'summer of riesling' on Serious Eats

Riesling Report: Willi Schaefer Graacher Himmelreich Kabinett 2008

Riesling nerds tend to sigh when you mention Willi Schaefer; the tiny production, the beautiful flavors, the few bottles they've sequestered away in long-term storage. There's an elegance and polish to this wine that you don't see at lower price levels, but the excitement is still there. A fennel and elderflower note reminded us a bit of pastis, with blue-green, mentholated eucalyptus-like flavor as it opens up. More

Serious Grape: Our Search for the Best Riesling

These mineral-rich, low-alcohol wines are some of the most delicious whites we've ever tasted, especially in the $15 to $25 range. We tried about 45 bottles over the course of the past two months, paying attention to each wine and how it evolved in the glass. Want a cheat sheet? Here are a few of the highlights of our summer of riesling. More

Riesling Report: Johann Wilhelm Schild Ürziger Würtzgarten Spätlese, 2007

If you see it, buy it. The name of the winemaker is written quite small on this bottle (perhaps he's humble) but you can't miss the vineyard—Ürziger Würtzgarten, the 'spice garden' of the Mosel, known for its old vines on steep hills of slate and bright red sandstone. Wines from this vineyard tend to be spicy, and this one really captures that; it's roiling with flavor. More

Riesling Report: Klaus Meierer Kestener Paulinsberg Kabinett 2008

This is such a pretty, glimmery wine. The flavor reminded us of baked apples stuffed with golden raisins and cinnamon sticks, balanced with a lemony tartness, a hint of Thai basil and juniper, and a very fine, silvery minerality. Young winemaker Matthias Meierer (son of Klaus Meierer) is a rising star of the Mosel. He's fresh out of school (he graduated from Geisenheim Viticulture and Enology University in 2005) and works a few days a week at Fritz Haag in addition to the time he spends at his family's 12.5 acre estate. More

Riesling Report: Nein Lives Riesling 2010

I'm not one to go for cute labels, but if you are, you may want to collect all three of these kitties (more images will be added each year.) The wine's the same in each bottle, though, and it's a solid QbA offering from the Middle Mosel in Germany, a slightly creamy, delicately mineral wine with a sweet-sour candy tang (like Runts or Sour Nerds.) More

Riesling Report: Hiedler Riesling Urgestein 2009

Sometimes a wine has a little peppery alcohol heat, or a hint of the slightly floral note of white pepper, but I have never tasted a wine with such a vivid freshly-cracked black pepper flavor as this. This wine is almost plush compared to the other Austrian rieslings we've tried lately, tart and slim but rounded with floral and vegetable flavors. More

Riesling Report: Dr. F. Weins-Prüm Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese 2009

It takes awhile for the minerality and spearminty, resiny-pine notes to come out in this gently sweet wine; it's a bit less effusive and dynamic than yesterday's spätlese. Which isn't to say it's not pretty; this elegant wine has luscious Golden Delicious apple flavors and a mellow, honeyed core. Serve this wine with any creamy seafood preparation (try scallops with a saffron-infused sauce, or delicate lobster ravioli.) More

Riesling Report: Von Hövel Oberemmeler Hütte Riesling Spätlese 2009

This is wonderful wine. It's light and lithe for a Spätlese, with a creamy minerality. Sweet pear and applesauce notes (with flecks of vanilla bean) are balanced with tart, prickly acidity and hints of spearmint. If you're leery of sweet wines, this Mosel riesling may convince you that you've been missing out—it's deep in flavor but not overrich, detailed and complex and most importantly, balanced. More

Riesling Report: Züm Mosel Riesling 2009

I was in my neighborhood wine shop yesterday, calculating how many bottles I could possibly shove in my too-packed fridge, when this wine caught my eye. I couldn't avoid it, really; there were stacks of Züm everywhere I turned. Was it a tremendously good deal (on sale for under $10) or did they just buy too much? My verdict: this Mosel riesling is a solid budget pick. More

Riesling Report: Mönchhof Robert Eymael Riesling 2010

Wow—this one is a steal. This Urzig, Germany estate has winemaking history going way, way back; their entry-level qualitätswein is a seriously good value for around $14 (and sometimes less.) Bright fruit bursts forward in the first sip: ripe apricots and juicy tangerines. Mouthwatering tartness balances the fruity sweetness; it tastes a bit like a mouthful of orange and strawberry Starburst candies. This wine has none of the reserved, austere qualities of the drier budget rieslings; it's as gulpable as freshly squeezed orange juice, and at 8% ABV, it goes down easy. More

Riesling Report: Meulenhof Erdener Treppchen Riesling Kabinett 2010

A needles-and-pins sort of wine, full of buzzy acidity and lots of spicy ginger-chew-candy flavor. This vibrant Mosel wine is intensely fruity and concentrated, like apples two ways (the first tart bite of a Granny Smith, and the clove-and-cinnamon spiked applesauce you eat with pork chops.) It's tasty stuff, packed full of personality. Veins of minerality rise through each glass, and at the finish you're left with wet stones dissolving slowly in your mouth. More

Riesling Report: Zilliken Butterfly Riesling 2008

This off-dry wine from the Saar region in Germany is densely packed, like crab-apple concentrate (including the tannic skins.) The tanginess zings on the finish, though up front you mostly taste apricot jam and flinty minerals, with a balsam-sage note that might please fans of juniper-forward gins. The combination of acidity and minerality can read as almost bitter here; this is an angular wine, not a light, graceful, gauzy one. More

Riesling Report: Günther Steinmetz Riesling Trocken 2009

At around $15 for the liter, this dry riesling isn't going to blow you away with complexity, but it's tart and refreshing, with a bright lime and green apple tang. It's made with hand-picked grapes from steep-slope Mosel vineyards. If you taste closely, there's a core of sweet-tart peach ring candy and a hint of minerality, but this is a guzzler, not a sipper. More

Riesling Report: Leitz Rüdesheimer Berg Rottland Riesling Spätlese, 2009

I think what many people don't realize about sweet wines is how bright and vibrant they can be—even refreshing. This isn't viscous tropical-fruit nectar, it's wine at once crisp and gently sweet. This Rheingau Spatlese smells a bit like fresh gingerbread, almost peppery. The fruit is pure and luminous: skin-on pears, yellow cherries, baby clementine segments, and a nice balancing green-apple tartness. More

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