Dandelion Vineyards, Wonderland of the Eden Valley, may have a whimsical label and name, but their grapes have serious history. The vineyard was planted in the early 190o’s—some speculate late 1880’s—and grower 90-year old Colin Kroehn has tended his grape babies nearly his whole life. Wha? No pension and gold watch for the farmer? I admire someone committed to the longevity of his passion, as did the Dandelion team, a young winemaking group who chose his grapes for their Wonderland Riesling.
Refreshing like a cold shower after a summer day in New Orleans, Dandelion is crisp, clean and focused. Fresh grapefruit, lemon pith and lime commingle with streaks of flinty rock, suspended by taut acidity. This wine exhilarates: a spa day for the palate at Guerlain, priced like a Chinese nail shop. Loving this stuff for $14.99 at Wine.com.
LET’S DRINK THIS IN NEW ORLEANS!
It is summer and New Orleans is a swamp. Fight these soggy dollar days (your hands sweat so much your fistful of bills are soaked) with a glass of Dandelion. If your B&B doesn’t have AC, kick your feet up on the nearest balcony and try not to move. Hand-held fans are coming back into vogue anyway. If you must get out of the city, shack up at a plantation house and whittle away the day gazing into the massive trees that frame the splendid Oak Alley. A platter of the state’s finest oysters round out a sultry afternoon.
Damn girl, you got it going on but your tag is priced high—too many awards inflate the ego? Grosset in the Clare Valley is considered by many the pinnacle of Riesling in Australia, including Langton’s, Australia’s leading classification authority on auction-worthy wines. It was definitely at the price point pinnacle of my Series, beating out the next highest wine by $20. Does Polish Hill merit the big bucks?
The nose is restrained, but the palate pops with what I have learned are the hallmarks of Clare Valley—lime and stone, and is bone dry. So what makes this bottle different from the rest? Balance, structure and intensity—Mikhail Baryshnikov posing as Riesling. Polish Hill waltzes seamlessly between wet-slate minerality, pressed-lime fruit and crisp acidity. While this is an impressive bottle and will age beautifully, $47 is a lot of money to drop on any wine, particularly one this young. Buy and hold, or mark your google calendar to wine-search a bottle on July 1st, 2014 at, say, noon? And invite me to your appointment, please. $46.95 at Sherry-Lehmann
LET’S DRINK THIS IN BARDEJOV, SLOVAKIA!
You are probably wondering where the heck is Bardejov and why anyone would go to Slovakia besides lascivious college kids looking for a hostel bunk. The answer is in the image, if beautiful, intact medieval villages woo you (they do me). There isn’t much to do there besides sit around and watch the passerby, so you want to have something good in your glass. Slovakia produces wine, but nothing great, yet, so Polish Hill will do nicely on a hot, Central European afternoon. Plus, the dry Riesling will cut the heaviness of Slovakian dumplings and bryndzové halušky (sheep cheese gnocchi), that you will find yourself over-eating.
Finally, a bottle from the Clare Valley! Wakefield Riesling is brought to us by Taylors Wines, three generations of winemakers who believe the terra rossa soil (red brown loam over limestone) of the region is conducive to premium wine production. By the way, if you are looking for other Taylor wines in North America, you won’t find them—due to trademark restrictions, they have to go by Wakefield up ‘round these parts.
How does she taste? This bottle is alive—all the energy of a red-bull without the caffeine. Her fragrance is evocative of fresh picked lemons and chiseled limestone. The acidity is fresh, exciting and pricks the tongue like a Sichuan peppercorn. Bursting with grapefruit and lime, delivered on a long finish, this bottle is still young at four years old—I could easily drink this for another five. Pick up a case and taste the fireworks. $15.29 at Wine.com.
LET’S DRINK THIS IN BEIJING, CHINA!
Riesling and spicy food are a natural duo, so let’s get down to business in China—they could use a few good bottles of wine over there. Not only can you find fiery cuisine in China, but a summer day in Beijing can feel like your skin and lungs are ablaze as well. With the sky a yellow haze that blankets your head like the breath of a 1000 smokers, a cold glass of Riesling is perfect for squelching the heat of Beijing’s midsummer days, or as a reward after a stiflingly hot hike up the steep stairs of the Great Wall.