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Aaron N. Tubbs

Dragon chaser.

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Guys, I’ve got a love-hate relationship with German Rieslings. I love to hate them.

No, honestly, the most important lesson I’ve learned thus far is that I’d probably much rather spend time with a Mosel Riesling than a young Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, or Pinot Grigio. I still have great respect for an aged Chardonnay from Burgundy. I appreciate a fine Sauternes. I don’t really know what an aged Riesling is going to be like, though I imagine good.

Anyway, these are sweet wines. But, the best ones seem to really excel at achieving a perfect balance of high acidity and high residual sugar. The result, while not something I want everyday, is still impressive. A good Riesling is not just a palate cleanser, nor just an apertif. Rather, there is a reason to drink these wines.

Anyhow, that’s a lot of words before I cut to the chase: I totally fucked up the tasting in this part. I mixed Spätlese (German for really sweet1) with Auslese (German for really fucking sweet) in both tastings, rather than doing two Spätlese and then two Auslese.


So, whatever. Here’s what’s what.

S. A. Prüm Graacher Himmelreich 2007 Riesling Spätlese Mosel

Watery straw yellow, this had moderate aromas of flowers and honey. Medium sweet, medium bodied, and crisp acidity. This had the perfect balance of just enough acidity to match the residual sugar. Bravo. Honey, minerals, a little acid in the (rather long) finish and a mouth-coating experience that’s a joy. Nuanced and interesting, this was a treat. Would definitely drink again. Like biting into a Granny Smith apple and then going on an acid trip.

Dr. Loosen 2005 Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Auslese, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer

Medium gold and aromatic, we got botrytis, honey, toast, minerals, spice on the nose. Sweet and full-bodied. On the tongue it’s syrupy, sugary, cloying. Like pouring honey from the jar, but not as pleasant. Medium finish of the same, with a little bit of nuttyness at the end. The acidity really just isn’t there. For drinking by itself this wine is terribly flabby and uninteresting, though it showed relatively well with some cactus pear.

Dr. Crusius 2009 Traiser Rotenfels Riesling Spätlese Nahe

Watery yellow with moderate aromas of syrupy sweet honeysuckle and granite. Medium sweet on the palate with medium body, crisp-fresh acidity. Balance is perfect, reminiscent of the S. A. Prüm against which it should have been (but was not) paired. Honeyed apple juice is what drinking this tastes like; the flavor stays eerily consistent throughout an exceptionally long finish. This is a delight in precision — this is not complex wine or contemplative wine, but is in fact a perfectly executed, if singular, wine.

St. Ludwin 2009 Bernkasteler Kurfürstlay Riesling Auslese

Pale yellow, very low aroma … maybe some talc, dried flowers, and dust, if we’re pretending? Medium sweet, medium body, flabby. Unbalanced with far too much residual sugar and not enough acidity. This is a $10 bottle and it shows. Junk. Sweet musty honey with a short finish of cleaning products.

Subjectively, I think I preferred the slightly aged wines to the younger ones.

And that’s that. A bottle of Tokaji and we get into the expensive chapters, starting with the red wines of Burgundy!

1 This is not strictly true, but close enough.