I’d always been interested in experimenting with the aging and development of white wines, although my observations as a consumer inform me that there just aren’t too many examples of ageable whites available in my local market, at least not ones that can be found without some deep digging around liquor store shelves (and your wallet).
Fortunately, one can always count on cool-climate, quality appellation Riesling to offer some type of cellaring potential. Its abdundant phenolics (flavour compounds) and high natural acidity almost ensure that a good quality Riesling wine will continue to show plenty of deliciousness and refreshing qualities, not to mention added complexity, with a bit of maturity. Some prestige Rieslings have even been known to drink well decades following the vintage!
Some places where top-notch Rieslings come from include the Mosel, Rheingau, Rheinhessen and Nahe areas of Germany; Australia’s Clare and Eden Valleys; the Kamptal region of Austria; Marlborough, New Zealand; the famous area of Alsace, France; and the Finger Lakes region of New York.
Here’s two quick tasting notes on this Dr. Loosen Riesling from the Mosel, of which I had purchased two bottles five or six years ago at the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival.
I opened the first one two Mother’s Days ago (2009), when I had Mom over for a simple but exquisite dinner of boiled lobsters with lemon tarragon dipping butter. (Mmmm…)
Bright yellow in colour, the nose was a zesty bouquet of lemon, grapefruit, lime, honey and chalky mineral. The slightly off-dry palate had a searing line of acidity which cut through the rich flavours of our dinner perfectly, albeit the wine was a bit fruity for the relatively neutral taste of delicately sweet lobster in butter.
I reckoned that there was still some time for this wine to develop, so I waited for another occasion to open the next bottle.
The second, I shared with my family at a Mother’s Day dinner I prepared last month with an armload of goodies from Granville Island Public Market – the highlights being a pot of Quadra Island scallops in coconut basil lemongrass broth and boiled BC spot prawns with a dip of bird’s eye chilis, cilantro, garlic and green onion in lemon juice.
This time, the aromatic wine was an even bigger success paired with the equally flavourful ingredients of my seafood dishes.
With two more years in storage, my wine had become more developed on the nose, with riper fruit notes and more honey and apricot scents; and the freshness of the mineral and lime aromas turned to a smokier smell of heated rocks and hints of spice.
In the mouth, the new scents echoed on the palate with a silkier mouthfeel – my mouth no longer puckered after each sip as it did with the first bottle. The off-dry character remained, yet tasted more integrated with these riper, verging on tropical fruit flavours and more balanced acidity.
Tasting both examples over the course of two years was a great experience I’ll be looking to try on another series of white wines again in the future. Stay tuned!