2019 Desire Lines Wine Co, Riesling, Experimental Series No. 3 “The Deep End” Wiley Vineyard, Anderson Valley.
Those that are familiar with me and my personal tastes, know I’m a devoted Riesling geek, sometimes called an acid freak, for my love of all things Riesling, so when I like a Riesling it is a big deal, and Desire Lines makes one of my favorite California examples, and this rare small lot Experimental Series No. 3 “The Deep End” Wiley Vineyard dry Riesling is exceptional stuff with chiseled detailing, mineral/stony driven flavors and with riveting natural acidity with a mix of crisply tart citrus and orchard fruits. As mentioned in my prior reviews, winemaker Cody Rasmussen, who is an assistant winemaker at Bedrock Wine Company under Morgan Twain-Peterson MW, has really made a splash with his and his wife Emily’s Desire Lines Wine Co label, this small micro winery that is certainly one of California’s breakout stars of the last few years. Mostly known for his stellar Syrah bottlings from Griffin’s Lair in the Petaluma Gap and the famous Shake Ridge Vineyard in the Sierra Foothills, Rasmussen is also a well studied student of wine and has a love for Riesling, and makes it in a precise way to capture its expressive and pure varietal character. This 2019, from a low yielding and long cool growing season has plenty of zingy and zesty presence in the glass, while still showing old vine fruit density and powerful extract with lime, tangerine, unripe peach, a touch of green apple and bitter quince fruits, accented by a fresh saltiness, chamomile, verbena, wet river rocks and flinty spices. As it opens, the Wiley Riesling gains a nice textural feel and it has subtle paraffin or waxy element, like some of top Aussie producers, especially the Eden Valley versions, like Henschke and Pewsey Vale, as well as the Jim Barry in the Clare Valley. American Riesling is on a roll, there’s never been a better time to explore them, in particular the bone dry versions, like this one, along with the wines from Tatomer, Stony Hill, Cobb, Union Sacre, Joyce Wine Co, Morgan Winery and Casa Nuestra, as well as Oregon’s Brooks Winery, to name just a few of the best examples to try.
The Wiley Vineyard, as winemaker Cody Rasmussen notes, was one of the first few vineyards to be planted in Anderson Valley following the repeal of Prohibition, with the block of Riesling he uses for this wine, being planted in 1976, making it wonderfully mature and producing grapes of dense concentration. This site rides on a sloping ridge that overlooks the the valley floor, set on ancient marine sedimentary soils and is, as Cody continues, fully encircled by a strand of beautiful old redwoods and Douglas fir trees. The Wiley Vineyard has seen lots of growth in the area with the addition of some prestigious neighboring vineyards coming online in more recent times, including the Bearwallow and Kiser vineyards, close by, just across the highway, and the Wendling Vineyard, an awesome Pinot Noir site, famously used by Jason Drew, which is one of California’s best cool climate wines, is just on the other side of the ridge from here. Rasmussen makes a fantastic other dry Riesling, sourced from the Cole Ranch Vineyard and AVA, which is quite different to this Wiley Vineyard Experimental Series version, it is a colder terroir than Cole Ranch that is more perfumed and maybe more rounded, with this Wiley getting a prominent cooling marine influence from the nearby Pacific Ocean, that makes it a slightly more jazzy wine, though both are energy filled and outstanding. 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, much the same way many premium Trockens are done in Germany. There is more than a passing likeness or similarity to its dry style cousins in Germany in this Experimental Series No. 3 “The Deep End” Wiley Vineyard Riesling, it reminds me a little of some famous names in the Rheinhessen, in the same vein as Wittmann and the basic bottlings from Keller, which is high praise, and I recommend this wine wholeheartedly!
($30 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive