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Riesling: The Wine Everyone Can Agree On

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Numero Tokyo Apr 09 Claudia by Liz Collins.jpg

I had a great time last Friday night taking part in TasteLive's Wines of Germany online tasting. We had a chance to taste through 4 Rieslings from S.A. Prüm and they were, like many German Rieslings, fantastic. At this point, I'm having had a hard time finding a $15-$20 German Riesling I don't like. It's an outstanding category full of value.

The thing that's great about Riesling is this: It's fruity and delicious and therefore a delight to drink. Even people who normally don't like the taste of wine like Riesling. However it's no White Zinfandel- wine geeks get really excited about Riesling for its complexity and balance.

Another nice feature: It tends to be lower in alcohol than other wines so you won't get parched and wake up the next morning slow-moving after drinking a couple of glasses.

One of the few things I don't like about German Rieslings is that their labels can be maddeningly confusing. Although German wine labels are full of information, it's extraordinarily difficult to track down a recommendation. If I told you to go buy a "Prüm Riesling" that could be referring to any one of a hundred bottles of wine. For these reasons, German Riesling reminds me of Claudia Schiffer: Beautiful, but perhaps a bit difficult to approach. (and hey, who doesn't like a blog entry with a pretty picture at the beginning?)

Some German wine makers seem to be taking an interesting approach in this respect: They maintain traditional labeling for their estate/higher-end bottles while offering easier to remember wines at lower price points. Like the "Dr. L Riesling" or the "S. A. Prüm Essence Riesling".

That said, you may be able to find these wines in stores near you. Here are my notes on each of the wines we tasted:

2008 S. A. Prüm Essence Riesling Mosel
  • The nose reminded me of an old candy I used to enjoy: Certs Mixed Fruit. Imagine crushing some of these up and smelling them- you get minerality and fruit.
  • On the palate, nice heavy fruit. Apricots more than peaches.
  • I think this wine would be great to serve at a gathering. It's a crowd pleaser.
  • WWP 86/Very Good around $12
2007 S. A. Prüm Blue Riesling Kabinett
  • This one is more serious than the Essence, and offers more of what I'm looking for in a German Riesling. Wet stone, green apples and citrus.
  • WWP 88/Very Good Around $19
2006 S. A. Prüm Urziger Wurzgarten Riesling Kabinett Mosel Estate Bottled
  • The first bottle I reached for the day after the tasting and my favorite wine of the night.
  • Stunningly pure. Here's what I mean by that: You let some of this wine rest on your tongue to get a taste and it radiates a delicious sunbeam of Riesling goodness. Radiant.
  • Just the slightest hint of Petrol. A textbook example of what Riesling can be.
  • 92 WWP/Outstanding around $20
2007 S.A. Prüm Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett Mosel Estate Bottled
  • The only wine that came with a cork enclosure (the others were screw cap).
  • Too much Petrol for my taste, but otherwise a very good wine and similar to the Urzinger.
  • 89 WWP/Very Good low $20s
Recommendations: If you haven't had a German Riesling, seek one out for between $15 and $25. If you've had German Rieslings but haven't tried wines from S.A. Prüm then give them a go.

Further Reading: 1 Wine Dude's take on this event (including Kung-Fu comparisons!)

Check back soon (or better yet subscribe!)- I'll be offering up my opinions on Finger Lakes Rieslings after tasting through a dozen of them recently. In the mean time, head over to The Passionate Foodie to read his take on Finger Lakes Rieslings.

Thanks to Wines of Germany the chance to taste through these wines.

Photo Credit: Tammy Manet

Question of the Day: What are some of your favorite Rieslings?

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