Just in time for Thanksgiving, two great wines that would both go well with a traditional turkey dish and side dishes like potatoes, stuffing, and butternut squash soup.
They'd also ROCK out with Asian or Indian food any time. These are two different styles because they're from Rheingau and Mosel, but regardless of where it's from, Riesling can usually complement the spice and make everything seem more harmonious...and less hot. Important.
I've written so much about the differences between Mosel and Rheingau Rieslings, but to recap:
- Rheingau has lower acid, more mellow peach and lime flavors, and is much lighter and more delicate. It makes much less of a statement than...
- Mosel, which is screaming with acidity, tastes like minerals, citrus, and Chai tea, and is bolder in its constitution.
Both are beautiful in their own right, but if you love high acid wines, Mosel is your go-to. And remember, not all Riesling, or German Riesling for that matter, is sweet. See this post for the low-down on how to tell.
And I owe a thanks to the Wines of Germany program for sending these as samples for unbiased review.
On to the wines...
Wine #1: 2010 Vom Schiefer Riesling, Trocken from Weingut (winery) Ansgar Clüesserath
Quick note: This wine is from a challenging vintage, so it's a little more tart than usual. It's from estate-grown fruit (for you German wine lovers, it is QbA but Gutsabfüllung, or estate bottled), and is made by Eva Clüesserath, an ambitious, young, female winemaker.
Grape: 100% Riesling, dry in style (indicated by the word "Trocken")
Where it's from: Mosel, Germany
Color: A little spritzy, kind of golden, rich in color -- very yellow and darker than I'd expect but the winemaker likes to give the grapes time to sit with the skins and enrich the flavors, and that darkens the wine. Mystery solved.
Smell: Chalk dust, peaches, and wild flowers were all over this wine. It reminded me of a meadow or when you're hiking and you reach a clearing and smell a fresh, sweet herb/floral smell. The wine was like minerals or like a mountain stream with some lime. On a second whiff, there was some interesting Indian spice smells too. Good stuff.
Taste: It was balanced, with moderate acid and lots of pineapple and papaya flavors. Super tropical and good acid that left my mouth feeling clean (go acid!). It was refreshing, but more tame and simple than it smelled like it was going to be.
Pairing: We had it with salty food -- first hard Parmesan and then with Trader Joe's Parmesan and arugula ravioli. It was a total hit with that kind of stuff. Salty food is a friend of this wine!
Drink or sink: Drink. It's not even close to being the best Mosel I've had for the money, but if you see it on a wine list or in the store, it's serviceable and good with food. I need to try this from another vintage, since the winery has a great reputation and 2010 was just a weird year. I'll report back.
Wine #2: 2011 Balthasar Ress Hattenheimer Schützenhaus (town of Hattenheim, vineyard Schützenhaus) Kabinett Riesling
Quick note: Located in Hattenheim, this winery has been around since 1870. The Schützenhaus vineyard, in the town of Hattenheim, is located on south-facing slopes and is in an area protected from cold winds, so the grapes are fruitier with more mild acid.
Grape: 100% Riesling (Kabinett is the quality level. It means the grapes were ripe when picked)
Where it's from: Rheingau, Germany
Color: Much lighter than the Vom Schiefer, this wine was almost platinum with a little spritz. The light color made me think that I was in for some high acid (usually higher acid wines don't have a lot of color because the grapes don't get as ripe/skins don't get as dark and there is less sugar...) read on to see if my guess was right!).
Smell: This was an unusual one. It smelled like grapes, which is not something I usually associate with Riesling. It had some dried peach and dried apricot aromas too, but that grape-y thing threw me off. There were some nice notes on the second sniff -- something like lily of the valley (a fresh springtime flower) and minerals.
Taste: Kabinett is often off-dry/slightly sweet and this was true to form. It tasted kind of like fresh cut tarragon and like ripe peach and limeade. It has some sweet grapefruit flavor -- like a pink grapefruit with sugar on top. It really reminded me of Margarita mix, and it wasn't very...ummm...Riesling-y or wine-y for that matter.
It had a nice spritz to it and the acid was high (I was right about my judgement from the color), which it needed because it balanced the sweetness of the wine. I did find the alcohol to be really low, which meant the wine tasted more like fruit juice than wine.
Pairing: This was a little too sweet for our pasta with veggies but it was better with the salty, aged Gruyére cheese we had before dinner. I think it may be great with lighter Mexican too, given the similarity to a Margarita or a caipirinha (sugary lime cocktail with Brazilian rum/Cachaça).
Drink or sink: Sink. The alcohol was too low for a wine with this much fruit. The main components of a wine's structure -- acid, tannin, alcohol, sugar in some cases -- have to be balanced for a wine to be great in my book.
In this wine, the sugar and the acid took over and the wine reminded me of a cocktail or a mixer. So just from a pure "is it well made"? perspective, I have to flunk it.
Thanks again to the Wines of Germany for sending these. And thanks to you for reading. Although we had one drink and one sink, check out this page for a bunch more Rieslings that are outstanding.