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In This Issue
 Mosel made easy or Mosel made stupid? German Riesling can be hard for newcomers to learn; but does this training-wheels model provide a useful education, or is it just dumbed down?
 Loosen Bros. 2005 Riesling "Dr. L" Mosel-Saar-Ruwer ($12.99) Crisp, fruity pear juice, it's no classic Mosel, but a fine summer sipper if the price is right.
 The California Wine Club Save 42% with this month's selection!
 Would you like to listen to the Wine Advisor?
We're considering a Podcast edition of the Wine Advisor and seek your advice: Would you listen?
 This week on
An intriguing discussion about what constitutes a "premium" wine, a poll on cork taint, and a panel tasting of summer whites from Spain and Portugal.
Last Week's Wine Advisor Index The Wine Advisor archives.
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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 Decanter. 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 terroir. 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, terroir 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 Wine of the Month 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. To participate in the forum discussion, click

Now, here's my tasting report. Where's yours?

Dr. Loosen 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)

FOOD MATCH: 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.

VALUE: 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.

WHEN TO DRINK: 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.

The winery's English-language Web pages appear at this link:
For the German site, visit

Look for vendors and compare prices for Loosen's "Dr. L" on

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Today's article is cross-posted in our Netscape WineLovers Community, where we also welcome comments and questions.

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California Wine Club
California Wine Club: Save 42% with this month's selection!

Save 42% with this month's selection from The California Wine Club.

Baileyana Winery, tucked along California's rugged Central Coast, is home to this month's selection from The California Wine Club:

  • 2002 "Edna Valley, Firepeak Vineyard" Estate Bottled Syrah - Deep and rich with spice, plum, blueberry and lavender flavors.
  • 2004 "Edna Valley, Paragon Vineyard" Estate Bottled Sauvignon Blanc - Classic and fresh with concentrated flavors of citrus, sweet apple and grapefruit that hold through a long finish.

Baileyana makes just 15,000 cases each year and these two wines really show-off the area's excellent wine abilities!

This month's selection is just $32.95 plus shipping. Reorder a half or full case of this month's selection and save 42% off normal retail prices.

Call 800-777-4443 to order or visit

Would you like to listen to the Wine Advisor?

We're kicking around the idea of a Podcast edition of The 30 Second Wine Advisor, a radio-style audio version that can be easily downloaded for playback on your computer or digital audio listening device. The format has been popularized by users of the Apple iPod - hence the name "Podcast."

A growing body of educational and entertainment information is being made available in this form, but a quick skim of iTunes and other directories doesn't turn up much in our niche, so I'm thinking seriously about offering a Podcast Wine Advisor as an audio alternative for folks who'd rather listen than read.

I assume that most of you fall into the "reader" category, and frankly assume that a Podcast edition would primarily serve a separate audience. But I'd still like to hear your thoughts on this idea, so I've set up a special poll on our Netscape Forum. I would appreciate it if you'll take a moment to vote; if you'd like to offer more detailed suggestions or advice, drop me a note at Here's the ballot. You don't need to register or log in to vote.

This week on

Some highlights of recent articles on that I hope you'll enjoy:

WebWineMan: Iberian Whites
With summer wrapping her sweaty arms around us, a wine lover's fancy turns to refreshing whites. Richard Fadeley and his tasting team at the Columbia (S.C.) Free Times offer this cooling report on Iberian whites from Spain and Portugal.

Hot topics in our WineLovers Discussion Groups
Our WineLovers' Discussion Groups are the best places online to ask wine questions and participate in the civil and intelligent discussion of good things to eat and drink. Our WineLovers Discussion Group (WLDG) is the Internet's original wine forum, a non-commercial venue intended for wine-related conversations that range from apprentice-level to wine professionals. Our WineLovers Community on the Netscape/CompuServe service is dedicated to wine education, a friendly place to get quick answers to your questions about wine, beer, spirits and all good things to drink.

Poll: How much wine is cork-tainted?
Historically - including my own experience - a solid 5 percent of all commercial wine under natural cork stoppers has been "corked," irreparably tainted by the presence of a chemical nicknamed TCA that's usually associated with problematic corks. This enduring problem has prompted a growing shift toward alternative closures in recent years, but to its credit, at least some players in the natural cork industry have taken steps to minimize the incidence of taint. This week's Netscape WineLovers Community seeks a rough measure of the current situation, as we ask you to estimate what percentage of the wines you open nowadays suffer from cork taint.

Premium wine
What is a "premium" wine? Not what you think, we'll bet! As drinks-industry terms, the bar for the "premium" and "super-premium" and "ultra-premium" categories is set surprisingly low. Read and join in the discussion on our WineLovers Discussion Group:

Last Week's Wine Advisor Index

The Wine Advisor's daily edition is usually distributed on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays (and, for those who subscribe, the FoodLetter on Thursdays). Here's the index to last week's columns:

 World Cup wines (July 7, 2006)

 Wine and the Dismal Science (July 5, 2006)

 Wine Focus - Viognier (July 3, 2006)

 Complete 30 Second Wine Advisor archive:

 Wine Advisor FoodLetter: Un-fried chicken (July 6, 2006)

 Wine Advisor Foodletter archive:

 30 Second Wine Advisor, daily or weekly (free)
 Wine Advisor FoodLetter, Thursdays (free)
 Wine Advisor Premium Edition, alternate Tuesdays ($24/year)

For all past editions, click here


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Monday, July 10, 2006
Copyright 2006 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

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