Monday, February 23, 2009
And yet again, the tasting group convenes: '07 German Riesling meets Brandenburg Concertos and Die Mensch Maschine
Hope you enjoyed the Kraftwerk video.
As you may have surmised from the above title, it was something of a celebration of all things glorious and of teutonic origin for my tasting group's most recent meeting tonight. I selected the highly regarded '07 German vintage as a theme, cooked up some brats, made some cabbage to accompany, and played JS Bach to thematically tie things together. Kraftwerk's Man Machine was requested (and shortly thereafter un-requested) by a few fellow group members. As for the wines, we all agreed that it was a very solid showing. I divided the seven wines into two flights: one trocken (dry) flight of 4 and a flight of three kabinetts.
FLIGHT ONE: Dry Riesling
There was a fairly strong divide between people's two least favorite wines, and their two favorites.
2007 Johannes Leitz Riesling Eins Zwei Dry
By a single point, this was the least favorite wine. Personally, I found the wine to be aromatically closed at first. With air, some tart, red autumn apples as well as yellow stone fruits emerged. The palate was very tangy, reminding me of tart yellow plums skins. Crisp and thirst quenching, but also, I feel, deemed a bit lean and one note by this tough crowd of folks mainly in the wine trade.
2007 Von Schubert Maximin Grunhauser Riesling QbA Trocken
This Ruwer riesling had a strong mineral stamp on the nose. It smelled funky and very slatey. The palate was earthy, soft, very textural, and a whole lot more mature tasting than its youth might suggest. Interestingly enough, the estate is one of the few non-interventionist ones in the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer. Native yeast fermentation, and judging by the style perhaps a relatively minimal dose of sulphur as well. Ultimately, while this was interesting, the austere dryness, pungent minerality and lack of fruit did not do much for me or many others in the group.
2007 Becker Landgraf Riesling Trocken
This up-and-coming Rheinhessen estate impressed many folks, with three first place votes and two seconds out of nine participants. Johannes and Julia, a husband and wife team, source grapes from particulalry chalky soils in the Rheinhess. They ferment using a 50-50 mix of indigenous and cultured yeast. I found a certain savor and harmonious quality to this wine's aromas. A definite mineral stamp, but not as overbearing or defining as on the Von Schubert. I was particularly taken with the effortless balance and purity of flavors.
2007 Weingut Ott Riesling Vom Rottem Schotter
Scandalous... the top finishing wine of this German focused Riesling tasting was actually an imposter, a ringer, an Austrian wine! I'd be crying foul, except for the fact that Ott's wines are so delicious and in this particular case show so incredibly well out the gate. Some comments from my colleagues: 'Great depth,' 'Good weight and richness,' 'characteristic petrol notes.' We all agreed that this wine was the most expressive on this particular evening. This is made from biodynamically farmed grapes grown in a vineyard in the Wagram region of Austria (due west of Vienna, just before you reach the Kamptal, Kremstal, and Wachau).
FLIGHT 2: The Kabinetts
Given budgetary restraints, as well as the fact that 2007 is such a classic vintage, perfect for Kabinett production, I decided to select a few Kabinetts for the off-dry portion of this evening's tasting.
2007 Von Schubert Maximin Grunhauser Estate Riesling
As with the trocken, this wine had a decidedly slatey mineral stamp. It's a dry kabinett, smelling of browning apples left out on the counter. It has a creamy mid palate, with broad, funky, lighter flavors relative to many German Kabinetts. This wine showed completely, utterly apart from the other Kabinetts. More oxidative winemaking, combined with the unique Ruwer terroir, perhaps?
2007 JJ Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett
Though this had an equal amount of points as the Schubert, it garnered more first place votes, and as a result placed higher. While some folks thought that this was textbook Riesling, complete and offering up everything a classic young Kabinett should, others took issue with the noticeably reductive state (it is a JJ Prum wine, after all). Nevertheless, I would fall into the fans of Prum camp. Yes, they are pricey wines, doused with sulphur along every single step of the winemaking process, etc. But they also have a certain power, depth of flavor, and typicity that scream Mosel Riesling, and more specifically that perfectly recall their respective vineyard sites.
2007 Selbach Oster Zeltingger Riesling Kabinett
Fans of this wine claimed that it had all the elements I found in the Prum. While I enjoyed this, it was simply on the level of a solid, quaffable, off-dry riesling. Nothing too evocative, complex, or thought provoking. A solid wine for salads, seafood, or various Asian cuisines (with apologies for the cliched suggested off-dry riesling pairings, if you're reading, Lyle).
So there you have it. Another PMW group tasting in the books. Hopefully we can settle on a date for the next one and get back in the swing of monthly tastings. Thanks to all those who came out and participated on a rainy Sunday night in the city. Special shout out to guests Catherine and Josh (who showed on short notice and with an early morning inventory to deal with tomorrow) as well as Susan, my co-worker from Birmingham (England, not Alabama) who lent her considerable nosing and tasting talents to the group.