WTN /WineAdvisor: Mosel made easy or Mosel made stupid?

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WTN /WineAdvisor: Mosel made easy or Mosel made stupid?

Postby Robin Garr » Mon Jul 10, 2006 1:01 pm

Mosel made easy or Mosel made stupid?

Riesling, according to its many defenders, may be the most noble of wine grapes. Boasting a heritage that goes back to medieval times in Germany's Rhine and Mosel river valleys, it claims a history, at least in legend, to Charlemagne and beyond, although more reliable historical evidence traces it, as the cultivated descendant of a regional wild vine, to the 1400s.

Although its history stems from the Rhine, many Riesling partisans argue that the impossibly steep, slatey slopes of the Mosel are the source of the most intense, pure and transparent examples of the grape, remarkably ageworthy whites that memorably combine fruit, minerals and steel.

Some people take to Riesling like a fish to, um, Riesling, but many wine enthusiasts - including me - find the grape a little difficult to get to know, simply because its style is so different from the French and Italian table wines (and their New World equivalents) that we grew up with.

But it's worth the effort, and I certainly keep trying. Which brings us to today's featured wine. "Dr. L." is an affordable, large-production Mosel Riesling from one of the valley's most respected producers, Ernst Loosen ("Low-zen"), who was named last year's "Man of the Year" in wine by the British magazine <I>Decanter</i>. Presented in the traditional tall, slope-shouldered green glass bottle that signifies the Mosel (Rhine bottles, in contrast, are almost invariably brown), it's rated as a Qualitätswein ("Quality Wine"), the lower end of the upper tier in Germany's complicated wine-classification system.

The 2005 vintage arrived here recently, and it's a fresh, light and sippable summer quaffer indeed, a fine bargain if you can get it for $10 or less. But does it offer a good education in the Mosel? Therein lies a heated debate. For some wine enthusiasts, the benefits that I just enumerated are sufficient to justify any wine. What's the matter with a good, clean quaff? But some hard-core Riesling aficionadoes demur, pointing out that Mosel Riesling's glory is its uncanny ability to reflect vineyard <i>terroir</i>. Turning grapes from classic vineyard soil into an essentially anonymous sipping wine amounts to vinous perversion, they say, and such a crime deserves punishment, not praise.

Like so many other wine-geek debates - Old World vs. New, <i>terroir</i> vs. fruit, nature vs. technology - this one may never be resolved to everyone's satisfaction. But discussing such issues can be both fun and educational. For that reason, fully conscious of the controversy, we've declared "Dr. L" Riesling <b>Wine of the Month</b> in our Netscape WineLovers Community, hoping to kick off a round of tastings and debate about this and similar "training wheels" wines and what you think about them. Click to participate in that discussion, or post a reply here if you prefer to discuss the topic in this forum.

<table border="0" align="right" width="170"><tr><td><img src="http://www.wineloverspage.com/graphics1/drlo0709.jpg" border="1" align="right"></td></tr></table>Loosen Bros. 2005 Riesling "Dr. L" Mosel-Saar-Ruwer ($12.99)

This clear, light straw-color wine offers a fresh, clean scent of ripe pears. It's fruity pear juice on the palate too, juicy and fresh, with just a touch of sweetness well balanced by zippy acidity; there's a prickly hint of barely perceptible carbonation on the tongue. Riesling fanatics might dismiss this as an overly simple, and it lacks the classic Mosel minerality. Still, it's a splendid summer sipping wine and food companion, and a refreshing quaffer at only 8.5% alcohol, well worth the toll if the price is right. U.S. importer: The Country Vintner, Oilville, Va. (July 9, 2006)

<B>FOOD MATCH:</b> This is a versatile food wine that marries well with a broad range of flavors. It was startlingly good with an offbeat dish of duck breast in a savory and spicy, not sweet, blueberry and juniper sauce.

<B>VALUE:</B> Overpriced at my source (Louisville's Whole Foods Wine Market), it's widely available for $10 or less, at which point it's a fine choice for summer sipping if not exactly a classic Mosel.

<B>WHEN TO DRINK:</B> Riesling is long-lived, and the sturdy metal screwcap will keep it clean, but I'm not sure I see the materials here for a wine that will evolve significantly with cellar time.

<B>WEB LINK:</B>
The winery's English-language Web pages appear at this link:
http://www.drloosen.com/
For the German site, visit
http://www.drloosen.de/

<B>FIND THIS WINE ONLINE:</B>
Look for vendors and compare prices for Loosen's "Dr. L" on Wine-Searcher.com.
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Re: WTN /WineAdvisor: Mosel made easy or Mosel made stupid?

Postby David M. Bueker » Mon Jul 10, 2006 1:19 pm

Nothing wrong with the wine as a casual summer sipper, but it does not offer an education on Mosel wine. Forgetting the anonymous nature of the blend, if it's lacking the minerality then it's not doing its job on an educational basis. Mosel wines is all about tree fruit (ok there...) and rocks.
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Re: WTN /WineAdvisor: Mosel made easy or Mosel made stupid?

Postby Robin Garr » Mon Jul 10, 2006 1:27 pm

David M. Bueker wrote:Nothing wrong with the wine as a casual summer sipper, but it does not offer an education on Mosel wine. Forgetting the anonymous nature of the blend, if it's lacking the minerality then it's not doing its job on an educational basis.


I think that pretty much sums up what I said. :)
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Re: WTN /WineAdvisor: Mosel made easy or Mosel made stupid?

Postby Sam Platt » Mon Jul 10, 2006 2:03 pm

I agree 100% with both Robin and David; nice to sip, but not representative of the complexity the region has to offer.
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Re: WTN /WineAdvisor: Mosel made easy or Mosel made stupid?

Postby Rahsaan » Wed Jul 12, 2006 9:39 am

if it's lacking the minerality then it's not doing its job on an educational basis. Mosel wines is all about tree fruit (ok there...) and rocks


Even in 2005? Should one expect obvious minerality in a wine like this?
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Re: WTN /WineAdvisor: Mosel made easy or Mosel made stupid?

Postby David M. Bueker » Wed Jul 12, 2006 9:42 am

Rahsaan wrote:
if it's lacking the minerality then it's not doing its job on an educational basis. Mosel wines is all about tree fruit (ok there...) and rocks


Even in 2005? Should one expect obvious minerality in a wine like this?


If it's being put up as an archetype of German Riesling then yes.

2005 is not an over the top vintage like 2003. Yes the wines were ripe, but not to a fault.
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Re: WTN /WineAdvisor: Mosel made easy or Mosel made stupid?

Postby Rahsaan » Wed Jul 12, 2006 10:30 am

If it's being put up as an archetype of German Riesling then yes.

2005 is not an over the top vintage like 2003. Yes the wines were ripe, but not to a fault.


Ok, I'm sure it's not an archetype of German riesling, for many reasons, and I haven't tasted the wine so I can't argue on its behalf.

But, as a slight aside, it does seem interesting that descriptors like "classic" and "typical" are changing their meaning, with ripe but crisp vintages like 2004 in the minority for the recent run.
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Re: WTN /WineAdvisor: Mosel made easy or Mosel made stupid?

Postby Redwinger » Wed Jul 12, 2006 11:25 am

Funny how "Pear Juice" keeps rearing its' head when people post on this wine.
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Re: WTN /WineAdvisor: Mosel made easy or Mosel made stupid?

Postby David M. Bueker » Wed Jul 12, 2006 12:53 pm

Rahsaan wrote:
If it's being put up as an archetype of German Riesling then yes.

2005 is not an over the top vintage like 2003. Yes the wines were ripe, but not to a fault.


Ok, I'm sure it's not an archetype of German riesling, for many reasons, and I haven't tasted the wine so I can't argue on its behalf.

But, as a slight aside, it does seem interesting that descriptors like "classic" and "typical" are changing their meaning, with ripe but crisp vintages like 2004 in the minority for the recent run.


I actually think that 2004 is a very classic vintage. David Schildknecht thinks so too, and he is my critical touchstone for German and Austrian wine.
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Re: WTN /WineAdvisor: Mosel made easy or Mosel made stupid?

Postby Rahsaan » Wed Jul 12, 2006 1:01 pm

I actually think that 2004 is a very classic vintage.


Yes, but my point is that in the past ten years you have 2004, 1998 and maybe 1996 for such "classic" MSR vintages. I don't dispute the use of the word "classic", but am just wondering how "typical" they can be called if they don't come around very often.
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Re: WTN /WineAdvisor: Mosel made easy or Mosel made stupid?

Postby David M. Bueker » Wed Jul 12, 2006 1:36 pm

Rahsaan wrote:
I actually think that 2004 is a very classic vintage.


Yes, but my point is that in the past ten years you have 2004, 1998 and maybe 1996 for such "classic" MSR vintages. I don't dispute the use of the word "classic", but am just wondering how "typical" they can be called if they don't come around very often.


2002 is pretty classic as well, so that's 4 out of 10, which is actually not bad. So we have 4 classic, 2 soft ('97 & '99), 1 bizarre ('03), 1 spotty ('00) and 1 legendary ('01) and another poetntially excellent ('05).

Looks like a decent distribution to me. All that's missing is a total washout, which 2000 would have been with 1984's techniques.
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