I've done a ton of posts on Rieslings from Mosel, from Rheingau, from Austria, from Alsace...there's lots of info on the blog about these wines, their origins, and how they differ.
So this post is a straight up review of two wines I recently tasted from Mosel. One good, one blah, both sent from the the Wines of Germany program, of which I'm grateful and lucky to be a part.
These wines are interesting to me because they are off-dry/semi-sweet. Lots of people have the perception that Rieslings are sweet and so they steer clear of them...M.C. Ice (my husband/co-podcaster, if you're a new blog reader) is one of them. And you know what? I would too if all I'd ever had was nasty, cheap plonk. Bad, sweet Riesling really does suck.
But when you get a good one with a little sweetness, like
one of the wines mentioned below (I'm not telling you which one now -- I don't want to steal my own fire), pair that stuff up with some salty cheese or Asian and fireworks go off. Wine isn't just for sipping and sometimes the best pairings are the things that on their own aren't that great.
So here you go...
Johannes Selbach, the winemaker and director for the Selbach-Oster Estate, a fabulous Mosel producer, made this wine to compete with the other kind of sweet, kind of inexpensive wines out there (Schmitt-Söhne's Relax, Gallo's Pölka Dot). Although it has the "commercial appeal," this is far from this prestigious producer's best wine.
The Incline they are talking about is the super steep slopes of the Mosel, which require extensive hand harvesting and manual care.They've got great raw material to work with
The Alcohol: Low, 10.5%
Color: Sort of greenish and spritzy -- with little bubbles. The wine was very bright and looked like liquid glycerin.
Smell: Really nice -- lime, nectarines, and red apple fruit aromas. There was a stony smell (like a waterfall) and then something fresh, like flowers and laundry drying outside.
Taste: This was slightly sweet for sure. It was super acidic and a little bitter too -- it reminded me of limeade. Sadly it didn't taste like it smelled at all. It was kind of blah. A little lemon, a touch of lime but nothing big. Even some hard, salty Piave cheese couldn't save it. It was boring all the way.
Drink or Sink?: I'm a little ambivalent but leaning towards sink. It lacked the flavor, finesse, and acid that most Mosel Rieslings have. It was a shadow of what this wine could be. Nothing exciting and not worth it for a sweeter style Riesling.
Vineyard: Wehlener Sonnenuhr (pronounced, VAY-len-er ZON-en-ooer. The Sonnenuhr vineyard is in the town of Wehlen -- the "er" is kind of like an "s" in English), in the Mosel region.
The Alcohol: Low, 8%
Color: Similar to the Selbach Incline, this was golden with a little green tint and spritzy bubbles.
Smell: More like a traditional Mosel Riesling than the Incline (and at more than double the price it should be), it smelled like peaches, limes, and fresh green herbs with lots of chalky, stone smells and a strong hit of petrol/gasoline, which sounds gross but which I love in a Riesling. It was a perfect blend of fruit and earth.
Taste: Like the Incline, this was an off-dry style but unlike the Incline, it had a LOT of great stuff going on. The wine was like a cup of lemon tea with honey. It tasted like peaches, limes, and, I mean this in the most positive way possible, a little like a honey glazed donut. The medium-weight from all that sugar and fruit was brightened by strong, mouthwatering acidity. It was a tad sweet to sip on it's own, but with salty, aged Gouda with protein crystals it was delicious.
Drink or Sink: Definitely drink, especially if you've got Asian food or salty cheese. With something salty, damn! it's good and kind of transformative.
I know sweet wines aren't everyone's favorite, but it pays to try them every now and again for their pairing qualities. Get on the Max Ferd. Richter wine. I promise that with something salty, you'll thank me for it!