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Gainey Riesling 2010
This wine makes a fine accompaniment to seafood, poultry and pork dishes, as well as spicy Asian and Caribbean cuisine.
Dan J. Gainey retired in 1984 to devote himself to fulfilling his dream of making wine. In 1983, he planted 51 acres of vineyards on the northern boundary of the Gainey Ranch and in November of 1984 the 12,000 square foot Spanish-style winery opened its doors to visitors. Soon after, Dan H. Gainey joined his father and together the father-son team have set out to produce premium, hand-crafted wines made from the best vineyards in Santa Barbara County.
With over 40 years of farming experience behind them, the Gaineys have a connection to the land that few vintners may share. Since the original vineyard planting in 1983, the Gaineys have added 32 acres to their "Home" Ranch, which is primarily planted to the Bordeaux varietals Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. In 1996, they purchased 120 acres on the western end of the Santa Ynez Valley, a cooler growing region more suitable for Burgundian varietals. In 1997, they planted 35 acres at this "Santa Rosa Hills" Ranch to Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah, with plans for further plantings in the years ahead.
Ranging from cool and foggy in the west to warm and dry in the east, the Santa Ynez Valley is a climatically diverse growing area. The most expansive AVA within the larger Santa Barbara County region, Santa Ynez is also home to a wide variety of soil types and geographical features. The appellation is further divided into four distinct sub-AVAs—Sta. Rita Hills, Ballard Canyon, Los Olivos District and Happy Canyon—each with its own defining characteristics.
A wide selection of grapes is planted here—more than sixty different varieties, and counting. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir dominate in the chilly west, while Zinfandel, Rhône blends, and Bordeaux blends rule the arid east. Syrah is successful at both ends of the valley, with a lean and peppery, Old-World sensibility closer to the coast and lush berry fruit further inland.
A regal variety of incredible purity and precision, Riesling possesses a remarkable ability to reflect the character of wherever it is grown while still maintaining easily identifiable typicity. This versatile grape can be just as enjoyable dry or sweet, young or old, still or sparkling and can age longer than nearly any other white variety. Riesling is best known in Germany and Alsace, and is also of great importance in Austria. The variety has also been particularly successful in Australia’s Clare and Eden Valleys, New Zealand, Washington, cooler regions of California, and the Finger Lakes region of New York.
In the Glass
Riesling typically produces wine with relatively low alcohol, high acidity, steely minerality and stone fruit, spice, citrus and floral notes. At its ripest, it leans towards juicy peach, nectarine and pineapple, while cooler climes produce Rieslings more redolent of meyer lemon, lime and green apple. With age, Riesling can become truly revelatory, developing unique, complex aromatics, often with a hint of petrol.
Riesling is quite versatile, enjoying the company of sweet-fleshed fish like sole, most Asian food, especially Thai and Vietnamese (bottlings with some residual sugar and low alcohol are the perfect companions for dishes with substantial spice) and freshly shucked oysters. Sweeter styles work well with fruit-based desserts.
It can be difficult to discern the level of sweetness in a Riesling, and German labeling laws do not make things any easier. Look for the world “trocken” to indicate a dry wine, or “halbtrocken” or “feinherb” for off-dry. Some producers will include a helpful sweetness scale on the back label—happily, a growing trend.