June 29, 2009

Shell Game

This could be a tale of two vineyards.

In our ceaseless search for dirt, we end up seeking out a great deal of single-vineyard wine at the Lab. Recently, we drank two outstanding North American Rieslings each from it's own vineyard.

The first is born of Randall Grahm's re-scaled, relocated venture. A 2007 Pacific Rim, Solstice Vineyard Riesling.

The nose is diesel, verbena and citrus pith. The terpenes dominate in a way that would make me nervous about laying this down. But at the moment, they're relatively tame and the palate is simply beautiful. Honeyed tangerine swells over pear and lemon and grapefruit. There's an unusual lingering, loamy minerality. Classic Riesling flavors with unique "specific-ness."

Next we drank the 2007 Smith-Madrone, Riesling.

There's a vinous nose of orchard fruit and litchee. In the mouth, a beautiful mix of crisp, acidic MacIntosh apple and sweet Bosc pear. There is a light glycerin touch evident on the attack that almost seems to coat the tongue, paving the way for the fruit. There is a sensation of sweet even though the wine is dry. Mid-palate you begin to notice evidence of a solid, mineral architecture which builds through a long finish. This is traditionally-styled Riesling with a clear and unique vineyard signature.

But here's the trick. While these are both beautiful, terroir-specific, expressions of Riesling. One, I bought at a shop. The other was a sample.

Does it really matter which is which?


Anonymous said...

I dunno- maybe it matters, and maybe it doesn't; really up to you to decide: are both notes honest and real and unimpeded by thoughts of the source of the juice? If so. then fair play all the way...



David McDuff said...

It shouldn't matter. And it obviously doesn't in your case, even if you did neglect to disclose the obvious.

Next up, I'd recommend comparing the Smith-Madrone Riesling with that from their neighbors at Stony Hill Vineyard.