November Wine Focus: Riesling - It's all about style

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November Wine Focus: Riesling - It's all about style

Postby David M. Bueker » Fri Oct 31, 2008 7:29 pm

What is a wine’s style?

That’s about as loaded a question as you can get in the wine world. Without lining up loads of bottles and doing a massive blind tasting it can be extremely difficult to separate regional differences from the producer’s imprint on a particular bottle. Developing the skill needed to identify the differences between Rieslings from Austria and Alsace takes time, effort and of course money. Try learning the differences between the Wachau and Kamptal, and you are in for a lifetime of learning.

But what about the broader differences in wine styles? Let’s continue with Riesling as the example. Here’s a grape that is planted all over the world, and is acknowledged to make stylistically different wine all over the world, almost regardless of producer input. With just a little introduction it’s not all that hard to differentiate Australian Riesling grown in a cool climatein a side-by-side comparison with a German Riesling grown in an even cooler climate half a world away. Why is this true? It’s because the regional influences give styles of the wines are dramatically different.
Of course there are those “ringers” that, at first glance, resemble a wine from another region. They really are few and far between though, and remain the exception, not the rule. They also beg the question of why a wine from one area should taste like a wine from another region. Serious wine exploration is about the differences from place to place, producer to producer, year to year. What is more interesting is looking at how the similarities in grape variety and differences in location or producer are expressed in the finished product.

This month in Wine Focus we will look at styles of Riesling from around the world. The idea is to try to pin down what makes a Riesling from New York identifiable as being from the Finger Lakes, or what makes a German Riesling identifiable as coming from the Rheingau. We’ll try to set aside the obvious clues (e.g. many German wines have noticeable sweetness) and get to the underlying way that Riesling expresses itself in various locations. We will also examine what happens to Riesling as it ages. Do the differences become more noticeable or do they fade into the background? There’s no need to open multiple bottles at once, just try to identify what about the wine speaks to your senses as a marker of a particular regional style; whether it’s the austerity of young Australian Riesling, the opulence of modern Alsace, the elegance of Germany or the exuberance of Riesling from Washington State.

There’s no right or wrong answer to the questions of wine styles, just your personal preference. Let’s explore the differences together.
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Re: November Wine Focus: Riesling - It's all about style

Postby Robin Garr » Mon Nov 03, 2008 12:45 pm

Excellent post, David! Gets the new month off to a great start. I'll send around a simple announcement in today's 30 Second Wine Advisor and link folks back to this report for details on style. Looking forward to it. Over the weekend we had a couple of Rieslings I actually liked! Guess where they were from? Stay tuned ...
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Re: November Wine Focus: Riesling - It's all about style

Postby David M. Bueker » Mon Nov 03, 2008 2:15 pm

Robin Garr wrote:Guess where they were from? Stay tuned ...


Finger Lakes!
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Re: November Wine Focus: Riesling - It's all about style

Postby peter webster » Mon Nov 03, 2008 7:07 pm

Hi there,
this post caught my eye so I thought I would contibute. As an aussie who spends some time in europe (france) I have an interest in all things wine. One of my newer areas of interest is riesling.
As far as australian rieslings go 2 of my favorites are Petaluma hanlin Hill and from the margaret river Howard Park.
To me the key to a good riesling is te acidity levels , without this I find riesligs fairly uninteresting. The fruity styles of riesling are therefore not of interest.
I had a lovely 03 Hanlin Hill with lovely minerality the other day..seek it out if you can
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Re: November Wine Focus: Riesling - It's all about style

Postby David M. Bueker » Mon Nov 03, 2008 8:19 pm

Peter - first of all welcome. Australian Riesling doesn't get very good distribution in the USA, but we I do try them when I see them.

Your comment on acidity strikes my eye though - the fruit (which I am going to infer you are also equating with sweetness) does not make acidity go away. It's still there, and a little age makes it come out, and in ways that are glorious to behold.

But while you're looking for dry Riesling - do you like Trimbach from Alsace or any Austrian Rieslings?
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Re: November Wine Focus: Riesling - It's all about style

Postby John S » Mon Nov 03, 2008 9:28 pm

As a sweeping generalization, I have found that Australians, weened on the typically high acid rieslings, especially from the Clare, tend to focus on acidity to asses quality in their rieslings. The German examples I have tried with Australians or read notes on often suggest that Australians feel the German wines are too sweet and rich for them to truly enjoy. Maybe the hot climate of much of Oz also has something to do with it, as well as the lack of German wines available there.

Again, sweeping generalizations abound in the above paragraph, but in my experience, it is quite a common response. I love many Oz rielings, but the high acidity in many examples - I'm most familiar with Clare Valley examples - is really a switch after mainly drinking German and Alsacian examples. Eden valley example often have a bit more fruit in them, to my tastes, as do WA examples. Or do they just have lower acidity levels? It's hard to know if these styles are lacking fruit or just have pumped up acidity levels...

The high acid ozzie rieslings can certainly be more refreshing/thirst quenching then the Old World counterparts, even from Alsace, especially on a hot summer day (another sweeping generalization).
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Re: November Wine Focus: Riesling - It's all about style

Postby David M. Bueker » Mon Nov 03, 2008 9:38 pm

The German versions just tend ot have their acids buffered by more extract and (yes) sugar. It does fade over time though. Really.
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Re: November Wine Focus: Riesling - It's all about style

Postby David Lole » Tue Nov 04, 2008 2:41 am

John and Peter,

Welcome to the WLDG, Peter!

I have just raided my Riesling-laden cellar and brought home the following for inclusion in this month's focus -

2003 Seppelt Drumborg
2002 Petaluma Hanlin Hill
2002 mesh
2001 Crabtree
2001 Richmond Grove Watervale
2001 Grosset Polish Hill
1971 Furstu Metternichscher Schloss Johannisberger Auslese (very much a curio but well-kept and extremely good level)

I'll probably go grab a few more Germans if time and good health allow me to try any more.
Cheers,

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Re: November Wine Focus: Riesling - It's all about style

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Tue Nov 04, 2008 3:23 am

Welcome Peter, glad to have you here. Always ready to talk Oz whites!

David, looks like my riesling portion of the cellar sort of mirrors your list! My Petaluma is the `03 however. Stay tuned.
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Re: November Wine Focus: Riesling - It's all about style

Postby David Lole » Tue Nov 04, 2008 4:06 am

Bob Parsons Alberta. wrote:Welcome Peter, glad to have you here. Always ready to talk Oz whites!

David, looks like my riesling portion of the cellar sort of mirrors your list! My Petaluma is the `03 however. Stay tuned.


Just finished off the dregs of the 2002 Penfolds Reserve Bin Eden Valley, Bob, so I've decided to celebrate my return to work tomorrow with that old Rheingau with smoked salmon for dinner tonight. Wish me luck!

I had my doubts on that 03 Petaluma (looked a bit tired a while back) but the last few bottles I've tried have been pretty well spot on. Look forward to how yours turn out.
Cheers,

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Re: November Wine Focus: Riesling - It's all about style

Postby Thomas » Wed Nov 05, 2008 7:36 pm

David didn't mention it, but this Saturday we will have maybe a few answers to the question: what's the difference between German and Finger Lakes Riesling, as he and I will be engaged in a Riesling shoot-out at Glenora Wine Cellars in the Finger Lakes.

I understand that we will have a computer and wireless access during the tasting, so maybe we can issue a report as it happens.

And John S., we in the Finger Lakes also take Riesling acidity with great seriousness. It is the wine's backbone.
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Re: November Wine Focus: Riesling - It's all about style

Postby David M. Bueker » Wed Nov 05, 2008 7:40 pm

I am hoping to publish a full report of the event here on Sunday or Monday.
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Re: November Wine Focus: Riesling - It's all about style

Postby William Mclaughlin » Sat Nov 08, 2008 3:04 pm

Salutations,
I am a New poster here. I love wine of all types, I have been trying for a year or so to broaden my girlfriends wine list. so to speak, she mostly likes sweet wine, but complains of headaches. She had us in several shops, looking for a specific riesling, she remembers it from a friends house, and she said she did not have a headache afterward. Sorry, I don't remember the label, but I do remember, she perfers Spatlese. Cheers
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Re: November Wine Focus: Riesling - It's all about style

Postby William Mclaughlin » Wed Nov 12, 2008 1:24 pm

Salutations,
William here again. Dawn and I discovered a new(to us) Riesling. Bishop of Riesling. I was a bit chagrined that it had a twist off top, but what was in the glass was a very plesant suprise, acidic enough to please my palate, but not to dry, to make Dawn happy. She is such a wimp when it comes to trying new things. Cheers
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Re: November Wine Focus: Riesling - It's all about style

Postby Deb Harmon » Wed Nov 12, 2008 4:00 pm

New member here, from the heart of Colorado wine country. I do weddings and special events at the Colorado Wine Country Inn. I like a good Riesling so this thread caught my eye. Any of you familiar with our wines here? A riesling I can recommend if you can get it in your areas - '07 Plum Creek Cellars Riesling. Would like to know your opinions of it. And hello to everyone! :D
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Re: November Wine Focus: Riesling - It's all about style

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Wed Nov 12, 2008 10:19 pm

Deb Harmon wrote:New member here, from the heart of Colorado wine country. I do weddings and special events at the Colorado Wine Country Inn. I like a good Riesling so this thread caught my eye. Any of you familiar with our wines here? A riesling I can recommend if you can get it in your areas - '07 Plum Creek Cellars Riesling. Would like to know your opinions of it. And hello to everyone! :D


Welcome Deb, can you post us a good link to Colorado wine industry?
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Re: November Wine Focus: Riesling - It's all about style

Postby David M. Bueker » Wed Nov 12, 2008 10:25 pm

Isn't the heart of Colorado wine country Aspen? :wink:
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Re: November Wine Focus: Riesling - It's all about style

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Wed Nov 12, 2008 10:47 pm

David, looks like you can have a good old slurp before heading up into the mountains. Take a butterfly net with you and snag me some colias buekerionsis while you are at it.

http://www.experience-colorado.com/shopping.html?id=8
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Re: November Wine Focus: Riesling - It's all about style

Postby Deb Harmon » Wed Nov 12, 2008 11:17 pm

Thanks for the welcome, Bob!

http://www.palisadecoc.com/

The menu on the left provides a button with info about our wine country.

And David, as for Aspen......actually Palisade produces 75% of Colorado's premium wine grape vineyards! :D And they are making some impressive nudges in the industry lately. :!:
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Re: November Wine Focus: Riesling - It's all about style

Postby ClarkDGigHbr » Sun Nov 16, 2008 9:01 pm

David,

I have been completely out of the WLDG loop for months, but just had to read your recent Riesling post. Several months ago, my wife and I spent a bit of time in the central Washington winemaking region, stopping at wineries from the Wahluke Slope north to Wenatchee and Lake Chelan. The big Ah-ha for me was the uniqueness of the Riesling made there. They were wonderful. Just about every winery we stopped at offered a delicious Riesling with excellent acidity, bouquet, fruit and minerality. Have you ever tried the Riesling from this area?

-- Clark
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Re: November Wine Focus: Riesling - It's all about style

Postby Jenise » Sun Nov 16, 2008 9:34 pm

ClarkDGigHbr wrote:David,

I have been completely out of the WLDG loop for months, but just had to read your recent Riesling post. Several months ago, my wife and I spent a bit of time in the central Washington winemaking region, stopping at wineries from the Wahluke Slope north to Wenatchee and Lake Chelan. The big Ah-ha for me was the uniqueness of the Riesling made there. They were wonderful. Just about every winery we stopped at offered a delicious Riesling with excellent acidity, bouquet, fruit and minerality. Have you ever tried the Riesling from this area?

-- Clark


Clark, I haven't bought many Washington rieslings, but then I haven't SEEN that many Washington rieslings. Which producers particularly impressed you?
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Re: November Wine Focus: Riesling - It's all about style

Postby David M. Bueker » Sun Nov 16, 2008 10:08 pm

I visited the Yakima Valley in 1999. I am sure the landscape has changed since then.

I've not tasted that many recent Washington Rieslings, mostly the ubiquitous Chateau Ste. Michelle bottlings, so indeed any informatio would be appreciated.
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Re: November Wine Focus: Riesling - It's all about style

Postby ClarkDGigHbr » Mon Nov 17, 2008 1:56 am

I haven't purchased any of the Ste. Michelle Rieslings in a very long time, other than a bottle every now and then of their Eroica, which I have always liked. For something completely different than the standard, mass-produced Riesling that has become quite popular, try some of these: Cave B, Vin du Lac, Tsillan, Tildio, and Nefarious Cellars. The last two wineries are pretty small and are definitely on my watch list.

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Re: November Wine Focus: Riesling - It's all about style

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Sun Nov 30, 2008 3:57 am

I am a tad confused about the A.P.#.....>

For the wine illustrated above, the :| AP number (2 577 050 10 02) breaks down as follows:

* 2 indicates the region of production, in this case the Mosel.
* 577 indicates the village, in this case Brauneberg.
* 050 denotes the estate; this number will be unique to Fritz Haag.
* 10 is the number unique to this bottling. In this case Wilhelm Haag (who was running the estate in 2001) has helpfully presented this in bold, as this is clearly an important element in the number for this wine; there will no doubt be several other bottlings at the Auslese level from the Juffer-Sonenuhr vineyard in this vintage. The number in this case matches the fuder (barrel) number, but this is only because Wilhelm will have numbered the barrels to match the AP number, rather than the AP number being governed by what lies in the Fritz Haag cellars.
* 02 denotes the year of tasting (2002). In most cases this will be the year after the vintage.


I found this on Chris Kissick`s website. The last 2 numbers 02 I always thought meant year wine was bottled, not year tasted?
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