When the temperature soars and the menu grows lighter, this Riesling becomes one of my favorite wines to drink. Notice that I said "drink." Encountering this wine in a tasting is always a pleasure, and it's also a great choice for sipping slowly at a party-but this wine is made for drinking.
Napa Valley is not one of the world's classic terroirs for Riesling, but Trefethen's Riesling has earned the region a spot on the Riesling world map in many tasting reports and surveys of this grape. The grapes come from the winery's main vineyard in the southernmost part of Napa Valley, where maritime influence brings cool, foggy mornings. Obviously the warm afternoon sun has its impact as well, because the wine has a full 13 percent alcohol, which makes it more substantial than a truly cool climate Riesling would be. But the wine's freshness of flavor and very high acidity keep that high alcohol nicely in balance, so that it translates to richness rather than heaviness.
When you smell this wine you might notice jasmine, white peach and ginger notes; that's part of the official description of the wine, but-blame the heavy, humid air that surrounds me as I write this-I find mainly citrus notes, lemon and lime of a slightly candied sort. In other vintages, I have noted floral, apple and grapefruit aromas. Whatever, the wine's scent is pronounced and inviting. It begins to refresh you even before you taste the wine.
The Germans have precise formulas for determining what is trocken, or dry, Riesling that take into account not only the wine's residual sugar but also its acidity. Perhaps that is the logic of calling a wine with 8.4 grams per liter RS "dry." (Roughly 2 grams of sugar per liter are unfermentable, but winemakers often claim that a person's typical threshold of dryness is 5 grams, and call any wine with 5 grams RS or less "dry.") In fact, this wine has very high acidity (8.1 grams/ liter, to carry on with the stats). And overall, the wine is indeed dryer than American Rieslings that are not labeled as "dry."
The wine's high alcohol plays a bit into the slight perception of sweetness and also contributes richness of texture. The acidity plays a surreptitious role in the taste of the wine, balancing the sweetness and the alcohol but barely noticeable in own account. The flavors are pronounced, refreshing, and delicious.
This Riesling is tremendously food-friendly, thanks to its unusual combination of weight, acidity and intense flavor-without a trace of oakiness, of course. I can vouch for its ability to pair well with sushi, turkey burgers, grilled vegetables, tomato salad and chicken sausages. The Trefethens recommend the wine with crab, pork, and Asian and Southwestern cuisines. Right there you have enough pairings to take you through the rest of the summer. Refreshingly and deliciously.