Do you know those moments when you are browsing through the lined up wines in a liquor store or wine store and you make a find that has you intrigued? Well, this was one of them. While I was browsing the rather random collection of wines displayed at the local liquor store a couple of weeks back, some of the wines quite overpriced, others weirdly underpriced, some of them stellar wines, others I was wondering, I saw this lonely bottle on their riesling shelf.
An aside: I understand that it is easier for liquor stores to group their wines by grape variety, but I still am not really happy with it. I would much prefer to have them grouped regionally…but that might just be me.
Studert-Prüm winery is part of Germany’s elite winemaker guild VDP (Verein deutscher Prädikatswinzer), an association which you can only join by being suggested and voted into by its members. They have certain, higher/stricter requirements for growing their wines (like less hectoliters per hectar etc.). The winery is located in Wehlen, now a suburb of Bernkastel. According to their website, they produce about 40,000 bottles per year from their 5 hectares of land. It is an exclusively riesling producing winery in the 12th generation (producing wines since 1581), with holdings in the top vineyards Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Graacher Dompropst and Graacher Himmelreich, as well as Bernkasteler Graben. 80% of their vines are non-grafted.
Wehlener Sonnenuhr is a top vineyard on the Mosel. The name means “Sundial of Wehlen”, and it is named after a sun dial that was installed in the vineyard in the 1800s. You can find a couple of sun dial vineyards (Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr, Zeltinger Sonnenuhr, even the Ürziger Würzgarten has a sun dial in its core) along the Mosel, and most of them are pretty good. Unfortunatley, as all too many vineyards on the Mosel, later, what used to be about 5 hectares just around the sun dial, was expanded to a 45 hectare vineyard, because other winemakers wanted to profit from the name. The idea of terroir seems to have completely eluded folks back then. Similar things happened to the Piesporter Goldtröpfchen, the Ürziger Würzgarten and many others. So, it is always good to know whether the grapes actually come from around the sun dial or further away…
My friend Man-Soo (who else?) introduced me to their wines and I have always liked them. So, when I saw this bottle, marked down from $22 to $13, I figured why not give it a try. There are some issues with liquor stores, mainly how they store their bottles (standing rather than lying, the temperature in the store…), but at that price it was worth a try…most newer riesling kabinetts are not necessarily made for ageing, so it was also unclear how this one was intended to be. On the other hand, 2005 is considered a spectacular vintage in Germany, so why not try it?
We decided to open it with a riesling loving friend of ours, whose husband has recently discovered that he finds older rieslings interesting. We classicly paired it with a cheese platter of gruyere, goat gouda, goat cheese and a brie type soft cheese.
Upon opening, the wine poured clear and lightly yellow. It had a somewhat dusty smell to it, overall a quite subdued nose. On the palate, it had contracted quite a bit, with initial petrol notes. As the wine opened up, it showed more citrus flavors and the dust settled down a bit. There were signs of ripe grapes. The wine was probably past its peak (which I would blame on the storing rather than the wine itself), but still it paired exceptionally well with the cheeses, especially the brie type, where the slight moldiness of the cheese met with the dust and citrus flavors. They greatly complimented each other, but it also worked well with the gruyere, the saltiness of the cheese pairing off with the citrus.
It was an interesting experience. I would love to try this wine when it was properly stored. It was the last bottle they had at the store, so I also am not tempted to go back and try another bottle.
Check out the vineyard here: http://www.weinlagen-info.de/#lage_id=1585.