… although my favourite white grape sure does often make me smile, like it did tonight!
I’m fairly self-aware that I am probably preaching to the choir of Riesling lovers everywhere, and possibly regurgitating the same ol’ rhetoric used by said fans – but at the same time, I also know that it’s precisely because of the somewhat inspirational effect that superior quality Riesling has on those who love a fine wine that I love the king of white grapes.
I can’t help waxing poetic about a great Riesling – the experience just begs to be shared!
Riesling holds a tenuous reputation within the spectrum of wine consumers. It is both the grape attributed to many an undrinkable bottle of watery mainstream plonk as well as the main ingredient of a small collection of the world’s most supreme, complex and transcendent examples of white wine.
High in natural acidity, unmatchable in its range of aromatics and very engaging with the land it is planted to, quality Riesling is one of the best grapes through which to fully experience that loaded, often misused wine term: terroir.
This chameleonic, characterful grape is capable of evoking everything – from the austere to the exotic, from bone dry to molasses sweet, from stony to steely to green to orchard to floral to tropical to oily to gassy to mushrooms – you name it, Riesling’s got it all in spades.
Tonight at my WSET Advanced class I tasted a couple of very worthy wines that instantly lifted my mood and got me grinning so wide I had to blog about them.
I hope these pique your interest in Riesling as much as they excited my tastebuds!
Bischölfliches Riesling Spätlese Ayler Kupp Mosel Prädikatswein 2008
I’ll spare you the German lesson… Here’s the Cole’s Notes version of the wine’s name:
- Bischölfliches = producer
- Riesling Spätlese = Riesling picked at the Spätlese sugar level (4th highest in a range of six; typically indicates late harvest)
- Ayler = belonging to the township of Ayl
- Kupp = the single vineyard site or Einzellage of Kupp
- Mosel Prädikatswein = made in the superior quality region of Mosel (formerly known as Mosel-Saar-Ruwer; Ayler Kupp is actually located in the Saar part of this riverside region)
Pale lemon green in colour, with fairly intense, youthful aromas of wet rocks, chalk, white flowers, citrus peel, grapefruit juice and limes. Medium-sweet on the palate with a strong backbone of acidity and fairly light in body, the wine showed fragrant aromas of juicy citrus, apple, pear, rose petals, minerals, more lime and a hint of petrol. The finish is long and delicious. Quite low in alcohol at 9% a.b.v.
All in all, a superb wine that is amazing for the price and can be cellared for the medium term, where it will improve and gain even more complexity over time. I’m told the 2007 (same price) is even tastier! $30
For a food pairing, I’d recommend a fresh, coconutty Thai curry sauce, served over fresh spot prawns and fragrant Basmati rice. Also, you could never go wrong with a platter of fresh fruit, cheeses and quince paste.
Schloss Schönborn Riesling Spätlese Erbacher Marcobrunn Rheingau Prädikatswein 2008
- Schloss Schönborn = the estate of Schönborn
- Riesling Spätlese = see above
- Erbacher = from the township of Erbach
- Marcobrunn = the single vineyard or Einzellage of Marcobrunn
- Rheingau Prädikatswein = made in the superior quality region of Rheingau
Light yellow in colour, a fantastic, intense bouquet of citrus, orchard fruits, tropical fruits, musky honey, apricot and soft spice aromas greets the nose. The medium-bodied palate is medium-sweet with a clean, refreshing undertone of acidity, meanwhile dazzling the tongue with a complex range of flavours including ripe, juicy apple, pear, peach, apricot, honey, some citrus and hints of baking spices. The taste lingers on forever on the incredible finish.
Outstanding already and will continue to get better with up to 10 years of further bottle aging. 9.5% a.b.v. What a treat it was to taste this. $50
Food pairing: Try chicken or fish korma, a mildly spiced, sweetish Indian curry that contains raisins and coconut cream; or perhaps a baked Dungeness (or Alaskan King) crab dish, very lightly seasoned if at all.
[Ed.: I typically write brief personal remarks in the margins of my WSET notebook during the tasting portion, apart from my formal notes. The Bischölfliches Spätlese above I had labelled as "YUM"... My footnote on the following Schloss Schönborn wine was "YUM!!!"]