- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Chateau Ste. Michelle, “Eroica” Riesling, Columbia Valley, 2002, $22

This is the fourth vintage of “Eroica,” a partnership between the acclaimed German vintner Ernst Loosen and the winemaking team at Chateau Ste. Michelle in Washington state. Marked simultaneously by depth and delicacy, it may well be the best dry Riesling made in the United States.

Many American vintners, especially those in California, consider Riesling to be a grape good only for cheap, sweet wines that so-called “serious” drinkers disdain. They acknowledge that good dry Rieslings come from Europe but contend that American palates don’t like them.

That’s nonsense. Top-notch dry Rieslings rank among the world’s most sumptuous and sophisticated white wines. People everywhere love them — if they get the chance to try them.

Unfortunately, good American Rieslings come few and far between. The two best sources are the Finger Lakes region of New York and the Columbia Valley in Washington. Both areas see plenty of cool, crisp weather, exactly what this variety likes.

Chateau Ste. Michelle, Washington’s largest winery, has long made pleasant, easy-sipping Rieslings. With “Eroica,” though, they have raised ambitions. This is a truly world-class wine, capable of holding its own with top renditions from Alsace and Germany.

Exhibiting crisp apple and citrus flavors, with a firm structure and a long, lingering finish, this medium-bodied wine will pair well with many pork and poultry dishes, as well as spicy curries and other Asian-inspired preparations. Although elegant and nuanced, it offers surprising depth, so it is a great white to serve at Thanksgiving.

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