Saturday, August 6, 2011
Everyday Wines to Celebrate Summer of Riesling With
So why I am writing about Riesling? I know amongst hardcore wine nerds most of it doesn't have a lot of cred, and furthermore when you write about the mundane and easily available selections you find a lot of even minimally wine-educated people aren't interested.
I am writing about Riesling for a couple of reasons. First off, I like a well made Riesling so trying them is part of my journey. The most compelling impartial reason is because so many people drink Riesling when they first explore wine and some people never move that far because they like what they are drinking. I see a great opportunity in that. I count a lot of food bloggers in my audience and I know from interactions that they aren’t always wine-knowledgeable and are often just getting started. In one of Joe Roberts’, 1WineDude.com, most recent posts he presents a graphic (courtesy of VinTank) about the pyramid of wine consumers and how companies looking to really engage serious wine drinkers are picking from a much smaller group than might otherwise be thought. The same pyramid applies here when strictly applied to the tastes of the wine drinking community at large. The difference for Riesling (vs. online apps for wine & social media interaction) in my experience is you end up with more of the bottom of the pyramid in your audience. If I can share my experiences with these wines it will help people tasting them better appreciate wine and grow their palates, something we all enjoy!
Writing about both easily available (and likely large volume, average quality wines) AND smaller batch, higher quality wines is an attempt at showing the broad picture when my experiences are taken together. There is a lot of Riesling out there, some is passable, some is worthy of frequent drinking and the very best are worth a quiet sip and savor. That’s the forest. The trees will be the details when each of the wines and styles is approached, tasted, paired and reviewed.
Last night I lined up three Rieslings that I could easily obtain at a local store, all with price points under $10 at the time I purchased them. The wines hail from Germany and Australia, two places where value Rieslings are commonly made. Germany clearly has the advantage over Australia in the higher quality, dessert and ice wine style Rieslings, as well as with history of wines made from the grape!
The first is the Dr. L 2007 Riesling. This is the entry level wine from the Loosen Brothers and plentiful at release time each year. When I bought the 2007 some time back I had several enjoyable drinkings and I left one bottle to age with some growth potential in mind.
Intense aromas of tropical & stone fruits, and dry stone minerality. Huge punch of acidity at first, with a sweetening in the middle and a tart citrus-infused finish. It is drier than at release time, but in a pleasing way and not expressly detracting from the wine. It is classically structured with a touch of age.
The second wine is the Lindeman’s Bin 75 2008 Riesling. I know I’ve had this wine before, but I expect it was more than 6 or 8 years ago and I don't have a recollection of it. I’ve enjoyed my share of Aussie Rieslings so I am looking forward to returning to one from days gone by.
Nose of fruit with chemical and alcohol aromas. Dry as expected. Acidity isn’t moderated by any sweetness and it projects an intense lemon flavor in the finish. Not balanced well enough to be hugely enjoyable.
The final wine is the Relax Riesling 2006. This bottle is everywhere! I don’t know how many times I have seen this bottle at parties and I’ve only had at friends’ houses a few times here and there. I recall it to be an easy drinker, but nothing more.
The nose here is the most outright complex, with aromas of lychee and plum and a slightly dried fruit or spiced fruit bent. Medium-dry but not quite balanced. The 2006 had made me think I might have lost track of this bottle a bit too long. It is still quite refreshing, and pucker-inducing as well!
I skipped back to the Dr. L when I was done for one simple reason, the wine is balanced, but is declining, and while not wowing me is the most interesting of the bunch. This is the wine I have the safest recommendation on, and the 2009 vintage is supposed to be better than 2007, so who knows how much you might like it too!
I found the initial serving temperatures of all the wines to be a bit high and chilled them down a bit and came back again. The Dr. L perked up nicely with the drop in temperature. The fruit was more pronounced and the sweet/tart balance was better. The Lindeman’s projected a more focused nose of grapefruit and minerality but I didn’t see a bump in the taste. They nose on the Relax was also enhanced and the pucker-inducing affect was a bit subdued.
So overall my experiences were mixed here and the Dr. L is the clear everyday drinking winner from this bunch. Furthermore when purchased soon after release and in a good vintage (2009) this wine has a price/performance ratio that can’t be beat! I’ll have to find newer Lindeman’s and Relax bottles to taste and see if my experience were typical or not.
And with that Summer of Riesling rages on. Check out the events that might be going on near yet on line.