2021 Desire Lines Wine Co, Dry Riesling, Experimental Series #10 “Old Durney” Massa Estate Vineyard, Carmel Valley, Monterey County.
Cody Rasmussen’s wines are some of the most exciting new wines in California, especially his thrilling Syrahs and his exceptional Riesling expressions, like this fabulous Old Durney (Massa Estate Vineyard) from my home batch, and old vines in Carmel Valley, it is maybe the best white wine produced from the region, along with a few versions of Chenin Blanc from the same site! All organic vines set on California shales, this vineyard, planted in the late1960s is a local legend, known for long lived Cabernet and the original Durney family that pioneered the region. This greenish pale 2021 Desire Lines Riesling is mineral driven, complex and textural in nature with crisp and zesty lemon/lime citrus, along with green apple, unripe apricot and quince fruits, as well as a sense of spiciness, bitter herbs, wet rocks, loam and chamomile notes coming through on the medium bodied and racy palate. This wine really rounds out and smoothly fills out in serious fashion, making it wonderfully pleasing, brilliantly balanced and delicately aromatic, great with briny seafoods and lightly spiced dishes. Hints of rosewater, tangy lime and steely elements linger on and on here with soft verbena too, in this dry Riesling that Rasmussen absolutely nailed to near perfection! I have been enjoying these Desire Lines Riesling since I first discovered them and I have never doubted the quality here, so I was thrilled when world renowned Riesling guru Stuart Pigott of James Suckling reached out to get his hands on some, which he too loved, confirming my own thoughts that these are some of the best California Rieslings ever produced!

There’s a lot of reasons to get excited by these Desire Lines offerings, with my favorites being the mentioned Syrah bottlings, including Cody’s fantastic Shake Ridge and Griffin’s Lair examples that are his two signature wines, though I love all of the Rieslings almost as much, especially the Cole Ranch, Wiley Vineyard and this Massa Vineyard, which has a personal connection as I live so close to this famous site. Rasmussen says, In some mysterious way, he thinks the remarkable setting and unusual soil type stamps his Massa Vineyard Riesling with a personality distinct (and different) from the Mendocino County Rieslings (Cole Ranch and Wiley Vineyard) he does. Adding that he can’t quite put his finger on it, but there’s something singular to the austere phenolic mouthfeel, opulent orange citrus fruit profile, and herbal nuances that speak of California’s sunny Central Coast and this old set of vines. The wine, he continues, was fermented in a 1000-liter Stockinger oval and left on lees until bottling in July, or about 9 or so months, which helped build its mouth feel, in my own opinion, also gives the wine a German like feel. This wine, Cody explains, shows just a touch of matchstick reduction on the nose, which he adores in his almost flinty Rieslings, and it reminds him a little of the Rieslings from Hofgut Falkenstein, one of his favorites, and mine too. I say join this mailing list as soon as possible and while you may come for the Syrah, you’ll stay for these outstanding Rieslings! Rasmussen, who is the assistant winemaker at Morgan Twain-Peterson’s Bedrock Wine Company in Sonoma has a real gift with Riesling and is enthusiast of the grape in all of its forms and levels of sweetness, though I am mostly impressed with his touch for the dry suff!
($25 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

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