Crayelle Cellars, Washington
I have said it before: Craig Mitrakul is a true winemaking talent. The wines he has made for Saint Laurent Estate Winery and Ryan Patrick Vineyards, two of the most interesting Columbia Cascade-area (think Wenatchee) wineries, have been superb. And now, the first releases from his new, personal, label prove the point anew—they are excellent.
Craig earned a Bachelor’s degree in Food Science from Rutgers University, and a Master’s degree in the same subject—with an emphasis on enology—from Cornell University. His practical winemaking experience is global. He has done stints in Australia, the Finger Lakes of New York, Oregon’s Willamette Valley (including assistant winemaker at the state’s famed Ponzi Vineyards), and has extensive experience in Washington at Chateau Ste. Michelle, Three Rivers, Ryan Patrick, and Saint Laurent wineries. This wide-ranging background has given Craig extensive knowledge of different climates and grape varieties.
Washington grows more Riesling than any other grape (in fact, more than anywhere else in the New World), and with a zeal for the variety that came from his Finger Lakes experience, it was natural that a Riesling would be among the premier releases from Craig’s Crayelle Cellars.
His 2009 Dry Riesling offers rich aromas of broiled peach, cut pear, and the smell of summer rain on a hot concrete sidewalk. Deliciously tart, thanks to lively acidity, flavors of red apple and white peach are accented by an edgy minerality, with notes of kiwi fruit in the background. The finish has great duration and the wine ends with a fresh and peachy flavor.
The predominant Riesling style in Washington allows some degree of residual sweetness, but Craig has deliberately produced a bone-dry version that emphasizes the twin attributes of satisfying fruitiness and invigorating acidity. The result is an incisive Riesling that displays the full allure of the variety. And while Americans are generally unused to the idea of ageing white wines, this is the kind of Riesling that will contiunue to develop in the bottle for many years.