Summer Solstice, Fishing, and Rieslings to celebrate!

“I go fishing not to find myself but to lose myself.” –Joseph Monniger

Day one on the water in Lake of the Woods, Minnesota (see location under “isolated”) and it’s easy to realize that it’s hard to be stressed out with a fishing pole in the hand, a beautiful lake before you, and some sun setting in the distance.  My first trip to my parents’ cabin in over a decade, I wondered, “What took me so long to return?”



Backing up one week, I discovered that of all the wines I buy, my mother has taken to Riesling the most. In preparation, I went to Surdyks in NE Minneapolis because I knew they would have an adequate selection.  And since she would likely be cooking up the spoils of our fishing, I wanted to appease the cook.

The wines:

Willi Schaefer, 2012 Graacher Domprobst Riesling, Kabinett, Mosel (8.0%) (Retail: On sale, $15.99).  A traditional-style Riesling, this wine was a great “opener” for the first night of fishing that marked the Summer Solstice.  (No fish yet, but cheese complimented this selection). Fruit forward of tropical fruit of perhaps light mango and peach meets yellow apple, and pear.  True to style, there is an elegance of minerality and high acidity that keeps this wine from being sweet at 8% alcohol.  As the sun lasted well past 10:00 pm, this wine, too, was bright, light and silky fun.


Theo Minges Weingut’s, 2007 Der Froschkonig Spatlese, Pfalz (12.5%) (Retail: $29.99).  Named after a German tale, “The Frog King” (Think girl kisses frog he becomes a prince.  But this is the German version, so girl throws frog against a wall, and they live happily ever after), this wine is a tale of its own! The winemaker left this wine untouched for 18 months after harvesting.  The DSC_0104result: A delightful, elegant and surprisingly impactful dry Riesling that tasted of still, vintage champagne.  While no yeast touched the process, this wine opened with zesty, fruity and flowery notes of golden apple, gooseberry, and white flowers and opened into notes of yeast and minerality.  Like a fairy tale, the high acid and long finish was like a finely filtered ray of sunlight that one could hold in the palm, and palette, to remember the day in one’s senses.  Highly recommend.


Weingut and Weinstube Kruger-Rumpf, 2007 Binger Schorlachberg Riesling Spatlese (8.5%) (Retail: $34.99).  Karen MacNeil writes in the Wine Bible that the essence of German Rieslings is the essence of “transparency”–that there is a nakedness and a preciseness to these wines that defines their elegance.  I couldn’t agree more.  On a day were our limit was caught (a fun and whopping 20 walleye!), this honey-straw colored wine had no pretense to hide–it was the pinnacle of my Riesling experiment.  Ripe yellow apple, grapes, pear, melon notes met the deeper characteristics of brioche and yeast, wet mineral notes below.  It was smooth and silky, as a grown-ups cottoncandy held in the mouth before dissolution.  I could drink this every day to remind myself what the good things in life are. It was stunning.

Rieslings, like my belief that a 10 hour trip up North could be fun, are the come-from-behind contenders.  But the good ones, and there are many, are easy to find if you push past the shelves in your store that simply scream, “I’m cheap! I’m sweet!” If in doubt, look for the eagle on the bottle with the cluster of grapes in the center: This is the logo of the Association of German Prädikat Wine Estates which is awarded to the top 200 producers.



Drink to your health! Vaughn Duffy-Rose and Pinot Noir

“Come, gentlemen, I hope we shall drink down all unkindness.”- William Shakespeare
After a time lapse, I am back.  Travel, school, a detoured summer and the search for health has brought be back to my search for good wine. If you can’t beat them, then join them, and so I join thousands of other Minnesotans who have been forced to stay inside during the winter, and now during the wet, grey and bleak summer (Yes, I am stewing a bit). What better way to drown one’s sorrows, and waiting in doctor’s waiting rooms for hours (yes, today it was the plural version) than opening a bottle (or two) of wine. 
Vaughn Duffy from California is just what the doctor ordered.
The wines: Rose of Pinot Noir, 2013, Sonoma and Pinot Noir, 2012, Russian River Valley.
Hesitantly, I picked up the Rose from Pinot Noir, Sonoma, 2013, and was bracing myself for a tart kickback that I have found in young and undeveloped Roses. The boldness–like that of a well cultivated Pinot Noir–and the fruit forwardness of fresh fruit–cherry– hit my taste buds.  It’s like picking up what you think is McDonald’s, only to find out someone substituted Kobe beef.  At $18.99, I picked up 4 bottles of the new find.  The acid was medium plus, medium plus finish and a really refreshing twist on wine.  If you like the flavor of the red, but the concept of a rose for summer, this is your wine.
Because I had the chance to taste the Rose, I not so hesitantly picked up a bottle of the 2012 Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley.  Again, it was like Vaughn Duffy bottled articulate cheerleaders in wine–it was bright, zesty with a lot of fruit forward flavors of bing cherry (JUST like the winemaker described), notes of blackberry, vanilla, and a molasses meets cola undercurrent.  It had a great medium-finish (long enough to enjoy; not long enough to coat the tongue).  And my only regret is that I picked up only 1 bottle of this find.  AT $39.99, I would compare this to any Oregon Pinot and buy it any season of the year.
I found these wines at my new TC favorite, Cork Dork (but I might regret this recommendation if they run out before I get a chance to go back.)
Both are great on a hot summer day, or a cold summer day. It’s like a classic pair of shoes–they go with anything.  They especially go with days of long waiting room lines in the doctor’s offices and long periods of frustration due to the weather.
But I digress.