Riesling on a cold and dark December evening
I was reading the new wine social media portal, Bibendum Times the other day and they had a great article on bicycling through the Mosel. Sure you get your exercise but even better are the pitstops along the way to sample all those wonderful Mosel rieslings. Readers of The Winesleuth will know that I absolutely adore riesling, especially German riesling – pronounced REEZ-ling, that’s how I say it and that’s how my friend the wine blogger and Munich native, The Wine Rambler says it.
So I found myself last Sunday evening on my way to Torsten’s (the Wine Rambler) to sample some, unavailable in the UK, German rieslings. Torsten has such great German wine connections that he doesn’t even bother with buying anything here.
I think German rieslings have a bad rep because of their startling fruitiness. Don’t be tempted to associate that fruitiness with “sweet” or call rieslings “sweet wines” even if they do have a good amoung of residual sugar. Despite that residual sugar, well made rieslings will have a fantastic streak of acidity running through them that perfectly balances the fruit, as well as a wonderful minerality, giving wines that are full of intense fruit but at the same time avoiding the pitfalls of being a cloying sugary concoction.
Goldtropchen – “little drops of gold”. From the Mosel. Piesport to be exact. The Piesporter region is known for it’s steep slopes, good exposure to the sun and slatey soils, all of which contribute to produce these top knotch wines. The Reinhold Haart Goldtropfchen Spatlese 2007 may still be in it’s infancy but it was a delicious drop of gold. Produced by one of the oldest and most prestigious vintners, the Haart family have been making wine since 1337, are one of the oldest wine-making families and have one of the oldest private wine estates in the Mosel. Although at 7.5 acres, it’s not exactly huge. The Haart’s use minimal intervention in the vineyards and are almost entirely organic. In order to allow the pure expression of the fruit, fermentation is stopped before it’s gone to completion.
I’m skipping around and starting with the second wine we drank first. The Haart spatlese, despite it’s name, was still pale yellow in colour. A fresh, floral nose, jasmine, honeysuckle, even faint whiffs of pineapple. Torsten commented that this floral character was typical of spatlese from the Haart vineyards. The nose of this wine was just begging me to take a taste. And taste I did. Full on fruit assaulting my palate, loads of dried pineapple, passionfruit and hints of even raspberry on the palate. I would have never imagined a white wine would have some red fruit character but this one did. Very ripe raspberry, raspberry jam even? This was a wine just bursting with sweet fruit yet still had a minerally streak and a fantastic lime finish to it all.
While the Haart wine is made by one of the oldest producers in the Mosel, the Heymann-Lowenstein Schieferterrasan 2007 is made by what some in the Mosel consider a bit of a nutter. An ex-communist who was determined to do things his way, Reinhard Lowenstein came to the Mosel in the 1980’s and was one of the first to speak of terroir, natural fermentation and prolonged skin contact. Although his wines were widely suspect by the local Mosel winemakers, Reinhard soon proved his skeptics wrong by gaining much acclaim for his wines. Nowadays he is considered one of the leading winemakers of the Mosel and one of the more controversial within the debate of german terroir.
The Heymann-Lowenstein 2007, made from vines that are at least 60 years old, was beautiful. A lovely hay colour, passionfruit, peaches and a parrafin wax nose to wallow in before taking the first sip. Wowza! Concentrated red, ripe apples, pineapples and chunky minerality, slate notes well defined and well integrated, made this wine live up to it’s name which translated means “Slate Terrace”. The wine was also slightly tingly in the mouth, a pleasant sensation to keep me on my toes and again that acidity I love so much.
Both wines were relatively low alcohol. The goldtropfchen clocking in at 8% and the Schieferterresan at 12%. We polished both bottles off between dinner and dessert and really, I had just a warm glow enveloping me on the walk to the Tube and no headache at all the next day. I don’t know I could say the same thing if we had been drinking robust Italian or Spanish wines.
Thanks to the Wine Rambler. He’s promised German red wine the next time! Can’t wait.