June Dirt: German Rieslings – Unique Terroir
This month we’re exploring German Rieslings from three different regions. We’re going to taste how those different regions create unique expressions of riesling. What we’re not going to do is tell you why you should love riesling. Taste them. Have them with food. Have a chilled bottle on a hot night, and they will tell you themselves.
2014, Rheinhessen Trocken Riesling, Keller Estate
Rheinhessen is a region known for the steep vineyard sites at its north end high above the river Rhine. It’s also known for having a penchant for producing plonk from large, flat vineyards elsewhere. Enter the Keller family. The Kellers have proven that this area of rolling hills is in fact home to some of Germany’s greatest sites. Jancis Robinson mentioned Keller on her site years ago with the note: Importers should be racing to this little known region. Winemaker Klaus Peter is a non-interventionist and has said about his wines, ‘the smells I smell when I walk through the vines are the same I smell in the wines’.
The Trocken Riesling is mineral-driven with savory aromas of parmesan rind, lime juice, and pulverised stones. It’s very dry and stony in the mouth with notes of lemon and lime and it has a medium-long finish. Acidity is ever-present and makes this wine super food-friendly, wonderful with appetizers before dinner and especially good with shellfish. Oysters and clams are what you want with this wine.
2013, Mosel Riesling “Goldgrube” Kabinett, Vollenweider
The Mosel is the most famous of Germany’s 13 official wine regions. It follows the path of the Mosel river from its confluence with the Rhine river upstream and south-west to Germany’s border with Luxembourg and France.
The Goldgrube is a gray slate site with ungrafted vines up to 100 years old that undulates and curves along the Mosel river. It possesses a show-stopping nose of yellow fruits, clementine, pear and apricot blossom which epitomizes the freshness-ripeness tension of great Wolfer Goldgrube wines. Juicy and racy acidity comes through on the palate, making the wine seemingly dance on the tongue. The finish is crisp, sharp and focused, as one would expect from this Kabinett, with its sweetness still noticeable, but well integrated. Pair with Thai-spiced grilled chicken with peanut sauce.
2014, Saar Riesling Senior Fass 6, Peter Lauer
For purists, there is nothing like the Saar – it is arguably one of the greatest, most unique wine-growing regions on earth. The core of greatness in the Saar is a unique combination of qualities. Austerity coupled with delicacy and extreme finesse, an incomparable bouquet, a clean, very attractive hardness tempered by a wealth of fruit and flavor. Saar is actually located within the Mosel. The district has some very steep vineyard sites along the banks of the Saar river.
At Lauer the focus is on dry and off-dry Rieslings as opposed to the residual sugar (Kabinett, Spätlese, Auslese) wines. This flagship bottling of this Estate offers subtle yet direct notes of cherry blossom, lilac, tangerine, and crushed rock. It’s bright and medium-bodied with notes of pear, yellow peach, and lychee and lemon zest. Solid acidity makes it versatile at the table. It sings beautifully alongside seared scallops, cozies up to pork chops with summer herbs, and tames the heat from tofu with green curry.