Chateau Ste. Michelle in Washington and German vintner Ernst Loosen have teamed up for a second time, to introduce the 2003 Saint M Riesling this month. Loosen produced the Saint M at his J.L. Wolf estate in the Pfalz region of Germany, and Chateau Ste. Michelle, one of Washington's largest producers of Riesling, will market the wine in the United States.
Loosen, who also runs Dr. Loosen in Germany's Mosel-Saar-Ruwer region, said he wanted to create a dry, food-friendly Riesling that would be a good value. The Saint M (86 points, $12) offers a firm structure accented by grapefruit and herb notes that end in a peppery finish. About 15,000 cases were made, of which 10,000 will be available in the United States.
"To me, bringing quality back to lower-cost wines, such as Saint M, is the next logical step in the return of Riesling to international prominence," Loosen said.
Chateau Ste. Michelle and Loosen have already collaborated on Eroica, a Washington Riesling that they first released in 2000. The 1999 Eroica was made by former Ste. Michelle winemaker Erik Olsen in consultation with Loosen. Bob Bertheau made the current release of Eroica, the 2003 (91, $20).
The Saint M partnership was based on the success of Eroica, as well as on the growing demand for Riesling in the United States, said Ted Baseler, president and CEO of Ste. Michelle Wine Estates. Chateau Ste. Michelle alone produces almost 400,000 cases of dry and sweet Rieslings from Washington each year. But Baseler said the winery wanted to offer its customers another choice among its lineup of Rieslings.
Loosen is optimistic about Riesling's future in the United States as well. "I have always said that the Riesling revival would start with a New World winery," he said.
Unlike the Eroica, which was a partnership between the two estate's winemakers, the Saint M is entirely produced by Loosen. About 10 percent to 15 percent of the grapes come from his J.L. Wolf estate, while the rest are from growers in the Pfalz with whom Loosen works. The Pfalz region, in southwestern Germany, enjoys a warmer, drier climate than the Rheingau and Mosel regions to its north.
The entire production of Saint M was bottled with a Stelvin screw-cap closure, which Loosen feels is ideal for preserving the fresh flavors of early-drinking Rieslings and for minimizing problems with cork taint.