When dining out, instead of ordering a bottle of wine, or two glasses of the same wine, I like to create my own flight by ordering glasses of different wines to compare and contrast. This is especially fun when dining with a friend or two willing to share, and it works well if the restaurant staff know how to take care of wines and serve them by the glass. Recently it worked very well at the Bonefish in Ormond Beach, FL, where I enjoyed two glasses of Riesling with my dinner: the BEX and Chateau Ste. Michelle Rieslings, both 2010. While both were off-dry and young (2010), they were completely different and contrasted well.
Grown and crafted in Germany, the BEX wine is by the Sonoma Wine Company in Graton, CA. And it is a beautiful wine. Light golden and clear, it had lovely soft fruit aromas including a bit of grapefruit and honey. The wine was mouth-filling and expansively mouth-watering, still, soft and lovely, and creamy, with melon, a hint of pineapple, lychee, honey, a touch of grapefruit, and honeysuckle. This was just a happy, gentle wine that made me smile.
The Chateau Ste. Michelle was light straw in color, and stayed slightly cloudy with a hint of effervescence for a half-hour or more. It came across as slightly spicy as a result, especially on the middle and back of the tongue. A slighly drier and more “serious” wine emotionally than the BEX, it had a stony, minerally taste as well as some of the expected fruitiness, but it took a while to open up. Definitely good, but I liked the BEX better, especially paired with the contrasting dishes I ordered, and the BEX stood up particularly well to both of them.
These wines were paired with crab and corn chowder (creamy and zingy with a little bit of hot chili pepper oil and cilantro); and Mussels Josephine (served in a creamy sauce of butter, olive oil, Sambuca or Pernod, red onions, black peppercorns, tomatoes, garlic, basil, lemon, wine, and a little sugar to cut the acidity).
BEX WEB NOTES: Three countries including Germany, France and Luxembourg lie within the Mosel Valley. Rough slate stones and steep hillsides support terraced vineyards along the Mosel River and up its banks. The mineral laden slaty soil contributes an earthy or flinty note to many of the wines and sets them apart from other Rieslings. In the Mosel region, harvest typically starts in mid October. Our Riesling grapes are hand picked and crushed into stainless steel tanks for fermentation. The wine does not undergo malolactic fermentation and never sees any oak so as to preserve its bright fruit characteristics. BEX wines start in Germany’s scenic Mosel-Saar-Ruwer vineyards. Grapes grow on hillsides of slate stone soil so steep that stairs and handrails can be seen in many vineyards. At the base of these steep vineyards the Mosel River carves its way through the region before it empties into the Rhine. Vineyards along the Mosel in some cases 50-60 degrees and are some of the steepest in the world. Distinctive mineral characteristics to the region from the slatey vineyards give way to fruity citrus, honeysuckle and orange blossom aromas. Clean, bright, lively, fresh citrus fruit flavors with just a touch of effervescence make this a refreshing wine.
CHATEAU STE. MICHELLE WEB NOTES: The oldest winery in Washington state, Chateau Ste. Michelle dates back to the repeal of Prohibition. Our Columbia Valley Riesling is a blend of Riesling from throughout Washington’s Columbia Valley. We craft it to be a refreshing, off-dry Riesling vintage after vintage. The wine delivers sweet lime and peach character with subtle mineral notes. This is our “every day Riesling” that is a pleasure to drink and easy to match with a variety of foods.
According to the Washington Wine Report, Chateau Ste. Michelle “is the world’s largest producer of Riesling, making [more than] one million cases annually in up to eight different styles from dry to dessert. The winery hosts a Riesling Rendezvous every other year with tastings and seminars that draw producers and consumers from across the globe. The winery’s Eroica Riesling, made in collaboration with the German producer Dr. Loosen, is a benchmark for Washington. Chateau Ste. Michelle makes [more than] 600,000 cases of its Columbia Valley Riesling alone.”