Thursday, October 6, 2011

My Pilgrimage to Riesling Mecca

The Mosel Valley has long intrigued me. The geological diversity, the architecture, the culture, the history, but most of all, the wine. I've always loved riesling in all its different interpretations, but I've enjoyed Mosel rieslings most of all. During my sommelier studies, I learned the towns and vineyards by heart. So visiting the Mosel for the first time was like a pilgrimage for me. And the trip proved to be more thrilling than I'd ever imagined. The people are so real, the food so authentic, and the wines so pure. Each day I hiked through vineyards, taking in the incredible views and watching people pick grapes by hand. It was a tremendous experience, and I know that I will be back in the Mosel again soon. I wasn't able to keep track of all the wines I tried, but I did a pretty good job at keeping notes. I'm glad I did, because the wines I tasted were so diverse and exciting. Anyway... here are my notes.

The Mosel is lined with steep, beautiful vineyards.
Rieslings in the a.m.
During the Mosel harvest season, people in town seem to start drinking early. I waited until 11 a.m. before starting in on some rieslings at a wine and music festival in Bernkastel. The atmosphere was great, and the wines were too.
  • 2010 Weingut Tesch Riesling Unplugged Kabinett Trocken - Germany, Nahe (10/1/2011)
    my first riesling of the trip, and my first 2010, was a solid one. this kabinett from the nahe region (which is actually east of the mosel valley) smelled like flowers, peaches, lemon zest and a hint of cotton candy. the palate is bold, and this wine strikes me as very young. there's an intense burst of honey, pear and green apple. so fresh, so young, but so balanced. a streak of minerals comes out on the finish. i love the intensity of this wine. (90 pts.)
  • 2010 Hansen-Lauer Bernkasteler Riesling Spätlese trocken - Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer (10/1/2011)
    this riesling is actually from the Bernkasteler Matheisbildchen vineyard, which I'd never heard of. this was one of the most pleasant surprises of the trip. the aromas of golden apples, pineapple and papaya are rich and intoxicating. the creamy honey and peach flavors on the palate are pure and lush. there's an underlying salt and lime flavor, and some high acid to keep it all balanced. the finish is long and leaves the palate refreshed. this is one absolutely delicious riesling from a producer i'm glad to have discovered. (92 pts.)
Molitor-Rosenkreuz tasting
The Molitor Rosenkreuz tasting room is located just north of the beautiful Bernkastel Markplatz. My girl and I sat down for a personal tasting, and were attended to by an old man whoat noon was clearly drunk, and not just on wine. While he was downing riesling by the glass, he poured us some of the weingut's wine. It was a fun tasting, full of the man's drunken ramblings about sex and women, which my girlfriend translated for me. I'd never heard of this winery, but I think it's safe to say they use too much sulfur in their wines. The bottles had just been opened, but almost all of them showed a lot of sulfur aromas. Some of the aromas blew off with air, some did not. Still, it was a great tasting in a beautiful area. I enjoyed their Großes Gewächs a lot, and loved being able to taste several wines from Wintricher Ohligsberg, a vineyard I'd known of, but had never tried until this trip.
  • 2008 Molitor-Rosenkreuz Riesling Alte Reben trocken - Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer (10/1/2011)
    the first wine of the tasting was light straw colored. the nose showed a vegetal aspect, like green onion. the palate was actually much better, with green apple flavors, solid minerals and tangy acid. a solid entry level wine, but the nose throws me off a bit. (83 pts.)
  • 2005 Molitor-Rosenkreuz Wintricher Großer Herrgott Riesling trocken - Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer (10/1/2011)
    i loved the apricot, honey and hint of petrol aromas in this riesling. the palate is plump and oily, with hazelnut, golden apple and petrol flavors, and fresh acid. it tastes great now, but seems to have years ahead of it. (89 pts.)
  • 2007 Molitor-Rosenkreuz Wintricher Ohligsberg Riesling Spätlese trocken - Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer (10/1/2011)
    the nose on this showed some sulfur, which didn't dissipate too much with swirling and air. there's some other aromas hiding underneath, apricot and honey, but the sulfur dominates. the palate is delicious: gorgeous honey and white peach with a streak of minerals and great acid. (84 pts.)
  • 2008 Molitor-Rosenkreuz Wintricher Ohligsberg Riesling Spätlese trocken - Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer (10/1/2011)
    the color on this vintage was significantly darker than then 07 and 09. the nose shows lemon and hints of sulfur. it is plump and creamy with lots of fresh pineapple, honeycomb, but balanced with medium acid. this is a solid wine for under 10 euros. (87 pts.)
  • 2009 Molitor-Rosenkreuz Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Riesling Großes Gewächs trocken - Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer (10/1/2011)
    the aromas on this riesling are deep and intense. i got a lot of lemon and margarita salt. the palate starts off with a burst of pineapple, golden apple and buttered pear, but finishes with mouthpuckering acid. a rich apricot flavor lingers on the finish. (91 pts.)
  • 2009 Molitor-Rosenkreuz Wintricher Ohligsberg Riesling Spätlese trocken Großes Gewächs - Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer (10/1/2011)
    this riesling has a beautiful light gold color, with dried pineapple, circus peanuts and mango nectar aromas. the palate is gorgeous, just dripping with fruit: pineapple, apricot, papaya. enough acid to keep it balanced, but this is definitely a richer style großes gewächs. (92 pts.)

Random rieslings in Bernkastel
After the Molitor-Rosenkreuz tasting, I wandered the streets of Bernkastel, stopping at shops and bars for more riesling. I discovered some great ones. The Bernd Kilburg wines were tasted in a 400-year-old cellar that was damp, dark and beautiful. It's been there so long that there are stalagtites forming from all the water and minerals that leak down over the centuries. It was an other-worldly experience that I'll remember.
  • 2010 Bernd Kilburg Bernkasteler Kurfürstlay Riesling QbA trocken - Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer (10/1/2011)
    the nose on this riesling is really unique: lemons, limes, white flowers and an aroma that reminds me of Flinstone vitamins. the palate had a bit of spritz, but also som rich lemon-lime flavors. this is really tangy and extremely mineral-driven. it's delicious, and begs for shellfish. (90 pts.)
  • 2009 Bernd Kilburg Brauneberger Klostergarten Riesling Spätlese feinherb - Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer (10/1/2011)
    rich pear, honey and white flowers on the nose. the palate is plump and fruity, with delicious sweetness and solid acid. it has that 2009 vintage richness, but is very balanced as well. (88 pts.)
  • 2009 Weingut Erben Karl Dillinger Bernkasteler Alte Badstube am Doctorberg Riesling Spätlese trocken - Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer (10/1/2011)
    i tasted this wine at a gorgeous tasting area in a Bernkastel square. the nose showed white raisins, white cherries and apricot. the palate shows medium sweetness and acid, with white peach, lemons and limes. low minerals, and significant sweetness, but this was a really easy-sipping, rich Spätlese. (88 pts.)
  • 2009 Schmitz-Bergweiler Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Beerenauslese - Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer (10/1/2011)
    i tasted this beerenauslese dessert wine at a wine shop just outside the Bernkastel Markplatz. the nose was a medley of orange rind, orange brandy and apricot. the palate was delicious, with honey, apricot jam and a hint of toffee. the acid is there to keep it fresh and balanced. delicious finish. (90 pts.)
  • 2008 Schmitz-Bergweiler Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Eiswein - Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer (10/1/2011)
    the aromas on this ice wine are astounding: potpourrie, lemon candy, orange blossoms. the palate is plump, rich and full of pear, cotton candy and honeycomb flavors. the acid is really surprising, leaving the palate pleasantly refreshed. what balance on this wine. i bought a bottle at a ridiculously low price. i'm glad to have found this wine and this producer, as they are clearly capable of making superb wine. (92 pts.)
Dr. Pauly-Bergweiler
I stopped into this tasting room of a producer I've enjoyed for years. The tasting room was beautiful, overlooking the Mosel River, and the woman who poured the wines was knowledgeable and helpful.
  • 2009 Dr. Pauly-Bergweiler Riesling - Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer (10/1/2011)
    for an entry-level riesling priced at 7 euros, this is a superb value. fresh and lively, with lots of green apple flavors. fruity, but balanced. this is a crowd-pleaser. (86 pts.)
  • 2009 Dr. Pauly-Bergweiler Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling trocken - Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer (10/1/2011)
    another great riesling from this producer. aromas: very floral, peach blossoms, apricot. palate: pear skins, green apple skin, gorgeous acid, zesty finish. (89 pts.)
  • 2010 Dr. Pauly-Bergweiler Bernkasteler Badstube am Doctorberg Riesling Spätlese trocken - Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer (10/1/2011)
    this is another example of what a good producer can do with 2010 riesling. the nose is lively and explosive with its sugar cane and green apple aromas. the palate is bold and fruity. it starts off with grapefruit and lime, then a rush of minerals sweeps in and carries to the long finish. this is a wonderful riesling to drink now, but its so dense that it will surely gain in complexity for years. (91 pts.)
Wines @ the Vinothek in Keus
This cavernous tasting cellar is a wine tourist's dream come true. I paid 15 Euros and got to run around the cellar and taste as many wines as I could stomach, which turned out to be quite a few. There were over 130 wines to choose from, so I started with the 2010 rieslings, which I was excited to try. They were very nice, as were many of the 2009s, of course. I had a blast hanging out for about three hours tasting these wines, the overwhelming majority of which come from small producers that do not export their rieslings to the United States. This tasting really showcased the quality of the 2010 and 2009 vintages, and the differences that make both vintages uniquely delicious.
  • 2010 Rainer Heil Brauneberger Juffer-Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese trocken - Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer (10/2/2011)
    i started off the tasting at the Vinothek in Keus, Germany with this dry spätlese. the aromas explode from the glass. it smells like white peach, and like fresh squeezed lemonade, along with a distinct slate aroma. this has an intriguing flavor profile of nectarine, orange peel and grapefruit. there's a bite to this that reminds me of an orange rind. the acid is fresh, and minerals linger on the long finish. delicious. (91 pts.)
  • 2010 Weingut Klostergut Himmeroder Hof Kestener Paulinshofberg Riesling Auslese trocken - Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer (10/2/2011)
    thick legs on this auslese trocken. powerful aromas of lychee and dried pineapple. i really enjoyed the nose on this. the palate is creamy and rich, with lots of mango and apricot. slight mineral edge. it's quite thick, and a little low on the acid, or this would be a knockout. still a beautiful riesling. (88 pts.)
  • 2010 Weingut Jacob Steffen Erben Kestener Paulinshofberg Riesling Kabinett trocken - Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer (10/2/2011)
    what an explosive nose on this riesling: white flowers, white peach, and elegant perfume. the palate is very ripe, but balanced, and it maintains a refreshing body. there's a solid dose of chalk in this wine. the finish is long and delicious. this is really intense now, but so delicious. it will improve for quite some time, i'm sure. (91 pts.)
  • 2009 Hoffmann-Simon Klüsserather Bruderschaft Riesling Spätlese trocken - Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer (10/2/2011)
    the first 2009 of the tasting really showed the difference between the 09 and the 2010 vintage. the aromas are ripe and sweet: cotton candy and a very distinct caramel apple aroma, with some lemon to balance it out. the palate is bold and rich with apricot jam and marmalade. the minerals burst onto the stage on the finish, which is very long. a remarkable wine. (91 pts.)
  • 2009 Bischöfliche Weingüter Trier Scharzhofberger Riesling Auslese trocken - Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer (10/2/2011)
    so, this wine is made by a catholic order in trier, and i was really impressed with this effort. thick legs with caramel, toffee and pineapple on the nose. plump to start off, but it turns creamy and ends with a surprising acid. i love this nectarine and nougat-like flavor on the finish. (89 pts.)
  • 2009 Kerpen Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese - Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer (10/2/2011)
    what a find. fresh peach and apricot jam on the nose. the palate is surprisingly floral. my girlfriend says it's "like drinking gardenias," and i thought that was a great assessment. medium acid with lots of apricot flavors. a shot of minerality carries onto the finish. gorgeous now, but will benefit from some time in the bottle. (90 pts.)
  • 2009 Weingut 2 Freunde Spätburgunder trocken - Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer (10/2/2011)
    this winery seems to be a bit of a tourist gimmick, but they still produce a decent pinot noir rose. the color is very pale coper. it smells like roses and bruised strawberries. the palate shows some lively strawberry and white cherry flavors. good acid and a fun mouthfeel. this is a good picnic wine, although my girlfriend didn't like the cheese rind flavor that comes out on the finish. (83 pts.)
  • 2006 S.A. Prüm Riesling Blue Kabinett Trocken - Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer (10/2/2011)
    this wine was a bit disappointing. the nose shows golden apple and apricot skin. the palate shows some simple apple and apricot flavor, but it drops on the finish. overall, it's okay, but boring compared with all the other great rieslings i was tasting. (79 pts.)
  • 2010 Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt Riesling Kabinett feinherb - Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer (10/2/2011)
    i found this off-dry riesling to be richer and delicious. the nose was full of orange fruit. the palate had a slight spritz, green apple and nectarine flavors, all backed up by minerals and acid to keep it lively. cotton candy comes out on the finish, and there's just the right amount of sweetness. for a basic level riesling, this was wonderful. (90 pts.)
  • 2009 Friedrich-Wilhelm-Gymnasium Bernkasteler Badstube Riesling Kabinett feinherb - Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer (10/2/2011)
    i dont' know the details, but this wine was made by winemaking students. it has a perfumed and floral nose. bright and zesty palate with orange marmalade and sweet apricot. simple, but very pleasant off-dry riesling. (85 pts.)
  • 2010 Friedrich Stork & Rarbacher Schlossberg Riesling Hochgewächs halbtrocken - Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer (10/2/2011)
    bright nose of lime and sea salt. the palate has a little less acid than i like. it's bold, with almost chewy apricot fruit. still, a nice off-dry riesling, especially at less that 10 euros. (87 pts.)
  • 2010 Christoph Koenen Riesling Spätlese feinherb - Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer (10/2/2011)
    this wine is one of many 2010s that convinces me it is a superb mosel vintage. just a hint of sulfur initially, but that blew off as the wine got some air to show spritzy grapefruit and lime. the palate has zesty acid and delicious lemon, lime and nectarine flavors, underlined by slate and chalk. sweet, but so fresh. what a buy at 8 euros! (89 pts.)
  • 2010 Weingut Becker-Steinhauer Brauneberger Juffer Riesling Auslese - Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer (10/2/2011)
    oh mein gott! what an auslese. the nose is so damned sexy. lots of botyrtis aromas of honey and apricot, also sweet lychee and flowers. the palate is pure silk, with apricot, honeycomb and lychee. the acid is delicious, and keeps it perfectly balanced. the mouthfeel is superb on this wine, like honey, but easy to drink and refreshing. the slate and chalk flavors are intense and carry through on the long finish. both my girlfriend and i knew immediately that this was the wine of the day. (94 pts.)
  • 2007 Dr. Pauly-Bergweiler Bernkasteler Badstube am Doctorberg Riesling Spätlese trocken - Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer (10/2/2011)
    this was good, but not as good as the 2010 i tried a day earlier. at first, the nose smelled a bit stinky, like cellar dust. it wasn't faulty, because the fruit was creamy and rich, with a nice spritz. still good, but i prefer the 2010. (87 pts.)
  • 2003 Weingut Leo Schwab Graacher Domprobst Riesling Auslese - Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer (10/2/2011)
    the nose on this auslese was reticent. some apricot, but that's about it. it's really rich on the palate, showing it's unabashed 2003 flavor profile. the acid is really low on this. it's yummy, and the nougat and honey flavors are nice. this is a great wine to have with dessert, but it doesn't have enough acid to get me too excited. (86 pts.)
  • 2010 Weingut Peter Schneider Gewürztraminer Bekonder Schlossberg - Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer (10/2/2011)
    this was the only gewürztraminer i tried on the trip, but it was a good one. the nose smelled of lychee, white pepper and a bit of funkiness, like a hint of sweaty sock. the palate is really delicious. bouncy white peach and lychee fruit with a spritz that dances on the palate. really fun, with lots of personality. (89 pts.)
  • 2010 Weingut Hermann Grumbach Spätburgunder trocken - Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer (10/2/2011)
    the first red of the tasting, a pinot noir, was quite impressive. the nose was smoky and full of rawhide and stawberries. the palate shows bright bing cherries, smoke, and some oak. it's got a lot of acid as well. for 13 euros, what a solid buy. (88 pts.)
  • 2004 Wwe. Dr. H. Thanisch (Erben Müller-Burggraef) Dornfelder - Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer (10/2/2011)
    dusty cherries on the nose. the palate has bitter tannins, underripe cherries, and dust and balsamic flavors. i don't think it's volatile acidity, just a bad wine. (75 pts.)
  • 2009 Ludger Veit Dornfelder trocken - Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer (10/1/2011)
    god, what a bad german red wine. the nose smells like underripe grapes and pennies. the palate is bitter, acidic and underripe. i've accidentally crushed some grape seeds while eating them, and this wine reminds me of that extremely bitter sensation. not pleasant in any way. (61 pts.)
Drinking 2010 Rieslings in Erden
On the way out of Bernkastel, we headed north, weaving through the roads, dodging grape pickers and tractors. We passed through the heralded vineyards of Graach, Urzig, Wehlen and ended up in Erden, a quaint little town on the eastern bank of the Mosel. A harvest festival was going on, and riesling was flowing from more than a dozen tasting booths. I only tried a few, because I had to drive east through the mountains, but the wines I tasted were a real treat. The views of Erdener Treppchen are breathtaking.
  • 2010 Rebenhof Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Kabinett trocken - Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer (10/3/2011)
    the nose is very perfumed, also shows lemon-lime. razor-like acid on the palate. lemon rind, nectarine and intense mineral flavors. it's very powerful, and could use some time in the bottle, but it's a very good kabinett. (90 pts.)
  • 2010 Bischöfliche Weingüter Trier Dom Riesling Trocken - Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer (10/3/2011)
    this is a very aggressive style of dry riesling. the nose explodes with lemon pine sol aromas. the palate is lemon and mineral-driven, with incredibly tangy acid, and strong mineral water flavors. intense wine, but for this style, i enjoy it. (85 pts.)
  • 2010 Schmitges Erdener Treppchen Riesling Spätlese - Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer (10/3/2011)
    the winemaker poured this for me at a wine festival in erden. what a gorgeous spätlese. this wine has gorgeous lychee and white flower aromas. the palate is very creamy, with a wonderful mouthfeel. lychee, white peach and a bit of mango on the palate. medium acid and a huge shot of minerals on the finish, which is delicious and long. (91 pts.)
  • 2010 Weinhof Sankt Anna Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Auslese Alte Reben - Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer (10/3/2011)
    this auslese took me by surprise as soon as i smelled it. apricot, orange marmelade and sea salt on the nose. the palate shows whipped honey, pear and golden apples. there's a seamless transition to the minerals and acid that linger on the finish. this is so well balanced. an auslese for all times and occassions. (93 pts.)
  • 2010 Schmitges Erdener Treppchen Riesling Beerenauslese - Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer (10/3/2011)
    this wine gets me excited about the 2010 dessert wines. the nose is intoxicating, with dense aromas of honey, orange blossom, lemon cream pie and a distinct spiced apple aroma. the palate oozes with rich white peach, honeycomb and cinnamon applesauce flavors. but the rich fruit is balanced with lively acid. it's crazy how a wine this dense can be so fresh. the finish is smooth and laced with minerals. (94 pts.)

No comments:

Post a Comment