06 June 2008

Rieslings galore!

I've been reading Wine Blogging Wednesday posts for a long time and decided I'd start participating in it when I saw the recent theme of "Old World Riesling." Well, I travel for work and so do some of my wine drinking friends, so I didn't get started when I thought I would. But, a week or two ago we got together and drank four beautiful examples of what this grape can be.

We started with a Toni Jost 2005 Bacharacher Hahn Kabinett, my second one in three days! Just beautiful, but not typical. A real lively acidity with a clean profile of apricot, peach, and melon. We circled back to this wine at the end of the evening and for some it was their favorite. We ate an onion tart with it and the sweetness and creaminess of the caramelized onions proved to be a great balance to that bouncy acidity. I think this wine will be stellar in another half dozen years.

Next, we opened a Markus Molitor 2004 Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Spatlese. A clean mineral nose, with a very full mouth feel, and as the balanced acidity and fruit and alcohol moved around on our palates, lychee, hard candy, and honeyed fruit dominated our taste buds. An effortless wine, with a strong current of underlying acidity. Dan, the wine's first proponent, said the finish disappointed him after awhile, and when we gave our end-of-the-evening evaluation, pronounced the wine the weakest of the tasting. My guess is that the wine was in a closed phase, and that with more time in the bottle the structure will announce itself again. But, what began as a seamless wine seemed to have less focus when compared to its kin.

After the spatlese we weren't ready to move on, so we opened another kabinett, this one a Schloss Saarstein 2005 Kabinett. God, what a nice bottle this is! Everyone loved the stoniness, and oily/petroleum nose of this wine and felt it was a beautiful example of a riesling.

Our final bottle of the night was a Donnhoff 2005 Schlossbockelheimer Felsenberg Riesling Auslese Gold Cap. A stunning bouquet of fruits that deny winter’s endless grip on us Minnesotans! Peach and golden apples were fragrances we all noticed. No, we didn’t “notice” those smells. We nearly swooned. “Aaaah,” one of us said, and “Oh my God, I believe in You now!” was an oft-heard response to this wine’s sheer beauty. When we poured the wine the room filled with near silence, all of us just breathing, softly inhaling the gorgeous nose to this wine.

On a very interesting note for all of us, we drank from Williams-Sonoma generic white wine glasses for most of the night. But, I also have two varietal-specific late harvest riesling glasses. We brought them out for the Donnhoff and the difference between the two types of wine glass couldn’t be more pronounced. Each of us was quite honestly stunned by the ability of the varietal-specific glass to focus the wine. The nose was more concentrated as was the wine when it was delivered onto our tongues and into our mouths. Each of us became a convert to varietal specific glasses at that moment. I look forward to tasting my way through different glasses and different wines.

The Donnhoff wine was packed with rich glycerins, thick and lively with a sea-foam richness of acidity. Rather hidden was a light touch of botrytis, something I hope will emerge more as the wine ages. A little spice on the endless finish, and all of us were pretty speechless with the wine. It’s why we get together to taste and drink wine. We put wines into a context and when a real beauty comes along we recognize it and enjoy it.

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