Leeuwin Estate Art Series Riesling

There is a reason why Riesling is cultishly discussed amongst sommeliers and wine enthusiasts. Tremendous structure and complexity, wonderful expressions of fruit, and flexibility in pairing. This wine has it all.

An Art Series wine deserves an artsy background…

Producer: Leeuwin Estate

Region: Margaret River, Australia

Grape(s): Riesling

Tasting Notes: Granny Smith Apple, Kaffir Lime, Minerals, Lemon Citrus Zest, Floral

Pairings: Soft cows cheese, sushi/sashimi/nigiri, babaganoush, seared scallops, Vietnamese cuisine

Price (approximately): $16

Buy: Fujioka’s Wine Times


My Musings:

While most may characterize Riesling as a sweet wine, there are plenty of specimens on the dry side of the spectrum that are crisp, mineral- and citrus-driven delights. This wine is a perfect example at a bargain price. 

Margaret River, a coastal region located south of Perth in western Australia, is unequivocally one of my favorite wine regions of Australia. Comprised primarily of small botique wineries and breweries, it can be difficult to procure wines from this appellation outside of Australia, but a diligent search is well-rewarded with tremendous, intensely-flavored wines. Margaret River enjoys extraordinary growing conditions, with a maritime climate providing consistent temperatures throughout the ripening season and a dry growing season. Known for Cabernet Sauvignon, it also produces Shiraz, Merlot, Chardonnay, Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling. It is hard to find a more enjoyable region to drink and to visit than Margaret River.  A perfect place for wine and surfing — is there a better combination?! I feel a vacation coming on ...

This wine was dry with floral notes, kaffir lime, and lemon zest bursting from the glass. On the palate, the lemon-lime parade continues and is accompanied by fruit (Granny Smith apple, melon) and a heavy dose of minerality. Strikingly balanced with tremendous focus and clarity. Very expressive wine from its alluring bouquet to the bright acidity and long, dry finish. This is definitely one of my favorite Rieslings in this price range. Truly enjoyable.

As if there isn’t sufficient reason already, this wine comes ready for any environment with a screw cap that won’t have you searching for a bottle opener. As stated in my previous bottle-closure musings, screw caps can deliver the same great tasting wine in many cases while keeping a few extra bucks in your pocket. I’ll take that deal anytime.

In Honolulu, pick up a bottle at Fujioka's Wine Times. Be sure to purchase more than one bottle; you will definitely need it! 


2016 A to Z Riesling

Year: 2016

Producer: A to Z

Region: Rogue Valley, Oregon

Grape(s): Riesling

Alcohol: 12%

Body: Medium

Dry/Sweet: Semi-Sweet

Tasting Notes: Spring flowers, peach, nectarine, lychee, lemon

Pairings: Indian, Moroccan, summer picnics.

Price (approximately): $14


My Musings:

I love Riesling. So much so that I have consecutive Costco Corner postings on the subject. Apologies for the duplicity.

Wonderfully aromatic wine with notes of spring flowers, white peach, nectarine, subtle lychee, honeysuckle and lemon. The lychee becomes more prominent on the palate, with ripe stone fruit, citrus and a pleasant, honeyed sweetness.

There is tremendous versatility and pairing potential. Great for dishes that are spicy and complex, such as Indian, Asian, Moroccan. My latest pairing was Indian dishes of chana masala, eggplant tikka masala and saag. The sweetness of the wine paired wonderfully with the spice and flavor profiles of the cuisine. Also reminiscent of spring and summer picnics with youthful, fresh elements. Toss in the picnic basket or just sip on a warm afternoon.

A portion of the sale from each bottle supports bee health research. So drink, be merry, and simultaneously save the bees!


2015 Charles Smith Kung Fu Girl Riesling

Year: 2015

Producer: Charles Smith Winery

Region: Columbia Valley, Washington

Grape(s): Riesling

Alcohol: 12%

Body: Medium

Dry/Sweet: Sweet

Tasting Notes: Lychee, white peach, lime

Pairings: Thai, Vietnamese and Cambodian Cuisine, Mauritian grilled lobster, blackened swordfish with mango chutney

Price (approximately): $10


My Musings:

I love Riesling. Complex, wonderful fruit flavors, balanced acidity, aging potential. There is much to appreciate. With the ever expanding and experimenting New World, you can also find a decent bottle at a good price outside Alsace or Mosel.

Enter Charles Smith's Kung Fu Girl, produced in Columbia Valley, Washington. This Riesling is wonderfully aromatic with notes of lychee, white peach, citrus lime and some floral accents. Oh, and did I mention lychee? Sweet but balanced with good acidity and minerality. Wine Spectator made this a Top 100 wine of 2016. Not sure I would have gone that far, but it is a good, sweet Riesling and, at $10, worth picking up. You won't be blown away by its complexity or depth, but hey, you also didn't just spend $40 (unless you bought 4 bottles).

One of my favorite aspects of Riesling? Pairing potential. Pair with Southeast Asian cuisines that contain tropical and citrus elements, such as Thai, Vietnamese, Burmese and Cambodian. The sweetness of the wine will balance heat intensity characteristic of these regions, while lychee notes will complement tropical and citrus elements commonly contained in the dishes, such as lime and coconut. Other great pairings would include Mauritian grilled lobster and blackened swordfish with mango chutney.