Saturday, June 20, 2009

Taft Street Russian River Valley Riesling, 2008
$18 or Under
Russian River, California

Let’s start by saying that the Russian River Valley is the premiere area for growing grapes in this country. The fruit is consistently dazzling. Enter Taft Street who has been around for over 30 years. They went from being a mass-producer of wine then pulled in the reigns, dramatically. They produced 57,000 cases, now down to 15,000. What does this mean? It means a return to the heart & soul of the operation; crafting elegant, well-structured wines with more of a personal touch thanks to winemaker Evelyn White.

These guys focus on Pinot Noir & Chardonnay and there selections of these varietals are outstanding. I picked the Riesling to write about because it has a fun story attached to it. One of the grape farmers that Taft Street buys from called up Evelyn and said “Hey I have 7 extra tons of Riesling do you want it?” She of course jumped at the opportunity and made a fantastic wine. With the Russian River mostly devoted to Chard & Pinot Noir, Riesling is small production and always limited. There were only 380 cases made; which means a bit harder to find but worth it. Taft Street, after the great success of this Riesling will continue to make more in the upcoming vintages.

This Riesling shows an excellent balance of off-dry characteristics with a rich mouth feel. There is no malolactic fermentation; Russian River fruit doesn’t need it. The minerality is minimal but there and in harmony. This wine should be exactly what you expect from a Riesling, a little sweet, structured with layers of flavor and the perfect amount of acid.

Pair with white fish dishes, shellfish, cured meats and cheeses, fondues

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