jamie goode's wine blog: Now for...a serious grape variety

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Now for...a serious grape variety

Forget Merrr-loww. What about a serious grape variety? Like Riesling.

Riesling has a moral premium among white wine grape varieties. Wine geeks love Riesling. Have to.

Over the next few weeks I'm going to be taking a Riesling focus, which in real terms means drinking a lot of the stuff. I began tonight with three wines, two from Australia and one from Germany, but all in a vaguely similar style.

Yalumba Y Series Riesling 2006 South Australia
Bright, crisp and a bit smoky and minerally, with a nice herbal tang and an assertive, almost spicy citrussy character that's common to many Aussie Rieslings. There's also a bit of talcum powder character. A clean, precise style that is bone dry and food friendly. 87/100 (£6.50 Winedirect.co.uk, Auswinesonline.co.uk)

Mesh Riesling 2006 Eden Valley, Australia
A collaboration between Jeffrey Grosset and Robert Hill Smith (www.meshwine.com). Alive, limey, perfumed nose with a lovely crisp, bone dry, mineralic palate that verges on the austere with its high acidity, but it isn't heavy or phenolic. Distinctly savoury, this closes up a bit on the finish which is very tight. It would be interesting to see what this wine - sealed with a tin-lined screwcap - would look like under a closure that allows just a little more oxygen transmission. 90/100 (c. £14 Wine Society, Winedirect.co.uk, Handford)

Darting Durkheimer Michelsburg Riesling Kabinett Trocken 2005 Pfalz, Germany
Precise, crisp, lemony nose with a minerally, spicy edge. The palate is crisp and dry with a lovely citrussy character, together with a hint of honeyed warmth. Overall, this is crisp and dry, and quite simular to the Australian style, albeit with a bit more carbon dioxide spritz. A nice wine, and good value. 88/100 (£6.99 Marks & Spencer)

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At 5:52 AM, Blogger Salil said...

Riesling's awesome - probably the ideal varieties as wine geeks can really get into it, and very few casual drinkers will complain about it either - it's approachable and food-friendly, and at the same time offers so much diversity in styles.

The other great thing is the sheer value you can get under (US) $20 - I picked up some stunning 05 Spatlese and 03 Auslese recently in that range, and it's hard to imagine seeing such a breadth of high-calibre wines in that price range from any other region.

At 1:29 PM, Blogger gare aux goûts said...

Ah, good old Riesling. Love it but can't find that many occasions to drink it. Its sleek aromatic profile makes Riesling the ideal apéro wine, but when I sit down to eat, I always look for something dryer. Perhaps I should cook thai food more often... Any suggestions are welcome.

At 1:47 PM, Anonymous Alex Lake said...

"Wine geeks love Riesling. Have to."

Loved it!

At 2:56 PM, Blogger dan s. said...

My favourite grape, looking forward to this.

At 4:18 PM, Blogger Barry said...

Something dryer than Riesling?...here in Germany the range across the board is so varied....some are DRY!!..believe me...
The new 'style' is Feinherb..which is a half dry...great for all times...although too much can be TOO MUCH...
Then you takes your choice...the excellent value Kabinett wines..to some superb dry Spätlese. As Jamie said..a wine for wine geeks...but I bet beginners forced to drink Riesling wished they could go back to another 'in' wine...
Riesling can sometimes be daunting when the taster is not experienced.


At 6:18 PM, Blogger Simon said...

My favourite grape, too. Thanks for broaching this subject, but don't advertise it too much. As an expat who lives in the southwest of Germany and loves German wine, I hope world-class German Riesling remains a well-kept secret among geeks for years to come.

Weingut Darting is probably one of the best-value German producers. The Darting wine you describe costs barely over EUR 5 here. Apart from his small plot on Michelsberg, he doesn't own any other notable grand cru land - say, in Forst or Deidesheim - otherwise it might be a different story.

Here in Germany, people turn their noses up at small family producers like Darting who tend to produce good, balanced off-dry Riesling and Scheurebe for the US market. However, the typical young German consumer aged 20 to 40 won't sip anything other than bone-dry wine - Riesling included. Some of it (notably in the Pfalz and Rheinhessen) is excellent but for me, dry Riesling is just a variety on a theme. After all, a Riesling Spätlese with 60gm/l of residual sugar, for example, can still taste dry.

At 8:32 PM, Blogger Jamie said...

Some great comments. Yes, the best thing is that the very sweet German double gold kapsule auction specials aside, trophy rieslings don't exist. But Riesling-based whites used to command the same price as first growth clarets back in the 1930s, I've heard.

Also, I've had some fabulous old Rieslings - Kabinetts, Ausleses mostly - from unknown producers that have survived well and improved for 30-40 years.

At 8:45 AM, Blogger gare aux goûts said...

Hey Barry, thanks for banging the drum of German Rieslings. I love them too and have tasted many great dry examples at the yearly tasting of the Wine Barn in London. By dryer, I was talking about the flavour profile of the highly aromatic Riesling rather than the residual sugar in the wine. Anyhow, I just need to get cooking for the grape, and if I had a piece of that delicious Schwein (filet, cutlets or roast) that you have in Germany, I would be close to the perfect match!

At 7:19 PM, Anonymous keith prothero said...

Glad I am not a wine geek then

At 4:07 AM, Blogger Andrew Martin said...

Can't resist it - any closure Nazi will tell you that if you put an oxygen permeable closure, er cork, in a bottle of white wine with little other protection from the effects of said gas, there's a very good chance you'll end up with a bottle of oxidised wine. Apart from some reductive characters encountered in early attempts at screw capped Australian riesling, mainly due to too much CO2, sulphur, inert gas fill spaces, most screw capped bottles have developed really well.
Lazy wine making, reluctance to learn a new technology, and blind tradition are no excuse for the numerous randomly oxidised wines I've opened from the 90's. There I've got that off my chest. A tip - if you do encounter a sweaty white under a screw cap, try triple or quadruple decanting. Sometimes you can see the fizz of tiny CO2 bubbles actually foaming in the jug used.


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