Like German riesling? I love’em…

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I’ve been so busy with the US Winebloggers Conference  that it seems I’ve been neglecting my old favourite, The Bluebird on the Kings Road, but that’s just not true.

Last week I went there for a tasting of excellent German Rieslings. Let me just say right now, if you didn’t know already, I’m a BIG fan of German Rieslings! I love them and last week’s tasting hasn’t changed my mind one bit.

The wines from Weingut Geheimer Rat Dr. von Basserman Jordan were on display. Such a long name but I 366love it, gives the French a run for their money with their appellations and chateaus and vineyards. etc. This estate is one of the major estates in the Pfalz or Palatinate, as it’s often referred to, and the estate was founded in the 18th century. The aim of the winemakers is to reflect the heritage of the estate. There is even a wine museum which houses of collection of wines from 1880 to the present. I’d like to get invited to any tastings they might have at that estate.

The tasting was lead by the Managing Director of the estate, Gunther Hauck. Gunther’s goal was to show how quality German riesling doesn’t conform to the old stereotype of sickly sweet sugar water but is rather  complex, fruity and dry. Gunther also wanted to emphasize the minerality and freshness of the fruit in their wines. The first riesling was the ’07 Estate Riesling. An apple/citrus nose with a strong mineraly current running through it at first, on the palate, it was extremely dry, drier then almost any riesling I ‘ve ever had. I was really enjoying it, it was not like the usually off-dry spatlese and auslese that I’ve always thought of as typical german riesling. Notes of green apple, lemon and a lime finish almost a bit bitter on the end, like the rind of a lime.

We then moved onto the ’07385 Forster Ungeheuer Riesling Trocken. Ungeheuer is the vineyard that the grapes come from, it has been designated as a “first class” or “first growth” within Germany. The vineyard is situated on volcanic soil and so the wines pick up some of the minerality and flintiness that comes from these types of soils. Very fresh with a whiff of flint and wet stones on the nose as well as apple and fresh cut citrus aromas permeating the air. A lovely crisp, dry wine, well balanced between the acidity and the purity of the fruit coming through. Loads of apple, lemon, lime and a bit of pineapple on the finish combine with a lean minerality. This is a young wine but shows potential to age for many years to come. ’07 was one of the best vintages ever, according to Gunther. And at only 12% alcohol, this is a wine that you could have over a lunch of fresh oysters or seafood and still be able to function the rest of the day.

The hightlight of the evening had to be the ’07 Kalkofen. The name translates as “chalk oven” because the vineyard is on a plateau and catches the most sun. It’s considered one of the top 3 sites in Germany and is designated as a Grand Cru, covering 4 hectares, of which 2.3 hectares are owned by Weingut Geheimer.  The vineyard was first planted in the 11th century and first classified in 1828, making it the oldest classification in Europe. Of course it was classified for tax reasons. The grapes produce only 25 hectoliters/hectare, not a lot but what a deliciously complex wine those old vines produce.  Only 1500 – 2000 cases are produced annually. At first I detected baked pineapple, then notes of ripe apple followed by a certain flint edged honeysuckle aroma in the glass. All of it coming together to form a beautiful bouquet for my nose. I couldn’t wait to try it and once I did, my impatience was certainly rewarded. Flinty and minerally at first then a slightly honeyed approach followed by fresh pineapple and finishing off with an akalkofenmazingly dry lime finish. Medium bodied but mouthwatering, this was a riesling you could go back to again and again. Well balanced, sleek and elegant, a fabulous wine. The beauty of these wines is that even though they’re great now, in a few years time they’ll mature into truly exceptional wines.

If it’s been awhile since you’ve had German riesling or maybe you’ve never even tried it, I urge you to go out and pick up a bottle because as their current ad campaign says: If you think you know German wine, drink again.”

All wines available from The Bluebird.

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