blogger/speaker
Southwestern Wine Guy, Albuquerque, NM
Thanks for fighting fire with fire in your rebuttal. Myopia seems to be a growing trend in this country. I used to shun Riesling when I lived in Calif. Chardonnay is king! (spoken with the same reverence Presleyites have for their hero), but even I learned differently.
Some people seem to feel their palate takes precedence over anyone else's wine ideas, which is completely bollocks as my UK/Aussie friends would say. Go get 'em.