Riesling Tasting - Damn That Cunning Little Grape!


    Greetings Monkeys and Monkeyettes.

    I  know my posting is fairly infrequent at the moment. For some mysterious reason my laptop appears to have come down with the clap and so I really have little chance to actually log on to BoozeMonkey and say G'day.

    I trust every one is good and well lubricated?

    As per usual I have been doing little of interest except for a fair bit of drinking. Still knocking off the rum old-fashions at an unseemly rate and trying to get my nose into as many wine glasses as possible.

    Within the last couple of weeks I have had the distinct pleasure to attend two separate Riesling tastings. Well actually I attended one and drank the leftovers from another, but it amounts to the same thing. I have also knocked off a couple of decent bottles at home and am preparing myself for my mates 40th tomorrow which will include three 1970 1st growths and a few other gems. I will make sure I post something about that dinner, it should be an absolute ripper.

    So, instead of boring you with details about all the mundane business of my day to day life, I will move right on to a few notes from the highlights of what I have had to drink of late. I think I will group them by tasting and such. More for ease writing than any need to actually explain when I drank anything.


    Riesling grapesRiesling Tasting at the Prince Wine Store on Saturday the 13th Feb.

    This was arguably the best tasting that I had attended in many months. Not necessarily because the booze was of a higher standard than any others, but merely because there was nearly thirty Rizza's on offer. And as anyone who knows me well is aware I have something of a fetish for this grape.

    The wines were predominately old world, with one notable exception being Frankland Estate. This was included because it is the only producer of Australian Riesling in the importer whose wines where on display's portfolio. But what an exception to the rule Frankland Estate is. These guys produce a couple of my favourite new world examples of this grape and appear to still be getting better every year, tightening, refining and honing the style. That's not to say that each year their wines are better than the previous, just that the style is forever progressing and becoming more defined as are the two main vineyards.

    Anyway, enough waffle and on the wines.

    Frankland EstateFrom Frankland Estate

    2009, Poison Hill Vineyard, Riesling: An attractive little wine that reveals some nice primary citrus characters and just a hint of talc powder. A nice line, good drive and a direct attack of tart lemon/lime flavours. Finishes moderately long and with a hint of peach.

    2009, Isolation Ridge Vineyard, Riesling: A subdued little gem at present. A few estery aromas are still evident as are some interesting floral notes, rosewater and wet rock. A precise and almost jarring line of intense but one dimensional citrus fruits adheres tightly to some zingy cheek tingling acid. This needs a fair few years I think.


    Loosen RieslingFrom Loosen

    2008, J.L Wolf Wachenheimer, Riesling: Slatey, wet earth and white flowers are immediately obvious but there are some fleshy white stone fruit aromas in the mix also. Nicely dry and mineral in the mouth with a tangy hit of fruit and a firm finish. Really good stuff.

    2008, Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Kabinett, Riesling: I love these wines, the style is among my favourites and Loosen is up there with the best. Cheaper than some at this level as well, which is always a plus.

    The wine is ripe and aromatic with sweet white fleshed stone fruits mixed with something like jasmine rice. It sounds odd but worked well. Tingly acid is the backbone to the vaguely sweet, in terms of the style, wine which has plenty of snap and zing and a purity of fruit that is all together appealing.

    2008, Urziger Wurzgarten, Auslese, Riesling: This is a very fine example of the style at an approachable price. There is an abundance of pear and nectarine characters as well as sweet lime pickle notes. The palate is sweet and balanced by edgy, racy acid and finishes long, concentrated and intense with that mineral zing that which gives the stickies of this region the edge over most others in my mind.

    Drink it now or put it away if you can keep your hands off it for a decade or more.


    GunderlochFrom Gunderloch

    2007, Riesling: Properly dry and virtually bursting with mineral intensity and lemon juice. At one point it seems to be nearly overwhelmingly mineral and almost salty then settles into balance with some nice fruit. A little jagged on the finish, but overall particularly good stuff.

    2008, Rothenberg Nackenheim, Auslese, Riesling: Yum, yep that's the official term for wines like this, ****ing yum. Wait, am I allowed to use language like that one here?

    Sweet aromas of mandarin, pink grapefruit and spice, almost chai like, roll from the glass in enticing waves that just beg me to drink it all and be damned with this spitting nonsense. Slippery little buggers these German Rieslings, if you are not always on guard they can sneak up on you and before you know it that bottle you meant to savour has vanished and you are staring wanting into an empty glass wondering where your wine has gone.

    Great concentration of flavour and purity of fruit in the mouth and a precision that gives the wine a fine edge and carries the persistent finish. This is a wine of purpose, its sole goal is to be cellared and then drunk with a few friends and an appropriate dessert. Do not deny it its ambition.

    Heymann LowensteinFrom Heymann Lowenstein

    I want to add a little side note here. These wines were the most unique, idiosyncratic and individual wines of the whole line up. I don't think they are for everyone but they certainly worked for me. Powerful, assertive and demanding.

    2007, Kirchberg, Riesling: Powerfully spicy and mineral aromas are all I could smell at first. Beneath that onslaught on the nose where some more subtle scents of custard apple, musk and pomme fruits which carried through to the intensely ripe and richly textured palate that was both enjoyable and confronting at the same time due to its power and strength of character. It would be interesting to see how it develops over some years.

    2007, Rottgen, Riesling: Again this is an amazingly mineral and slate like nose. But here there is something a bit more heady and it reminds me of fragrantly spiced, baked apples. The nose is enough to get your appetite up it smells so good. In the mouth there is an exhilarating array of peachy, honeyed figs and citrus fruits which lean more to the blood orange and grapefruit spectrum. All this is driven along the energetic, markedly intense line and length of the palate before, after some time, tapering off into a citrus dominated finish. I loved this wine.


    DonnhoffFrom Donnhoff

    2008, Oberhauser Leistenberg, Kabinett, Riesling: Man I love these guys wines. There is something about them that always seems to sing of detail and personality. There is hints here of wild flowers and potpourri as well as preserved ginger and pear. Plenty of life and zing as it slides effortlessly along your mouth and subtly eats away at the enamel of your teeth with its searing acid. But you never stop to consider the possibility that this utterly enjoyable wine, and others like it, may soon help pay your dentists next installment for that new BMW he is driving.

    Finishes persistent and with a refreshing salinity. Totally enjoyable from start to finish.

    2007, Norheimer Kirscheck, Spatlese: Have any of you ever stopped and wondered why all these German vineyards and towns have such incomprehensibly difficult to pronounce names. I wonder if it is simply to make Aussie blokes like me look like idiots at tastings or restaurants when we try and ask for a glass.

    Despite my inability to actually pronounce the name correctly this wine was sensational. Pretty and floral with tropical fruits such as mangosteins making intermittent appearances as the wine unfolds in the glass. It took me a while to take a sip but when I did I forgot to spit again (another stealthy German sneaks past my guard). Dangerously drinkable and with a fruitful and fresh palate held tight by crunchy acid.


    Ok, I was going to go on and write up a few more tastings but I unfortunately have to bail and get dinner ready. Wish me luck tomorrow when I face a full day of drinking frighteningly good booze and am forced to eat superb food to fortify myself against all that alcohol. All in the name of education!



  • Matt
    Matt Our European cousins may still have the edge, but I'm loving some of our home-grown Rieslings recently. Among the stars in the recent Booze Cruise tasting panel were Rieslings from Mr Riggs, Good Catholic Girl, Jeanneret and Belgravia. All excellent, arom...  more
    March 3, 2010
  • Roscoe Halligan
    Roscoe Halligan No argument there. But I'm of the opinion that our shining hope for Riesling is not in the classic regions that are associated with the grape here.
    I look to cooler parts of Vic and Tassie now days and cop the mountain loads of crap from other wine ner...  more
    March 5, 2010
  • Matt
    Matt Sometimes I think you enjoy wine just a little TOO much...
    March 7, 2010
  • Roscoe Halligan
    Roscoe Halligan Nonsense mate. There is no such thing as TOO MUCH.
    Unless of course you drink until you cant stand and then fall into your cellar and brake a few of your most prized bottles.
    Other than that there is never enough wine.
    March 7, 2010