The white wines of Germany. This is not a chapter that I was looking forward to; the big upside conceptually is that, following this chapter, we get into the reds. On the upside, it’s a bit shorter than the previous two chapters. On the downside, it features increasingly sweet white wines as the chapter progresses. You can’t win them all. Without further adieu.
One Wine, Tasted Alone: 2009 Deinhard Piesporter Riesling
The Deinhard is a Riesling QualitÃ¤tswein bestimmter Anbaugebiete (QbA) from Mosel. It seems roughly comparable in principle to a village wine in France; it’s classified, but it’s the bottom of the barrel. Strangely, though, classifications in Germany are not just pegged to quality, but also to residual sugar, and the residual sugar in these wines is not especially high. In theory, pretty much any QualitÃ¤tswein is about $10-15 and should be reasonably well balanced and taste more or less the same. I’m not convinced this is true, but we were pleasantly surprised by this wine.
Watery greenish-yellow, there wasn’t much to look at. Aromas were moderate, with a bit of honey, ammonia, and clover. On the palate, it was medium-sweet, tart, and an impressively well-balanced thing. The high acid does well to cut away at the inherent sweetness of the wine. Flavors of lemon, ruby red grapefruit, and pepper are pervasive, with a surprisingly long citrus finish. This is really a well-balanced wine, with a little effervescence, and is probably most aptly described as “like drinking a lemon head.” A wonderful palate cleanser/apertif; I enjoyed this quite a bit, but to my chagrin.
Two Wines (make that three), Tasted Together: Some Stuff (that wasn’t quite what the book ordered)
Alright, this didn’t go quite to plan, but what we ended up with was three German Kabinett wines:
The 2007 Friedrich-Wilhelm-Gymnasium Graacher Himmelheich Riesling Kabinett was the first wine, and the clear standout of the trio. It’s another Mosel Riesling, and was medium intensity on the color front, a bit of green and straw yellow at the same time. Low aromas of toast, pear, and honey. Medium-sweet, there was a fresh acidity that paired well with the residual sugar. Medium-full bodied, the palate was all about honey and granny smith. The finish was long and simple; this was a very pleasant wine, though I think the Deinhard was more my speed. It paired exceptionally well with a Greek tomato salad. A little more acid would have elevated this wine to excellence.
The 2008 Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt Josepshofer Riesling Kabinett was a disappointment. Medium straw yellow with moderate aromas of clover, grass, honey and flowers, on the palate this was off-dry with minimal acid. While the balance was quite good, it really needed more acidity and sugar to really satisfy on the balance front. In the mouth, it was really just eating a bag of lavender. Truly an unpleasant experience. Unless you like eating flowers.
The 2009 Leonard Kreusch Kabinett from Rheinhessen was a different geographic region, venturing outside of Mosel for the first time. It was okay. Pale yellow, brioche, pear, tomato, and grass on the relatively aromatic nose. Sweet and medium-full-bodied, there was virtually no acidity, and it was flabby as hell, and downright cloying. A giant dose of acid would be needed to restore balance to this wine. I got ammonia, funk, cloying honey, and a bit of minerality that would have been nice to explore if it wasn’t so damn sweet. Yuck. I’d much rather drink a $5 bottle of Tokaji for this sort of experience.