A Tale of Two Rieslings. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: BEX 2010 Riesling, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Germany. Less than $10, 11% ABV. RECOMMENDED: Chateau Ste. Michelle 2010 Riesling, Columbia Valley, WA. Also less than $10, 11% ABV.

When dining out, instead of ordering a bottle of wine, or two or three glasses of the same wine, I like to create my own flight by ordering glasses of different wines to compare and contrast. This works well if the restaurant staff know how to take care of wines and serve them by the glass, and tonight it worked very well at Bonefish in Ormond Beach, FL, where I enjoyed two glasses of Riesling with my dinner: the BEX and Chateau Ste. Michelle Rieslings, both 2010. While both were off-dry, they were completely different and contrasted well.

Grown and crafted in Germany, the BEX wine is by the Sonoma Wine Company in Graton, CA. And it is a beautiful wine. Light golden and clear, it had lovely soft fruit aromas including a bit of grapefruit and honey. The wine was mouth-filling and expansively mouth-watering, still, soft and lovely, and creamy, with melon, a hint of pineapple, lychee, honey, a touch of grapefruit, and honeysuckle. This was just a happy, gentle, yet rich wine that made me smile.

The Chateau Ste. Michelle was light straw in color, and stayed slightly cloudy with a hint of effervescence for a half-hour or more. It came across as slightly spicy as a result, especially on the middle and back of the tongue. A slighly drier and more “serious” wine emotionally than the BEX, it had a stony, minerally taste as well as some of the expected fruitiness, but it took a while to open up. Definitely good, but I liked the BEX better, especially paired with the contrasting dishes I ordered, and the BEX stood up very well to both of them.

These wines were paired with crab and corn chowder (creamy and zingy with a little bit of hot chili pepper oil and cilantro); and Mussels Josephine (served in a creamy sauce of butter, olive oil, Sambucca, red onions, black peppercorns, tomatoes, garlic, basil, lemon, wine, and a little sugar to cut the acidity).

BEX WEB NOTES: Three countries including Germany, France and Luxembourg lie within the Mosel Valley. Rough slate stones and steep hillsides support terraced vineyards along the Mosel River and up its banks. The mineral laden slaty soil contributes an earthy or flinty note to many of the wines and sets them apart from other Rieslings. In the Mosel region, harvest typically starts in mid October. Our Riesling grapes are hand picked and crushed into stainless steel tanks for fermentation. The wine does not undergo malolactic fermentation and never sees any oak so as to preserve its bright fruit characteristics. BEX wines start in Germany’s scenic Mosel-Saar-Ruwer vineyards. Grapes grow on hillsides of slate stone soil so steep that stairs and handrails can be seen in many vineyards. At the base of these steep vineyards the Mosel River carves its way through the region before it empties into the Rhine. Vineyards along the Mosel in some cases 50-60 degrees and are some of the steepest in the world. Distinctive mineral characteristics to the region from the slatey vineyards give way to fruity citrus, honeysuckle and orange blossom aromas. Clean, bright, lively, fresh citrus fruit flavors with just a touch of effervescence make this a refreshing wine.
WEB: www.BexWinery.com

CHATEAU STE. MICHELLE WEB NOTES: The oldest winery in Washington state, Chateau Ste. Michelle dates back to the repeal of Prohibition. Our Columbia Valley Riesling is a blend of Riesling from throughout Washington’s Columbia Valley. We craft it to be a refreshing, off-dry Riesling vintage after vintage. The wine delivers sweet lime and peach character with subtle mineral notes. This is our “every day Riesling” that is a pleasure to drink and easy to match with a variety of foods.
WEB: www.Ste-Michelle.com

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ROAD TRIP! A 12-hour drive from Ocala, FL to Louisville, KY—from horse country to horse country, with miles and miles of The Sticks, towns, small cities, and a surprising number of vineyards and wineries in between.

From Ocala to Louisville, we passed nearly a dozen vineyards. We didn’t have time to stop and tour or try, but these operations, some of which are in the middle of nowhere, just prove that we are living in exciting times indeed: the world is opening up to the possibilities of winemaking almost anywhere. As the Jean Farris Winery (below) Web site states, “At Jean Farris, our constant quest is to find the voice of our soils. Each piece of land, each section of earth, has a unique voice; a resonance that the vine, and all things grown from its nourishment, expresses. Starting with gentle handling in the vineyards, the fruit comes to the winery. Simple guidance then transforms fruit into wine, allowing the soils to speak and every bottle to sing the songs of its own special place.”

From south to north, here are the vineyards we passed:

Cane River Vineyard, Georgia. Besides GeorgiaBob’s fruit wines such as the Blackberry Bliss, they have a Tiger Mountain lineup including Norton, Viognier, Malbec, Tannat, and other interesting varietals. http://canerivervineyard.com/.

Horsecreek Winery, Georgia. Merlot, Pinot Grigio, and several blends with horsey names such as Jockey, Finish Line, Big Red, and Odds On Favorite. http://horsecreekwinery.com/

The previous two vineyards are located in relatively flat areas that are hot and humid much of the year. The next ones are in the foothills, valleys, or hillsides of the Appalachian Mountains.

Cohutta Springs Winery, Georgia. Not much information on their Web site, but the location was mountainous and we’d bet it’s cold there much of the year. Judging from the brown grass, they’d already had at least one frost. http://cohuttaspringswinery.com/

Morris Vineyard and Tennessee Mountainview Winery, in the mountains of Tennessee. Reminiscent of what New York State was growing 30 years ago: Scuppernong, Catawba, Concord, etc. www.morrisvineyard.com

Ocoee Winery, Tennessee. Similar to the previous along with Merlot, Cynthiana (Norton), Zinfandel, and Chardonnay. www.ocoeewinery.com

Striker’s Premium Winery, Athens, Tennessee. No Web site; Web review blurbs favorably mentioned their Athenian Red and their Foch.

Tennessee Valley Winery. Chardonnay, Seyval, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, a Merlot/Cabernet Franc blend, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and the sweet wines. www.tnvalleywine.com

Acres of Land Winery, Richmond, Kentucky. Lineup includes Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, sweet wines, etc. www.acresoflandwinery.com

Jean Farris Winery, Lexington, Kentucky. An impressive-looking lineup of varietals from Blanc de Blanc to Zinfandel, a few blends such as “The Tempest” that look like they would be very good, and a family background in winemaking. Also a bistro. Very interesting. www.jeanfarris.com

Talon Winery and Vineyards, Lexington, Kentucky. Several good-looking varietals, blends, and just a few sweet ones. www.talonwine.com

Equus Run Vineyard and Winery, Midway, KY. Another good-looking lineup of varietals that opened with [surprise] Cabernet Franc! Viognier, Vidal Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, several other varietals, and a couple of blends. www.equusrunvineyards.com

It was a pleasant drive. Good to see people following their winemaking passions. Nice to see the fall colors again.

In honor of the two-day Breeders’ Cup races, we will be reviewing two horse-themed wines: Wild Horse 2008 Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon, and 14 Hands 2009 “Hot to Trot” Washington state red blend. Stay tuned!

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