Permit us to blow your minds thrice: 1) The world's most misunderstood grape is also inarguably among its greatest; indeed, there are three white grapes among the six so-called "Noble Grapes," and it's one of them. 2) The most distinguished white grape in Californian wine history isn't a C-word. 3) A wide panel of somms (at the Sommeliers Choice Awards) recently tried versions of this grape from all over the world... and selected a Californian wine as the best in show.
The grape? Riesling. The Californian that beat the world? Terragena's Chris Buchanan, the wildly inspiring homesteader-winemaker who lives -- and makes wines! -- entirely off the grid in Humboldt County. It's here, high up in the rough-hewn, craggy Coast Ranges, nestled near the Pacific in the midst of wild forestland, that he's worked to establish his home vineyard. He farms organically and irrigates with an elaborate rainwater catchment system he devised himself.
His home vineyard, though, is mostly planted to one of the *other* Noble Grapes -- Pinot Noir -- so for his Riesling he reached south to one of Mendocino County's most exceptional sites, Wiley Vineyard. Located in the northwestern end of the Anderson Valley named the "Deep End" for the way it slopes “deeper” down toward the ocean. (It was named thus in the late part of the 19th century by locals who had their own secret language called Boontling.)
Wiley was one of the very first vineyards to be planted in Anderson Valley after Prohibition's repeal, and its Riesling block (planted in 1976) is one of California's oldest... and most beautiful. It sits high up on a ridgeline above the valley floor, encircled by redwoods and Douglas fir trees, where the insane diurnal temperature shift (up to 40-50 degrees different from day to night) gives Riesling the nervy acidity it needs.
Chris's version is an absolute textbook example, and the sort of thing one could plausibly take to Germany with pride. Redolent of honey, beeswax, lanolin and white peaches on the nose, the palate expands further into just-ripe peaches, Tupelo honey, and almonds. (Also, according to Chris, "It smells like Riesling and tastes like late summer feels" -- so what could be more perfect for September?)
Some would argue that its high magazine scores and recent celebration at the Sommeliers Choice Awards both make sense (it's that good!) and perhaps take a step to restoring Riesling to its place in Californian wine history. (Californian Riesling took top billing at international wine competitions from the 1860's on... and a wine historian recently noted that Californian Riesling was on the wine list of every San Francisco hotel in 1934!)
Us? We're too busy drinking it with just about everything on our table to pontificate on its place in history! (All but made to take with you to Great China, Jo's Modern Thai, and/or Tacos Oscar, you can pair this with everything -- but especially everything spicy!)
(Our Bottle #1 price is already the best in California (this costs $39 at the winery and elsewhere)... but our case price is even freakeier -- just ask!)