More than 600 Riesling devotees gathered on the grounds of Chateau Ste. Michelle on Sunday, July 11 to experience the finest Rieslings from around the world at the Riesling Rendezvous Grand Tasting. Hosted by Chateau Ste. Michelle, the leading North American Riesling producer and Dr. Loosen, the famed German Riesling estate, the third Riesling Rendezvous featured wineries from Germany, Alsace, Austria, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Michigan, Washington, Oregon, California, New York and New Jersey. Attendees also enjoyed an array of Riesling friendly foods prepared by Chateau Ste. Michelle Culinary Director John Sarich and Executive Chef Janet Hedstrom.
“It was remarkable to have winemakers from seven countries and six U.S. States at the Chateau showcasing their Rieslings for consumers and trade,” says Ted Baseler, president of Ste. Michelle Wine Estates. “We hope the consumers, wine writers and wine buyers who attended Riesling Rendezvous walked away with a greater appreciation, understanding and enthusiasm for Riesling.”
The Grand Tasting was part of the three-day Riesling Rendezvous conference July 11-13 designed to bring together leading Riesling experts and producers to explore the versatility of Riesling worldwide. Some 250 producers, trade, journalists and a few consumers attended the trade tastings July 12 & 13 held at the Bellevue Hyatt Regency. The highlight of the trade tastings were two blind tastings guided by distinguished journalists and producers to explore Riesling styles, from the powerful dry wines of Austria, Alsace, Australia and New Zealand to the elegant German variations and flavorful, spicy interpretations from the United States and Canada.
The event also included break out sessions on compelling Riesling issues, including: Effect of Climate Change on Riesling, Greening of Riesling, Riesling & Cheese Pairing, Dry Riesling: 10 Years After, Let it Rock tasting featuring young German winemakers, Discovering Austrian Riesling and Producers Only Roundtable. Lunches on Monday and Tuesday were sponsored by Alsace Wines and Northern Michigan Wineries. The “10 Years After” workshop arguably made the biggest impression of the trade tastings by featuring a 1946 Riesling from Germany.
Riesling Rendezvous Fast Facts:
• 600 consumers, trade, media and producers attended the sold out Riesling Rendezvous Grand Tasting July 11 at Chateau Ste. Michelle.
• 250 producers, trade, wine writers and several consumers participated in the sold out trade tastings July 12 & 13 at the Bellevue Hyatt Regency.
• 68 wineries from seven countries and six U.S. States were featured at Riesling Rendezvous Grand Tasting.
• 46 wine writers from around the world attended the events.
• A total of 387 wines were showcased over the three days (3,006 bottles)
• 9,000 glasses were used for the tastings during the three days.
“It was a riesling lover’s dream, with dozens of rieslings in all styles and from all major regions of the world. Nearly 70 producers from six countries and seven U.S. states participated.” — Richard Leahy’s Wine Report
“The event kicked off with a grand tasting Sunday evening. Producers were grouped by region, and really showed well the wide range of flavors and styles that Riesling can exhibit.” — Wine Business Monthly.com
“For me, the diversity and the intellectual challenges associated with it are the very things that make the grape so interesting and appealing and are what drew me to this conference.” — Vint-Ed by Edward Deitch
“I attended all three days of the Riesling Rendezvous, which included a Grand Tasting, blind tastings, and workshops. It was wonderful to have so many producers and enthusiasts from all around the world together for a total Riesling immersion. It was the first time that I had ever focused on a single variety for three straight days. One of my favorite sessions was the Ageability of Riesling workshop, which made a strong case for the age worthiness of Riesling.” — Wine Peeps
“Just spent three days at the chummiest international wine gathering I've ever attended: Riesling Rendezvous in Seattle. Cabernet makers snipe at each other. Pinot makers have a friendlier rivalry, but are quick to assert the supremacy of their region. Chardonnay makers cash their paychecks; is there such a thing as a Chardonnay confab? Riesling is a bit of an underdog. It's beloved by sommeliers and wine geeks, but distrusted by the majority of wine drinkers no matter what folks like me write. Maybe that's why its producers stick together. Credit Germany's Ernst Loosen and his partner at Chateau Ste. Michelle, Bob Bertheau, for creating the feeling of an international collaboration of folks who love the greatest grape that's not really mainstream. Everybody who makes Riesling is invited to the Rendezvous. We had Alsatian Rieslings with lunch on Monday, and Michigan Rieslings with lunch on Tuesday, and both were treated with equal respect.” — The Gray Market Report by Blake Gray
“It was a real love fest. Riesling is the fastest growing market segment in the United States right now and the rising tide raises all boats. There was a strong sense of good will and collective achievement. The meeting was organized by Washington State’s Chateau Ste Michelle (CSM), the number one U.S. Riesling maker, and Dr. Loosen, a leading Mosel producer. Their partnership was really at the core of the event — you could see evidence of it everywhere. Loosen and CSM have collaborated for a dozen years on a number of projects, the most visible of which is Eroica, consistently one of America’s top Rieslings. It was interesting to listen to Ernie Loosen and Bob Bertheau, CSM’s head winemaker, talk about their work together and how much they have learned from each other. There was a real sense of mutual respect and pride of accomplishment – part of the feel-good feeling.” — The Wine Economist
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