The Fifty Best Riesling Tasting of 2020


The Tasting:
The Fifty Best held a “blind” tasting of recent release rieslings, with 12 members of our wine judging panel. The order of service was established beforehand by lottery. Strict tasting rules were applied. The wines were poured into fresh glasses from newly opened sealed bottles. Only ice water and crusty white peasant bread were available to cleanse the palate.

The judges wrote down their impressions of each wine on score sheets. The scoring was done on a 5-point system, with 5 as the highest. Double-Gold, Gold and Silver medals are awarded according to a set range of final point scores received from the judges. There were no bronze medals awarded for this tasting. Medals are provided based entirely on merit and only to products judged worthy of such award.

The tasting notes that follow are summaries of the judges’ opinions, with all replicated commentary eliminated. The states and countries are identified for each brand. Prices indicated do not include tax. Clicking on the brands' names will link to their websites.



Fetzer 2018 Riesling
(Monterey, CA)

Grapes for this wine hailed from cool-climate vineyards, with fermentation and aging in stainless steel.

Aroma: Fresh cut apple, green apple, Asian pear, pineapple, tart lemon, lime, citrus, lemon curd, honey, honeysuckle, white blossom, white flowers, light floral, grass, earth, pine, rich, delicate.

Palate: Peach, apricot, apple, pear, unripe nectarine, green grape, lime, tropical fruit, elegant fruit, honey, buttery, citrus blossom, elderflower, white flowers, mint, balanced, nice minerality, high acid, nice sweetness, very tasty, fresh, pleasant.

Finish: Pineapple, peach wine slushy, berry, honeysuckle, light vanilla, balanced, slight tannins, lightly tart, crisp, refreshing, delicious.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal

Fetzer Riesling



McBride Sisters
Black Girl Magic 2019 Riesling

(San Miguel, CA)   $20

Following harvest, the grapes for this wine (100% Riesling) were fermented and aged in stainless steel.

Aroma: Peach, white peach, mango, pear, crisp green apple, sour apple, lemon, citrus, elderflower, gardenia, floral, maple, straw, beeswax, acidic, minerals, soft, pretty.

Palate: Peach, white peach, nectarine, ripe apricot, stone fruit, slightly tart pineapple, pear, crisp Bosc pear, green apple, McIntosh apple skin, green mango, grapefruit, lemon, citrus, white flowers, honey, honey butter, briny, earth, medium acid, tart with background sweetness.

Finish: Tart apricot, lingering citrus, hints of honey, rose petal, gardenia, balanced sugars, good acid balance, nice acidity, smooth, soft. delicate, elegant, lovely.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

McBride Sisters Black Girl Magic Riesling

Dr. Loosen 2018 Erdener Treppchen Riesling
Trocken GG Alte Reben

(Mosel, Germany)   $28

100% Riesling grapes were fermented with indigenous yeast, and then the wine was barrel-aged for one year on its lees (wasted yeast) before bottling.

Aroma: Golden apple, red apple, pear, fresh Anjou pear, apricot, apple skin, Meyer lemon, squeezed lemon, lemon zest, citrus, lemon meringue, honey, dandelion, floral, herbal, vanilla, musty, wet hay, chalk, minerality.

Palate: Nectarine, pineapple, gooseberry, green apple, under ripe peach, unripe pear, tart grapefruit, lemon, lime notes, white flower, lemon grass, grassy, well balanced citrus notes, high acid, minerality, creamy.

Finish: Tart apple, apple skin, lingering lemon, lemon peel, minerals, balanced, nice acid, crisp.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Dr. Loosen Erdener Treppchen Riesling Trocken GG Alte Reben

Bee Hunter 2014 Late Harvest Riesling
(Anderson Valley, CA)  $32 for a 375ml bottle

This wine was made from Riesling grapes that were left on the vine until they became naturally dehydrated (raisiny), resulting in a sweet wine.

Aroma: Apricot, nectarine, pineapple, mango, persimmons, melon, orange marmalade, sweet nectar, honey, concentrated sugars, cola, honeysuckle, oak.

Palate: Apricot, apricots drizzled in honey, ripe mango, peach, pineapple, sweet apple cider, golden raisins, prunes, dates, dark raisins, honey, cotton candy, cola, honeysuckle, white flowers, clover, nutty, botrytis, balanced, big, fat, rich, buttery, silky.

Finish: Apple, pear, ripe berries, dried dark fruit, juicy, honey, late harvest style, smooth, well rounded, rich, well made, delicious.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Bee Hunter Late Harvest Riesling


Fritz Haag 2018 Brauneberger Juffer Riesling
Trocken GG

(Mosel, Germany) $46

This 100% Riesling, with grapes from a steep south-facing hillside vineyard, was produced primarily in stainless steel.

Aroma: Bosc pear, green apple, green banana, cucumber, grapefruit, lime, citrus, pineapple, plum, candied pear, honeysuckle, beeswax, high acid, lilies, early summer, ripe, clean, crisp.
Palate: Granny Smith apple, green apple, pear, lemon, tart lemon, lemon zest, bitter grapefruit, stone fruit, grapefruit, musty, chalk, mineral, slate, wet stone, highly acidic, crisp.
Finish: Apple notes, green apple, lemon tart, light spice, delicate, crisp, vibrant.

Silver Medal
Silver medal

Fritz Haag Brauneberger Juffer Riesling Trocken GG



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