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Originally published August 1, 2014 at 11:25 AM | Page modified August 4, 2014 at 4:43 PM

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The emperor of riesling loves everything about this grape

Stuart Pigott’s latest book, the aptly named “The Riesling Story: Best White Wine on Earth,” came out in June. If you are any kind of wine lover, go find this book and bask in its illumination.

Special to The Seattle Times

Three to try

Eroica 2012 Gold riesling, Columbia Valley, $35: This is a fascinating riesling because it is plenty sweet (7.5 percent residual sugar), yet the acidity (2.9 pH) makes it seem merely off-dry. It’s a rich, juicy wine that tastes like biting into a just-picked pear.

Mercer Canyons 2012 riesling, Yakima Valley, $13: Just slightly off-dry, this bright, classic Washington riesling exudes lime zest and Granny Smith apple. Pair it with a bowl of pho or a plate loaded with Indian curries.

Nine Hats 2012 riesling, Columbia Valley, $12: This label for Long Shadows Vintners in Walla Walla includes this dramatically dry riesling with flavors of Asian pear, jasmine and lime, all backed with mouthwatering acidity.


NOBODY ON this globe can make a greater claim for being the leading expert on riesling than Stuart Pigott. And nobody else is better justified to write the definitive guide to the grape.

Pigott’s latest book, the aptly named “The Riesling Story: Best White Wine on Earth,” came out in June. If you are any kind of wine lover, go find this book and bask in its illumination.

Pigott, a British wine writer who moved to Germany about the time the wall came down to be closer to the most noble of grapes, now splits his time between homes in Berlin and New York City.

He loves everything about riesling. He is fascinated by the places it is grown and makes it his quest to track down riesling in its many forms and locales. Ask him about New Jersey riesling or Pennsylvania riesling or Colorado riesling. Go ahead. He will gush about their unusual qualities, all with a sly British wit that is as dry as an Aussie riesling.

He can go on and on with such enthusiasm that you will be willing to pick up your glass and follow him on his crusade to get every breathing being on Earth to take a sip of the nectar of the gods and be equally astonished.

We live on Planet Riesling, and Pigott is our emperor.

Perhaps the only thing odd about his new book is the title, which frankly should read, “Best Wine on Earth.” Pigott is that bold, as well he should be. Surely, you lovers of cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, nebbiolo, chardonnay and sauvignon blanc will cringe at such a thought.

But he would be right. No grape can grow in so many places, reveal so much versatility and pair with so many styles of cuisine as riesling. Taste a great riesling and you may become a convert.

While Pigott is based in Germany, the heart of the riesling world, he is happy for those of us in the Pacific Northwest because we can easily reach for a glass of the great rieslings from Washington, Oregon, British Columbia and Idaho.

The emperor commands us to partake, and we happily comply.

Andy Perdue is editor and publisher of Great Northwest Wine, a news and information company. Learn more about wine at

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