Smith Story Rheingau Riesling 2017
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Smith Story Wine Cellars crafts wines that are made with respect for the land, kindness for the grower, and love from the winemaker. Each vineyard Smith Story works with is family-owned as a central tenet; the founders believe firmly that the integrity of the vines can only be ensured by grape growers who safeguard the land for the next generation. The resulting wines have heart and soul. They show restraint, balance and the integrity of the grape. Eric and Ali's winemaking philosophy is to utilize classic, old world techniques and let the grapes - and sense of place where they are grown - speak for themselves.
In 2013, Eric Story and Ali Smith Story co-founded Russian River Valley-based Smith Story Wine Cellars out of a desire to make the kind of wine that “wine people” drink. Both came from wine industry backgrounds, and their palates remain well attuned to both the sublime and the delicious – at every price. They dreamed of starting a wine project that could produce wines that were both attractive and approachable…but that wouldn’t require a savant to enjoy them.
Working on a wine-industry budget, the duo tapped into the support of their extensive networks, successfully launching Smith Story Wine Cellars on Kickstarter in 2014. 3 Their campaign was called “Farmers First,” and the very first American winery to be crowdfunded was born. Today the winery produces over 4,000 cases annually and has been called “one of California’s top emerging wineries.” The wines begin with the land, places that are special to Eric and Ali in Northern California, from twelve family owned vineyards throughout Sonoma Valley, Sonoma Coast, Russian River Valley, Knights Valley, Pine Mountain, Anderson Valley and the Rheingau region of Germany. As the vineyard program grows, so will their story.
Practically one long and bucolic hillside along the northern bank of the Rhein River, the Rheingau stretches the entirety of the river’s east to west spread from Hocheim to Rüdesheim.
Variations in elevation, soil types, and proximity to the Rhine cause great diversity in Rheingau Riesling. Some of the better Rieslings in warmer years come from the cooler and breezier sites at higher elevations. In cooler years, sites closer to the river may perform better.
In the village of Rüdesheim, slopes are steep and soils are stony slate with quartzite; Rieslings are rich and spicy, intense in stone fruit and show depth and character with age. World class Rieslings come from farther east on the river through Geisenheim, Johannisberg, Winkel, Oestrich and past Erbach as well, where soils of loess, sand, and marl alternate. Long-living, floral-driven and mineral-rich Rieslings come from the best of these sites.
Rheingau growers became early activists in promoting the dry style of Riesling, low yields and the classification of top vineyards, or Erstes Gewächs (first growths). Proximity to the metropolitan markets of Mainz, Wiesbaden, and Frankfurt keeps Rheingau in high reputation. While dry wines are the style here, Rheingau isn’t short of some amazing Auslesen, Beerenauslesen, and Trockenbeerenauslesen.
Rheingau doesn’t mess with many other grapes—in fact 79% of its total area is dedicated to Riesling. But it produces some fine Pinot noir, especially concentrated in Assmannshausen, a bit farther west from Rüdesheim.
Riesling possesses a remarkable ability to reflect the character of wherever it is grown while still maintaining its identity. A regal variety of incredible purity and precision, 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. Somm Secret—Given how difficult it is to discern the level of sweetness in a Riesling from the label, here are some clues to find the dry ones. First, look for the world “trocken.” (“Halbtrocken” or “feinherb” mean off-dry.) Also a higher abv usually indicates a drier Riesling.