Now that summer is officially upon us, so is the Summer of Riesling. Enthusiastically started by New York City restaurateur and sommelier Paul Grieco six years ago, the program celebrates Riesling’s myriad expressions. From the official first day of summer (June 21) to the very last (Sept. 21), more than 200 international restaurants and wine shops proselytize their love for the chameleon-esque white with special wine dinners, tastings and events. Below are Wine Enthusiast’s top picks for where to get your Riesling on, with examples of the choicest pours.
You can’t mention Summer of Riesling without giving credit to the restaurant where it all started, Paul Grieco’s Hearth (and its little sisters under the Terroir banner). On June 26, Hearth is hosting a wine dinner with German Riesling advocate Ernst Loosen. An intimate event capped off at 20 diners, Hearth will pair each of the four courses with two Rieslings while Loosen himself brings his knowledge to bear, discussing terroir, winemaking techniques and the elegance of the grape.
Dr. Loosen 1979 Erdener Treppchen Riesling Spätlese (Mosel)
Dr. Loosen 2011 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese (Mosel)
Dr. Loosen 1984 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett (Mosel)
Dr. Loosen 2011 Erdener Treppchen Riesling Kabinett (Mosel)
On any other day, Ambonnay Bar in Portlandia is a laser-focused Champagne bar, pouring the bubbly like it was going out of style (as if!). Come the Summer Solstice (June 21 for those of you who don’t keep the calendar of the Druids), owner and sommelier David Speer transforms Ambonnay into its alter ego, Awesome!, offering Riesling sips alongside Champagne all summer long. Offering nightly by-the-glass pours, as well as numerous tastings and classes that expose patrons to the grape, Speer wants his patrons to “think of [Awesome!] like David Bowie becoming Ziggy Stardust.”
Pirie South 2007 Riesling (Tasmania)
Jamek 2012 Ried Achleiten Riesling Federspiel (Wachau)
Willi Schaefer 2011 Graacher Domprobst Riesling Kabinett #16 (Nahe)
Teutonic Wine Company 2012 Medici Vineyard Riesling (Willamette Valley)
Crush will feature three Riesling flights on its menu throughout the summer, with rotating global options. The attached wine shop also devotes an entire section to the grape, though they keep it well-stocked throughout the year. “We love Riesling more than most people,” says Chad Culley of Crush.
Yalumba 2011 Y Series Dry Riesling (Barossa)
Louis Guntrum 2011 Nierstein & Oppenheim Dry Riesling (Rheinhessen)
C.H.Berres 2002 Wehlener Klosterberg Riesling Kabinett (Mosel)
Though not officially a Summer of Riesling event, the Riesling Rendezvous in Woodinville, Washington is produced by Chateau Ste. Michelle and Dr. Loosen—both members of the International Riesling Foundation, which supports SOR. It is the largest event dedicated to the grape in the United States. Held on July 14-16, it is three days of full-on Riesling love, with producers, experts and devotees alike attending seminars and sessions devoted to advancing the Riesling cause. The event culminates in the Grand Tasting, three hours of Riesling-friendly grub with live music on Chateau Ste. Michelle’s picturesque grounds.
Offerings from global producers like Germany’s Leitz, Australia’s Frankland Estate and of course Chateau Ste. Michelle and Dr. Loosen
Rootstock will be offering three to six by-the-glass pours nightly, highlighting selections from Austria, New Zealand, New York’s Finger Lakes and Willamette Valley. Chef Duncan Biddulph will prepare two dinners later in the summer, crafting and pairing worldly fare from traditional Riesling-producing regions as interpreted through Rootstock’s Midwest farm-to-table ethos. “Ultimately our goal is to focus our energy on having fun with it and educating the public on the true diversity of Riesling throughout service,” says Jamie McLennan, wine director.
Brooks 2010 Riesling Dry (Willamette Valley)
Keller 2011 Riesling Trocken (Rheinhessen)
Max Ferd. Richter 1987 Brauneberger Juffe Riesling Qba (Mosel)
On June 20, this rooftop restaurant and lounge pulled out all the stops for the Summer of Riesling, kicking off the promotion with their One Hundred Rieslings on the Rooftop, held at the rooftop garden of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. Not satisfied to end there, sommelier/partner Caitlin Suemnicht and chef/partner John Jerabek have a host of other events planned that celebrate their love of Riesling. Throughout the summer, they will be pouring six Rieslings by the glass paired with wine-friendly bites, along with cheese from a local shop, Fromagination. Fresco will also be holding a Riesling Crawl, a blind tasting and small group tasting, and finally, a Riesling dinner in August.
Schloss Vollrads 2011 Riesling (Rheingau)
Leitz 2010 Dragonstone Riesling (Rheingau)
Riesling and Asian cuisine is often touted as the perfect wine-and-food marriage. With that in mind, Southern California hotspot Lukshon will offer a dedicated Riesling by-the-glass menu to pair with its diverse menu. Patrons can experience the cooling effect of a glass of Riesling against the heady, tingling spice of Szechuan peppercorns, or with Bhutanese red rice with house-cured lamb belly. The restaurant will also feature a family-style Summer of Riesling menu, available until July 13, pairing each course with world class German Rieslings.
Gebrüder Simon 2011 Riesling Sekt (Mosel)
Dr. F. Weins-Prüm 2011 Feinherb Riesling (Mosel)
Erben von Beulwitz 2006 Kaseler Nies’chen Riesling Spätlese (Ruwer)