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Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Wine Blogging Wednesday 4: New World Riesling

ArrowoodrieslingArrowood White Riesling 2001 "Select Late harvest" (Alexander Valley)

Frankly I'm not having good luck with Wine Blogging Wednesday, I am forever dashing places at the last minute trying to find a wine that fits the category (and even managed to get it wrong still). Well, either that or missed the events entirely.

This time is not unlike the last. I just got back from Paris yesterday, and barely unpacked when I found that this week was Wine Blogging Wednesday, and this time hosted by none other than my fellow SF food blogger Derrick of Obsession with food. There was, of course, no question of missing this --Derrick knows where I live-- so I was racing around town today to find a California Riesling. I knew the rule was for any New World Riesling but I thought I'd be a good Californian citizen and review a CA wine. The only interesting one I found was the 2001 Arrowood at Vino on California st.

After the first rather disappointing dinner at Illuna Basque in North Beach, and the second, and much more satisfying one at Kelly's Burger in the Mission, my friend Dave and I stopped by at Citizen Cake to pick up some desserts to go with this wine. Then we got back to my place, quickly chilled the wine the proper temperature, then opened it with some excitement.

The first test, the color, was light and straw-like. A few swirl around the glass showed very little leg.

The nose was very muted, even though the wine was barely cool enough to be served. There was a faint note of honey suckle, over-ripe honeydew --you know, the one that's been hanging around your fridge just a tad too long--, and, ever so slightly, of pineapple. The bottle claimed that the wine was made from Botrytis grapes, but we were not quite able to get that from the nose, which suggested more generic molds or yeasts than the noble rot.

The taste was a little citrus-like, with melon and a slightly ashy finish. It's not very sweet at all. The bottle suggested that it was made in the style "reminiscent" of Auslese, but we found that the sweetness level was much closer to that of Spätlese.

The food pairing: Admittedly we were at Citizen Cake rather late, so we had few choices to go with. I had been expecting to find something creamy or milky to pair with the wine, but the closest I came to that was a pumpkin cheesecake and a pear and cardamom tart. The pumpkin cheesecake paired ok with the wine, though neither gave the other the boost each needed. The pear tart, on the other hand, was perfectly tasty on its own, but made an awful pairing with the wine. The base of the tart was frangipan, consisting of mainly ground almonds and sugar, whose strong nutty quality completely covered up any nose on the wine, which had been muted to begin with. The wine was also not sweet enough to stand up to the tart, rendering it quite bitter and acidic after just a bite of the sweet tart. This marriage was certainly not made in heaven.

The bottom line is, this wine --I must say-- was fairly simple: the nose was mute, the taste was at best inoffensive. Quaffable enough, but there was nothing particularly compelling about it. And for $27 a 375ml bottle, there are many more sweet wines, particularly those from Germany and Alsace (and even Australia) that are much better at the same or smaller price tag. I guess I'm not such a good Californian after all..

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