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

2006 Chateau Ste. Michelle Columbia Valley Riesling

Price: $5.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per the winery “We craft our Columbia Valley Riesling to be an inviting, refreshing, off-dry Riesling vintage after vintage. This Riesling consistently delivers classic Washington state Riesling character of juicy peach, apricot, ripe pear, melon, with subtle mineral notes. This is our “every day Riesling” that is a pleasure to drink and easy to match with a variety of foods.”

What I Think:

I saw this one when I was shopping to for the Rocking Horse the other day. Not sure what made me grab it. I have always thought that Riesling provided good bang for the buck so let’s chalk it up to that.

We opened this one to go with some chicken fajitas that were on the fruiter side thinking that it may be a nice pairing. Given that my dad was still in town with his wife and friends and they joined us for this meal my notes and impressions are again somewhat limited. I thought that this was a decent wine, on the nose you get some apple/pear hints. On the palate this hints come to life in a very dry fashion on top of a minerally backbone. This wine is true to the varietal character lacking that manufactured sweetness that I may have been secretly hoping for given the pairing. I think I was after a JW Morris Gewurztraminer like experience and this didn’t deliver. To sum it up, this is a decent wine certainly of the dry style. If I find myself searching for something of the sort I’ll likely be looking elsewhere.

Rating: Skip It

2005 Navarro Anderson Valley Riesling

Price: $14.25 direct from the winery

What They Said:

Per the winery “Navarro’s Riesling style has evolved over the last thirty years thanks to the increasing availability of better clones in California. When we started growing Riesling in the 70′s there wasn’t much choice of what to plant. Historically many California clones of this variety had been selected for high yields rather than high wine quality. We planted our first clonal trials of Riesling in 1990 when the nurseries started to have a wider choice available and now Navarro’s fields are planted to some of the world’s most flavorful clones. 84% of this wine was produced from Navarro’s expanded plantings; there’s bright apple and stone-fruit flavors that are reminiscent of ripe German Rieslings from the Rheinpfalz. Because we are now starting with more flavorful grapes, we’ve found ourselves crafting drier versions of Riesling but a drier finish requires careful winemaking in order to avoid extracting astringency from the skins, seeds or stems. After destemming, the free-run juice was cool fermented in oak ovals where it rested on the lees for six months, contributing to a rich mouth feel and hints of charcuterie.

There is a tad of residual sugar but it’s just enough to balance Riesling’s naturally high acidity; the wine finishes deliciously tart and dry with no perceptible sweetness. The captivating floral bouquet has just a touch of Germanic petrol and the lush flavors hint at apple, tangerine and apricot. Try it with thinly sliced Westphalia ham on pumpernickel. Prost! Gold Medal winner.”

What I Think:

The winery called this one “Quest” in reference to their long journey towards developing the desired style for their bottling. I left the majority of what they said though it wasn’t directly related to this wine as I found it interesting.

This wine was very pale in color, on opening like the Pinot I had a few day backs, this one didn’t jump out of the bottle at you. It took the subtler approach and grows on you over time. What do you reckon that means, when the wine shows such a drastic improvement with just a bit of air? Should Navarro have kept these out of the bottle for a bit longer? Should I have kept it in the bottle a little longer? Or would neither have mattered and the wines just needed air… This always makes me wonder if I catch a wine at an “in-between” time. This is purely conjecture but I think when some wines are bottled they offer a drinking window before closing up to become to age a bit, again becoming drinkable at a later time. That wouldn’t seem to make sense here as it is such a young wine. It was bottled only 10 months ago. Back to the wine, one interesting thing was that it never had much of a nose at all. In fact I was trying so hard to pick something up I got my nose wet a few times. Initially the taste was hard to discern but there was certainly a tart, racy finish. It seemed a bit of lemon leading on to a mineral like finish. As it opened this went from the dominant force in the wine to a mere afterthought as the texture became more supple apples, pears and a hint of peach (or is apricot, nectarine…) came to the front before fading to that same tart, minerally end. . Looking above I see a mention of tangerine; have to remember that one moving forward.

Hmm, now for the rating part. This is a really nice wine. It was great with the Asian fare and held up to some Mexican a few nights later. Just not sure that I am willing to pay this price unless my socks are knocked off. Especially with the similar structured and tasting Marcel Hugg wines available at TJ’s. I feel like I am slighting this one by calling it “Pricey”. Maybe the winery should have called this on “Tough break”.

Rating: Pricey

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