A series of stories
and about wine
by Christina Kelly
For more than 20 years, Christina Kelly worked as a newspaper reporter on the West Coast, covering education, public safety, government, business, environmental issues, entertainment and minority affairs.
This intelligent, charming powerhouse graces the Northwest wine industry with her insights, tastings and conversations with those in an industry that has exploded in the past few years. Her column may tell us a funny story that relates to wine, introduce us to a dedicated winemaker with a vision, or provide us with consumer information to make good choices in a field crowded with great wines. Christina's column is one you'll want to read every week.
Everything is coming up Riesling
By Christina Kelly
"Ill take two of those," I said to the clerk, grinning from ear to ear, oblivious to my dyslexia.
I had visions of the French author Anais Nin, writing erotica for a dollar per page, drinking some version of this Riesling.
The wine, I discovered, was arousing, but the appeal was more to the intellect. This is a wine to think about.
The wine Eroica was named for Beethoven's Third Symphony. It is unique because of the partnership of German and American winemakers Dr. Ernst Loosen from Mosel and Erik Olsen from Chateau Ste. Michelle in Woodinville, Washington.
Rieslings still havent caught on with the American palate, although there appears to be a Riesling Renaissance and much excitement about current releases. You couldnt pay me enough to drink a Riesling 12 years ago. I thought, like many people, that the majority of Rieslings were cheap and sweet with little character or complexity. It washed down potato salad and was left completely out of conversations.
But good German wines, made from the Riesling grape, can be an excellent alternative to the heavier white wines that taste more like wood than grapes. The best ones balance the sweetness with acidity, giving it a light feel, but layered with subtle flavors.
Based on a recent tasting of the 2000 Eroica, I am quite happy to tout the beguiling appeal of this wine. It comes at a time when spring hits the Northwest, gently blowing in fresh smells of blossoms, cut grass, citrus and earthy musk.
Eroica smells like spring. The taste is full of white peaches, apricots, jasmine and honeysuckle. I remember childhood days that smelled like this, sitting in tall grass, watching delicate white clouds drift by on a spring day. It was an era when there was time to daydream, surrounded by the smell of flowers and warmed by a tepid sun.
As a winemaker, Olsen said he had very little experience with Rieslings when he started as assistant winemaker at Ste. Michelle in 1993. Gradually, Olsen began to explore ways to improve the fruit character and flavor of Riesling.
"Each year I designed a huge array of experiments to look at all the possible ways we could improve the quality of the wine," Olsen said. "As a result, this wine is perhaps the most food friendly wine we make."
With Eroica, Olsen and Loosen developed a wine that exhibits the character of the Columbia Valley, yet has the style and finesse of a European Riesling.
When the winery held a reception for the 2000 Eroica at the Chateau recently, they hired the critically acclaimed Eroica Trio to perform. This all-female, Grammy nominated group, based in New York, performed with aplomb and passion, yet managed to have some fun with the audience. They are, in many ways, like the wine -- plucky, smart and much more complex than meets the eye.
If you are predominately a red wine drinker, treat yourself to some of the new Rieslings out on the market. But find a store that has a good section of German wines. Otherwise, you will end up re-tasting that stuff you drank in college because you could afford it, and miss out on some lovely wines that blend with and enhance food.
Call us at
Cole Danehower on
This is the best guide, bar none, to Oregon's wines. Insightful articles, interesting reviews, in depth interviews- you'll find them all here. Worth every penny if you're interested in Oregon wine.