The primary tenet of capitalism is the notion that competition inevitably drives prices down while motivating innovation, thus benefiting both consumers and producers. Of course, the realities of our economic system mean that “competition” is often just “brand expansion” in disguise.
Enter Anew, a new take on Riesling from the makers of the Riesling you probably know best: Chateau Ste. Michelle (not that their name appears anywhere on the bottle). Evidently unsatisfied with the market share they already command, Chateau Ste. Michelle has launched this new brand with the specific intent of catering to the every day needs of the modern female, ages 23-45. It accomplishes this with a stylish, distinctly shaped bottle and a minimalist lotus logo supporting a confident, empowering title.
It also accomplishes this by being slightly sweeter than your standard Ste. Michelle Riesling, because, as we all know, women like sweet things. The wine itself is 88% Riesling, with 10% Gewurztraminer and 2% Muscat Canelli thrown in for some extra spice and floral tones. Indeed, there’s a decidedly “Moscato-y” element to the nose, with bright, ripe white peach, yellow apples, and fragrant orange blossom and jasmine. Fruit and flowers are the dominant scents, with very little minerality to get in the way of that pure, feminine goodness. While the wine is a little sweeter than the standard Ste. Michelle Riesling, Anew still falls under the category of “off-dry:” the residual sugar is noticeable, but not enough to serve for dessert. As the nose suggests, there are lots of ripe apples and peach to greet you on that first sip, and while the wine doesn’t have quite as much acid as I prefer in a Riesling, the acid is definitely there, lending a bit of structure to what otherwise might have been a wine laid flabby by all that sugar.
All in all, the wine is basically what most people tend to expect a Riesling to be: semi-sweet, appley, and light bodied. For some, this is a good thing, and guess what: you’re the person this wine was made for. For the rest of you dry white drinkers, you already knew to stay away the moment you saw the bottle.
Of course, the real question is: at $11-15 a bottle, is Anew a better choice than Ste. Michelle’s standard Riesling, which is fully half the price? Given that Ste. Michelle’s Riesling is already a solid value in terms of flavor, complexity, and price, it’s hard to justify switching over to Anew for any reason other than “the bottle looks cool.” If you’re a Moscato fan who wants to tone down the sweetness, or if you like your Rieslings nice and floral, it’s worth checking out for curiosity’s sake. I just wouldn’t recommend sticking around for long. It’s just simple economics.