Ser Sparkling Riesling
Wirz Vineyard, Cienega Valley, California 2016
Is it fair that this wine reminds me of Santa Cruz? I’m clearly drawing from the fact that Nicole makes her wine, and her home, in this amazing corner of California, but bear with me here. First of all, let’s talk about the saltiness on this wine. Lip-smacking yum! Almost Margherita like. Great German Rieslings can show some salty character for sure so this is not a surprise for the variety, but I feel like the bubbles brightens it up just a notch. Next, it’s the classic ripe fruitiness and orange blossoms in bloom aromatics of the grape shining through that just makes you think of sunshine. It’s a beach wine for sure, as Riesling can often be. And lastly there’s a bit of a wild nature to the wine, something musty and herbal like a thick fog in the forest. Santa Cruz is, in every way, a bit wild. So brava to Nicole, this delicious wine truly shows a sense of place and in so many wonderful ways.
Nicole Walsh is a Michigan native whose segue into wine began with studying sustainable agriculture. So it’s no wonder why the growers and vineyards she sources her fruit from are some of the best around. The Riesling, for example, comes from 60+ year old, dry farmed, gnarly head trained vines, grown by Pat Wirz. This historical vineyard is a pure gem in the California landscape and Nicole would clearly never launch her brand with anything less. Another grape she sources from this vineyard, and believes in strongly, is as rare an anomaly as it gets called Cabernet Pfeffer.
Riesling in California, for the overwhelming majority, has just been all wrong. That’s harsh, I realize, but it’s only been in the last five years or so where I’ve jumped at the chance to try a new local Riesling as opposed to recoiling in horror. It’s simply because… if you’re a lover of German Riesling (and you had better be) you know that it is an unparalleled and magnificent anomaly in wine. But through steadfast work in both locating more appropriate vineyard sites, and through smarter vineyard management, there has finally risen the potential for some home-grown greatness with one of the world’s most nobel grape varieties.