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of acid levels that make the juice dance in your mouth. In warmer regions, like Alsace, France; Austria; or even the Clare Valley in Australia, the aromas turn peachy, sometimes with a zesty lime quality to them. And the Finger Lakes? Be prepared to sigh over the honeysuckle and floral notes, with bits of orchard fruit and even some zesty grapefruit qualities, all with a backbone of acid that makes you sit up, smack your lips, and say, “Oh hey, what’s for dinner?” If all that makes you lick your lips in eager anticipation—and worry about the stock of your local boutique shop—don’t panic. There may well be more Rieslings coming to a glass near you. In the summer of 2008,
Grieco decided that the only way to get wine lovers to drink more Riesling was to, well, force them. “As a beverage director, I would go to a table and suggest a Riesling for their dinner, but all I’d hear was ‘I don’t drink that because it’s sweet.’ From hearing that so many times, I wanted to make some converts. I was going to have to force you to have it if you were going to engage me in conversation,” he says. For the 91 days of summer 2008, Grieco offered a radical plan: Riesling, and Riesling only, by the glass in each of his wine bars and at Hearth, too. No Chardonnay. No Pinot Grigio. No Gruner. And you know what? It worked. Since then, the Summer of Riesling has expanded all around the country, with about 500 restaurants and wine bars
participating coast to coast for summer 2012. There has also been a parallel movement through the International Riesling Foundation to educate drinkers on the sweetness levels. Their biggest contribution: a simple, yet wildly effective taste scale that goes on the back of wine labels so consumers can figure out what to expect from the bottle. “It’s all about trying to re-jig the conversation of wine. You know what we say about Riesling [at Terroir]? When you drink it, you will be a better person. I believe that!” Grieco laughs. “How can you not drink a glass of Riesling, with its complexity and delicacy and balance and yumminess and sense of place, and not feel more in tune with yourself and those around
Rieslings, at their best and brightest, do tend to be intensely memorable because they hit multiple senses in an utterly eyeopening manner.”
you? It’s a glorious drink but there’s something demanding about it, too—it makes you pay attention, but as soon as it’s on your palate, you smile. You can’t help it. You have joy coursing through your veins.”
five fabulous rieslings Perhaps the most intriguing characteristic of this summery varietal is ... variety. Grown all around the world, Riesling assumes different personalities reflective of the region where it is produced. From Alsace in France to the Columbia River Valley to the rugged lands Down Under, Darling #1 is sure to surprise. Finger Lakes.
2008 Ravines Argetsinger Bone dry. Crisply, bracingly, cracker dry. Lick-a-rock dry. Pleasebring-me-to-dinner dry, but with delicate notes of fresh herbs and honeysuckle, with a peach-pit, almost green-olive briny finish that makes you smack your lips for more, more, more. $26 Australia.
2011 Grosset Clare Valley ‘Polish Hill’ Heady summer flowers and dribbles
INSPIR ATO M AGA ZINE S SUMMER 2012
of nectarine and pear juice fill your mouth, but this lean and lovely Riesling still manages to keep a bit of buttoned-up austerity to its body and serene but long finish. $50
luxurious finish leaves you with a little spice and white pepper to think on. If you’re looking to age some Riesling, this isn’t a bad place to start. $45 France.
2009 J.J. Prüm Auslese Mosel Bernkasteler Badstube Racehorse acidity gallops through your mouth with a saddle full of Granny Smith apples and honeydew melon on its back, while the long,
2008 Albert Boxler Alsace, Grand Cru Sommerberg “E,” Alsace Light on its frisky, floral feet but with a great, grounded minerality that keeps this wine from running away with its basket of ripe stone fruit. $53
2010 Chateau Ste. Michele and Dr. Loosen Eroica Columbia Valley The result of a partnership between Washington State’s Chateau Ste. Michele and the famous Mosel Riesling producer, Dr. Loosen, offers great squeezes of tangerine and lime, aromas of orange blossom and zippy minerality. $24
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