Riesling - the struggle is real.

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Re: Riesling - the struggle is real.

#51 Post by Paul McCourt »

My wife and I drink a fair amount of riesling, and every time we offer it up for non-wine people, they look askance at it. If I give choices, it never gets picked. If I serve it, I do get a lot of "I'm surprised -this is really good" commentary.
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Re: Riesling - the struggle is real.

#52 Post by Brian S t o t t e r »

Paul McCourt wrote: April 24th, 2021, 11:57 am My wife and I drink a fair amount of riesling, and every time we offer it up for non-wine people, they look askance at it. If I give choices, it never gets picked. If I serve it, I do get a lot of "I'm surprised -this is really good" commentary.
Same. A couple of the guys in our monthly tasting group are always impressed by the rieslings I open because they are so different than what they expected. And they are always the first bottles finished.
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Re: Riesling - the struggle is real.

#53 Post by Uli K. »

Robert Dentice wrote: April 24th, 2021, 8:38 am As someone who just started a curated German wine service that has sold out every offer despite only starting the company last August and who is forced to chase around sold out German Rieslings around the globe for my person collection I would suggest that there is very high demand for Riesling.
Looking at your offers, it is clear to me why they sell out. They are hip and cool, drawing in new people, and no one would confuse those wines with the plonk of yesteryear. The personal stories about transformative up & coming vintners. The food and music tie in, and the community built around studying a new exciting experience. I’m confident this would work with the top domestic producers as well.
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Re: Riesling - the struggle is real.

#54 Post by Sarah Kirschbaum »

Remember that the word dry in the minds and vocabularies of most wine wannabes in the US has no meaning beyond "a wine I like." They use it without the slightest notion of how dry or sweet or fruity the wine actually is; it's just the term of choice when they like the wine. If they ask for a drier wine at a bar, it generally means "something I enjoy more," but is the only word they have.

Understanding this, the flipside is that a "sweet" wine is, by definition, a wine I don't like.

When words stop having real meaning, communicating gets tough.
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Re: Riesling - the struggle is real.

#55 Post by Luca Giupponi »

Uli K. wrote: April 24th, 2021, 12:23 pm
Robert Dentice wrote: April 24th, 2021, 8:38 am As someone who just started a curated German wine service that has sold out every offer despite only starting the company last August and who is forced to chase around sold out German Rieslings around the globe for my person collection I would suggest that there is very high demand for Riesling.
Looking at your offers, it is clear to me why they sell out. They are hip and cool, drawing in new people, and no one would confuse those wines with the plonk of yesteryear. The personal stories about transformative up & coming vintners. The food and music tie in, and the community built around studying a new exciting experience. I’m confident this would work with the top domestic producers as well.
I seem to recall a domestic offer earlier in the year (Desire Lines). Was that one as popular as the other ones?

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Re: Riesling - the struggle is real.

#56 Post by Dan Kravitz »

Interesting discussion. Over the past few decades Riesling has gone from about 10% of my wine consumption to about 1%. The main reason is that it seems to be impossible to make my favorite Rieslings any more. A year or two back, I posted about what I used to like and what I'm looking for. Nobody replied. I am pretty sure it doesn't exist, which is a shame because I enjoyed it enormously for almost half a century:

Please give me a Saar Riesling Kabinett with ~7% alcohol, ~1% RS, almost if not 1% TA, pH barely 3. I will happily accept substitutes from anywhere in the world that can reproduce that profile. Adam? Anyone? Is it being planted in Scandinavia yet?

Meanwhile, I am sorry Adam, but you are indeed swimming upstream through molasses. As others have noted, there just isn't any 'geek appeal' to California Riesling. OTOH, New York's Finger Lakes have really begun to develop a following. By coincidence, Eric Asimov's New York Times wine column today was '10 New York State wines to Drink Now. Yes, two of them were Finger Lake Rieslings, both dry. Not cheap ones, at $28 and $37! I haven't done a poll or seen any statistics, but I can tell you that before COVID, Finger Lakes Riesling was quite common on good NY restaurant wine lists, both in the city and upstate, often by the glass. It is also obviously for sale in any good NY wine shop, and not hidden on a dusty bottom shelf.

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Re: Riesling - the struggle is real.

#57 Post by ChrisJames »

Dan Kravitz wrote: April 24th, 2021, 2:28 pm Interesting discussion. Over the past few decades Riesling has gone from about 10% of my wines consumption to about 1%. The main reason is that it seems to be impossible to make my favorite Rieslings any more. A year or two back, I posted about what I used to like and what I'm looking for. I am pretty sure it doesn't exist, which is a shame because I enjoyed it enormously for almost half a century:

Please give me a Saar Riesling Kabinett with ~7% alcohol, ~1% RS, almost if not 1% TA, pH barely 3. I will happily accept substitutes from anywhere in the world that can reproduce that profile. Adam? Anyone? Is it being planted in Scandinavia yet?

Meanwhile, I am sorry Adam, but you are indeed swimming upstream through molasses. As others have noted, there just isn't any 'geek appeal' to California Riesling. OTOH, New York's Finger Lakes have really begun to develop a following. By coincidence, Eric Asimov's New York Times wine column today was '10 New York State wines to Drink Now. Yes, two of them were Finger Lake Rieslings, both dry. Not cheap ones, at $28 and $37! I haven't done a poll or seen any statistics, but I can tell you that before COVID, Finger Lakes Riesling was quite common on good NY restaurant wine lists, both in the city and upstate, often by the glass. It also obviously for sale in any good NY wine shop, and not hidden on a dusty bottom shelf.

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My father-in-law lives in Buffalo, NY. He is not at all a wine geek, yet somehow came to casually fall in love with German Rieslings back in the 1970s. He recalls that they were very cheap and his favorite was JJ Prüm. He doesn't drink much now, but really likes the occasional Finger Lake Riesling.

Pre-Covid, I hosted a couple of non-wine geek friends. The first was thrilled when I opened a Barolo. The second looked embarrassed and said he prefers sweet wines. He was delighted when I opened a Brooks Riesling from Oregon.

My point is merely that there are people out there who are happy to drink Riesling, even sweet versions. But neither of these people are going to walk into a store and choose Adam's Riesling off the shelf. Maybe his only market will be Berserker Day.

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Re: Riesling - the struggle is real.

#58 Post by Brian G r a f s t r o m »

Sarah Kirschbaum wrote: April 24th, 2021, 9:45 am
J a y H a c k wrote: April 24th, 2021, 9:18 am
Mattstolz wrote: April 24th, 2021, 5:46 am we opened one of Bedrock's dry rieslings last night and thoroughly enjoyed it. is it GG level? maybe not. but really nice with peanut stew
Peanut stew? WTF?
Usually an African dish, not sure which exact region. But peanut sauce or soup is the only absolute wine killer I know of. Nothing is good with it.
I'm curious: how do you deal with French onion soup? IMO, there is one, and only one, answer; interested to see if it's yours.
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Re: Riesling - the struggle is real.

#59 Post by Adam Frisch »

Thank for this thoughtful discussion - so much to take in!
J. Rock wrote: April 23rd, 2021, 2:19 pm Also, even with respect to more educated consumers, I wouldn't be surprised if it's harder for most domestic Rieslings to compete next to their German counterparts based on general reputation and the fact that the German Rieslings are often priced quite reasonably.
I think you're right on the money here. There is obviously a resistance already to R, and domestic versions of it have an even more of a barrier, especilaly when they're in same price segment. We've had some long history of Bordeaux and Burgundy varietals here and it feels like the US consumer today will happily buy either French or domestic. But that's obviously not the case with R. I'm assuming that can only come with critical mass, which seems a long way away.
K N Haque wrote: April 23rd, 2021, 3:08 pm There is a lot to unpack here. First off, as far as consumption in Germany, most of what anyone could ever wish to know can be found in the German Wine Institute's annual report: https://www.deutscheweine.de/fileadmin/ ... k_2020.pdf (it's bilingual). One thing they don't do (as far as I see) is break down consumption by varietal, but Table 27 shows that 45% of all wine consumed by Germans is from their own country, a number that has been steady since at least 2015 (since that is the oldest the table goes back to) Since other tables show that Riesling is the most-planted variety in Germany, a whole lot of that German wine will be Riesling.
I get a very casual feeling that Riesling in Germany is on the uptick. This might have to do with them making their quality improvements and having had their producers get together and unify.

The other day I saw this clip of Saar's Von Volxem's grand opening of their new winery/tasting room. I mean, it's a huge, architectural flashy thing that would almost put Opus One's building to shame. Must have cost millions and millions to build. Obviously, Roman Niewodniczansky wouldn't be able to do that had he not had sales that can pay for it (although I do hear he comes from a rich family). Take a look, it's stunning:


R. Frankel wrote: April 23rd, 2021, 3:35 pm For domestic producers who cannot possibly produce enough branding $$ to move the market, it really seems like the only way to really drive sales is by building direct relationships with customers. Placing bottles in random stores or restaurants is going to be rough as you still have to overcome all the barriers blocking sales of wines made from out-of-fashion or unknown varietals. Maybe if you price super low you could get some sales but how viable is that? Mass scale producers can always undercut you.
That's what I'm realizing. It is clear that DTC to those who are already into the variety, is the best way forward at this stage. No point in trying to fight a two-fronted war at retail. Even the distributors I've been talking to have said as much - the reps often go "I love Riesling, but it's not a big seller".
Robert Dentice wrote: April 24th, 2021, 8:38 am Adam - I will come back to you with a more thoughtfully composed comment. As someone who just started a curated German wine service that has sold out every offer despite only starting the company last August and who is forced to chase around sold out German Rieslings around the globe for my person collection I would suggest that there is very high demand for Riesling.

I will 110% agree Riesling is HARD to sell for many reasons that I have thought about endlessly but it will take me more time than I have to explain here because I just spent two hours sorting out the 50 people on the waitlist for Rieslingstudy 005!
Look forward to that! You're doing great work with the variety!
Dan Kravitz wrote: April 24th, 2021, 2:28 pm Meanwhile, I am sorry Adam, but you are indeed swimming upstream through molasses. As others have noted, there just isn't any 'geek appeal' to California Riesling. OTOH, New York's Finger Lakes have really begun to develop a following. By coincidence, Eric Asimov's New York Times wine column today was '10 New York State wines to Drink Now. Yes, two of them were Finger Lake Rieslings, both dry. Not cheap ones, at $28 and $37! I haven't done a poll or seen any statistics, but I can tell you that before COVID, Finger Lakes Riesling was quite common on good NY restaurant wine lists, both in the city and upstate, often by the glass. It also obviously for sale in any good NY wine shop, and not hidden on a dusty bottom shelf.
The Finger Lakes are starting to get a name for themselves. But I see that as a great thing a sit will just help elevate interest Riesling. If they find a FL they like, then maybe the step over to a CA will go a little easier in the future?

It would be great to hear from people like Graham Tatomer and other about their Riesling experiences. I know Tatomer just released a Pinot, so maybe that was out of a need to have a SKU that can sell more easily?

Todd Hamina - you just had a Riesling blowout - what has been your experience over the years or in your tasting room?
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Re: Riesling - the struggle is real.

#60 Post by Marcus Goodfellow »

Riesling is hard.

Even going the DTC route, most of the people who will get excited about my Chardonnays do so partly because white Burgundy is expensive.

With the Riesling, I can sell it locally and people really enjoy it, but a lot of my mailing list have cellars loaded with excellent German producers whose wines are very, very affordable.

My solution was to make 50 cases for my own piece of mind(and soul), and then not worry about whether it sells or not. But that’s not helpful for someone looking to pay rent with Riesling.

I watched two producers in Oregon who were making great Riesling(IMO) at the time just walk away from making Riesling because they were doing great work and killing themselves to sell it.
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Re: Riesling - the struggle is real.

#61 Post by ChrisJames »

Marcus Goodfellow wrote: April 24th, 2021, 4:14 pm
I watched two producers in Oregon who were making great Riesling(IMO) at the time just walk away from making Riesling because they were doing great work and killing themselves to sell it.
In an Oregon Wine History Archive, John House of Ovum mentioned that they made their best Riesling of the 2016 vintage from grapes of a particular older vine vineyard. The next year, without even telling them, the grower grafted the entire thing over to Chardonnay.

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Re: Riesling - the struggle is real.

#62 Post by Rodrigo B »

ChrisJames wrote: April 24th, 2021, 4:25 pm In an Oregon Wine History Archive, John House of Ovum mentioned that they made their best Riesling of the 2016 vintage from grapes of a particular older vine vineyard. The next year, without even telling them, the grower grafted the entire thing over to Chardonnay.
I get the drive to want to sell your agricultural product for more by switching the varieties, but to not even give a heads up to the winemaker who has been purchasing the grapes prior has got to be pretty demoralising. Been meaning to check out Ovum's wines. Didn't know they did an interview with the Linfield University folks. I'll have to check it out
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Re: Riesling - the struggle is real.

#63 Post by K N Haque »

Adam Frisch wrote: April 24th, 2021, 3:57 pm Thank for this thoughtful discussion - so much to take in!

I get a very casual feeling that Riesling in Germany is on the uptick. This might have to do with them making their quality improvements and having had their producers get together and unify.

The other day I saw this clip of Saar's Von Volxem's grand opening of their new winery/tasting room. I mean, it's a huge, architectural flashy thing that would almost put Opus One's building to shame. Must have cost millions and millions to build. Obviously, Roman Niewodniczanski wouldn't be able to do that had he not had sales that can pay for it (although I do hear he comes from a rich family). Take a look, it's stunning:
Roman Niewodniczanski is one of the heirs to the Bitburger Brewery fortune. If you can believe Wikipedia, the main brand had 800 Million Euros in sales for last year reported, and that is just one of their holdings. I am not sure where Roman is in the family, but the fact that the new tasting center cost a lot may not say much about how much he earns from his wines...
Last edited by K N Haque on April 24th, 2021, 7:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Riesling - the struggle is real.

#64 Post by mmarcellus »

Dan Kravitz wrote: April 24th, 2021, 2:28 pm Meanwhile, I am sorry Adam, but you are indeed swimming upstream through molasses. As others have noted, there just isn't any 'geek appeal' to California Riesling. OTOH, New York's Finger Lakes have really begun to develop a following. By coincidence, Eric Asimov's New York Times wine column today was '10 New York State wines to Drink Now. Yes, two of them were Finger Lake Rieslings, both dry. Not cheap ones, at $28 and $37! I haven't done a poll or seen any statistics, but I can tell you that before COVID, Finger Lakes Riesling was quite common on good NY restaurant wine lists, both in the city and upstate, often by the glass. It also obviously for sale in any good NY wine shop, and not hidden on a dusty bottom shelf.
Wine dot com, not known for their great prices, currently lists 12 bottles of FLX riesling under $20 in the NY warehouse. Though I'm not personally a fan of every one of those producers, all are respectable and included in the list are ones I am a fan of like Wiemer, Frank, Standing Stone (now owned by Wiemer), and Ravines. I've also seen FLX rieslings in CA for under $20, including Ravines and Heart & Hand. There are also some good examples from Oregon, and even Idaho. That said, riesling does have a history of success in California, though that history was long ago and is a bit murky since "Riesling" was historically used as a generic label for whites, similar to "Chablis". And many varietals labeled riesling (e.g. "Gray Riesling, which was Trousseau) were not riesling.

One historical nugget from the 50's that indicates a regard for riesling in certain circles is an episode of the Western "Have Gun Will Travel", presumably one of the episodes written by Gene Rodenberry, Paladin had become a fan of a California riesling grower whose vineyards were under threat from (IIRC) an oil drilling operation next door, and Paladin vollunteers to help him. There's lots of love of riesling in this episode, presumably a feeling the writer shared. As with many episodes of "Have Gone Will Travel" it's an interesting time capsule, mostly of the 50's but to a lesser degree, and through a glass darkly, of 19th century California. Maybe somebody today will be moved to write a TV episode depicting a valiant struggle in the 80's to prevent a great riesling vineyard from being ripped out to be replanted with chardonnay.

Anyway, I do think there will come a time when riesling makes a comeback. But, to paraphrase John Maynard Keynes, the market can continue to hate riesling longer than growers can remain solvent.
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Re: Riesling - the struggle is real.

#65 Post by Sarah Kirschbaum »

Brian G r a f s t r o m wrote: April 24th, 2021, 3:13 pm
Sarah Kirschbaum wrote: April 24th, 2021, 9:45 am
J a y H a c k wrote: April 24th, 2021, 9:18 am

Peanut stew? WTF?
Usually an African dish, not sure which exact region. But peanut sauce or soup is the only absolute wine killer I know of. Nothing is good with it.
I'm curious: how do you deal with French onion soup? IMO, there is one, and only one, answer; interested to see if it's yours.
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Re: Riesling - the struggle is real.

#66 Post by Alan Rath »

Adam, what’s the price point on your Riesling? Because I drink a fair number of pretty affordable Austrian Rieslings in the $20-30 range, and the top tier wines can be had for $40-70 (leaving out some “cult” wines that are stupidly overpriced because they are instagram darlings).
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Re: Riesling - the struggle is real.

#67 Post by Brian G r a f s t r o m »

Sarah Kirschbaum wrote: April 24th, 2021, 5:21 pm
Brian G r a f s t r o m wrote: April 24th, 2021, 3:13 pm
Sarah Kirschbaum wrote: April 24th, 2021, 9:45 am

Usually an African dish, not sure which exact region. But peanut sauce or soup is the only absolute wine killer I know of. Nothing is good with it.
I'm curious: how do you deal with French onion soup? IMO, there is one, and only one, answer; interested to see if it's yours.
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Bzzzzt! Sorry. That is not the answer we were looking for. [tease.gif] dry sherry But I'm still gonna give it a go next time I fix the soup. [cheers.gif]


... back to Riesling: I think it *almost* works with FOS, but, ultimately, the soup always remains "too much FOS" for it to be a truly successful pairing.

more broadly: I've not yet had a U.S. Riesling that gives me any sense whatsoever that U.S. Riesling is, or even can be, remotely on the same qualitative level as similarly-priced offerings from Germany and France.
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Re: Riesling - the struggle is real.

#68 Post by Siun o'Connell »

I find most folks I know are startled that Riesling can be grown in the US - outside of NY which they assume is hyper sweet not so good. I surprise them with Bedrock, Paetra and Desire Lines ... and now will add Adam's which just arrived. The Asian fine dining spots here tend to have good Riesling lists - I still miss the Embeya list from when my daughter cooked there - so perhaps a joint marketing project of some of the very good (Berserker!) Rieslings to a select list of such spots to encourage adding some domestics would pay off.

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Re: Riesling - the struggle is real.

#69 Post by ChrisJames »

Rodrigo B wrote: April 24th, 2021, 4:38 pm
ChrisJames wrote: April 24th, 2021, 4:25 pm In an Oregon Wine History Archive, John House of Ovum mentioned that they made their best Riesling of the 2016 vintage from grapes of a particular older vine vineyard. The next year, without even telling them, the grower grafted the entire thing over to Chardonnay.
I get the drive to want to sell your agricultural product for more by switching the varieties, but to not even give a heads up to the winemaker who has been purchasing the grapes prior has got to be pretty demoralising. Been meaning to check out Ovum's wines. Didn't know they did an interview with the Linfield University folks. I'll have to check it out
https://oregonwinehistoryarchive.org/in ... ija-house/

I found it to be one of the more interesting interviews of the series. John is clearly emotionally pained about losing that vineyard.

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Re: Riesling - the struggle is real.

#70 Post by Sarah Kirschbaum »

Brian G r a f s t r o m wrote: April 24th, 2021, 5:57 pm
Sarah Kirschbaum wrote: April 24th, 2021, 5:21 pm
Brian G r a f s t r o m wrote: April 24th, 2021, 3:13 pm
I'm curious: how do you deal with French onion soup? IMO, there is one, and only one, answer; interested to see if it's yours.
Young cru Beaujolais. Period.
Bzzzzt! Sorry. That is not the answer we were looking for. [tease.gif] dry sherry But I'm still gonna give it a go next time I fix the soup. [cheers.gif]


... back to Riesling: I think it *almost* works with FOS, but, ultimately, the soup always remains "too much FOS" for it to be a truly successful pairing.

more broadly: I've not yet had a U.S. Riesling that gives me any sense whatsoever that U.S. Riesling is, or even can be, remotely on the same qualitative level as similarly-priced offerings from Germany and France.
Nope. Dry sherry is the answer to a lot of soups, especially if you are English and can't think outside the box. Soup often wants nothing at all- liquid on liquid. But French onion soup is half casserole, andbcomes from a particular place, where it's paired with a particular wine, and it works.
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Re: Riesling - the struggle is real.

#71 Post by Dan Kravitz »

My go-to is young lightweight Bourgogne Rouge... not so different in style maybe than Sarah's suggestion.

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Re: Riesling - the struggle is real.

#72 Post by Todd Hamina »

Adam Frisch wrote: April 24th, 2021, 3:57 pm
Todd Hamina - you just had a Riesling blowout - what has been your experience over the years or in your tasting room?
I was pretty much a restaurant brand. This said if you ever want to make something that sells slow, Riesling fits the bill. In the tasting room I pretty much always showed single vineyard Pinot noir, or Caroline our top wine (also a single vineyard).

I made Riesling in 09, 10 and 11 from Amity vineyards. In 2012 we switched to Sunnyside vineyards and I made about 180 cases of it. Eleven years later there's now 16 cases left, so blowing it out. It's good and pushy. I always felt that I was making a wine that would last forever, we'll see.
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Re: Riesling - the struggle is real.

#73 Post by Antonio_G »

larry schaffer wrote: April 23rd, 2021, 7:57 pm Hey my friend , it could be worse - I make a dry domestic Gewurztraminer . . .
I would love to try that. Was there last weekend, you guys were humming!
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#74 Post by Antonio_G »

The conversions I've made, onto Riesling, from nonbelievers have been with the right food pairing, and usually, I've been able to hook them on the 2nd round. Most learn to appreciate and some have become rabid fans. Its also palate maturity IMO, not everyone has it.

But this is why, prices for Rieslings are mostly under the market, which I continue to appreciate.
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#75 Post by Brian G r a f s t r o m »

Dan Kravitz wrote: April 24th, 2021, 6:39 pm My go-to is young lightweight Bourgogne Rouge... not so different in style maybe than Sarah's suggestion.

I admit to having a Bad Attitude towards Gamays... except for gnarly Moulin-A-Vent

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I will definitely be giving both of your suggestions a Go ... I can't recall if I've previously tried either, so it will be a blank slate. If successfully, either would represent the first non-terrible red wine pairing I've had with the dish; my experience has always been the onions overpower the wine.
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#76 Post by Otto Forsberg »

To my ears, anything dry sounds like a catastrophe, because soups are difficult with wine to begin with (you normally need lots of body from the wine not to be overwhelmed by the soup in the first place) and as the caramelized onions make the onion soup somewhat sweet, that insta-kills almost anything fruit-related from a dry wine. I haven't tasted Bojo or light Burgundy, so I can't comment whether they'll work or not, but my intuition is setting off all kinds of alarms.

I'd go with something off-dry to medium sweet that could stand up to the inherent sweetness of the soup. If somebody wants something dry, I'd say dry Sherries and Madeiras are quite reliable, because they don't retain any primary fruit flavors that could get obliterated by the sweetness, just aldehydes (Sherry) or madeirized/oxidized characteristics (Madeira) which don't seem to mind sweetness. On my palate other dry wines either get stripped most of their fruit or just turn unpleasantly bitter when contrasted with sweetness.
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#77 Post by R Scott Hughes »

Branding, branding, branding. Relabel it as Dry Rheinriesling, or Johannisberger and you will eliminate the buyer's prejudice re: Riesling. Easier to educate an unbiased consumer.
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#78 Post by larry schaffer »

Antonio_G wrote: April 24th, 2021, 8:51 pm
larry schaffer wrote: April 23rd, 2021, 7:57 pm Hey my friend , it could be worse - I make a dry domestic Gewurztraminer . . .
I would love to try that. Was there last weekend, you guys were humming!
Antonio,

Just let me know the next time you are around so that I can be sure to be there. I am currently pouring this in my tasting room - and the reception has been great. It does require quite a bit of 'hand holding' - folks smell it and are immediately drawn to a 'dessert wine' but I tell them in advance what to expect. Is it selling as quickly as my Roses? No, and I don't expect it to - but it is selling faster than my last release of this wine, which was back in 2014 (after that vintage, it was grafted over to Chardonnay - same story as above - but I can't fault the vineyard owner).

Just a little fact - there were only 75 tons of Gewurztraminer crushed in District 8 in CA in 2020 - that's a region that encompasses Ventura, Santa Barbara and SLO Counties. So not only is it a tough sell but there's not much of it grown here anymore at all . . .

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#79 Post by Markus S »

Oh where do I even begin??

First off, we are NOT Australia. This is America. Love it or leave it as some people say.

Second, as a producer, you grow riesling because you love it, not so you can sell it. Enough of that nonsense.

Third, riesling is only drunk by the zealots and tourists. Those people in wealthy areas probably think they know better and will
avoid it like plagues. Never sell riesling to rich folk!
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#80 Post by Robert.A.Jr. »

Hank Victor wrote: April 24th, 2021, 6:31 am
larry schaffer wrote: April 23rd, 2021, 7:57 pm Hey my friend , it could be worse - I make a dry domestic Gewurztraminer . . .
[snort.gif]
Hysterical!

Reminds me, my wife did a girl’s trip to Napa, which included Williams Selyem. My wife brought back the Gewwurtraminer and a Zin. I’m like WTF, did you know they allegedly make a decent Pinot?
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#81 Post by Markus S »

Rodrigo B wrote: April 24th, 2021, 4:38 pm
ChrisJames wrote: April 24th, 2021, 4:25 pm In an Oregon Wine History Archive, John House of Ovum mentioned that they made their best Riesling of the 2016 vintage from grapes of a particular older vine vineyard. The next year, without even telling them, the grower grafted the entire thing over to Chardonnay.
I get the drive to want to sell your agricultural product for more by switching the varieties, but to not even give a heads up to the winemaker who has been purchasing the grapes prior has got to be pretty demoralising. Been meaning to check out Ovum's wines. Didn't know they did an interview with the Linfield University folks. I'll have to check it out
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#82 Post by Adam Frisch »

Against all better judgement, I've signed 2 more contracts for Riesling this year [pwn.gif] . But, I can report that simply finding Riesling growers is hard in CA. Now the growing statistics say it's planted to a pretty decent acreage, but this fruit doesn't seem to show up on the open market - I'm thinking this mainly goes into Bronco/Franzia boxed wines or white blends and such.
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#83 Post by larry schaffer »

Adam Frisch wrote: April 25th, 2021, 11:49 am Against all better judgement, I've signed 2 more contracts for Riesling this year [pwn.gif] . But, I can report that simply finding Riesling growers is hard in CA. Now the growing statistics say it's planted to a pretty decent acreage, but this fruit doesn't seem to show up on the open market - I'm thinking this mainly goes into Bronco/Franzia boxed wines or white blends and such.
Nope - that's Gewurztraminer . . .

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#84 Post by Adam Frisch »

Alan Rath wrote: April 24th, 2021, 5:27 pm Adam, what’s the price point on your Riesling? Because I drink a fair number of pretty affordable Austrian Rieslings in the $20-30 range, and the top tier wines can be had for $40-70 (leaving out some “cult” wines that are stupidly overpriced because they are instagram darlings).
Alan, I charge $29 for mine on website. I know there are a lot of great German Rieslings in that price point (but none as dry, of course [wink.gif] ), so not an easy bracket. In fact, retailers and distributors hate the $30-bracket the most out of any as it's kinda too expensive for the bargain hunters, and not expensive enough for the luxury hunters.

Interestingly, this R was actually my most expensive fruit that year to buy, so if anything, it should almost be a bit more. Santa Ynez and Santa Barbara County is always more pricey than the other regions I take from (as can be expected with their real estate prices).
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#85 Post by Adam Frisch »

larry schaffer wrote: April 25th, 2021, 12:26 pm
Adam Frisch wrote: April 25th, 2021, 11:49 am Against all better judgement, I've signed 2 more contracts for Riesling this year [pwn.gif] . But, I can report that simply finding Riesling growers is hard in CA. Now the growing statistics say it's planted to a pretty decent acreage, but this fruit doesn't seem to show up on the open market - I'm thinking this mainly goes into Bronco/Franzia boxed wines or white blends and such.
Nope - that's Gewurztraminer . . .

Cheers
Is Gewurz more planted than Riesling here?
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Re: Riesling - the struggle is real.

#86 Post by Alan Rath »

Adam Frisch wrote: April 25th, 2021, 12:27 pm
Alan Rath wrote: April 24th, 2021, 5:27 pm Adam, what’s the price point on your Riesling? Because I drink a fair number of pretty affordable Austrian Rieslings in the $20-30 range, and the top tier wines can be had for $40-70 (leaving out some “cult” wines that are stupidly overpriced because they are instagram darlings).
Alan, I charge $29 for mine on website. I know there are a lot of great German Rieslings in that price point (but none as dry, of course [wink.gif] ), so not an easy bracket. In fact, retailers and distributors hate the $30-bracket the most out of any as it's kinda too expensive for the bargain hunters, and not expensive enough for the luxury hunters.

Interestingly, this R was actually my most expensive fruit that year to buy, so if anything, it should almost be a bit more. Santa Ynez and Santa Barbara County is always more pricey than the other regions I take from (as can be expected with their real estate prices).
If I see yours, I will definitely try it. Honestly, I can't remember having a domestic Riesling in eons. It may be harder to find dry German versions in that price range, I don't shop for those, but there are plenty from Austria available that are very good.
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#87 Post by larry schaffer »

Adam Frisch wrote: April 25th, 2021, 12:28 pm
larry schaffer wrote: April 25th, 2021, 12:26 pm
Adam Frisch wrote: April 25th, 2021, 11:49 am Against all better judgement, I've signed 2 more contracts for Riesling this year [pwn.gif] . But, I can report that simply finding Riesling growers is hard in CA. Now the growing statistics say it's planted to a pretty decent acreage, but this fruit doesn't seem to show up on the open market - I'm thinking this mainly goes into Bronco/Franzia boxed wines or white blends and such.
Nope - that's Gewurztraminer . . .

Cheers
Is Gewurz more planted than Riesling here?
530 tons of Riesling in District 8 vs. 77 tons of Gewurztraminer....
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#88 Post by Adam Frisch »

Where is that 530 tons of Riesling going, Larry? Who buys that?
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#89 Post by larry schaffer »

Adam Frisch wrote: April 25th, 2021, 1:38 pm Where is that 530 tons of Riesling going? Who buys that?
My guess - most of it is produced by thosebwho grow it or from the area. Kick On Ranch? Tatomer, Municipal, Ojai. Fess Parker Vineyard? Fess Parker. Paragon?
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#90 Post by Eric Ifune »

Roman Niewodniczanski is one of the heirs to the Bitburger Brewery fortune. If you can believe Wikipedia, the main brand had 800 Million Euros in sales for last year reported, and that is just one of their holdings. I am not sure where Roman is in the family, but the fact that the new tasting center cost a lot may not say much about how much he earns from his wines...
I believe Roman is one of the major heirs. I was at a tasting with him in Germany some time ago, soon after he purchased the estate. He had also just bought a bottle of the 1959 JJPrum Wehlener Sonnenuhr TBA! After dinner he lit up a double corona Cuban cigar. In that video, he looks to have hardly have aged. He's the super tall guy with the pony tail.
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#91 Post by Chris Seiber »

My thoughts:

(1) There is definitely truth to the idea that consumers think they aren't supposed to like sweet tasting wines, and that serving sweet wines to others will make them seem unsophisticated

(2) The consumer aversion to sweet wines is not only because of social pressure; it's probably based on many inexpensive sweet wines of various white and pink varieties that they've had and didn't like, or lost their taste for as they started drinking decent dry wines

(3) When you serve a good quality and balanced riesling to civilians, they will often say "Oh, I don't normally like riesling, but this is actually good" (but this is true for many other wines, as well -- I get that reaction all the time by serving non-goopy chardonnay to people who say they don't like chardonnay)

(4) German labels are totally unreadable to a regular customer, and probably even to the majority of people who are really avid wine enthusiasts

(5) Rather like syrah, customers are reluctant to gamble on ordering or buying something when there is such a wide range of what that could end up being. Is it light and crisp, is it rich and sweet, is it a thick dessert beverage or something to go with the meal?

(6) (This is a pretty subjective take of mine but I'll throw it out anyway) Young riesling, while it can be tasty and a good pairing for certain foods, can feel like less of a wine or alcoholic beverage experience than most varieties at a similar quality point. It can feel more like a fresh fruit beverage - a nice tasting one, but not one that fits as naturally into people's ideas and expectations for a wine experience. I know that's a weird thing to say, and no doubt many will disagree, but I'm just making an observation on why I think many people put it in a category outside of the "what I want to drink when I feel like having wine." It's just kind of a different cat.

(7) (Another highly subjective take of mine) Riesling becomes less sweet, more complex, and more of a wine experience once it has a significant amount of age, yet it's really rare to find aged riesling, unless you are at a Lotus of Siam type place.

(8) The very low alcohol (at least in traditional German and German-style riesling), which might often be a plus to wine geeks, may have the opposite appeal to average consumers.

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Re: Riesling - the struggle is real.

#92 Post by ChrisJames »

Markus S wrote: April 25th, 2021, 11:21 am
Rodrigo B wrote: April 24th, 2021, 4:38 pm
ChrisJames wrote: April 24th, 2021, 4:25 pm In an Oregon Wine History Archive, John House of Ovum mentioned that they made their best Riesling of the 2016 vintage from grapes of a particular older vine vineyard. The next year, without even telling them, the grower grafted the entire thing over to Chardonnay.
I get the drive to want to sell your agricultural product for more by switching the varieties, but to not even give a heads up to the winemaker who has been purchasing the grapes prior has got to be pretty demoralising. Been meaning to check out Ovum's wines. Didn't know they did an interview with the Linfield University folks. I'll have to check it out
Prime reason you want to own your own vineyards.
Yes, I suppose so. But that doesn't seem to be the way Oregon rolls. Ovum makes several wines from grapes purchased all the way from Ribbon Ridge to the border of California. It would be tough to own or even manage all of them. Many of the board favorites here - Goodfellow, Walter Scott, Kelley Fox, Morgan Long, Vincent, Biggio Hamina - own no vineyards. Jim Anderson (PGC) owns a fantastic estate vineyard yet still buys grapes from perhaps a dozen other vineyards. And this seems to be the case with many estate producers - grow some, buy some. It must be a big step up in terms of finances, knowledge, equipment, and labor to go from winemaker/producer of several cru to also being an owner/manager of a vineyard(s). I'd love to hear Jim's, Marcus's, etc. thoughts on that.
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#93 Post by Matt K »

Dan Kravitz wrote: April 24th, 2021, 2:28 pm Meanwhile, I am sorry Adam, but you are indeed swimming upstream through molasses. As others have noted, there just isn't any 'geek appeal' to California Riesling. OTOH, New York's Finger Lakes have really begun to develop a following. By coincidence, Eric Asimov's New York Times wine column today was '10 New York State wines to Drink Now. Yes, two of them were Finger Lake Rieslings, both dry. Not cheap ones, at $28 and $37! I haven't done a poll or seen any statistics, but I can tell you that before COVID, Finger Lakes Riesling was quite common on good NY restaurant wine lists, both in the city and upstate, often by the glass. It is also obviously for sale in any good NY wine shop, and not hidden on a dusty bottom shelf.
FLX seems like the answer to a lot of Riesling woes in this thread. Michigan as well. Clearly discernable labels, not being boxed in by heavy regulation on typicity, and experimentation are all hallmarks of eastern US Riesling.
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Re: Riesling - the struggle is real.

#94 Post by Dan Kravitz »

Chris Seiber wrote: April 25th, 2021, 3:00 pm My thoughts:

(1) There is definitely truth to the idea that consumers think they aren't supposed to like sweet tasting wines, and that serving sweet wines to others will make them seem unsophisticated

(2) The consumer aversion to sweet wines is not only because of social pressure; it's probably based on many inexpensive sweet wines of various white and pink varieties that they've had and didn't like, or lost their taste for as they started drinking decent dry wines

(3) When you serve a good quality and balanced riesling to civilians, they will often say "Oh, I don't normally like riesling, but this is actually good" (but this is true for many other wines, as well -- I get that reaction all the time by serving non-goopy chardonnay to people who say they don't like chardonnay)

(4) German labels are totally unreadable to a regular customer, and probably even to the majority of people who are really avid wine enthusiasts

(5) Rather like syrah, customers are reluctant to gamble on ordering or buying something when there is such a wide range of what that could end up being. Is it light and crisp, is it rich and sweet, is it a thick dessert beverage or something to go with the meal?

(6) (This is a pretty subjective take of mine but I'll throw it out anyway) Young riesling, while it can be tasty and a good pairing for certain foods, can feel like less of a wine or alcoholic beverage experience than most varieties at a similar quality point. It can feel more like a fresh fruit beverage - a nice tasting one, but not one that fits as naturally into people's ideas and expectations for a wine experience. I know that's a weird thing to say, and no doubt many will disagree, but I'm just making an observation on why I think many people put it in a category outside of the "what I want to drink when I feel like having wine." It's just kind of a different cat.

(7) (Another highly subjective take of mine) Riesling becomes less sweet, more complex, and more of a wine experience once it has a significant amount of age, yet it's really rare to find aged riesling, unless you are at a Lotus of Siam type place.

(8) The very low alcohol (at least in traditional German and German-style riesling), which might often be a plus to wine geeks, may have the opposite appeal to average consumers.

Chris makes some excellent points: People see the flute bottle and many either recoil or snicker. People who start with sweet wine and migrate to dry often never go back at all. German labels are very easy to read... if you speak German.

The point about young Riesling tasting like a fresh fruit beverage is well-taken. It's part of what I used to love about it. It also sometimes makes it a very good match with notoriously tough foods for wine: Asparagus, artichoke, ham, soups...

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#95 Post by Adam Frisch »

Chris - great points. I think in these fragmented times, you need to allow a customer to shine a bit and be able to show off his/hers wine knowledge without having to study too hard. Everyone wants to feel like an expert, nobody enjoys being a fool. And Riesling makes it hard for you to be an expert. Very hard. Syrah is kind of similar, like you mentioned, but at least you don't have the extra complexity of sweetness levels there.

In regards to bottle shape putting people off: I was going to go with a burgundy bottle initially, like Cobb does, to kind of get away from all connotations etc. But then I decided it would be somewhat disingenuous (there is a tradition after all), so reversed on that.



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#96 Post by larry schaffer »

I dislike the concept of having different shaped bottles for different varieties. I use a claret shaped bottle for everything - including my dry Gewurztraminer. And when I bottle my inaugural pinots in early 2022, I will bottle them in the same shaped bottle.

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#97 Post by Matt K »

larry schaffer wrote: April 25th, 2021, 7:18 pm I dislike the concept of having different shaped bottles for different varieties. I use a claret shaped bottle for everything - including my dry Gewurztraminer. And when I bottle my inaugural pinots in early 2022, I will bottle them in the same shaped bottle.

Cheers
I'm starting to feel this way as well. I've shifted everything into two bottle types now.

Staying on topic though... Traditional Riesling bottles straight up don't fit in anything... Shelves, fridges, you name it, they don't fit right.
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#98 Post by Anthony C »

As someone with a cellar of mixed rectangle and X-bins, and individual bottle slots: I'm learning to appreciate the Bordeaux bottles for everything. They just stack so much easier.

Riesling bottles fit in my individual bottle slots just fine, but that wall is almost full.

As to the discussion at hand: I like the occasional dry Riesling, but we both prefer spatlese and auslese styles (with some age on them) more. But I see the predicament US producers face: when I find them, the German wines aren't that expensive and I avoid sweet style Rieslings from the US because the few I've had have been way too sweet without enough aromatics and structure. I still try US rieslings occasionally (especially with endorsements from folks here), but it's not a big priority for stocking the cellar.
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Re: Riesling - the struggle is real.

#99 Post by John Kight »

Isn't the solution relatively simple? Put it in a Burgundy-style (or Bordeaux-style) bottle and label it as a "White Cuvee" without mentioning Riesling.

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Re: Riesling - the struggle is real.

#100 Post by Eric Michels »

John Kight wrote: April 27th, 2021, 2:01 pm Isn't the solution relatively simple? Put it in a Burgundy-style (or Bordeaux-style) bottle and label it as a "White Cuvee" without mentioning Riesling.
I came to post the exact same thought. We opened a bottle of Adam's Riesling tonight based on this thread. I thought it was a nice wine but my wife (who counts Riesling alongside champagne as her favorite wines) turned up her nose as it was not what she thought of as Riesling. I'm with John - while I appreciate the transparency and intent in labeling it Riesling, I think that any problem selling this bottling could be solved by making up a name for it (Project ABC) and letting the wine in the bottle speak for itself. While this would likely require some knowledge of Sabelli-Frisch for someone to purchase Project ABC, it would seem to overcome the "this isn't what I expected" problem. While all varietals can present in a range of styles, it seems that Riesling presents a particular challenge given its wide range of faces.

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