Trying Out Trader Joe’s House Riesling

Name: Joseph Handler Pfalz Riesling
Type: White
Origin: Germany
Year: 2013
Price: $6.99

I was in Trader Joe’s the other day in Nashua, NH and they were sampling this riesling from Germany. I don’t know how they can import a wine from Germany that doesn’t taste like crap for $6.99 but here it is. I sampled it and the guy there described it as having a pleasant acidity and not at all sweet. I’ll give him the former but not the latter.

Most people wouldn’t describe this as a sweet wine, per se. But it is described right on the bottle as semi-sweet and I think that’s on target. Many people don’t know this but rieslings can run from very dry to very sweet even though most people assume they are sweet. I once had a minor argument about this because someone didn’t believe that riesling could be dry at all. I’m pretty sure they still didn’t believe me at the end, but it’s true.

This wine is a very pale yellow color and the aroma is very subdued. The flavors are not though. It has piercing citrus flavors, a jolt of acidity and a medium finish that contains the zest of all that citrus fruit. Very crisp and clean, low (10%) alcohol and overall pretty refreshing at this price point. This style of wine isn’t necessarily my thing but it has its place for sure. In my opinion that place would be beside the pool on a hot summer day.

 

Bottle of 2013 Joseph Handler Riesling

Avia Riesling

Name: Avia Riesling
Type: White
Grape: Riesling
Origin: Slovenia
Year: 2006
Producer: Vinska Klet Goriska BRDA
Price: $3.99

This one is very light yellow and smells like garbage, and maybe a touch of melon. The flavor is so light as to be watery and just ever so slightly sweet and tart. Not much of a flavor to tell the truth. I have not had good luck with the Slovenian Avia wines in general, I think I may avoid the brand moving forward.

Marcus James Riesling

Name: Marcus James Riesling

Type: White

Grape: Riesling

Origin: Argentina

Year: 2007

Producer: Fecovita

Price: $3.99

I have a couple of dueling $4 Rieslings here and this one is light yellow in color and smells of apple. The flavor is semi-sweet and has tart notes of Fuji apple. It isn’t a bad for a super cheap Riesling but it contains virtually nothing of what I love about Rieslings.

Blue Fish Riesling

Name: Blue Fish Riesling
Type: White
Grape: Riesling
Origin: Germany
Year: 2005
Producer: Niederkirchener Weinmacher e.G.
Price: $8.99

Nice straw color and honeyed apricot scent. The flavor doesn’t follow directly AT ALL. First thin and tart, then thin with notes of old citrus. It’s possible that this one is simply over the hill. A relatively dry, mass market Riesling that’s been sitting on the shelf for three years could be done for. My biggest issue with this wine is that the aroma promises a syrupy sweet dessert wine and the flavor delivers a dry, thin disappointment.

Robert Mondavi Private Selection Riesling

Name: Robert Mondavi Private Selection Riesling
Type: White
Grape: Riesling
Origin: U.S. – California
Year: 2006
Producer: Robert Mondavi
Price: $9.99

Robert Mondavi makes about every type of wine there is. I’ve been out to visit his estate in Napa and it’s very grand. Every wine lover in the U.S. should visit Napa Valley, it’s right here in the U.S. and it’s the center of the wine world here. It’s also the U.S. capital of identity theft, so watch your wallet while you’re there. This Mondavi Riesling is a thin golden color and has an aroma that I could do without. It smells like some composting fruit peels. Luckily the flavor is better. It is relatively sweet and has a dominant apricot flavor that moves into a short finish with chemical off notes. Stick to Germany for great Riesling. That’s not entirely fair to California, but cheap German Riesling is less of a crap shoot in general.

Turning Leaf Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

Name: Turning Leaf Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
Type: Red
Grape: Cabernet Sauvignon
Origin: U.S. – California
Year: 2006
Producer: Turning Leaf Vineyards
Price: $8.99

Nice little nose on this one, dark berries, a little chocolate, a little earthiness. The flavor though, is jarringly different and just kind of freakin’ weird. The more you drink it the more normal the flavor seems (like anything I suppose) but it’s definitely strange at first. It has a medium weight mouth feel but it’s tart and tannic, especially for mass market wine which is usually sweeter and not at all tannic. The weird part is that it’s full of off flavors like medicine and lemon juice that’s been sitting in the fridge too long. I don’t recommend it.

Check out Wine.com’s Most Popular Wines Under $20.

Nashoba Valley Riesling

Name: Nashoba Valley Riesling
Type: White
Grape: Riesling
Origin: U.S. – Massachusetts
Year: 2006
Producer: Nashoba Valley Winery
Price: $13.50

Nice frosted bottle in the typical Riesling bottle shape, even though it’s from Massachusetts. That’s where the similarities to German Riesling ends. The aroma smells like Bud Light and apple, seriously. It’s very full bodied for a Riesling, more sweet and lacking the crispness I expect from Riesling. It’s really it’s own animal though, not comparable to other Rieslings. It tastes pretty good though, not terribly complex but pleasing enough.

Check out Wine.com’s Most Popular Wines Under $20.

Deinhard Riesling

Name: Deinhard Riesling
Type: White
Grape: Riesling
Origin: Germany
Year: 2005
Producer: Dienhard KG
Price: $8.99

Smells of apple and apricot. The flavor is dry, much more so than most Rieslings I have had. It’s very flavorful and smooth, with a distinct tangy taste on the finish. One of the things I like about Riesling is the sweetness, but I like this one anyway. It isn’t complex, but it is a cheap, tasty Riesling.

Check out Wine.com’s Most Popular Wines Under $20.

Schmitt Sohne Riesling

Name: Schmitt Sohne Riesling
Type: White
Grape: Riesling
Origin: Germany
Year: 2005
Producer: Schmitt Sohne GMBH
Price: $9.99

Another of the fine bottles I acquired at Costco. Very pale yellow in color and it has a sugary aroma, like honey and ripe fruit. The flavor is slightly sweet as it hits your tongue but then turns more dry as you swirl it in your mouth. I can’t place the flavor but it’s not like other examples of Riesling that I’ve had, and I’ve had a few. The flavor is somewhere between “fruity drink” and “cough syrup” in flavor but not consistency obviously. It doesn’t taste bad but the world is chock full of better Rieslings.

Check out Wine.com’s Most Popular Wines Under $20.

Dr. Heyden Riesling

Name: Dr. Heyden Riesling
Type: White
Grape: Riesling
Origin: Germany
Year: 2005
Producer: Weingut Dr. Heyden
Price: $9.99

Straw-colored, with a honeyed-apricot nose. I haven’t met many Rieslings I haven’t liked and this one is no exception. The flavor is sweet, very mildly syrupy and ever so slightly fizzy. A nice little Riesling for just shy of ten bucks.

Check out Wine.com’s Most Popular Wines Under $20.