Tag Archives: Trader Joe’s

2012 Loosen Bros. Dr. L Riesling

America's go to riesling with Korean pancake

America’s go to riesling with Korean pancake

Just a quick alert: Sunday, I had my first Dr. L from the 2012 vintage. I know I am late to the party, but we had so many 2011s still stashed away and I wanted to get them out of the way first. I first wrote about the 2010 here, and let me quote more about the wine in general before:

“For those not familiar with the wine, just a few quick facts. Ernst (or Ernie) Loosen, the owner of Dr. Loosen Estate, is one of the major producers along the middle Mosel with vineyards in many prime sites (Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Graacher Himmelreich, Ürziger Würzgarten, Erdener Prälat, Erdener Treppchen). He is a charismatic figure and has done loads for promoting German rieslings. The Loosen Bros. Dr. L is his entry wine produced for a global market. The Riesling grapes come from all over the place and are blended for this wine.”

You might remember that this has become my got to, everyday Riesling: easy to drink, with the right amount of residual sugar, and a solid bet. The price is decent (I wouldn’t pay that much for it in Germany, but for the US, the pricing is decent). So value-wise, it’s about as good as it gets for a decent entry-level Riesling. The 2011 suffered from the generally lower acidity in the vintage, but the 2012s are way more exciting now. And they are out on the shelves, so go ahead and stock some. They last for at least another year or two.

So, what’s to like about the 2012? More acidity than the 2011, making it fresher and crisper. There are nice apple aromas and some sweet pear, just an easy going, enjoyable wine all by itself on a warm or warm-ish afternoon.

In Ann Arbor, they are available at Trader Joe’s for $11.99 (I believe) andat Whole Foods for $12.99, but you can buy them for $8.99 at Costco. The best thing is, you do not need a Costco membership in Michigan to buy alcohol. If they ask you for the membership card at the entrance, tell them you only want to buy alcohol and you can go in. Then same story at the cash register. It’s super easy and very convenient (their wine selection is pretty good and very well priced).

So, what are you waiting for? Get a bottle and let me know what you think. You can always go and buy more if you like it!

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2011 Epicuro Salice Salentino DOC

2011 Epicuro Salice Salentino

2011 Epicuro Salice Salentino

One of my earliest posts in this blog involved one of my go to, bread and butter, affordable reds: the 2007 Epicuro Salice Salentino, which is available at Trader Joe’s for $5.99. I later reviewed the 2009 vintage of that wine (decidedly less exciting than 2007). Upon one of my last Trader Joe’s visits, I realized that the 2011 vintage is now out, so in line with earlier posts, this is my review of that wine. I know this is an industrially produced, mass market wine, but I always had a soft spot for it, so bear with me…

The 2011 Epicuro Salice Salentino DOC is no longer qualified as a Riserva, unlike its predecessors. It is still made of 80% Negroamaro grapes and 20% Malvasia Nera, with 13% ABV.

In the glass, the wine displayed a decidedly lighter color than its predecessors, a watery ruby red that lacked the depth of color in the earlier vintages (I assume that this is due to less ageing in a barrel). The nose showed oriental spices (think mulled wine, a bit weird), wet tobacco leaf and earthy aromas underlying it. All in all a similar nose to earlier vintages, I think. On the palate, though, what struck me immediately was that this vintage has a decided sugary component which is too much for me. I am not looking for a semi-sweet red wine, so this was a downer. There were cherry, leather and tobacco aromas with barely noticeable tannins, so its feels mild and is rather easy to drink.

I think the earlier releases had more depth and character than this vintage. I was quite disappointed, frankly and am not sure I will reach for it again…

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Two Entry Level Rieslings from Reputable Producers

Rheingau and Mosel: 2011 KM501 Rhein Riesling and Loosen Bros Dr L Riesling

Rheingau and Mosel: 2011 KM501 Rhein Riesling and Loosen Bros Dr L Riesling

Today I want to compare two entry level Rieslings from Germany: the 2011 Loosen Bros. Dr. L Riesling and the KM501 Rhein Riesling.

I know, summer is over and I should have posted this way earlier, but somehow I only got around to tasting these two wines side by side now. I’ve had the bottle of KM501 in my cellar for a bit now, and I always have a stash of Dr. Ls. I wrote about the 2010 vintage of Dr. L here.

The wines come from the two regions in Germany that have the most clout when it comes to Riesling: the Mosel valley and the Rheingau. While most of you are probably by now bored with my singing the praises of the Mosel, let me introduce the Rheingau, albeit briefly. The Rhine, which this area borders, flows pretty much straight forward North-North-West once it leaves Lake Constance at the German-Swiss border. Except for a stretch of roughly 30 kilometers beginning in my hometown Mainz. There, the Rhine takes like a 100 degree turn to the West and then flows straight West-South-West until Bingen where it does another 100 degree turn and goes North-North-West again. We call it the knee of the Rhine. If you look at the map, you know why.

The Rheingau is north of the Rhine (Map from Google Maps)

The Rheingau is north of the Rhine (Map from Google Maps)

This creates quite perfect growing conditions for the Rheingau, which sits atop the Rhine with vineyards facing straight South. In cold climate wine regions, like Germany, it is especially important for grapes to catch all the warmth they can, so south-facing vineyards are great because they get sun all day. Add in the reflection of the sun from the river that hits straight into the vineyards and warms them up and the moderate climate a river provides and things are actually pretty great…at the Mosel, it is also very common for good vineyard sites to be facing South.

While the Dr. L is made by Ernst Loosen, the KM501 is made by Balthasar Ress, a winery with a long history in the Rheingau (the family’s owned the winery since 1870). Both wines are entry level wines and made with grapes from the area, albeit not necessarily grown by  the wineries. KM501 refers to Rhine Kilometer 501 (when traveling along the Rhine you will notice signs that mark every single kilometer of the river as well as the half kilometers in between). The winery picked the name because the Rheingau starts at Rhine Kilometer 501. Both wines are made from Riesling grapes and both are from 2011, a year that saw rather good growing conditions with overall modest acidity in the grapes and therefore resulting wines. Most importantly, both wines don’t break your bank and are available for around $9 to $12 (I paid $9 for each).

2011 KM501 Rhein Riesling

2011 KM501 Rhein Riesling

We started with the KM501 Rhein Riesling. You can find more information about the wine on its American importer website here (although it seems weirdly devoid of real information). According to the label, the wine has 9.5% ABV. In the glass, a light yellow wine presented itself, with hints of green. In the nose, I got grapes and citrus, lots of citrus. Nice. On the palate, the light bodied wine tasted like white grapes, was soft, with some peach and pear and residual sugar. Acidity was mild and the wine showed a decent length finish. There were some bitter aromas at the end. All in all, a pretty solid wine in my book. Typical summer afternoon quaffer that one can down a bottle or two without a problem. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of this wine.

2011 Loosen Bros Dr L

2011 Loosen Bros Dr L

We then opened the Loosen Bros. Dr. L. More information can be found here. The label noted 8.5% ABV. The wine presented itself in a slightly more intense yellow than the KM501. The nose was very fresh (I am using this descriptor again, not sure how else to describe it), with peaches and sweet pear coming in. Lovely. On the palate, the Dr. L showed more residual sugar than the KM501, with peach and apricot coming in. The mouthfeel was soft and silky, but I wished there was a bit more acidity in this. It was just a tad too sweet but still refreshing. The finish was good. I did not get any bitter notes as I did in the KM501. There was also a certain creaminess in the wine, which I enjoyed.

So here we are. Two wines, good producers, different regions. Can I taste the different regions? Not sure. I also don’t think it is likely to be able to taste different regions in these entry level wines. I think they are both well made enough and definitely worth a try if you want to see what an everyday Riesling tastes like to me. I think in the end I would go with the Dr. L because I don’t care much for bitter aromas in Riesling. Nina remarked that while the KM501 had some good notes, the Dr. L seemed to have more depth. Which I can’t really dispute…

But, bottom line: No more excuses not to try affordable, enjoyable Riesling from Germany! KM501 was available at World Market last I checked, and Dr. L is available at Trader Joe’s or Costco.

Oh, and we had them both with the Korean spicy potatoes that we love, and they both nicely held their own. So, once again: Pair Riesling with Korean food!!!

Korean braised potatoes

Korean braised potatoes

Have you had either of the wines? Or even tried them side by side? I am curious to know what you think of them…

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