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Wine Pick of the Week

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JLohr Bay Mist Riesling Picmonkey

2016 White Riesling

 

J.Lohr

Monterey County

Alcohol: 12%

Suggested Retail: $ 10

“Riesling doesn’t get the respect it deserves. Acknowledged elsewhere as one of the world’s ‘noble grapes,’ Riesling suffers from being misunderstood in the U.S. What a shame, because wines like this week’s Pick of the Week are worthwhile. They’re also modestly-priced.

“Many American consumers may have heard that really good wines are dry, not sweet, and to express a preference for anything sweet would be to show a lack of sophistication. This is an unfortunate case of a little bit of knowledge leading to a false premise. Especially in years past, many cheap white wines labeled Riesling did offer little but sweetness. They bore no resemblance to the wonderfully complex Rieslings of Germany and of the Alsace region of France.

JLohr Riesling back label gauge Picmonkey

A virtue of the Riesling grape is that it’s very versatile. It can be produced in many styles—from bone dry dinner wines to lusciously sweet dessert wines. German Rieslings were labeled with a complicated presentation (even if you could translate trockenbeerenauslese, would that really be helpful?) and bottles of American Riesling didn’t offer much information at all about the contents within. How would you know what you were getting when you bought a bottle of Riesling? Innovation has come in recent years as many American wineries have added a simple gauge on the back label which indicates relative sweetness—or dryness.

“J.Lohr’s 2016 Bay Mist White Riesling, has such a scale which indicates it’s just about halfway between ‘medium-dry’ and ‘medium-sweet’. Not a precise calibration, but enough to give the consumer a fair chance at selecting something that will suit his palate.

“A note re. the ‘White Riesling’ definition of this week’s ‘Pick’—you can figure it’s a synonym for the real Riesling, and not related to the once very popular California white wine called ‘Gray Riesling,’ which was actually made from a different grape--the Trousseau Gris.

“But enough of this perhaps confusing background. What did we think of this week’s Pick, the 2016 Bay Mist White Riesling from J.Lohr?

“This wine comes from grapes grown in the cool Arroyo Seco region Of Monterey County, which is pretty good Riesling country by sunny California standards. There is more fruity aroma than in most white wines at this price—we found it to evoke Bartlett pears and maybe a bit of apricot. There is enough sweetness so it may appeal to the wine novice, but not so much as to be off-putting to the person ordinarily drinking drier. Texture actually plays a role in the taste of a wine and this Riesling seemed to show a bit of heft or viscosity in the mouth, yet also an almost spritzy finish in a very appealing interplay. There’s also a bit of minerality present. This is a very difficult quality to describe to those who’re unfamiliar with this part of a wine’s personality, but it’s a positive attribute. At ten dollars retail—and sometimes found at a dollar less—we think it’s a solid buy that may expose the Chardonnay-sated consumer to a whole new world.”

Food Affinity:   “The go-to Riesling pairing espoused by many wineries has been Chinese food, and more recently, Thai food. Nothing wrong with those suggestions, but at this time of year, we’d suggest it’s also an appropriate choice for turkey dinner and might be a good addition to your family Thanksgiving table, even if the trendier diners may still want to enjoy a Pinot Noir with their bird.”

Editor’s Note:   Wines reviewed in Taste California Travel are encountered by our staff in several ways. They can be discovered at trade tastings or visits to wineries. They may also be purchased by staff members for their own tables or be those sent by wineries for possible review. This is an editorial feature, not advertising, and appearance cannot be secured by payment. More information can be had by contacting This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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