Although most Americans like to drink Riesling young, the grape can make wines that age gracefully. And not just in Europe, where fans of the varietal happily pop the corks on German, Austrian and Alsatian wines five, 10 or 15 years old—the good ones keep a lively core of fruit while adding extra layers of complexity from time in the bottle. For my money, the tart, citrusy style of Australian Riesling actually gets better with age as the wines flesh out.
But what about Washington, which produces heaps of good Riesling? I find the off-dry, floral, fruity style of most of the state’s Rieslings so beguiling that it’s hard to keep hands off. But every year I stash a few bottles of Chateau Ste. Michelle-Dr. Loosen Riesling Columbia Valley Eroica to open a few years down the line, and I have never been disappointed in how they develop.
Most recently, I popped a 2005 for guests to drink before dinner and through a first course of spaghetti dressed with asparagus pesto (Mark Bittman’s recipe from a recent New York Times article). Under its top layer of white grapefruit and floral character, the wine showed plenty of minerality, which rose up more prominently against the mild asparagus flavor. 90 points, non-blind. It was a hit.
WineSpectator.com members: Read the original blind-tasting review for Chateau Ste. Michelle-Dr. Loosen Riesling Columbia Valley Eroica 2005 (90, $22 on release).
• Plus, get scores and tasting notes for more recently rated Rieslings from Washington.