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All things Riesling

If Riesling is your “thing”, then the place to be on Sunday June 10 and Monday June 11 is Traverse City, Michigan for the annual City of Riesling event. Starting with the Great Lakes Brunch and Walk-Around Tasting from 11 A.M.
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If Riesling is your “thing”, then the place to be on Sunday June 10 and Monday June 11 is Traverse City, Michigan for the annual City of Riesling event. 

Starting with the Great Lakes Brunch and Walk-Around Tasting from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday at the stellar “Trattoria Stella”, guests will encounter Riesling (along with many other wines) as never experienced outside this event

City of Rieslings brings together Winemakers and Riesling enthusiasts from all over the world – Germany, Australia, New York Finger Lakes, and America’s West Coast including California, Oregon and Washington. If anything, the only under-representation would be from Canada. And I know the organizers would welcome that contingent.

In the past, Niagara wines from Cave Spring Cellars and Stratus’s Charles Baker have been part of the event – I am sure that it would be beneficial to both our industry and to the City of Riesling if our presence would grow.

Following the Brunch, the afternoon progresses at Kirkbride Hall at the Grand Traverse Commons with a “Riesling and Red” Tasting at 4:30 p.m., followed by the “Gold Capsule “tasting at 5:30 p.m., and then the “Night of 100 Rieslings” at 6:30 p.m.… and there really will be 100 Rieslings in the line-up to taste! 

pastedImagefile-1Muré Signature Riesling 2014, $22.95
(By the way, a top-notch Riesling from Alsace will be released in Vintages on June 9. Muré Signature Riesling 2014, $22.95 – “Wet stone and lemon zest seem like markers on a road that leads to endless refreshment.” Wine Enthusiast – 92.)

Monday is all Education…and Tasting, at Kirkbride Hall. There are 4 one-hour seminars starting at 9:00, with a half-hour between sessions. The two morning topics feature New York’s Finger Lakes and Sparkling Riesling (…or the Joy of Sekt!) respectively.

In the afternoon Bob Bertheau and Ernst Loosen, along with Hunter Smith will provide perspectives from Washington State, Germany’s Mosel, and Australia’s Margaret River.

The final session deals with marketing what Master Sommelier Matt Citriglia calls “the Greatest White Wine on Earth. 

At each session you can expect to taste at least 8 wines.

Between the morning and afternoon sessions, lunch is scheduled downtown at Gaijin, a restaurant celebrating the fusion of Asian and American cuisine. Oregon wines will be the feature here.

Bob Bertheau is head winemaker at Chateau Ste. Michelle in Washington’s Columbia valley, whose wines are often featured in the LCBO, particularly in Vintages. Their website lists 10 different Rieslings, including four “Eroica” examples.

Eroica, named after Beethoven’s Third Symphony, is a collaboration with Ernst Loosen of Germany’s Dr. Loosen Estate. The well-made Dr. Loosen wines show up regularly in Vintages, and the “Loosen Up” Riesling, which is definitely in the medium range and made from fruit grown in the Rheinhessen, is on the regular list at $14.15.

pastedImagefileErnst Loosen

Hunter Smith’s family has been making wine in Australia’s far western region for 30 years. Frankland Estate focuses on Rieslings, making several styles each vintage.

The sessions are certainly designed to educate, and they provide a good platform for the exchange of ideas between winemakers along with restauranteurs and others in the wine trade. Along the way, it is a great learning opportunity for people who really enjoy wine and a good voyage of discovery.

The cost, in American dollars, for the different events are as follows: 

The Great Lakes Brunch and Walk-Around Tasting - $55.

Sunday Registration, including the Riesling and Red Tasting, the gold Capsule Tasting, and the Night of 100 Rieslings - $150 

The Four Salon Sessions on Monday - $180

Lunch at Gaijin -$65

While it is clearly an expensive undertaking, and you may have to pick and choose, it truly is an intensive and immersive experience. There is definitely a slant toward people involved in some way in the wine and hospitality industries. As a business expense, it could easily be justifiable.

To register, visit the City of Riesling IV – Eventsquid site.

Regular List Look-Fors

Adobe Reserva Sauvignon Blanc Organic, $13, from Emiliana, Chile’s largest organic/biodynamic producer, balances flavours very nicely, so that the grassy and herbal notes marry well with gentle grapefruit character in a wine built to accompany lighter dishes.

Mouton Cadet Bordeaux White 2016, $15.45 - we don’t see a lot of Bordeaux white wines, but this version reminds us of why we should pay more attention. A traditional blend of Sauvignon Blanc (70%), Semillon (28%, and Muscadelle (2%), the wine appeals with a gentle entry, a round mouth-feel thanks to the Semillon, and citrus notes contributed by the Sauvignon Blanc. There is a degree of sophistication at work here, making it both good for sipping and as an accompaniment to creamy dishes or lightly flavoured seafood. 

Montecillo Crianza Rioja 2015, $15.20 – give this Spanish red a chance to breathe and it gets better and better. There is no “clunkiness”, but instead, everything fits smoothly together, with sweet dark fruit leading the way and more earthy notes resolving towards the finish, leaving the final impression one of harmony and integration. No matter the season, this Tempranillo/Graciano blend pairs well with strong cheeses and roasted meat dishes.

Mouton Cadet Bordeaux Red 2015. $16.15, is produced by the Baron Phillipe de Rothschild firm from grapes grown to their specification within Bordeaux and the Côtes de Bordeaux appelations. Predominantly Merlot, it presents bright red berry fruit and very good depth. The flavours are consistent and persistent, but the tannins are significant, though not aggressive. To enjoy now, serve it with flavourful roasted beef or lamb.

Vintages June 9 Release


El Coto Blanco 2016, $13.95 from Spain’s rioja is made mostly from the Viura grape. It exhibits both tart citrus and stone fruit such as nectarine, and, according to Vintages, herbal and mineral nots towards the end. 

Gérard Bertrand Réserve Spéciale Viognier 2015, $14.95 was scored 88 by Wine Align’s Sara d’Amato who detects sea salt, peach and pear, calling it “widely appealing, characteristic and well-balanced.” 

pastedImagefile-2Janare Senete Falnghina Del Sannio 2016, $18.95
Janare Senete Falanghina Del Sannio 2016, $18.95, from Italy’s Campania bears the top “three-glass” designation from Gambero Rosso. Wonderful intensity, with peach and tangerine on the palate. A silky texture and nutty note also come into play.

Justin Monmousseau Vouvray 2016, $19.95 – Vouvray is a wine made in the Loire region of France from the Chenin Blanc grape. It can be vinified either dry or, in this case, off-dry. Vintages doesn’t tell us, at this point just how sweet it is, but classifies it as “medium”. For those who prefer wines on the sweeter side, this is perfect for you and will work nicely with Asian cuisine.

(Not all of these wines are slated for Timmins, but they can be ordered on-line at


Casas Del Bosque Reserva Carmenère 2016, $15.95 – from Chile, this wine is aromatic with tobacco, dark fruits and chocolate on the nose and palate. Flavourful and ripe, it may still give a slight impression of bell pepper towards the finish. Well-made and very affordable. 

La Mascota Malbec, 2015, $16.95 from Argentina should be structured yet refreshing, with “smoky oak…textured bramble, liquorice and tobacco flavours.” – 91.

Chateau Hyot 2014, $17.95 - from Bordeaux’s Castillon region has “black-currant fruit and balanced sweet tannins. It has a fine elegant texture and juicy acidity.” Wine Enthusiast - 91

pastedImagefile-3The Black Chook Shiraz/Viognier 2016, $18.95
The Black Chook Shiraz/Viognier 2016, $18.95 – this very popular wine with a tiny splash of white shows “black/blueberry, cranberry, cocoa, toasted hazelnut and spice aromas. The palate is succulent and rounded, and delivers excellent mid-palate weight and texture.” 93.

Valle Reale Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, 2006, $23.95 – from central Italy, here is a mature red still showing beautifully. Gamberro Rosso issued its top “3 glasses” and wrote “Ripe plum and black currant with an evocative forest note and a firm finish.”

Seven Deadly Red 2015, $24.95, from Lodi, California blends Zinfandel with Petite Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. “Charcoal, wood smoke and clove aromas are followed by blackberry jam and black cherry flavors.” – Wine Enthusiast -91.