Just over a year ago on a trip to Walla Walla, I made what I consider an essential stop on any trip to Eastern Washington and Oregon. That is the tasting room of Woodward Canyon, where I picked up a six bottles of their 2005 Columbia Valley Dry White Riesling. It was a wonderful wine fourteen months ago, but an additional year in bottle has elevated it beyond simply wonderful. A year ago it was brightly fruity, refreshing and a pleasure to drink. With the additional months in bottle it moved beyond pleasure into something that went from background to foreground, grabbing your attention and focusing your thoughts on every piece of data arriving from your taste buds. The bright fruit had evolved to a gripping minerality laced with those distinctive petroleum notes of maturing riesling all woven within a ripe white peach and racy Meyer lemon savory tart. We are now in Dungeness Crab season and it was an inspired match with some crabs brought into Newport just the day before.
What struck me the most is how the wine just grabbed my attention. It made me sit up and take notice. The mere tasting of it was not enough and each sip became more-and-more compelling. It is this demanding of your time and attention that defines great wine. I don’t think this is a level of nirvana that can be attained without aging a wine as young wines hide their real complexity under layers more obvious charms. If you can ignore it, it’s not great wine.