2008 Dr. Loosen Riesling Dr. L

2008 Dr. Loosen Riesling Dr. LPrice: $9.99 @ Dr. Loosen imported by Loosen Bros*

What They Said:

Per Dr. Loosen “Sleek and tangy, showing apricot, lime and mango flavors matched to a lively structure. There’s nice harmony and persistence through the finish.” – No. 62 on Wine Spectator’s 2009 Top 100 List

What I Think:

(8.5%) Surprised to get this one as a sample as it seems the 2010 is the current vintage. A nice purity on the palate this one is slightly sweet and rich with tart green apple and lemon rind flavors. From there pleasant acidity leads to a mouthwatering finish. Clean and refreshing. All in all perhaps a touch sweeter than I prefer but at $10 this is simple and pleasing. Can you find better? Likely but you’ll find worse while you are looking…

Rating: Interesting (As mentioned maybe you can do better but is it worth the risk…)

*This wine was received as a press sample.

2010 Dr. Beckermann Piesporter Michelsberg Riesling

A long a favorite I was hoping this one could follow in the footsteps of previous vintages like the 2005 and 2006. That said it used to be Spätlese now just Qualitätswein. Does it matter?

Price: $4.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

2010 Dr. Beckermann Piesporter Michelsberg Riesling Spatlesenothing on the bottle or the web. Any of my Trader Joe’s insiders out there have the scoop on this one?

What I Think:

(9%) Honeyed, pollinated, floral nose. Light spritz, effervescent. Some surprising weight (yet still light and easy) on the palate with a crisp lemon citrus edge over a green apple core. This one is off dry, just a touch sweet, with a slight mineral acidity to keep the finish fresh and pleasing. A simple, straightforward quaffer this one would work well as an aperitif.

Rating: Buy It

2009 Matthias Dostert Elbling Alva

Elbling? Heard of it? It was believed to have been originally planted in Germany by the Roman’s around the first century and remained widely so until well into the 20th century before becoming the afterthought it is today. There are still something on the order of 1,500 acres grown along the Upper Mosel and a quarter more of that across the border in Luxembourg. Now most know that this is Riesling territory and there would likely be even less Elbling planted if not for the formers inability to grow in chalk based soils. That said the majority that is grown is used as a base for Sekt (the German version of sparkling wine) and little of the rest is exported so in remains an obscure varietal to the vast majority of those outside of (and potentially within) Germany. As an interesting aside this varietal was part of the first ever release of Gundlach Bundschu in 1976 under the name of Kleinberger (pdf) which is but just one of many synonyms for this one. From what I can tell they last bottled this as part of the 2000 vintage. Wonder if they are still making it…but I digress. Elbling is known to produce “wines high in acid and fairly neutral in character”. In fact Jancis Robinson described it as being “distinguished for its searing acidity”. What did I think? Read on…

2009 Matthias Dostert Elbling AlvaPrice: $12.99 @ Cheese Plus imported by Savio Soares

What They Said:

Per K&L Wines “It’s hard to classify this wine since Elbling is the grape varietal and no one has every really heard of it. It is an ancient Roman varietal that still has a very small, very hidden following in Germany’s Mosel region. It is dry, it is aromatic and it is extraordinarily unique. The grape shows floral nuances not dissimilar to viognier but the flavors are not as honeyed or over the top. There is also a wonderful streak of acidity that keeps it focused. Finally, the wine has such an intriguing earthy finish you can’t help but be enchanted by its subtle hint of musk. Yes, it is a little geeky (okay maybe a lot geeky) but you can definitely be one of the few elite to experience this unique grape varietal.”

What I Think:

(12%) 100% Elbling – My first Elbling and I’ll just cut to the chase by letting you know I want more. Citrus, tropical and floral on the nose this one starts dry and crisp on the palate with loads of peaches (perhaps just a hair underripe). From there a tangy acidity emerges which is joined by lemon flavors on a crisp, refreshing finish. This one is pure, vibrant goodness and worth stocking up on for the summer (and winter too)…

Rating: Wow!

Special thanks to Greg Borden who is the wine buyer at Cheese Plus for turning me onto this one. How about all of you? Discovered any new varietals lately?

Summer Stash: Some Riesling and a Grüner Veltliner…

Riesling has always been intriguing to me and I’ve long wanted to explore it further but yet to do so. On the other hand Grüner Veltliner is quite new to me but quite intriguing as well. Why? Because both can deliver loads of value. You can drink some very high quality offerings of these at affordable prices. This is even more true (at least in the case of Riesling, does Grüner Veltliner age well?) when you are looking to cellar some wines. Over the past few months I’ve had a chance to sample a handful of these. What was my overall take? That I need to do a lot more exploring with these two grapes! So let’s take a look at those I have been drinking…two rielsings and a gruner...

Both of these Rieslings are designated as Kabinett which is on the lower end of the sweetness scale (and to my liking). Did I mention the other thing I love about Riesling? The low ABV (10.5% and 9.5% here). The Pfeffo has a great nose of plush white fruit over a nice mineral bed. The palate shows more of the same with juicy apple flavors and a firm acidity that shines through to keep this one balanced. Very nice but I would have preferred a bit more crispness here. The Marcobrunn was totally lacking the fruit on the nose yet much sweeter (and slightly syrupy) on the palate. Both are well suited to be paired with spicy Asian cuisine. As for Forstreiter; it showed rock, talc and mineral on the nose with loads of white pepper lingering nearby. The palate starts with racy grapefruit flavors before the acidity kicks in and leads to a tangy, mineral finish. Next time I have to pair this one with food!
and the wines of Heinz Eifel...

Warning! Wine geekery adhead… When I first started learning about Riesling the thing I struggled most with was what the difference between the designations meant. Spätlese vs. Auslese? Say what? Eventually I realized the easiest way to think about these is by their level of sweetness. The designations, starting with least sweet, are rank ordered above. So what did I love most about these wines? The chance to try them all at once! We had an Indian dinner party and brought these all out. It was a wonderful tasting opportunity to try different wines with the same foods (my tip is the spicier the food the sweeter the wine) and was a really enjoyable evening for all involved. So my wine geek friends go grab these and give it a try on your own. You’ll be glad you did!

There you have it. Have you had any of these? Any similar favorites to share? (PSA: my favorite has yet to be revealed) Either way would love to hear your thoughts via the comments below.

*as indicated above these wines were indeed all received as press samples.

NV Schloss Biebrich Sekt

Schloss Biebrich SektPrice: $4.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Mutual Wholesale Liquor

What They Said:

Per Good Wine Under $20 “Bright and floral, this wine was almost as translucent and colorless as water. It had a modest apple aroma, and when the wine was poured in the glass there was an alarming amount of froth (ok, mousse for the geeks out there). Usually wines with lots of froth/mousse the bubbles are big and harsh, but the Schloss Biebrich bubbles were smooth and small. On the palate, there wasn’t a harsh or bitter note, just warm pears flavors and a lingering impression of flowers on the finish.”

What I Think:

On request I decided to give a sparkler a try. After finding it on Good Wine Under $20 I felt quite lucky after more or less randomly pulling this one off the shelves at Trader Joe’s. Reading the review there I learned a lot about Sekt. Never would have guessed Germany consumed the most sparkling wine of any country in the world. I tried to find out what grape this was made of to no avail. Dr. Debs is guessing Riesling so I will get on that bandwagon. Another interesting fact, per all of my friends at wikipedia, is that most Sekt is made partially of grapes from outside the country. As Sekt made exclusively from German grapes can be labeled as Deutscher Sekt I think it is safe to guess this bottling is among those containing foreign grapes.

Now on to the main event, the color on this one is very light…could I guess a color? Almost clear, I guess I would say platinum. Subdued at first on the nose, then crisp white fruit aromas appear, seems to be mostly pear with hints of apples and peaches. Doesn’t look to bubbly in the glass but seems to be popping in the mouth. The palate starts full and rich, towards the middle the bubbles kick in full force. I mean more bubbles than I have ever experienced.  The finish is light and crisp, a hint tart almost similar to a Sauvignon Blanc. This was not overly sweet, like some German Rieslings, which is what I was expecting. An excellent value! I usually only have sparklers as an aperitif. Next time I try this one I think I’ll do so with an Indian or Thai dish and see how that goes…

By the way, if you are like me and rarely drink sparkling wine there is more good news. After opening this one I put the original cork back in for a week and it held just fine. In fact today is day 9 and it is still drinking fine. Enjoy!

Anyone else have a request before I buy another bottle of sparkling?

Rating: Buy It

2006 Dr. Beckermann Piesporter Michelsberg Riesling Spatlese

Price: $4.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by International Import-Export

What They Said:

Per snooth.com “Good acidity balances perfectly the touch of off-dry that this wine presents. Some floral notes, good minerality. Good long finish. Paired well with curry, would work with any spicy foods.”

What I Think:

To give you an idea straight off the bat, the snooth write up had a comment of someone who could only remember that they paid under $20. Promising! Coupled with my experience with the 2005 and many others from my pre-blogging days I was happy to be pulling the cork on this one as I was preparing Thai Basil Chicken for dinner.

It didn’t disappoint. On the nose I found a mostly floral bouquet with some lighter fruits lingering in the background. On the palate something tries to show early but is swept up in sweetness before it can express itself. Just when it appears doomed to be a overly sweet effort a nice crisp, acidic backbone saves the day showing mineral characteristics and leading to a pleasant finish. Therefore I gave it a “Buy It” rating but wanted to also provide a disclaimer that I will never have more than one bottle of this in my house. And I’ll be happy to have it whenever spicy Asian food is on the menu. Unless you are a Riesling purist I imagine there are few out there that wouldn’t enjoy this effort. I challenge you all to try a bottle and report back with your thoughts.

Rating: Buy It

2005 Losen Estate Riesling Kabinett

Price: $5.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Plume Ridge Wine Negotiants

What They Said:

Per Wine-O-Rama “Found this today at Trader Joe’s for $8.29. We thought it must be horrid, but turned out to be quite nice. As is typical for rieslings from the Mosel, lots of apple and pear. Hardly anything from the citrus posse (which we love in a riesling.) Kabinett? Hardly. 9.5% alcohol and nothing very subtle about it. Could use a bit more acidity kick to balance out the sweetness. The bottle also says “Estate Bottled.” Huh? NOT Estate Grown… But this was still pretty good in spite of its shortcomings (and at a great price!) It’s not quite up there with world class German rieslings, but ALMOST. It’s worth getting more (if more exists by the time we get back to Trader Joe’s!”

What I Think:

I opened this bottle when my wife mentioned we were having Thai, due to missing ingredients fajitas made it to the table instead. Without regard to the deviation in plan I poured the wine. The results were somewhat ambiguous. This Riesling is the definition of a quaffer. It has the typical sweetness you would expect but it is not overbearing. This wine showed better on its own given this pairing and would likely excel with, what I view as, a proper spicy Asian food pairing.

I was expecting my first true gift from keeping this blog. I have never, never been able to remember which was the TJ’s Riesling I liked between this and the Dr. Beckermann’s. Now after reviewing both I still don’t know. It seems that they had both of these in stock for an eternity so my next step is a side by side taste test to finally determine the winner. Feel free to try this exercise on your own as this wine won’t disappoint.

Rating: 12th Bottle

2005 Dr. Beckermann Piesporter Michelsberg Riesling Spatlese

Price: $4.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by International Import-Export

What They Said:

Per Wine-O-Rama “We found this cheapie for $6 at Trader Joe’s yesterday, and after two days of Easter celebrations, decided to give it a go. This is a blend of riesling and Müller-Thurgau grapes picked late in the harvest (spatlese) and are of the highest Qualitatswein mit Pradikat designation. Lots of mellow but vibrant fruit here along with a touch of acidy “spritz.” Sweet, yes (8.5% alcohol) but not “cheap riesling” sweet (a notch or two above those sickly syrupy cheap rieslings that I describe as syrup from the bottom of a store brand fruit tin can.) This would be a quite tasty sip on the patio bench or in the hot tub on a sultry summer night. Nowhere near world class riesling, but for six bucks, we’ll definitely have some on hand for appropriate situations.”

What I Think:

Per wikipedia, “Spätlese is a German wine term for a late harvest wine and is the second category of QmP wine in the German wine classification above Kabinett and below Auslese in terms of ripeness. The grapes are picked at least 7 days after normal harvest, so they are riper and have a higher must weight.

Characteristics
Greater Intensity and strength then Kabinett
High level of acidity that curbs any overt sweetness
Fleshy and intensely flavored
Often tastes of apple, pear and honeysuckle
Elegant nose with highly detectable aromas”

Man have I had a hard time trying to remember the different German riesling styles and what they mean over the years. Usually it doesn’t matter as when I pop the cork I am happy with the product. On initially opening this wine I am hit with thoughts of champagne based on the hint of bubbles on my palate. This is a full bodied wine which continues this analogy until the sweetness takes over. And boy does it take over! Some apple is present but I was having a hard time identifying much. That being said I tried to pair this with roasted chicken (mistake!) when it clearly needs some spicy Asian cuisine to use its primary characteristic to its advantage.

Rating: 12th Bottle