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Jul 08

R is for Riesling

Last week I reviewed the first of a set of sample Rieslings we received for review from Destination Riesling. It’s time for two more. Usually I’m not quite so prompt on my reviews. Usually I’m terribly slow, to be honest. But it’s summer, it’s hot, and I’ve been in the mood for light summer wines. As with before, I’m unsure if you can find these Rieslings around here, but I definitely recommend the search.

One thing we’ve learned with these Rieslings is that we’re drinking them too cold. They always warm up a little and bloom with flavor. So keep that in mind with whatever Reisling you’re drinking – your refrigerator might just be a little to chilled for the right flavors to emerge.

Let me offer a quick primer on Reislings (reposted from June 2007) before I get to the new reviews. Both of the wines we had this week fall into the Kabinett category of Riesling:

You’ll notice three words attached to the German wines we tried –
Kabinett, Auslese, and Spätlese. The highest quality wine category in
Germany is QmP, and it is divided into 6 subcategories.

  • Kabinett wines must contain minimum amounts of natural sugar (around 17-21% sugar by weight), depending on the
    region and the variety. These are the lowest minimums for QmP wines,
    and these wines are therefore usually the driest and least expensive.
  • Spätlese is German for "late picking." It refers to grapes that are
    selectively picked at least 7 days after the main harvest. Because such fruit is riper than the grapes from
    the main harvest, it contains more sugar and produces wines that are
    rich and sweet. The natural sugar must attain around 19-23% sugar by weight.
  • Auslese is German for "selection," used to
    describe specially
    selected grapes that are hand-picked and
    pressed separately from other grapes. The natural sugar content of
    the grapes must reach around 20-25% sugar by weight. Auslese grapes are
    sometimes subject to botrytis to make them sweeter.

Now for the reviews.

2004 Riesling Kabinett Trocken, Weingut Lucashof, Pfalz, Germany
Imported by HB Wine Merchants,  Retail $18
12% alc by volume

This wine started off as extremely acidic and dry, as well as extremely
citrusy – almost sour. We’d had Chinese earlier that evening and I
found myself wishing we’d had takeout, as I imagine this wine would
have nicely cut through the spicyness.

Kevin tasted a stone quality in the wine as it warmed up a bit, and I
found a little bit of oil, which can be good, on the back of the

This is a wine that has to grow on you, especially when drinking it as
a standalone wine. But it grows on you quite nicely. I recommend trying
it with food. (You can find some great food & wine pairings at
Natalie MacLean’s Food & Wine Matcher.)

Our rating:

2004 Riesling Kabinett "Alte Reben", Weigut Gessinger, Mosel, Germany
Imported by Kysela Pere et Fils, Ltd, Retail $19.99
8.5% alc by volume

Our initial reaction to this wine is "egads, it’s sweet!" I couldn’t
find the residual sugar on the bottle, but a Kabinett usually doesn’t
strike me as quite so sweet. Remember I mentioned we were drinking
these wines too chilled? Well, the wine balanced itself out once it
warmed a bit. The overwhelming sweetness up front was most likely our
own fault for the temperature and not a feature/fault of the wine.

As we let it adjust to the room, we tasted citrus, with a lot of juicy
pear. You know – the kind of pear that is big and fat and sort of
squirts juice? That’s what you taste in this wine, and it’s not a bad
thing at all. There was also a bit of apple in there. Come to think of
it, this wine would have made a quite a tasty pie if deconstructed.
Except for the last bit, as there was also a little bit of grass in the

I want to be clear on the grass. Grass doesn’t mean cow-chomping weeds
or vegetal. Grass is more like you might find in a sauvignon blanc – a
green, fields in spring sort of grass. It was well-balanced and
appropriate for the wine.

I was intrigued by the low amount of alcohol in this wine (8.5%). How
many of you pay attention to this on a normal basis? Big California
fruit bombs often have around 14% alcohol. Now, it’s only something
you’ll notice if you pound the whole bottle or if the wine is poorly
balanced. We drank this bottle of Reisling rather rapidly, which we
later explained by the low alcohol percentage.

Our rating:

**Flickr image from White Wine from basheertome under CC.**

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Posted by Michelle at 9:24 am in Tastings, Wine Notes | Permalink | Comments (2)

2 Responses to “R is for Riesling”

  1. Thanks for mentioning my matcher Michelle! I’d love to hear more suggestions for riesling … it’s got to be one of the most food-friendly wines on the planet!

  2. Alex Ultes says:

    Dear Michelle,
    I am glad to see that you are also writing about german wines. I am a german wine professional and if you need any tipps you can contact me for support!
    My own blog (a young one) is in written in german.
    Good luck and hopefully I can read a lot interesting news in your blog in the future again.
    Best regards,

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