Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Riesling 101: a guided tasting for Germanic Studies enthusiasts

(image courtesy of University of Maryland)

Last Sunday, my good friend and holder of an M.A. in German, David D., hosted an introductory tasting of German rieslings for a former German professor, grad school classmate and their respective spouses. Like myself, David D. is relatively new to wine geekdom, though his enthusiasm for all things wine is both genuine and contagious. With some hearty appetizers and a delicious, large, caterer's size pan of Kaesespaetzle (egg noodles, melted swiss cheese and onions), we tasted and discussed the following rieslings:

2006 Bassermann-Jordan Probus Riesling Trocken (Pfalz)

Personal Notes - Very clean on the nose. Direct, yellow stone fruits on the palate are at first simple and primary. Upon further review, some mouthfuls reveal themselves to be a bit leesy and savory in a very slightly woodsy way. This will probably be at its best in 2-3 years.
Official notes - "The vines for the Basserman-Jordan Riesling are planted on the slopes of the Haardt mountains, the hills that form the western brim of hte Rhine valley. The slopes are southeast facing and contain a lot of sandstone in the soil."

2005 Weingut Burgerspital Wurzburger Stein Riesling Trocken (Franken)
Personal Notes - Fruit cocktail and ripe tangerine scents leap out of the glass. Very clean and persistent on the palate, with a fuller and more mineral tactile impression. This wine is quite Ital to me. Ital meaning Italianate and similar to the Alto Adige, Collio or Isonzo (not 'Ital' as in the preferred vegan diet of Rastafarians).
Official notes - Quite possibly the oldest wine estate in all of Germany, founded in 1319, there is just a bit of tradition and knowledge floating around. This Franconian estate produces some of the best dry wines of this dry wine region -pure, firmly acidic, built for aging and showing the mineral elegance that Wurzburger, and in particular Stein, are known for.

2006 Josef Leitz Rudesheimer Klosterlay Kabinett (Rheingau)
Personal Notes - A bit shy and muted on the nose, the palate is uber fruity, a veritable fruit cocktail. Though it's a bit tutti fruity for my taste, the wine goes admirably well with the kaesespaetzle.
No official notes available....

1994 Hauth-Kerpen Wehlener Sonnenuhr Spatlese (Mosel)
Personal notes - My more Teutonically inclined readers may recall this wine from my Top 10 rieslings of 2007 post This one right here was the consensus WOTN. A nose of orange soda and peach, with much slate. On the palate there is an array of rich, complex, shifting flavors, of which tangy naval oranges and strong, but not overpowering, herbal aspects (marjoram?) started to assert themselves. One of my current favorites.
Official notes - This happens to be the cousin and neighbor of Martin Kerpen of Heribert Kerpen. This is an old style Mosel wine from a vintage not shy on acid.

2006 Schloss Saarstein Serriger Schloss Saarsteiner Auslese (Saar)
Personal notes - Pure, crystalline nose. Spiced poached pear flavors, that are somehow intense and powerful while retaining clarity and delicacy.
Official notes - The Saarstein estate owns the oldest vineyards in the village of Serrig. At the beginning of the 19th century they were bought by an industrialist whose descendants built the imposing Schloss (castle) above the vineyards around 1900. Dieter Ebert purchased the estate in 1956 and established the foundation for its successful development. Thanks to the enthusiasm and dedication of the husband-and-wife team, Schloss Saarstein now ranks among the leading producers of the Saar valley.

Thanks to everyone for attending and for indulging me and David, allowing each of us to get on our riesling soap boxes. Thanks to David for picking a great line-up and to Cecilia and David for hosting. It was fun and worthwhile for me, and hopefully for everyone else who learned what we in the business already know:


Now go buy some German rieslings, alright?


Anonymous said...

Best OWOS column ever. Coming from a completely anonymous, not David D reader.

Anonymous said...

Yum! I just laid in a serious amount of 2006 wines from my favorite producers. The initial cash outlay hurts, but you're right--in the big scheme of things: a total value.

- wolfgang

Anonymous said...

Um, actually that egg noodle thing is what caught my eye.