Why, you ask? Simple: I can't afford Grosset riesling ALL the time, the Germans are too expensive here, and besides, it's nice to support local agriculture, you know?
Here are the first three, tasted recently:
Elk Cove 2001 Willamette Valley Riesling [Oregon, $14]
This smells like really good, expensive fruit was used. However, the acidity is lacking and there's too much God damn sugar in here [it's only 1.2%, but that's a deal breaker for me]. What a shame. This is a perfect example of good grapes killed by lame-ass winemakers.
Belle Pente 2001 Willamette Valley Riesling [Oregon, $12]
"It's the blimp, Frank, it's the blimp! The blimp!"
Actually, it's the bomb. This is what I've been looking for. At long last... riesling. Beautiful complex nose, tightly wound, good acids, absolutely phenomenal taste. This stuff just careens down the hall hitting pretty much every note you could expect from a quality Riesling. And the sugar level is right on the nose - very dry, but still just a faint hint of maybe some residual sugar in there. I imagine this stuff would get seriously good given a few years' time.
Bonny Doon Pacific Rim Dry Riesling 2002 [75% Washington, 25% Mosel (Germany), $8]
Given the price of this, though, it probably wins for best value. Plus, it's in a screw top, so it's guaranteed to be good [I imagine one out of every ten bottles of the other ones will probably taste kind of off.] This is pretty clearly in the style of older Pac Rim rieslings, but this vintage is... well, even stranger, somehow. It tastes less sweet to me than the 2001, which was my least favorite one so far, but all of the really complex aromatics of the '98 and '99 are there in full effect, coupled with something very strange that I just couldn't put my hand on. It's really wonderful when you've finished an entire bottle of something and still can't figure out exactly why it tasted so damned good. This is amazing wine.
In the upcoming weeks I hope to get through the sweet Rieslings stacked up [Bookwalter et al] and eventually move on to the 'serious' ones in Springtime [Woodward Canyon, Chehalem, et al]. Stay tuned.