So, you may remember that a few weeks ago I did a tasting on www.tastelive.com with the Wines of Germany. I wrote about three German Rieslings from Schloss Saarstein in the Mosel region, which rocked.
A week or so after the event, I was diligently procrastinating and I clicked over to TasteLive. I noticed that the Wines of Germany was sponsoring another tasting with Rieslings, this time from Rhiengau, so I figured I'd pull on the black vinyl pants, round wire glasses, and turtleneck, revive my love for the monkey, and check out the differences between wines from these two regions.
(Big print: the Wines of Germany sent me the wines for review. I'm still going to tell you what I think, though!).
This time the wines were mostly QbA (I'm not EVEN going there with what it stands for because there're like 6 vowels in a row), which means quality wines that come from 13 designated regions that make decent wine. It's usually an estate's base tier wine and it's affordable.
To do a little compare and contrast to the last review, Rheingau has completely different terrain from Mosel. Where Mosel is full of steep slopes and terraced vineyards, Rheingau is pretty gentle, with slopes that flatten towards the Rhine River and its tributaries. Mosel has mostly one type of consistent soil -- slate, and Rheingau has lots of different soils mushed up together. Rheingau's Rieslings are hard core -- lots of flavor, lots of acid, lots of stuff goin' on in general, probably because of the soil type and the growing conditions. Mosel Riesling is but a soft flower compared to Rheingau.
The Cliff Notes: There's a difference in the regions so please pay attention to the different reviews before you go pick something and then tell me you hated it.
Below are reviews of the 4 wines all from Schloss Reinhartshausen. The properties they own have been churning out wine since 1337 (beat that Napa Valley!) and currently the Weingut (translation is winery, not the gut you acquired from drinking too much wine) is the largest private wine landowner in Rheingau. For the blogging event we had Andrea Besslich, the export manager at Schloss Reinhartshausen to answer questions for us.
So without further ado -- my take on the wines:
Wine #1: 2007 Schloss Reinhartshausen Fountain Blue Riesling (off-dry/a little sweet)
Color: Straw yellow and nice and bright!
Smell: This was an interesting one. The nose had a lot of acidic citrus on it -- the zest of a lemon (the part of the peel that is really strong smelling), some fresh lime juice, a little orange. There were definite nectarine, peachy whiffs, and a nice white jasmine note too.
Taste: I tasted light orange and apricot flavors and it tasted like rose water too, but the overwhelming sensation: a tart apple candy -- sour and really sweet at the same time. The wine is off-dry, so it has some sugar in it, which is probably why the apple tastes candied instead of just plain tart. From a texture perspective, the wine was a typical Riesling -- burning acid with a long finish.
My take: For an entry tier wine (it's about $15), this is a decent Riesling. It's well-balanced, has more than one flavor going on, and it's soft. Although I enjoyed this wine, I did find it a little sweet and not quite acidic enough for my taste. It left me wanting more and I wasn't overwhelmed by it. Could you eat it with some moo shu pork takeout? Yes. But I think you may be able to find something that does the job better for the same price.
Wine #2: 2007 Schloss Reinhartshausen Old Vines Riesling (off-dry/a little sweet)
Color: Also straw yellow and very twinkly!
Smell: Very, very faint. I thought my (rather large and usually overly sensitive) snout may be broken when I sniffed a few times and I got just a little hint of gardenia or a floral perfume something. Riesling is usually super aromatic. I thought I was coming down with H1N1 or something...
Taste: ...then I tasted this wine. This will keep you awake! Put it in your mouth and zzzzzzzz! It's like an electric shock on your tongue. Such bright acidity, IT'S ALIVE! And pretty damn great. Here the sugar is balanced by the acidity very well. The dominant fruit flavor: a pineapple lifesaver! And it had this absolutely amazing savory quality, as my fellow blogger, Decatur Wine Dude, astutely pointed out (a cool and nice dude, BTW). It was like a butter herb rub. There was a slight bitterness at the end, but the wine was solid.
My take: This wine is worth a try. This could be your Thanksgiving wine -- for $22, so worth it. It's a classy wine, very balanced and unexpected in its savory characters that not overwhelming because they are tamed by acidity. You won't even notice the sweetness when you pair it with all the salty, buttery goodness on the TG table or with savory Thai or Indian samosas. Try this one...if I haven't convinced you, have I mentioned that it has a glass cork closure. Well worth bringing to mom's for TG.
Note: As a side note, even though they don't market this wine as such (big mistake!) it's actually from a single vineyard called Erbacher Hohenrain. That makes it more consistent and full of character. If you want to buy this wine and open it in 10 years, it will ROCK then too, given the quality of it now.
Wine #3: 2007 Schloss Reinhartshausen Erbach Schlossberg Monopole Erstes Gewachs Riesling (dry)
WTF on the name? Let's break this down. Germans love putting detail on their bottles...
Monopole= it just comes from that one vineyard (mono = one)
Erstes Gewachs=a quality classification for DRY Rieslings. This is the highest quality level
Riesling = you got this one, I know it
Smell: Ah, at last...some traditional Riesling smells. I was in my comfort zone: it was like eating a peach near a babbling mountain stream. Petrol, minerals, nectarines. My confidence in my nose was restored.
Taste: This was a very serious wine. The palate lived up to the nose -- it tasted streamy. Crisp acidity was balanced out by the really luscious apricot, pear, and tart apple fruitiness. It was slightly hot because, strangely, this wine was high in alcohol (14%). It was kind of hot in my mouth and felt full, even though there was a ton of acid. It added another, very interesting layer to the wine.
My take: Kinetic and flavorful, this was my fave. It's just a damn sexy dry wine. With your triple cream brie, fatty meats, and cream sauces -- have a field day with this. This is getting up there in price at $30, but for the layers, the balance, and the richness I think it would be hard to find a dry German Riesling at this price point that is this nice. Love it.
Wine #4: 2006 Schloss Reinhartshausen Erbacher Marcobrunn Auslese Riesling (very sweet)
Again, WTF on the name?
Auslese= Select grapes are picked very ripe. This is a high quality classification and usually the wines are pretty sweet, although they can be off-dry or dry too
Smell: OMG. Pooh Bear? Did I just sniff a honey pot? Or is it a honey comb with a little waxy-chemically, nutty smell? Flavored apricot honey. With petrol. WOW.
Taste: Man, this is a HUGE wine. It's nearly of dessert status. This is like sipping apple cider or tea with a lot of honey in it. It was very, very sweet, but was not quite of dessert quality because it still had wonderful acidity to make the wine bright rather than syrupy.
My take: This wine is from a very high quality vineyard that produces a lot of sweet and dessert wines. Although I appreciate the wine and think it is well-made, for me, it cannot be consumed without food. This wine could age for 30 years and still be great, but it wouldn't ever be great without something rich, creamy, or creamy and spicy to go with it. This is a big boy and without food, it may just be too overwhelmingly sweet and rich to shine.
For the full discussion on these wines from the Taste Live event, go to: http://twitter.com/#search?q=%23winesofgermany. My Twitter Name is Vine 75.