|StarChefs.com: The United Grapes of America|
Tuesday, September 4, 2012
Summer of Riesling so we turn to Idaho where Sommelier Andrew Stover of Vino50.com recommended Sawtooth Winery and we selected their 2011 Riesling (a blend of 95% Riesling and just 5% Muscat Blanc). Any discussion of Northwest wine production should not be monopolized by Oregon and Washington; Idaho and British Columbia should be included - particularly since the first vines in the Pacific Northwest were planted in Idaho in the 1860s. The terrior in Idaho is similar to that of eastern Washington & Oregon except its higher elevation produces a larger diurnal temperature variation. We are talking 30*-40* at the highest elevations. The Snake River Valley was Idaho's first designated American Viticultural Area (AVA) and encompasses the strategic 43°- 46° latitudes. Sawtooth Winery was founded in 1987 as started as Pintler Cellars, with early plantings of Chenin Blanc, Riesling, Semillon, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon. In 1998 Pintler joined Corus Estates & Vineyards and was re-branded as Sawtooth Winery - honoring the Sawtooth Mountains. Today Sawtooth is one of about forty wineries operating in the Gem State.
The grapes for the 2011 Sawtooth Winery Riesling were harvested from the winery's Skyline Vineyards, a new vineyard with slopes facing in all directions. The east and north facing slopes are planted with cooler climate grapes such as Sauvignon Blanc and
Riesling; whereas the south and west facing slopes are warmer and host Bordeaux varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and
Merlot. Interesting - different micro-climates within he same vineyard. The wine is made semi-dry with 2.0% RS but tons of acidity to balance the sugar. The aroma exudes peach, whereas the flavor is primarily lemon grass similar to some Sauvignon Blancs. There is also a honey richness to the wine that is followed by the pleasing acidic finish. Also pleasing is the price, $12 at Norms Beer & Wine. Cheers to that.