As you read this post, I am in the midst of a visit to the Mosel, Rheingau and Pfalz wine-regions in Germany. I have had a love affair with German Riesling for over ten years, so this is a great week. Unlike Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio, which seem to have broad appeal, Riesling, especially German Riesling, seems to fall into two very distinct and separate camps — those who absolutely love the wines and those who cannot take them at all. Which camp do you sit in?
How Do You Feel About German Rieslings?
I have often wondered why German Riesling seems to incite such debate. Perhaps it is because people dislike the off-dry style of many of the wines? Or perhaps it is the bracing acidity for which German Riesling wines are known? Or maybe still it's is the terrible complexity of the labels, which can be indecipherable unless you know your way around German wine law. A while back I wrote a post on demystifying the German wine label. Maybe that can offer some guidance on that issue.
While here, I am visiting many different wineries to better understand the subtle soil, climate and cultural differences between these different regions that manifest themselves in the final wines. I look forward to posting about the trip upon my return.
Meanwhile, it is worth noting that sales of Riesling wine in the United States continue to grow, as more and more wine drinkers discover the delicacy, purity and mineral expression that is Riesling. In addition, more and more German wine estates are making a trocken (dry) style, which may be a more versatile wine at the table and have broader appeal.
Meanwhile, I'd love to hear from our readers on Riesling – both the ardent fan as well as those who prefer to avoid these wines!
Great Value German Rieslings
Until next week here are some great value German Rieslings that are delicious and might tempt you over to the 'fan' camp.
• 2007 Graff Riesling, Qualitatswein, Mosel, $11 – Pretty aromas of spring flowers and stone fruit. Medium sweet, but very well balanced with crisp acidity. Juicy and refreshing with lots of citrus, stone and orchard fruit flavors. Easy drinking.
• 2008 Hooked Riesling, Qualitätswein Nahe, Germany, $11 — Deliciously fruity and crisp. This wine is slightly off-dry and packed with vibrant, youthful flavors of peach, apricot with hints of apple, melon and attractive mineral notes of the juicy finish. Easy drinking and a fabulous label as well! (See image above.)
• 2007 Sybille Kuntz Riesling Kabinett Trocken, Mosel, Germany, $20 — A little more pricey, but worth it and a firm favorite in our household. Dry, and quite nicely focused. Crisp and fresh with layers of stone fruit, white flowers and crushed stone minerality. Light-medium bodied.
• 2009 Blüfeld Riesling, Mosel, $10 – Fantastic vibrant blue bottle and modern labeling. While medium sweet in style, the racy acidity gives it a great backbone. Mouthwatering, juicy, and packed with vibrant flavors of peach, mango, apricot and hints of apple blossoms.
• 2009 Cupcake Vineyards Riesling Qualitätswein Mosel, Germany, $12 — Vibrant citrus, apricot and candied peach aromas with hints of fresh cut grass. Off-dry and zesty on the palate with a citrus salad of lemons, limes, tangerine and grapefruit. A nuance of honey on the finish. Light-bodied and easy-drinking.
Mary Gorman-McAdams, DWS, is a New York based wine educator, freelance writer and consultant. She holds the Diploma in Wine & Spirits from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET), and is a candidate in the Master of Wine Program.
(Images: Wines of Germany, Destination Riesling, Mary Gorman, and producer websites.)