2020 Desire Lines Wine Co, Dry Riesling, Cole Ranch Vineyard & AVA, Mendocino County.
The beautifully aromatic and crisply bone dry Cole Ranch Riesling from Desire Lines Wine Co is a stellar california version of this varietal with mineral intensity, racy acidity and chiseled stony detailing that perfectly transmits the combination of rocky soils, that includes some limestone, gravel and loam. Desire Lines Wine Co, best known for their impressive, if not outstanding Syrah wines, also do a few intriguing whites, including a Shake Ridge Viognier, their Experimental Series Kick Ranch Sauvignon Blanc and this awesome Riesling from Cole Ranch, a site that benefits from Ocean breezes and cold nights that help store up the vibrant energy, while allowing an even ripening of the grapes. Interestingly, the Cole Ranch AVA, originally established in 1983, but the vines date back to 1971 when former owner Joe Cole planted them here, is an American Viticultural Area, and a single vineyard, located in Mendocino County, California. This area of vines, at less than a quarter of a square mile, about 60 acres, makes it the smallest AVA (appellation) in the United States. This tiny AVA is located between the Russian River and Anderson Valley and is home to some of the state’s most prized Riesling, as well as having small parcels of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinot Noir, all of which is sold to just a few wineries. This vineyard is set on a series of high hills ranging from 1,400-1,600 feet in elevation, and is now owned by the Sterling family, proprietors of the Esterlina Winery, that is located in Philo, controlling the entire vineyard acreage of the appellation, suppling Desire Lines with a some Riesling, as well as Pinot Noir guru Ross Cobb, who’s own version of dry Riesling has a cult like following. Cody and Emily Rasmussen started their own micro-winery and label, Desire Lines Wine Co. with a small batch of Syrah in 2014 and now has a wonderful collection of wines from which to chose. To make his Rieslings, Cody Rasmussen, uses traditional old world methods, with grapes seeing a whole cluster pressing with cold settling in tank, which bleeds out, or drops out the green phenolics, that, as Cody explains, is followed by fermentation in neutral barrels, where the wines are left on fine lees until bottling in the following summer, or about 9 months in total, which allows for a charming roundness, while focusing on absolute purity.
This dusty dry and steely 2020 Desire Lines Wine Co Cole Ranch Riesling shows off a lime citrus, tart peach, green apple and grapefruit led palate that adds tangy quince, bitter melon and a subtle tropical note as well as verbena, minty herb and crushed stones notes. As the wine opens you really take in the complexity, high toned floral aromatics, chamomile, clove spice, chalky sweet tarts and a gripping sense of dry extract, making me think of Rieslings from the Pfalz, and the Rheinhessen, like Keller’s Limestone bottling as well as a quality similar to what the best Aussie version from the Clare and Eden, this is outstanding stuff. Winemaker at Desire Lines Wine Co, Cody Rasmussen, as always, says that the Cole Ranch Riesling is a wine that’s especially close to his heart and this vintage is his fifth year working with the old-vine Riesling from Cole Ranch, a unique site that both a single vineyard and an AVA all to itself. Rasmussen adds, he tied his business card to the gate with the brown paper handle from his lunch sack in October of 2016, he didn’t ever imagine or think he’d get any grapes from here in the first place. Going on to reveal he never would have dared to dream that he’d grow to know and love the vineyard over half a decade (and counting) now, while I say he has done magic with this fruit and the Desire Lines Cole Ranch Dry Riesling is one of the best new world examples I’ve ever tasted. The 2020 Cole Ranch Riesling is cut in the mold of Rasmussen’s 2018, one of my favorites, with the numbers coming in at just 3.4 g/L residual sugar with a 3.03 pH and 7.3 titratable acidity, making it almost perfectly structured in a severe Trocken or Alsace mold. Cody sees this as a wine that’s going to age beautifully, though thinks, as I do, that it is delicious now. If you’ve not discovered Cody Rasmussen’s wines yet, you really should do your best to change that, as I’ve said before, and especially look for his Desire Lines Wine Co Syrah and Riesling bottlings. I highly recommend their Griffin’s Lair and Shake Ridge Syrahs, plus this fabulous wine, of course, as well as the Carignane and Mourvedre red blend from the Evangelho Vineyard in Contra Costa, which is owned by Cody’s boss, Morgan Twain-Peterson MW of Bedrock Wine Co. This Cole Ranch Riesling is a lovely and refreshing Summer sipper, but it really rises to the occasion when served with food, from briny oysters to traditional Alsace dishes it is up to the challenge and it should drink nicely for many years to come. There are very few wines that offer this much quality for the price, Riesling fans will want to find this wine and I suggest getting on the mailing list, as the 2021s should be equally compelling if not even better!
($25 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive