01 July, 2014

The Summer of Riesling 2014 is here!

The Summer of Riesling is  a program that celebrates different aspects of this far flung and wonderful variety.  Being particularly susceptible,to its charms,  I have tried many examples and can testify.

But July 1 starts thirty one days of German Riesling events, info and special focus on this wonderful expression of place.  If you are not familiar with German Riesling, you might think it's all super sweet and not what you like.  But especially with summertime's super spicy or stone fruit enhanced cuisine, it's the perfect choice.  In fact, if you are ever stuck for a pairing idea, chances are a Riesling will pair well with nearly everything you can throw at it.  As part of the 31 days of Riesling, in San Francisco, Nancy Oakes modern spot Prospect has two Mosel producers by the glass and snacks to pair.  And my favorite, Ella's in Sacramento has wonderful offerings (and Bourbon an bacon delights!)Click to find out where the tour stops near you.  Riesling rocks!

 I was lucky enough to visit thanks to Wines of Germany where I was converted from a casual fan to a total addict.  From bone dry to nectar sweet, the natural acidity and careful handling of the fruit grown in the oenological Shangri-Las of Mosel, Nahe and Rheinhessen will enchant you.

Take a look at the steep, storybook vineyard shot from a path in the famous Uertiziger Wuertgarten and you get an inkling of the way place contributes to flavor.  Steep rows, lambent river, implausible slate soil are the ingredients to delicious Rieslings and have been for hundreds of years.  It's a place where vineyard workers are not surprised to find Roman artifacts when they work the earth.  History is long in this region where nature and nurture combine to coax amazing Rieslings from twisty vineyards and alienesque soil.

Here are some tasting notes for some fun samples I received:
2011 C H Berres Erdner Treppchen Kabinett:  This wine came out of the bottle the bright yellow of canary diamonds.  It had my favorite petrolly aroma with a scoop of savory coconut and flavors of  minerally citrus and lychee. Nice acidity and only a hint of sweetness.  It was marked with a 1 on the Sweetness Scale indicating its place on the sweetness scale as dry.  Erdener Treppchen translates to "little staircase in Erden", and takes its name from an old staircase cut into the red slate to help the workers.  The same red slate takes its color from iron deposits and gives a strong mineral quality to wine made from its fruit.

When I took the bottle out of the styrofoam, I noticed a very traditional look to the label with a screw cap.  I knew it had to be the work of Markus Berres, who I got to meet.  CH Berres has been making wine since the 1510 and Markus is the 21st winemaker of his family.  Combining tradition and modernity is his challenge.  He actually produces a line called Impulse that represents the modern aspect.  This bottle came from the more traditional line.  They are both delightful in different ways.  Markus was a very no nonsense business like wine maker who guided us through a tasting of his product.  While I was overcome by the romance of the place and the wines, he walked us through technical questions and the business, but I could see the sparkle in his eye and the passion he brings to both carrying forward a tradition of excellence and branching out to more modern expressions.  Both are delicious.  If you see it on wine list, give it a try, 500 years of winemaking can't be wrong

Erden is not far from Bernkastel, where the famous Bernkasteler Ring, or association of growers strive to produce food friendly wines of quality.  Our group had dinner with some members and we all fell in love with the producers.  I sat surrounded by wonderful producers and was so grateful that my college German had come back enough for me to understand the collegial banter.  I felt like a secondary character in a Richard Curtis movie.  The stars of the movie definitely would have been Margret and Bernhard Werner, who gifted me with a bottle of their yummy wine. 2011 Annaberg Riesling Spätlese  is a lovely golden wine with a silky mouthfeel along with bracing acidity, hint of petrol in nose with stone fruits and honey in flavors.  Delectable. Riesling keeps forever.  Just double checking something on the label, I saw a little in the bottle.  Ever the experimenter I had to try it to see how the wine holds up indifferently stored with the cap even off.  Still tasty, albeit not what it was a month ago fresh  Miraculous.

Make time for Riesling this summer

These wines were received as samples.  Many thanks to the Wines of Germany team for their hospitality

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