2020 Desire Lines Wine Co, Dry Riesling, Wiley Vineyard, Anderson Valley.
The bright gold, lively and brisk 2020 Desire Lines Wiley Vineyard dry Riesling from Cody Rasmussen is a quality effort with racy limeade, green apple and tart peach fruits and shows hints of seashore, chamomile, verbena and earthy stoniness, making for a beautiful fresh example of this varietal. Light to medium bodied, this wine, is deliciously crisp and goes wonderfully well with a wide range of cuisine choices, especially briny shellfish dishes, like raw oysters. 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. Again, like his earlier version, this Wiley Riesling presents 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’s set, that come the Clare Valley. I think, as I’ve said before, 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. Rasmussen is adding a few new versions of Riesling to his lineup, including an off dry or Kabinett style effort, which I am excited about and look forward to try soon.
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. Rasmussen makes a fantastic other dry Riesling, sourced from the Cole Ranch Vineyard and AVA, which is quite different to this Wiley 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. 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 his efforts should not be missed.
($25 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive