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Editor at large Harvey Steiman joined Wine Spectator in 1983.
Harvey Steiman

A California White With No Need for Pretense

Municipal Winemakers Dry Riesling Bright White Santa Barbara County 2008

Harvey Steiman
Posted: July 7, 2009

Municipal Winemakers takes all possible pretense out of labeling wine. Its Shiraz-Cabernet carries the name Dark Red, its Grenache blend Bright Red, its rosé Pale Pink. Of two Rieslings, the Spätlese style is called Sweetie, the dry one Bright White. Sounds like the kind of no-nonsense labeling that's becoming trendy in Australia, only these are from California.

These labels are all from the mind of Dave Potter, an American who (no surprise) worked at several Australian wineries before fetching up in Southern California. But I knew none of this when I took a chance on ordering a bottle of Municipal Winemakers Dry Riesling Bright White Santa Barbara 2008 to drink with a midday snack while meeting with some opera friends. I hadn't even seen the label, with the name of the wine crisscrossed in bold capital letters.

The wine more than lived up to its name, offering a lively mouthful of peach, pear, floral and spice flavors, with less of the lime and other citrus notes that characterize so many Aussie Rieslings. It felt like a cross between Austria and Washington. Fresh and fruity, it finished without any apparent residual sweetness. 88 points, non-blind. Not bad for the $17 retail price.

Municipal Winemakers' website says the grapes all come from Camp Four Vineyard at the Fess Parker estate in Santa Ynez Valley. Good stuff, perfect for summer sipping.

WineSpectator.com members: Get scores and tasting notes for more recently rated California Rieslings, plus our quick list of Easy Finds among California whites.

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