A couple of weeks ago I held one of the classes in a basic wine course in the Stockholm chapter of the wine tasting organisation Munskänkarna. The class covered Alsace and Germany, and in these classes we try to show a couple of typical wines from the origins covered, and also to show wines of different quality levels. When it comes to simpler German wines, this has become more difficult, at least when we’re talking about wines widely distributed in Sweden. There are many simple white German wines sold in bag-in-box packaging, but they are universally off-dry. When a simple off-dry wine is placed next to a dry medium-quality wine, many beginners will focus too much on the difference in sweetness rather than the actual quality difference. There was a cheap “German country wine” sold in a one liter carton, from an unspecified grape blend (but probably including lefover Müller-Thurgau and Silvaner), that was dry and so deliciously mediocre that the simplest of dry Rieslings seemed quite regal next ot it. Unfortunately it has been discontinued one or two years ago, so I was forced to choose the simplest dry Riesling I could find, as the simplest wine.
I do always include an off-dry Riesling, typically a Spätlese from Mosel, in these tastings. But then I include it at the end, as an example of a different style rather than than as an example of a “bad wine”. Wine quality and residual sweetness are two separate things. Sweetness can be used to mask defects, and therefore many people associate sweetness with bad wines, but it’s not the sweetness that makes the wine bad…
2012 Gräsö Riesling Classic
Qualitätswein/Classic from Rheinhessen. The producer is specified to be Altia Sweden AB, so either a contract bottling of wine purchased by them in bulk, or produced to order by a cooperative. Residual sweetness 8 g/l, 12.0% alcohol.
Nose with discrete perfume notes, apple and elderflower, and some scented hand soap and synthetic candy flavoring. (Must be fermented with aromatic yeast.) The palate is light to medium bodied and dry, with apple, some stony mineral notes, not too concentrated, high acidity, some hand soap in the aftertaste. Free from faults, but not too complex and comes across as having a bit of “make up” applied. 81 p
2012 Kloster Eberbach Steinberger Riesling trocken (Crescentia)
Qualitätswein trocken from Rheingau. Residual sweetness <9 g/l, 12.0% alcohol.
Nose with some peach, apple, citrus, a light petroleum notes, stony mineral, typical Riesling perfume and elegance. Dry palate but with a fruity attack, apple, peach, good concentration, high acidity, almost sparkles on the palate, just a hint of bitterness and a stoney aftertaste. 88 p
Clearly more ripe grapes here than in the previous wine, but the same alcohol level, which is likely an indication that the previous wine is chaptalised and is produced with a higher yield. This wine could probably be called Kabinett trocken or Spätlese trocken if the producer wanted to (they have probably not chaptalised), but like many other in Germany they have stopped using Prädikat designations (Kabinett, Spätlese…) for dry wines, to avoid confusion with off-dry/sweet versions.
I tasted this wine last autumn and was impressed by the level of the dry 2012s in general from this producer, so I took the opportunity to revisit it.
2009 Robert Weil Kiedrich Gräfenberg Riesling Erstes Gewächs
Erstes Gewächs from Rheingau. Residual sweetness <9 g/l, 13.5% alcohol.
Impressive and elegant nose with quite a bit of petroleum, ripe melon and some nectarine, ripe yellow apple, a hint of almond, some spice, and a rather powerful perfume note; a fruity impression with some development. More or less dry on the palate, some sweetness of fruit in the attack, powerful concentration, peach, melon, grapefruit, high acidity, pronounced minerality mid-palate and a long minerally aftertaste. Developed nose, still a young palate. 92 p
2011 Trimbach Riesling 2011
AOP Alsace. Residual sweetness 4 g/l, 13.0% alkohol.
Rather discrete nose with some peach, yellow apple, and some stony mineral notes. Definitely dry on the palate, somewhat lean profile with a stony and firm impression, apple, medium concentration in the aromas, high acidity, a hint of bitterness, and a long and really stony aftertaste. Classical style, 88 p.
Trimbach is always reliable as an Alsace producer with truly dry wines. This 2011 was better than expected, and it is really good for a wine at this level (it is the simplest Riesling in the Trimbach range). As far as I can remembered, the 2010 impressed less when I tasted it last year. Usually the next step up, Réserve, is more reliable but only marginally more expensive.
2011 Preiss-Henny Gewurztraminer Reserve Hennÿ
AOP Alsace. Residual sweeness approx 6 g/l, 13.0% alkohol.
Very explosive nose with ripe yellow fruit, lychee, rose water, and perfumed hand lotion. Medium bodied(+), slightly oily palate with apple, yellow fruit, some stony notes, medium acidity, and just a hint of bitterness. 87 p.
This is a really good basic level Gewürztraminer with a classical nose as well as a dry palate, which isn’t too easy to find today by just grabbing a random bottle of this varietal. Then again, Preiss-Henny is one of the reliably dry producers: here are my impressions of their wines from a recent encounter. I was somewhat surprised at the relatively high level of acidity for a low acid grape. I’d say that the 2011 is higher in acidity than the 2012 of the same wine, although overall they are at the same level of quality.
2012 Loosen ”Dr L.” Bernkasteler Kurfürstlay Riesling Spätlese
Spätlese from Mosel (middle Mosel). Residual sweetness approx 55 g/l, 8.0% alkohol.
Nose with peach, apple, citrus, a hint of honey, some stony minerality and Riesling perfume. The palate is off-dry(-) with green apple, citrus, slightly lean profile, high acidity, mineral, and a fruity aftertaste. Somewhat lean for a Spätlese, and very fresh acidity. 86 p.
”Dr. L” is Loosen’s brand for wines from bought-in grapes rather than from their own vineyards.
Swedish version here.