I like my Riesling well-chilled, racy, overflowing with tropical flavor, and dry.
Match them with spicy Asian or Thai cuisine, and Riesling’s crisp acidity and citrus flavors produce a delightful sensation.
Riesling is also a refreshing, stand-a-lone beverage on hot, hazy summer days.
Two of the best I’ve tasted for the price are actually coastal opposites: Washington State’s Kung Fu Girl and New York State’s Salmon Run.
Both sell for under $12 a bottle in most local stores. (Salmon Run is on sale in New Hampshire for $9.34.)
Kung Fu Girl, developed by former British music promoter Charles Smith, is one of America’s top-selling brands. As a
winemaker, Smith has tapped into consumers’ taste buds to craft exciting, flavorful and smooth drinking wines at affordable prices.
Kung Fu Girl, whose funky label is inspired by actress Lucy Liu’s role in the 2003 movie “Kill Bill”, is one of them.
Readers of this column are familiar with my love for this wine. It remains a consistent winner from vintage to vintage, a testament to
gorgeous fruit sourced from the prestigious Evergreen Vineyard which sits by the Columbia River. The loamy soils consist of basalt and a
layer of caliche – calcium carbonate – that lend minerality to white grapes grown there.
The 2014 Kung Fu Girl is impressive both on the nose and palate. Apple, pear and citrus, including pink grapefruit, inspire the senses and
tingle the tongue. Clean and smooth, it finishes off-dry with a subtle apple sweetness.
About 2,560 miles to the east, in the Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York, Riesling grapes deliver a totally different profile in the
wines produced at the Frank Family Winery. This is the beauty of terroir and the different geological attributes passed on to the vines and ultimately
Nearly 2 million years ago, the Finger Lakes were carved out of huge glacial ice sheets moving south from the Hudson Bay area.
In its wake, the Pleistocene-era flow deposited minerals all over the valleys and hillsides that were formed. The area turned
out to be ideal for growing cool weather grapes.
Dr. Frank Konstantin emigrated from the Ukraine in the mid-20th century where he taught viticulture at Cornell University. He saw the
potential of the region and began growing Riesling more than 50 years ago. His son Willy and now grandson Frederick have expanded operations
through the years, bringing national acclaim to the Dr. Frank, Chateau Frank and Salmon Run brand wines.
In 1995, Frederick introduced Salmon Run to build a wider audience for the family’s Rieslings. The name comes from the landlocked salmon that
swim in nearby Keuka Lake. The grapes are sourced from multiple vineyards in the area.
The 2014 Salmon Run comes in a distinctive blue tapered bottle with an ink-etched salmon on the label. The aromas are white-flower fresh and
soothing. Unlike the citrusy Kung Fu Girl, Salmon Run cools the palate with tastes of apricot, peach and honeydew melon. It’s clean, vibrant,
and finishes dry with a pronounced minerality.
I suggest you try both these wines to experience Mother Nature’s impact on Rieslings produced from unique soils, and choose the one that’s perfect for your palate.