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2011 Jekel Riesling Monterey and 2011 Jekel Pinot Noir Santa Barbara

userfiles-file-Jekel-Riesling-2011Riesling is one of the wine world’s best values. Whether the bottle comes from Germany, Australia, Alsace, Washington State, New York or a cool region in California, you can consistently get more flavor and energy for your dollar with Riesling than any other grape. Given that Riesling is both moderate in alcohol and a tremendously versatile partner for food, it’s a wonder people aren’t more enamored with it. Why is it that, when many of us began to reject oaky, buttery Chardonnay, we turned to oft-boring and green, no-oak, no-ML California Chardonnay rather than make the jump to Riesling? Face palm.

As my diet has become less steak, steak, steak, I’m drinking more Riesling myself and I’m bringing it to dinners with friends. Their first sip is often a literal eye-opener. Bam! Flavor that sings. Acidity, and sometimes a touch of sweetness, that compliments sauerkraut or curry, steamed bass or braised pork, hot dogs or haute cuisine.

I’ll admit that most of the Riesling I drink comes from either Germany or Australia. However, I recently received a Monterey County Riesling from Jekel Vineyards as a sample and found it both well-made and a good value ($15.99). The nose is a charming mix of apricot, lime and white flowers. The palate is off-dry yet retains juiciness while a very finely textured mouthfeel adds interest. The attractive flavors of apricot, peach, lime and grapefruit pith were fresh and nicely balanced with the sweetness and acid. The 2011 Jekel Vineyards Riesling Monterey—just 12.5% alcohol—goes down very easily with our without food. Tasting it though, I was struck by how nicely a well-chilled bottle would go with a traditional Thanksgiving meal. Drink through 2014. Recommended.

Pinot Noir is usually the opposite of Riesling with respect to value. Pinot Noir is finicky, doesn’t take well to large crop loads and usually benefits from some time in oak. Oak aging is one cost that Riesling producers don’t face. I usually find inexpensive Pinot to be unexciting at best and sometimes flat-out unpalatable. Sometimes there are heavy-handed oak flavors that come from using wood staves in a steel tank rather than actual barrels. Sometimes the fruit is confected or tastes artificial. Sometimes the fruit isn’t ripe, or it’s way too ripe. Nuance? Hah!

However, in the same shipment from Jekel, I received the affordable 2011 Jekel Vineyards Pinot Noir Santa Barbara County (14.1% alcohol) which I’d be happy to drink. I was surprised by its complexity, impressed by it’s restraint and refreshed by it’s dry, juicy palate. The nose offers dusty black cherry, cola spice, charcoal and dark berries. The medium-bodied palate serves up even more than the nose: black cherry, cola, berry fruit leather, day-old campfire, dry herb and cracked pepper—all held in check by moderate, drying tannins. That’s a lot of Pinot Noir for $17.99. Recommended.

Interpreting my wine ratings

 

Disclosures: The FTC has tightened its guidelines with respect to online ads, reviews, blogs, etc. in response to people who are passing paid ads off as personal recommendations or who accept samples of expensive hard goods in exchange for reviews. My lengthy disclosure here is meant to address those guidelines.

The review above reflects my personal experience with the product. It is not a paid ad, nor do I accept ads or compensation for reviews from wine producers. Reviews may cover products that I have purchased, received as samples, or tried under other circumstances I consider to be good tasting conditions. Receiving a product as a sample does not obligate me to review it positively (or at all) and I do not consider samples to be compensation or “free wine.” I have purchased plenty of wine over the years and have more of that than I can drink. Samples are opened for review purposes, not added to my personal cellar or taken to restaurants.

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This article is original to NorCalWine.com. Copyright 2013 NorCal Wine. All rights reserved.