Is it wrong to be scared of a wine? Because I totally was when I walked out of the store with Wente Riverbank Riesling. But, like my partner in wine crime said, “If you’re going to take a chance, it might as well be with a Wente.”
I’m not a fan of sweet wines, sweet-ish wines, or wines that are close neighbors with the word sweet. But I had a dish in mind — a spicy dish — and new in my heart of hearts a Riesling would be my answer. Up until this post, there was only ever one Riesling that I officially enjoyed (Kung Fu Girl) because most other are just so cloyingly sweet. Now, to be fare, this is based on grocery store available Rieslings and (maybe) sweet wines are popular. So there I was, Kung Fu Girl in one hand, Wente Riverbank Riesling in the other — and I opted for the devil I didn’t know…
About the Wine: The Wente Riverbank Estate Riesling is made of 90% Riesling and 10% Gewürztraminer grapes grown in the Arroyo Seco appellation of Monterey County. Interesting fact: the Arroyo Seco appellation terroir is uniquely defined by a geological feature called the Arroyo Seco Cone. This feature was “created over eons” from the Arroyo Seco River spilling down from the Santa Lucia Mountains. The region is actually funnel-shaped (hence Arroyo Seco Cone), appearing at the edge of steep slopes where the river has created a deep ravine and riverbank. The soils, therefore, are quite rocky and filled with mineral deposits.
The wine was fermented and aged in 100% stainless steel tanks.
Flavor Profile: Straight away when you open the bottle and pour (and this is true for consecutive pours as well), you’ll get that distinct “tennis ball” aroma — that kind of “stale air” scent that white wine sometimes has. For me, this is never off-putting, as it does sometimes fade or, as in the case with Wente Riverbank Reisling, plays a part in the tasting experience. That flat, almost boxy aroma adheres itself to the palate and, I think, is one of the reasons this wine can claim itself a dry(er) Riesling.
Once you get past that, you’ll find a pleasant nose of apples, pears, with a hint of citrus fruit in the background (a subtle grapefruit or pomelo perhaps). Take a sip, and the palate will speak of just that — apple and pear are at the forefront with a subtle bit of acidity letting you know these fruits are ripe for the picking. Undertones of softer fruits, like honeydew melon or cantaloupe, are quiet and walk hand in hand with the softest essence of honeysuckle and white flowers.
The mouthfeel is soft, calm, smooth, and consistent from start to finish.
Food Pairing: As mentioned, this wine is by no means sweet, but has a fruit and flower driven nose and palate. Thus, it is the perfect pairing for those spicy, Asian-inspired dishes. I specifically paired this wine with a Thai coconut curry stew, laden with peppers, chilis, and of course curry paste, served with steamed Jasmine rice and a lightly grilled halibut (also works well with scallops, prawns, or a seafood-shellfish blend).
More Info: The reason my partner in wine crime said, “If you’re going to take a chance, it might as well be with a Wente,” is because, in my book, Wente is one of the most reliable of the readily available wine producers found on grocery store shelves. I almost always have at least one of their wines stashed in my cellar. Added Bonus: most can double as a mid-week wine or a date-night special sipper (it all depends on your mood and food pairing). See my other Wente Vineyards reviews.
I purchased Wente Vineyards Riverbank Riesling at Safeway (Sale Price: $14).
For more information about Wente, their available wines, or to find a local retailer, please visit the Wente Vineyards website.
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