Riesling Duel – Milbrandt vs. Pacific Rim

I’m not sure if it’s quite yet achieved cult-like status, but there’s little doubting riesling’s recent come-back as a serious white-grape contender for your dollars. I’m personally glad to see wineries making good, dry stuff and forgoing the ultra-cheap-tasting, over-the-top-sugar crap we see all to often in your local grocery store.

Mildbrandt Vineyards 2006 Traditions Riesling
Mildbrandt Vineyards, based in Mattawa Washington, is owned and operated by Butch Milbrandt and he’s done a great deal for the industry at large up here by selling his fine grapes to many other wineries in the region and being an overall good guy for us to have in our backyard.

He hired former Chateau Ste. Michelle winemaker, Gordon Hill to come make wines under the Milbrandt label and they’ve enjoyed a pretty good success rate so far. Milbrandt prides itself on offering excellent quality juice for fair prices.

Smell: A bit awkward, very one-dimensional for me – there are very slight hints of grapefruit, melon rine and spice – but you really have to get yer nose into it bigtime to pick anything out of it.

Taste: orange peel, granny smith apple, pineapple, very high acidity which leaves your tongue in shambles after it’s done. I appreciate the bite in my whites, but this one is beyond the pale.

Milbrant Riesling impressions: At the $11 price I paid, i’d give this wine a pass as there are far to many other wines in its same pricerange which I think are more appealing.

Pacific Rim 2006 Dry Riesling:
This is a winery which has been spread all over the west coast – in fact this wine was originally bottled in Santa Cruz CA (Hippie-town-USA). Since that time, the business side of Pacific Rim has undergone some changes but its unadulterated love and passion for riesling still remains faithful.

I sampled this wine at the Taste (the 2007 version) and really appreciated the approach Nicolas (their winemaker) takes. He uses 80% fruit from Washington State and 20% from Mosel in Germany. The final product is one that does an admirable job of blending old and new-world elements.

Nose: Fresh apricots, pineapple, green apple, hint of orange peel, sour lemon drop candy
- whip cream.

Taste: Good fruit, great acidity which cuts thru like a razor blade… good, lingering finish.. Granny smith apple peel..

Pacific Rim impressions: This is a wine which has stayed pure to the essence of the fruit – no oak here folks – and in doing so represents a tremendous wine value which will shove all sorts of bright fruits up into your palate. I enjoy it and for $11, I’d hit it all day long. If you gave me this wine on a sunny day with a plate of either raw oysters or oysters rockefeller – it’d be pure bliss.

Conclusion:
At the two identical price-points, there’s absolutely no reason for me to look at the Milbrandt – it’s very disjointed and simply lacks the backbone and complexity of the Pacific Rim effort. Great job Nicolas, you and your team have put together an excellent bottle of vino for under the $12 price barrier.

Foods to go with these wines:
- Raw oysters
- Clam linguini with a lemon-caper cream-sauce
- Fresh trout roasted with fresh dill and lemon
- Shrimp cocktail

  • Nico

    duane,

    Thanks for the great feedback. A lot of sleepless nights to craft this bottle of wine. Cheers!

    Nicolas