Thursday, January 20, 2011

German Wine Tasting Notes

I have German and German-style wines on the brain (and in my stomach most of the time) lately. That's why I was extra excited to receive an invitation from Mitchell Wines to attend "Regions of the World- Germany" hosted by Ewald Moseler a few weeks ago. Yesterday was the big day, and oh boy did I have fun. Well, as much fun as you can have in a basement lecture surrounded by other wine dorks. As I mentioned in my last post, Ewald is a German wine importer and all around genius. We tasted ten Rieslings separated into 5 different flights. The first flight was "dry Riesling- focused on ripeness level". In this category the wines were from the same vintage but different regions in Germany- the Mosel and Rheingau. The first was a Kabinett Riesling (meaning it had a light body and was picked when it was just ripe) and the second Spatlese (medium body, harvested when it was a bit riper than Kabinett). What I learned from this flight was that Riesling is not classified by how sweet it is, per se, but instead by how full or lean the body of the wine is. Both of these wines were dry, but the Spatlese had a fuller, softer body than the Kabinett. I was really in love with the Selbach-Oster Kabinett for all of its green apple, blue slate wonder!  How can we get some of that blue slate here in Oregon? I want some for my yard.
Flight #2 was "Dry style Riesling- focused on terroir". The wines were of the same vintage and region in this case, but from very different vineyard sites. I had a hard time wrapping my head around this flight because the wines were so different! It was helpful having a clear example of how terrior really affects wine- on paper it seemed like the wines should taste very similarly but in fact they were worlds apart. Stone, soil, sunlight, micro climate, shade, runoff... the list of variables is astounding. I have so much to learn.
Flight #3 was "traditional Riesling- Kabinett-Spatlese". These two had different weights but similar flavor profiles. Again, it was nice to focus on the texture of the wine and experience sweet wines with beautiful, lemony acidity. I am hoping to help spread the gospel of Riesling. People fear sweet wine- it has a bad reputation. I am about to wedge 2 or 3 of them on our list, and hopefully start turning that reputation around! Rieslings are made to be enjoyed with food!
Flight #4 was nuts. It was called "Rieslings well aged". We tasted a '99 Jos. Christoffel Spatlese and a '93 Jos. Christoffel Auslese. My first sniff of the '99 was memorable. My first instinct was to turn in horror, but mostly I was curious. The wine smelled like a dirty closet that a cat first peed in, and then died in. It was weird, it was bad, but it was interesting. I was nervous to taste it, and I am so glad I did! It tasted like an herb garden, full of honey and flowers. Wow. I don't know what the story behind the nose on that wine was, but I grew to really appreciate it once I tasted the wine it guarded. The '93 on the other hand had a beautiful flowery nose and tasted like dried apricots. Very easy to love.
Flight #5 was dessert wines. Beerenauslese and Eiswein. They were sweet, it's true, but the balance of acidity and ripe fruit was perfect for each of them. The eiswein was brighter and livelier than the beerenauslese, but I almost enjoyed the sweet burn of the beerenauslese more than the perfection of the eiswein...almost.

It is easy to think "Riesling" has only one identity, but in fact it has many. Rieslings can be bone dry, herbal, creamy, rich, or light. They can be wonderful, and yes they can be terrible. You wont  find any of those ones here at Park Kitchen, however. Next time you are in, talk to your server about what we have available... I am imagining a Riesling glass pour in our future....

1 comment:

  1. This must have been a great tasting. I would love to have participated in it. Here are my impressions from a recent tasting of German wines.