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WTN: An Idaho Riesling

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Ryan M

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WTN: An Idaho Riesling

by Ryan M » Fri Nov 30, 2012 11:55 pm

I had read that some respectable wine is made in Idaho, but had also heard that it was difficult to find outside of Idaho. Well, oddly enough, a grocery store here carries some Idaho wine - only two wines from a single winery though. Supposedly Riesling is one of Idaho's strong suits, so I gave one a try. And I must say, it was quite worthwhile.

Ste. Chapelle, Riesling, Snake River Valley 2008
Medium golden yellow. Some hints of petrol showing on the nose, with some floral tones. Sweet apple cider upfront on the palate, followed by pineapple, and a touch of apricot, with a hint of steely mineral, and some hints of something like gingersnap. Medium sweet (Spatlese level), fairly full in body, with respectable focus and purity. The sweetness is a bit exposed, and more substance would provide better contrast, but I do really like this. And its balance is such that it could age nicely for at least another 5 years. * * [11/30/12]
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Re: WTN: An Idaho Riesling

by Hoke » Sat Dec 01, 2012 1:08 am

Ryan, I used to sell the Ste. Chapelle Idaho wines a lifetime ago. LIke about 20 years now. Back then the woman who was their winemaker made some good wines, but haven't followed them for a good while, so I don't know what's going on now. They also made some very impressive Cabernets back then. Never did really take off outside the Pacific NW, and even then they needed pushing, because people didn't associate Idaho with classy wines...which is a shame, because that Snake River area is literally just across the border from the Columbia Valley/Eastern Washington area, and not far at all from the now revered Walla Walla. The potential was there. They never established enough of a unique identity, and had the same stable of varieties in the same styles as everyone else, so they never established sufficient "escape velocity" to break away from the crowd.
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Re: WTN: An Idaho Riesling

by Matt Richman » Sat Dec 01, 2012 3:20 am

Having family in Idaho, I've had a chance to taste several wines from that state. Ste Chapelle Riesling is probably the best of the bunch, but I've also had a very nice Cabernet Sauvignon from Koenig Vineyards.
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Re: WTN: An Idaho Riesling

by Ryan M » Sat Dec 01, 2012 1:13 pm

Hey Hoke and Matt. Yes, I had read that after Riesling, Cabernet was Idaho's other strength. And it makes sense that Idaho should parallel WA's strengths. Based on this one "data point" it does seem there is potential, but I can also see what Hoke notes: that Idaho wines may not be distinctive enough to gain a following. Apparently this Riesling is very popular around here, and at $5.60 a bottle, it is actually one of the better Rieslings I've had under about the $15 mark. The same grocery store does carry a red by Ste Chapelle, but it's a sweet red (that style is wildly popular around here by the way, I've never seen so many sweet red labels), and while I am curious, it's not exactly the sort of thing of would just buy to drink myself.

So, this one wine gives me a sense of a cross between WA and CA in terms of style. Is that about right for Idaho wines?
"The sun, with all those planets revolving about it and dependent on it, can still ripen a bunch of grapes as if it had nothing else to do"
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Re: WTN: An Idaho Riesling

by Bill Hooper » Sat Dec 01, 2012 1:41 pm

I've had both the Riesling and Chenin Blanc from Ste. Chapelle, but not for a decade or so. They were interesting enough for the price, maybe a little soft. The property is owned by Chateau Ste. Michelle, if I recall -and so should have good distribution opportunities.

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Re: WTN: An Idaho Riesling

by Jenise » Sat Dec 01, 2012 2:10 pm

I'm currently spending a lot of time near Idaho and have tried a few of the wines. None have made think Wow or anything, but what Hoke says about the Snake River AVA is why I've been trying them. Not easy to find though, the local markets carry almost nothing over $15,where the few Idaho wines I found were $20+.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: WTN: An Idaho Riesling

by Matt Richman » Sat Dec 01, 2012 3:27 pm

I've had maybe 10 Idaho wines and none have left me with the impression that Idaho approaches the potential of CA or WA.
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At several RhoneRangers, I've tried both Viognier & Syrah from SawtoothMtnWnry
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Re: WTN: An Idaho Riesling

by Moya D » Fri Dec 07, 2012 12:22 pm

It seems as though many elements of Idaho's wine growth and upgrade in quality have gone unnoticed. However there are many who have recently discovered this gem and are raving! Take a look at a few of the examples from Sunset Magazine last fall and Wines and Vines this past August. Idaho is definitely doing something right, you just might need to try another 10 to find the one that suits you.

http://www.idahowines.org/uploads/newsdocuments/36-SunsetSWITAOct2011.pdf
http://www.winesandvines.com/template.cfm?section=news&content=104738
http://palatepress.com/2012/08/wine/idaho-wine-industry-moves-from-bleak-to-lucrative/
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Re: WTN: An Idaho Riesling

by Jenise » Sun Dec 09, 2012 3:01 pm

Hi Moya, are you by any chance Moya Dolsby, the Executive Director of the Idaho Wine Commission? (Nothing wrong with that and in fact you're very welcome here, but in general it's wise to reveal vested interests.) Welcome to WLDG! As a recent traveller to your state (spent a lot of time in Moscow and travelled as far as Coeur D'Alene and Riggins on weekends), I'd love to hear from you about why Idaho's wines are so hard to find in Idaho! I'm a person with a substantial home cellar and interest in wine who always looks local when on the road, but I honestly had trouble finding any Idaho wines in Idaho restaurants or stores or personnel in either type of establishment who could explain the paucity. And if it weren't for the Food Coop in Moscow (where I bought wines from Three Rivers and Indian Creek), my success rate would be about zero but for Camas Winery's sparkling wine.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: WTN: An Idaho Riesling

by Moya D » Tue Dec 11, 2012 6:58 pm

Hi! Sorry about that, definitely not my intention to try and hide an identity, I just get excited about spreading the word of Idaho wine and forget certain introductions! Finding Idaho wine within the state is all about where you're looking. In Northern Idaho it is more difficult to find as there are fewer wineries and more space between. Southern Idaho however is where the industry is really booming and you can find it in pretty much any grocery store as well as many specialty wine shops. Both the Moscow Co-Op and the Boise Co-Op are wonderful places to find Idaho wine from all parts of the state. Yokes grocery stores in Northern Idaho are also good places to find it. As a still growing industry, many of the wineries have a case production of less than 5,000 (many times closer to 1,000) so for them to be spread across the entire state it gets a little difficult when still keeping their tasting rooms stocked. If you take a trip to the Boise area, you will find many, many restaurants with Idaho wines on their lists from all over the state, and like I said, most of the grocery stores down here also carry Idaho wine. Hopefully with the approval of the state's second AVA (currently being reviewed) up in the Lewiston/Clarkston area, we'll be able to grow a bigger presence up there and you'll be able to find them more easily all over!
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Re: WTN: An Idaho Riesling

by Matt Richman » Tue Dec 11, 2012 9:58 pm

The Boise co-op is amazing for wine. I go every time I'm in town.

Do you have any particular favorite wineries for Reds?
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Re: WTN: An Idaho Riesling

by Moya D » Wed Dec 26, 2012 3:58 pm

Happy Holidays! There are quite a few wineries that create exceptional reds. Fraser Vineyard does a really great Cabernet, while Cinder has been known for it's Syrah and Tempranillo. Huston Vineyards has a really terrific red blend, usually sells out quickly though so I'm not sure on the availability. If you're looking in Northern Idaho, I would check out Colter's Creek for their Syrah and Koos Koos Kia red blend. Also Pend d'Oreille Winery for their Bistro Rouge and Clearwater Canyon Cellars for their Carmenere. There are many other great reds, but that's a start!

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