Thursday, August 21, 2014

Three Terroir-Driven Rieslings

Riesling is endlessly fascinating for its diversity and ability to translate different vineyards into flavors. A transparent grape, lovers of terroir never tire of Riesling’s complexity.

I recently tasted through three Riesling from three different regions: Germany’s Rheingau, Austria’s Kamptal and France’s Alsace. They were all exciting wines, offering entirely different takes on this one grape, showing the complexities of their unique terroir. The wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted. I had fun chatting with industry reps at @AustrianWineUSA@DrinkAlsace and @GermanWineUSA using the #winechat hashtag.

My notes on the three Rieslings…

Much more floral and honey-driven on the nose, with some riper white peach and mango nectar, lots of potpourri. Creamy and fresh on the palate, a great balance of body and acid, a hint of sweetness. White peach, caramel apple and mango, drizzled with lime. Hints of dusty earth, white flowers and clovers. The finish shows interesting notes that remind me of tonic and pencil lead. Quite complex, this could develop well over the next 3-5, probably more. I like the nerve of this wine. 9.5% alcohol. From loam, chalk, marl and sand soils. (89 points)

2011 Weingut Brandl Riesling Zöbinger Heiligenstein - Austria, Niederösterreich, Kamptal
Very stony on the nose, it reminds me of mountain stream rocks, ocean jetties and crushed chalk. The fruit aromas tend toward the green apple and kiwi. Full bodied (14% alcohol) and bold but clean with fresh acid. The apricot, kiwi and green apple fruit are ripe but tart, laced with lots of chalky, crushed stone elements. Wow, really chalky, with some seashell and sea salt and jetty rocks and a whole lot of saltwater. As a surfer, I’m loving this oceanic streak. It’s tangy and mineral-driven but a full and big wine that could use some age or a decant. The chalkiest of the three, I even get some earth and library dust. I dream of drinking this with some steamed mussels, but it’s strong enough to balance out a variety of strong cheeses. Every time I’ve tasted a Heiligenstein, I’ve been excited, and this is no exception. From sandstone and siltstone soils. (91 points)

2010 Paul Blanck Riesling Schlossberg - France, Alsace, Alsace Grand Cru AOC
SRP: $34
Bright gold color. Gorgeous nose of chamomile tea, clover honey, apricot jam, candied orange peel, lamp oil, some dusty notes. Crisp acid, I love the balance of tartness and richness in this wine. Clean, medium+ bodied, just a hint of sweetness. A whole fruit salad of apricot, green apple, kiwi, green melon, drizzled with honey and crushed rocks. A deep and pervasive sense of smoky minerals in this wine. Long finish with screaming acid. Age-worthy for sure. Aged on the lees in oak for a year and aged two to three years after bottling. From the granite soils of Alsace’s Grand Cru Schlossberg vineyard. 13% alcohol. (92 points)

I’d love to conduct this same tasting three or four years from now, because I’m sure these three Rieslings have many more stories to tell.

Drink any good Old World Riesling lately?


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