The Somm Set by Benchmark Wine Group

Liz Mitchell

Welcome to our newest series, The Somm Set. Each month we’ll be sitting down with a guest sommelier and uncovering their guilty pleasures, cellar staples, and everything in between! Follow as they hand-select their favorites from our warehouse, giving you the inside scoop on cellar must-haves!

This month on The Somm Set, we’re excited to feature Liz Dowty Mitchell, Advanced Sommelier. Join us as we explore everything from her passion for wine, favorite wine and food pairing, and her newest endeavors.

The Somm Set Home

This week from Liz Dowty Mitchell:

Yes. It’s a thing. But I can’t claim it. The “Summer of Riesling” was a campaign started by Paul Greico, one of the most amazing and prolific sommeliers in the country who owns Terroir— one of the first wine bars that paved the way for wine bars as we know them today. This campaign hit its high note about four years ago, and I’m ready to do what I can to get the ball rolling to bring it back because it highlighted one of the most special grapes in the vinifera world and truly opened consumers’ minds and palates to it.

Paul’s efforts in the beginning years of the Summer of Riesling campaign were truly “doing the Lord’s work,” …as they say. For some reason, Riesling has been unfairly judged by many and looked down upon solely as a novice’s sweet wine juice. The truth is…most of us professional wine drinkers started out drinking Germany Riesling just like everyone else. I remember the first wine that I loved and purchased a bottle of for myself was Dr. Loosen’s “L” from the Mosel Valley when I was 18 years old, working my first wine bar job in 2001. And honestly, I wouldn’t turn a glass of that wine down today because it’s freakin’ delicious! It’s a gateway wine for sure, though, because it sucks you in, and then when you do this wine thing for a living, you are exposed to so many different wines over time that naturally, you progress to “geeking out” on the more obscure wines like Godello and Sherry. But then, inevitably, you come full circle back to the classics and are exposed to ALL of the different expressions of Riesling from bone dry to luscious, and that’s precisely the point when your mind gets blown. For starters, it is truly the grape that showcases terroir better than any other (in my personal opinion), and there’s nothing that a sommelier loves geeking out on more than terroir.

Riesling is unique for several reasons— #1, the hardiness of its wood makes it a particularly cold-hardy vine and resistant to frost, which makes its’ homeland in Germany a natural fit. #2, its’ compact bunches of small grapes make it relatively prone to Botrytis which is the magical “rot,” aka mold that produces the most exquisite sweet wines on the planet. Being that Riesling is considerably late budding, it’s selected for the sunniest hillsides, steepest slopes, most sheltered rocky crenellations, and pockets of reflected heat. These vineyards trace the middle Rhine and the lower Mosel, two of Europe’s great wine rivers, in the key regions of Mosel, Rheinhessen, Rheingau, and Pfalz.

I find it fascinating that the same grape can provide pure hedonistic guilty-pleasure drinking in one expression. Then on the flip side, it can provide one of the most thought-provoking and mind-blowing drinking experiences of your life. It is one of the most versatile wines with food and also just perfection in the glass on its own. It can age for decades and decades but is also delicious right out of the gate. Although you can easily enjoy Riesling year-round, this time of year is especially conducive to consuming Riesling because no matter the style, it’s just so darn refreshing. That being said, I highly encourage you to give any of these wines a go because they are all stellar, and you can’t go wrong. Still, if I had to pick a favorite, I love the Rieslings from Peter Lauer because he is a SUPERSTAR in the Saar in the Mosel Valley and his wines are next-level.

Check out all the wines mentioned below!


Dr. Burklin Wolf
18 In Stock
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Muller, Egon
24 In Stock
This product is a part of The Million Dollar Cellar
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Leitz, Josef

Benchmark Wine Group

445 Devlin Road
Napa, CA 94558

Phone: 707.255.3500
Fax: 707.255.3503
SMS: 707.200.4049


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