Idaho Riesling

If there's a white wine variety that Idaho does as well as anybody, it's Riesling. Our northerly location provides long daylight hours followed by cool nights that mitigate the heat of summer. These conditions allow the grapes to ripen fully while still maintaining healthy acidity. The result is wine that shows fully lush fruit flavors nicely balanced by that crisp acidity. Some of the best Idaho wines released back in the late '70s were Riesling. The variety still produces some of the state's top wines today. Here are four standout Idaho Rieslings:

2004 Bitner Vineyards Reserve Riesling, $9.99

This wine opens with gooseberry, peach and currant aromas laced with light touches of vanilla and cream. It's a very dry, Aussie style Riesling with crisp apricot flavors backed by very soft oak and a touch of lemon zest on the finish. This wine would hold its own against any of the award-winning Rieslings from Down Under.

2004 Ste. Chapelle Dry Riesling, $5.99

Floral honeydew melon, orange zest and peach jam aromas are among the bright citrus fruit that dominate this bone dry Riesling. It's a bit austere at first but it opens up nicely, offering a big hit of crisp lemon on the mineral flecked finish. It's a genuine bargain that would work well with everything from spicy Asian cuisine to shellfish.

2004 Snake River White Riesling, $7.99

The Snake River is elegantly structured and very well balanced with lovely fruit aromas with white peach up front, giving way to honeysuckle and notes of caramel. Light peach and apricot flavors dominate the palate in this subtly sweet wine with a light, just crisp finish. It would make a beautiful springtime aperitif.

2004 Williamson Vineyard Riesling, $9.99

Williamson's Riesling displays a nice spectrum of aromas from apricot and peach to lilac and rose petals. Nice smooth texture in the mouth highlighted by creamy melon and stone fruit flavors. There's ample richness up front balanced by honeyed citrus on the long, lingering finish. With just a hint of sweetness, the Williamson Riesling is a wine that should appeal to a wide spectrum of tastes.

This week's panel: Fawn Caveney, Tastevin; Rosemary Gray, Boise Co-op; David Kirkpatrick, Boise Co-op; Cindy Limber, Bardenay; Karen McMillin, Idaho Wine Merchant; Keith Nyquist, Wild West Wines and Spirits; Kevin Settles, Bardenay; Leslie Young, Spirit Distributing

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