Wednesday, May 07, 2008

WBW 45: Old World Riesling

Wed 8 May 2008

Hooray for Wine Blogging Wednesday: my once a month excuse for a good bottle of wine, mid week, on a school night! And this month, Tim at WineCast has chosen Old World Riesling.

I was so excited I almost did WBW last Wednesday!

Having grown up in South Australia, home of the great Clare Valley Rieslings, I used to think that Riesling was, well, kind of nasty. For a long time, my white wine grape, almost exclusively, was Semillon. Then a bit of Sauvignon Blanc. And more often than not, a glass of Shiraz, thank you very much. Riesling smelt nasty and tasted even nastier.

And then a wine maker bought a bottle of ten year old JJ Prüm Kabinett* and I was sold. This was a completely different beast. It was, truly, aromatic.

Of course, this doesn't mean that German Riesling is widely available in Adelaide: it's hard enough getting hold of Victorian wines, let alone the even more foreign types! But in the UK, it's generally a different matter, and, given half a chance, I'll be drinking an Old World aromatic (Riesling, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Gewurztraminer from the Alsace in France, or Riesling from Germany). They tend to be a lot more food friendly than many other wines (and can even handle spicy food), and they tend to be stupidly good value for money (although I'd avoid the £3.50 Riesling I found in Somerfield as a comparison!).

When it came to WBW, I was surprised to find a German Riesling tricky to track down (always the way - as soon as you look for something, you can't find it), but found that (of all places) Harvey Nichols had an OK selection. The bloke in the HN wine shop suggested a Sybille Kuntz 2004 Riesling Trocken from Mosel-Saar-Ruwer. It was about £11, and even when I started looking at the £23 single vineyard number (remember, I was spending prize money!), he still recommended this.

So, what do we reckon?

This is a pretty gold wine, with just the merest hint of green as the glass empties. The nose is predominantly floral, with some stone fruit and the whiff of petrol that comes with age. On the palate, the mineral notes were very much to the fore, and the fruit was almost tropical and most certainly honeyed. This was cut through with some pretty solid acid, so it felt clean and bright in the mouth. And the length was pretty good, although not necessarily sophisticated: you don't get a lot of flavour development, more flavour persistence.

This is all quite positive, I know, but this is a German Riesling for which I paid £11 and, to be honest, I'd expect it to deliver just a little more. It was very slightly unbalanced in terms of alcohol (this is packing a whopping 13%): leaving the alcohol dominating just when you kind of wish it wouldn't.

I drank this with a bowl of pasta, dressed with a simple dill pesto: dill, whizzed up with pinenuts, a clove of garlic and a good slug (or two, or three) of extra virgin olive oil, plus plenty of parmesan - both in my pesto and on the pasta. To its credit, the wine stood up to me munching parmesan cheese and worked well with the pasta. Both pretty tall orders.

As far as I'm concerned, the less well known, or less fashionable, German Riesling (or Riesling in general) remains - the better. It allows me to moan that, at £11, this is perhaps a trifle expensive for what it delivers. Blimey - you'd never get away with that with a red Burgundy!

The wine: Sybille Kuntz, 2004 Riesling, Trocken, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, available in Harvey Nichols, around £11.

*In the same meal, the same bloke bought a bottle of Château Montrose, thus setting me up for even more expensive tastes than the ones I'd already acquired ...

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Blogger snekse said...

Nice selection for WBW 45 :-)

2002 Sybille Kuntz Riesling Trocken for WBW 45!

4:24 am  
Blogger Tim Elliott | Winecast said...

Thanks for joining us this month. Sorry your wine let you down but there will be plenty of great picks in my summary to be posted in a day or two.

Tim Elliott

11:29 pm  
Blogger Alex said...

That's amazing, Snekse!

Well, you can't win them all, Tim, and I could have played it safe but there's no fun in that! Anyway, the wine wasn't bad ... I just felt that for a German Riesling it was priced just a tad too high - perhaps a function of buying at Harvey Nicks!

11:53 am  
Blogger Unknown said...

13% for a German riesling - wow! And to think they are often great wines to have on a sunny Sunday such as today, out in garden when all you want is something fresh and light.

10:39 am  
Blogger Alex said...

Yep, Colin - 13%. "Wow" is probably the polite version of what I thought!

The Sybille Kuntz website does note that the winery achieves record sweetness levels with the grapes: "Their winery has broken regional records for the sugar count of its fruit."

However, I'm still not sure 13% has been achieved without chaptalisation: the wine is QbA (or Qualitatswein, under the new scheme) so they could have done. It's a shame the website doesn't offer more of the (boring wine geek) technical information!

7:37 pm  

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