Monthly Archives: March 2013

Sunday Read: One Man, 40 Rieslings

This Sunday Read is about Riesling – again, you might sigh. Yes, again, I’d say. I am posting this because I sometimes get asked what Riesling I recommend, and I am always a bit at a loss, mainly because I don’t know well what Rieslings are available in the US. I get most of my Rieslings straight from Germany, so I also am not very well versed in pricing here. Add to that that I mostly drink German Riesling, and a few Michigan Rieslings, but I am by no means a diverse drinker when it comes to that grape.

Gregory Dal Piaz, whose writing I like a lot, and who is somewhat of a supporter of Riesling, starts his really interesting piece on why the grape is having such difficulty in the markets. He compares it to Shiraz/Syrah when explaining that different styles can be confusing, and then moves on to talk about one of the curses of the grape: too uninspired, sweet wines. I think that is something many of us can relate to.

He does not stop there, though. He tries to explain what a good Riesling is, and also encourages us to try around globally, because well-made Rieslings are still rather cheap and are made around the world, not just in Germany and Austria. The article finishes with a 40 Riesling list that Dal Piaz tried for the article, ranked by him. His tasting notes are informative and well written, so this is a list that might actually help those that are wondering what Rieslings to try. I will definitely will try to hunt down some of the wines he tasted…

Happy Sunday!

Gregory Dal Piaz on Snooth: One Man, 40 Rieslings

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1987 Karl Erbes Erdener Treppchen Riesling Spätlese

1987 Karl Erbes Erdener Treppchen Riesling Spätlese

1987 Karl Erbes Erdener Treppchen Riesling Spätlese

As I mentioned before, one of the things that have become a tradition at Nina’s birthday parties is that we open a bottle of 1987 Riesling, this time a Karl Erbes Erdener Treppchen Spätlese. We’re not sure for how much longer we can continue this, but for now we still have a few bottles…

Some of you might remember that one of my early posts on this blog was about the 1987 Vereinigte Hospitien Erdener Treppchen Riesling Spätlese which we had for her birthday last year (see the post here – in an aside, I am just realizing that that post only garnered one like, from my good old blogging buddy Julian at Vinoinlove. Thanks, Julian!!). Back then I explained, that 1987 is considered a weaker year along the Mosel, so it is always a bit of a surprise when the wines held up.

Trying the 1987 Karl Erbes Erdener Treppchen Riesling Spätlese was particularly interesting because the wine has pretty much exactly the same properties that the Hospitien wine had: Both from the same vineyard (albeit probably different areas within the vineyard), both 100% Riesling and both at Spätlese level, the medium category in the German wines with distinction level, which means they had comparable levels of ripeness in the grapes as measured in degree Oechsle.

The Treppchen borders the Ürziger Würzgarten and Erdener Prälat vineyards, in the photo it begins on the far right hand side.

Three grand cru vineyards (from left to right): Ürziger Würzgarten, Erdener Prälat and Erdener Treppchen

Three grand cru vineyards (from left to right): Ürziger Würzgarten, Erdener Prälat and Erdener Treppchen

The wine had 7.5% ABV and was made by Stefan Erbes’ father Karl Erbes. One of the many wonderful things about this winery is that they retain a significant number of older vintages at the winery which are for sale. So if you ever make it there, make sure to ask for their older wines, too. They are also quite affordable still. You can find out more about the winery in my post here.

But now to the wine: The cork was in perfect condition and I decanted it for about 30 minutes. It poured in a light golden color, with some visible signs of ageing. The initial nose was very unappealing, strong musty aromas, some hints of leather, hardly any other aromas detectable. At that point, I was worried it might be flawed from that nose. On the palate, it was surprisingly fresh. The mustiness was not detectable when I tasted the wine. It was very delicate, and had contracted quite a bit, making it rather thin. It showed a good acidity structure with just a hint of sweetness. There really were no noticeable fruit aromas, I got more petrolly, aged Riesling flavors. A finish of medium length.

All in all, this was a bit weird. The nose was definitely not nice and it did not improve when I retasted a day later. The wine tasted still decently, but I thought the Hospitien wine we had last year had held up better. But another year of bottle age can also make a lot of a difference, so it is virtually impossible to compare the wines if you don’t try them on the same day. That said, this wine is most likely on its way out.

But hey, it held up for 26 years! And remember, this was “just” a Spätlese, not an Auslese or Beerenauslese. And it was from a vintage that is considered a rather weak vintage…so, absolutely nothing to complain about. The bottle cost us around $16 at the winery, if I remember correctly.

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2009 Picos del Montgó Old Vines Garnacha Cariñena DO

2009 Picos del Montgó Old Vines Garnacha

2009 Picos del Montgó Old Vines Garnacha

Last night was one of those nights: We were catching up on The Americans (a great TV show, by the way) and I was vaguely craving a glass of wine. So I checked our box that says “cheaper reds” my eyes landed on this bottle, a 2009 Picos del Montgó Old Vines Garnacha from the Cariñena region in Spain. I had picked it up a while back, probably a year ago, at World Market (so tells me Cellar Tracker) for $8 at the World Market.

The website is not very helpful, it is one of those typical wines made in large numbers for the export markets. It seems like these wines are made by an importer called Vinnico, at least that is what the back label states. I turned to other blogs and it turned out that there are a number of reviews of this wine, but they also don’t really provide much in information about it. The Cariñena region of Spain is located in Aragon, in the North Eastern heart of Spain. It is one of the oldest protected wine growing areas in Europe, apparently having been awarded DO status in 1932 (thank you Wikipedia for that!).

With not much more to give you in background, let’s get to the wine. It has a listed 13.5% ABV. In the glass, a rather dark ruby red wine presented itself, no visible signs of ageing yet. In the nose, I got red berries, some almond and hints of tobacco. It was a riper, more aged wine. On the palate, this wine was medium-bodied, with low and nicely integrated tannins. Definitely on the sweeter side, with some wood and spice and tobacco, plums, vanilla and receding red berries, especially cassis. It was very reminiscent of a Port to me. Don’t get me wrong, it was no Port, but it was so ripe, and tad too sweet, and it showed some age on the palate. The finish was of medium length.

Absolutely nothing objectionable about this wine. Nothing special or earth shattering, but for $8 it was a decent weekday wine. I was actually surprised how much I liked it. Definitely a wine for a fall or winter evening, though. I would probably buy it again, although I assume this vintage will not get better from here on out.

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