Okay, I suppose this category has been a long time coming. Amazing to think that perhaps 2 short years ago I essentially refused to drink wine, and now I drink it almost every day, go to Napa regularly for tasting, and am now on my second wine club. The first was Sattui, which was pretty good, and now Hess - the maker of our favorite Cabernet Sauvignon (Allomi vineyard). We like a lot of varieties - and I tend to go through phases regarding the reds - but one of our staples has always been Riesling. Ever since we discovered Riesling wines at Sattui in Napa, and subsequent bottles of Chateau St. Michelle at Safeway, Rieslings have been our favorite white wine. Not only does it taste great and is super affordable, but it's German in origin (we love German food, the language, the music, and the culture in general) and it's extremely versatile in food pairings.
As far as red wines go, my fiance and I tend to differ in our tastes. We usually agree on the Cabernet Sauvignons, but I am a fan of the fruitier reds, such as Zinfandels. I also love Syrah and Petite Sirah, and went through a Merlot phase for a time. Another grape I like is the Charbono and now the Carignan, a Spanish grape that is hard to find. That is one of the things we love about the Hess winery - they make some small production varietals that you rarely see at the store, and they're all solid red wines.
Anyhow, July has been chosen as the month of Rieslings, for some reason. For more information, you can check out this website. My fiance and I recently went to Hagafen cellars in Napa, and then to Brassica restaurant in St. Helena, because the restaurant was having a month of Rieslings special (a flight of 3 Rieslings, two German ones and one Napa). The German rieslings have a distinct flavor - almost like mineral water vs softened water. Anyhow, while perusing the list of restaurants on the website (and looking for affordable ones - Saison in San Francisco will not be in our price range for another 20 years...) I found Blackbird Kitchen and Bar in Sacramento. They are offering a food and wine pairing, 3 Rieslings and 3 food pairings (mussels, trout, and peach cobbler) for 45 dollars per couple! That's pretty affordable by our standards, so hopefully we'll have a chance to get out there in the next week or two.
In the meantime, it being a hot summer day and all, I decided to open up one of our chilling Rieslings that we bought on a wine splurge at Bevmo. This particular one is called Weingut Dr. Heyden Riesling 2009 Oppenheimer Sacktrager Auslese. Most of the Rieslings we picked up from Bevmo were in the 15-20 dollar range, so this is more than we generally spend on wines that we haven't tasted at a winery. Opened up the Dr. Heyden and it tastes great! So now I have two others with twist tops in the refrigerator and we will sample from each of those as well. The other two on the list are Monchhof Robert Eymael Mosel Slate Riesling-Spatlese, and the other is Kungfu Girl Riesling 2010 Washington State. For those not familiar with Rieslings, their primary growing regions in the US are Washington (Colombia River Valley), some in Oregon, and fewer in California (mostly coastal). I will list the tasting impressions from these three Rieslings below!
Weingut Dr. Heyden 2009 Oppenhyimer Sacktrager Auslese: Crisp, moderate sweetness, aroma of fresh apple. Somewhat brisk feeling on the tongue, but smooth without a bite. Flavor has hints of peach, honeysuckle, Fuji apple. Short aftertaste, but medium-strong body. Verdict: Extremely good, would buy again. Probably too sweet for those who prefer dry wines.
Monchhof Robert Eymael Mosel Slate Riesling-Spatlese: Slightly dry, moderate sweetness, aroma and flavor of green apple, slight tart flavor but not sour. Short after taste, medium-light body. Verdict: Quite good, but prefer the Dr. Heyden.
Kungfu Girl Riesling 2010 Washington State: Slightly dry, moderate sweetness, aroma and flavor of green apple, more tart and dry than the Monchhof, light body. Verdict: Good but not my favorite.