Wine review: Carmel Road 2009 Riesling Monterey and Carmel Road 2009 Pinot Gris Monterey

I wished I lived on Carmel Road, ’cause maybe I could stop by any random Tuesday night and swap some tomatoes for wine. Yes, I would gladly give up homegrown tomatoes — perhaps my favorite thing on earth besides wine — for their wine. Based in cool climate Monterey, Carmel Road winery excels at everything that excels in cooler weather – Pinot Noir, Riesling, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay. And for under $20 per bottle. Perhaps it helps to have a successful parent company — Kendall Jackson Wine Estates – looking out for them, but winemaker Ivan Giotenov has his eye on the ever moving vinous ball. And consumer tastes.

I visited the Monterey wine region a couple of years ago and was struck by the depth and sophistication of flavor, as well as the elegance the grapes are able to produce in the bottle. Read my column about the experience and why wines from Monterey deserve a shot at capturing your fancy.

The Carmel Road 2009 Riesling isn’t overtly sweet but has a kiss of sweetness. Ripe apricots share the fruit spotlight with tangerine, lime rind and a touch of characteristic diesel fuel. Medium bodied. Finishes dry and with refreshing acidity throughout the experience. And experience, it is. Simply delicious.

Sweetness: 3 out of 10
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Price: $14-$18
Occasion: Tasted a sample sent from the winery.
Availability: Find where to buy Carmel Road wines here
Food pairing: Asian foods and anything spicy

Carmel Road 2009 Pinot Gris Monterey

A blend of Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Riesling, Gewürztraminer and four other fragrant grapes. You can’t imagine the rush of honeysuckle and flowers in the aroma. In the mouth, it’s all white peach, citrusy, steely and medium bodied. Has a wet slate minerality that gives way to bracing acidity and crisp fruits like grapefruit and lime. But then it launches into a creamy texture laced with vanilla, likely donated by the barrel fermentation and some new French oak.

Sweetness: 1 out of 10
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Price: $18 – $22
Occasion: Tasted a sample sent from the winery.
Availability: Find where to buy Carmel Road wines here
Food pairing: Triple cream cheeses like Camembert, broiled white fish in a light cream sauce, grilled or roasted chicken with lime and herbs.



  1. I’m surprised that the Pinot Gris Monterey isn’t sweeter than the Riesling since it has a vanilla finish. I’m not much of a fan for sweet wine, but starting to get into it. Which one did you liking more?

  2. I’m a sucker for lots of flavor, which is what Riesling — when made well — has. My favorite of the two is the Riesling.

  3. Hm, that sounds like something that is great to host at a party since most of my friends enjoy the sweet and flavorful types of wine.Thanks for the tip!


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