A good Riesling is never wrong to have in your glass, but during the warmer part of the year a fresh white wine of good quality can be even more suitable. This led me to revisit two rather young wines (2009s) from two high-class producers from two differen region, which each tend to have a rather characteristic style.
Trimbach Réserve Riesling 2009
Alsace, from vineyards in the Ribeauvillé area.
Light yellow colour with some green hints. Citrus-dominated nose with notes of lemon and grapefruit, some peach, yellow fruit, mineral and a hint of petrol and perfume. Very dry tasting with a lot of mineral from start to finish, some citrus (but the fruit doesn’t dominate the palate), rather high acidity, long and fresh aftertaste with some grapefruit. 89 p.
Both the nose and palate shows a cool, restrained and elegent profile, that is very typical for a Trimbach Riesling, but I imagine that there are those that would rather describe the style as quite strict. Once in Alsace, I heard the tongue-in-cheek label “Lutheran” applied to a very similar Riesling… 🙂 Surprisingly mineral and acid driven for a 2009, which in general is a vintage with quite ripe grapes all over France. I would rather have guessed 2008 or 2010. Approachable now but can take long cellaring, for those who prefer a more mature and developed style.
I purchased this wine on-site last summer. Réserve is the “medium quality” dry Riesling from Trimbach, between their basic Riesling and Cuvée Frédéric Émile, but is closer to the basic wine in price.
Bright yello colour with some golden yellow tendencies, i.e., a very deep colour for a young white wine that wasn’t winified in small oak barrels. Poweful and voluptuous nose of very ripe and sweet yellow fruit with some tropical fruit, notes of yellow apple and among others nectarine, mango, cantaloupe melon, also citrus zest and honey, some minerality, slight smokey notes, and some perfume. Powerful and fruity on the palate, rather dry but with very ripe and sweet fruit notes in the attack, notes of yellow apple, citrus, some tropical fruit and honey. The tropical fruit notes do not dominate as much on the palate as they do on the nose. Mid-palate, strong minerality of an almost salty character emerges, the acidity is much more obvious, and citrus dominates the fruit. The finish is also mineral, but a rather noticeable bitterness also emerges, and remains in the aftertaste. The wine gives a rather viscous impression, and there are some alcoholic hints, but the alcoholic impression is kept in check. Young, but fully accessible. 91 p.
A very powerful Riesling, true to the style that could be expected of a Röttgen in a ripe vintage. The concentration of fruit embeds the 13% alcohol quite well, but unfortunately I think the bitterness comes through a little more than I prefer (but I’m somewhat sensitive to this), and that has led me to score it slightly lower than otherwise.
In June I arranged a tasting of Heymann-Löwenstein wines, including Röttgen vintages 2007, 2004 and 2001. My impression from that tasting can be found here. This wine fits quite well into the Röttgen style showed in that tasting.
The comparison between these two wines in a way shows the importance of terroir, simply put the natural conditions in the vineyard, and that it comes through in well made Riesling wines. However, it also shows how clearly the producer style comes through next to the terroir. In this case, Trimbach have vineyards highly suitable for Riesling, often get some extra acidity in the wines also when they have good fruit aromas, and always chooses to produce the wines in a completely dry style. They are often considered the best in Alsace for Riesling in a traditional, strict style, while they probabaly face a little tougher competition when it comes to other varietals. Acidity is otherwise what can be slightly probablematic in Alsace, which is relatively dry and warm compared to most German wine regions, and where many producers try to produce very fruit-packed wines, in the footsteps of Zind-Humbrecht and Deiss, which as “a bonus” gives these producers a wine with some residual sugar, since it was picked at quite high ripeness.
Heymann-Löwenstein’s wines probably don’t conform to what most people expect from a dry wine from Mosel (considerably cooler than Alsace), and his style is quite powerful wines with a lot of fruit concentration from late harvested grapes and a certain food-friendly spiciness and bitterness that originates from skin contact. There is however significant difference between the wines from different vineyards, and Röttgen always show most tropical fruit and is more accessible when young. So given Heymann-Löwenstein’s style, this wine is definitely true to its terroir.
The contrast between these two wines is rather large, and I’m sure the origin of the Mosel wine would surprise most people if served blind. But they definitely illustrate that terroir and winemaking style in combination decide the style of a wine. This is not a novel observation that is likely to turn me into a Nobel Prize winner, but it is a fact that deserves to be repeated now and then.
The Swedish version of this post can be found here.