It is with good reason that Germany's Dr. Loosen wine estate is so highly regarded. Its reputation for exacting standards in the vineyard and in the winery was earned the old-fashioned way. Its own estate grapes are grown in the Mosel Valley, but its Villa Wolf label vinifies grapes from the Pfalz region. Now, Villa Wolf has produced a wine for Washington's Chateau Ste. Michelle, sold as Saint M Riesling, that knocks our socks off. The 2008 goes for about $14 to $15 at wine shops and big box stores and is a bargain at the price.
This is an exquisitely dry riesling. Its delicate nose is lightly spicy, its color a lovely platinum. On the tongue the first delightful flavors are of lively ginger ale and tart lemon. At mid-palate the savor of white peaches enters the profile and persists through a long, lingering, clean finish. Oddly, given the wine's unalloyed crispness, it also possesses the buttery mouth feel one might more reasonably expect of a big chardonnay. The combination is luscious and irresistible.
The Saint M would serve beautifully either as an aperitif or as a palate cleanser between courses of a formal dinner, but it also would pair agreeably with a wide range of main courses. We drank it with country captain chicken, a variation on curry hailing from the southern United States, although it would go just as well with spicier curries from India or Thailand as well as with the assertive flavors of Caribbean jerk seasoning.
By Colette and John Bancroft. She is the Times' book editor, and he is a freelance writer specializing in food, wine and travel.