Monday, February 7, 2011

Riesling Elegance with a Touch of Sweetness – Tasting at the 1. International Riesling Symposium in Germany, led by Stephane Gass

Picture: Ingo Swoboda, Stephane Gass and Wilhelm Weil

The 1st International Riesling Symposium

Eight very interesting lectures, four outstanding wine tastings - one in the morning and one in the afternoon of each day - and a walking wine dinner provided for two fascinating and highly entertaining days around Riesling at the 1st International Riesling Symposium that took place a couple of weeks ago at Schloss Rheinhartshausen in the Rheingau in Germany. The symposium was attended by about 150 people, including such luminaries as Jancis Robinson from the UK, Willi Bruendlmayer from Austria, Helmut Doennhoff from the Nahe, Ernst Loosen from the Mosel and Colette Faller from Domaine Weinbach in Alsace, and many others. I have provided my impressions about the Symposium here.

This posting focuses on one (of the four) major tastings, in which we tasted 21 lusciously sweet Rieslings from Germany, France and Canada. I have reported about the tasting of aged Rieslings here, the tasting of dry Rieslings here and the tasting of lusciously sweet Rieslings here.

Riesling

Worldwide, there are about 34.000 hectares planted with Riesling. Germany – with 22.400 hectares – accounts for 2/3 of the total. The second largest Riesling producer is Australia, with 4500 hectares. But this is only about 1/10 of the total. Nevertheless, Australia was a bit underrepresented at the 1st International Riesling Symposium. Alsace follows with 3500 hectares. Austria, the US with Washington State and New York State as well as New Zealand make up the remainder. But overall Riesling is really a niche wine, accounting for only less than 1 percent of total wine production in the world - but a very special niche wine.

Rieslings With a Touch of Sweetness – What are They?

Stephane Gass is the Alsace-born Sommelier of the famous Restaurant Schwarzwaldstube Traube Tonbach in the Black Forest. He led a tasting of Rieslings with a touch of sweetness. What are Rieslings with a touch of sweetness?

Pictures: Riesling Elegance with a Touch of Residual Sweetness Tasting at the 1. International Riesling Symposium, Schloss Reinhartshausen, Rheingau

To start with, there are the famous nobly sweet Beerenauslese, Trockenbeerenauslese, Eiswein and Schilfwein wines from Austria and Germany, the Sélection de Grains Nobles from France, the icewines from Canada and other Rieslings, made from botrytized, dried or frozen grapes. The grapes that go into these wines have such a high sugar content that there is nothing you can do to make dry wines out of these grapes. They inevitably produce nobly sweet wines. But apart from these exceptions, which account for only a tiny share of total production, Riesling grapes in Germany, Austria, Alsace, the US and Australia have normal sugar content at the time of fermentation and tend to produce dry wines, when fully fermented.

However, modern cellar methods allow winemakers – in particular in Germany - to produce wines with a bit of residual sugar with these grapes. There are principally two methods applied in Germany – but neither in Austria nor Alsace - for making these Rieslings with a touch of sweetness.

First, you do not let the fermentation run its course and stop it. As a result, you get less alcohol but also some sweetness in the finished wine. The sweet and low alcohol Mosel wines have made this approach famous in the whole word.

Second, you let the wine fully ferment to a normal alcohol level without any remaining sweetness and then add Suessreserve (sterilized juice) to achieve the desired degree of sweetness.

These sweet-style wines have lost some of their popularity in Germany, but there appears to be a comeback. In any case, they remain popular outside of Germany, notably in the US market. Two of the three German wines on this year’s Wine Spectator Top 100 List belong into this category: St-Urbans-Hof Riesling Kabinett Mosel Ockfen Bockstein 2009 and Schloss Vollrads Riesling Kabinett Rheingau 2008.

The Tasting


We tasted 21 wines, of which 18 were from Germany; the three remaining were from Washington State, Alsace and Canada. There were no Austrian wines, as Austria does not produce this kind of wine. I was able to pick up some of the comments of Stephane Grass (in German); they included some recommendations as to what kind of food might go well with the sweet-style Rieslings.

2009 Hallgarten Schoenhell, Riesling Feinherb, Weingut Fuerst Loewenstein
SG: Zitrusfrucht in der Nase, mineralisch, 13 g/l Restzucker.
SG - Food: Vorspeisenvariation von der Ente.

2009 Monrepos, Riesling Classic, Weingut der Forschungsanstalt Geisenheim
SG: Aprikose an der Nase, ausdrucksstark in der Aromatik, Alkohol etwas hoeher, viel Spannung am Gaumen, rassige Saeure.
SG - Food: Als Aperitif.

2009 Hattenheimer, Riesling Kabinett Feinherb, Freiherrlich Langwerth von Simmern’sche Rentamt
SG: Spannende Nase, kraeftige Aromen, saftig, 11 gr/l Rz.
SG – Food: Scampies mit einer Thai – Sauce.

2009 Schloss Johannisberger, Riesling Rotlack Kabinett Feinherb
SG: Nase verhalten, relative kraeftige Suesse, junger Wein, noch eckig, kantig, noch keine Harmonie, 15 gr/l Rz.

2009 Hattenheim Pfaffenberg, Riesling Kabinett Feinherb, Schloss Schoenborn
SG: feine, elegante Nase, sehr frisch, Minze.
SG – Food: Garnelen mit Couscous.

2009 Erbacher Hohenrain, Riesling Alte Reben, Feinherb, Schloss Reinhartshausen
SG: 40 Jahre alte Reben, gelber Pfirsich an der Nase, vielschichtig, komplex, saftig, perfekte Balance zwischen Suesse und Saeure.
SG – Food: Gebratene Jakobsmuscheln.

2009 VQA Niagara Escarpment, Riesling Dolomite, Cave Spring Cellars
SG: Honig in der Nase, Eisbonbons, Suesse und Saeure sehr present, Saeure steht etwas alleine da, Wein wird im Alter harmonischer werden.

Picture: Thomas Pennachetti from Cave Spring Cellars in Canada

2009 Eroica Riesling, Chateau Ste Michele and Dr. Loosen
SG: Ein Wein aus Washington State, Deutsche Handschrift erkennbar, mineralische Noten, Saeure gut eingebunden.
SG – Food: Krustentiere mit Korriander, pochiert - nicht gebraten.

Picture: Ernst Loosen at the 1. IRS

2009 Wegeler Pur, Riesling Kabinett, Weingut Wegeler
SG: Schiefer in der Nase, feine Eleganz, subtiler Wein, feste Saeure, erst am Anfang der Entwicklung, 14 gr/l Rz.
SG – Food: Fischgericht mit Sahnesauce, wo man die Saeure des Weines braucht.

2008 Hochheimer Stein, Riesling Kabinett Halbtrocken, Domdechant Werner’sches Weingut
SG: Nase sehr vehalten, 16 gr/l Rz.

1998 Erdener Treppchen, Riesling Kabinett, Weingut Dr. Loosen
SG: Lindenbluehte, Schieferaroma, der Wein macht einen Tanz auf der Zunge.
SG – Food: Frischer Ziegenkaese.

2007 Scharzhofberger, Riesling Kabinett, Weingut Egon Mueller-Scharzhof
SG: Suedseepampelmuse, einladende Nase, in 20 Jahren wieder trinken.
SG – Food: Ein Wein, den man zum ganzen Essen trinken kann, passt zu einem 5 Gang Menu.

Picture: Egon Mueller at the 1. IRS

2009 Hattenheimer Schuetzenhaus, Riesling Kabinett, Weingut Balthasar Ress
SG: Sehr jung, Pfirsich, hohe Saeure, in 10 Jahren wieder probieren.
SG – Food: Zu kraeftigen Speisen, gebratene Entenleber mit glasierten Pfirsichen.

Picture: Christian G.E.Schiller and Christian Ress, Weingut Balthasar Ress, in Berlin

2009 Winkeler Hasensprung, Riesling Kabinett, Weingut Prinz von Hessen
SG: Frische Ananas an der Nase, noch nicht die perfekte Reife erreicht, 15 gr/l Rz.
SG – Food: Zu kraeftigen, wuerzigen Speisen.

2008 Steinberger, Riesling Kabinett, Hessische Staatsweingueter Kloster Eberbach
SG: In der Nase verhalten, 55 gr/l Rz, bin ueberrascht, wirkt nicht so suess, ich hatte ganz andere Saeure Suesse Balance am Gaumen erwartet.

2008 Riesling Grand Cru Schlossberg, Cuvee Sainte Catherine L’Inedit, Domaine Weinbach
SG: 13 % Alkohol, sehr subtile Nase, Muskat, mineralisch, mit viel Kraft am Gaumen, aber gezuegelt, ausbalanziert, der Beste, den das Weingut bisher produziert hat.
SG – Food: In 15 Jahren zu einem Kalbsbries.

Picture: Christian G.E.Schiller with Colette Faller, Domaine Weinbach, at Domaine Weinbach

2004 Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr, Riesling Spaetlese, Weingut Fritz Haag
SG: Ein gewaltiger Sprung, Lindenbluetentee, Zitronenschalen, Milchkaramel, da brauche ich kein Dessert dazu, ist alles im Glas, jetzt in seiner ersten Trinkreife, kann man auch in 20 Jahren trinken.

2004 Dorsheim Goldloch, Riesling Spaetlese, Schlossgut Diel
SG: Sehr presente Suesse, kraeftige Spaetlese, waere vielleicht besser mit 20 gr/l weniger Rz.
SG – Food: Ananas Carpaccio mit Vanille Eis.

2008 Monzinger Halenberg, Riesling Spaetlese, Weingut Emrich-Schoenleber
SG: Junge, mineralische Nase, Kraeuter, vielschichtig, Wein tanzt am Gaumen, kann einen Champagner ersetzen, viel Spannung die einladend ist.

2005 Oestricher Lenchen, Riesling Spaetlese 303, Weingut Josef Spreitzer
SG: 82 gr/l Rz, so hoch wie kein anderer Wein, reife Aromen, sehr kompakte Fuelle, Wein zeigt Potential, muss man Zeit geben.
SG – Food: Crème Brulee mit Ananas.

schiller-wine - Related Postings

Visiting Weingut Josef Leitz in Ruedesheim – Johannes Leitz is Germany’s Winemaker of the Year, Gault Millau WeinGuide 2011

1.International Riesling Symposium

Impressions from the Riesling & Co World Tour 2010 in New York

When Americans Drink German Wine - What They Choose

German Wine Basics: Sugar in the Grape - Alcohol and Sweetness in the Wine

Terry Theise's Top German Wines of the 2009 Vintage

Germany's Top 16 Winemakers - Feinschmecker WeinGuide 2011

Aging Potential of Riesling – A Wine Tasting at the 1st International Riesling Symposium in Germany Led by Jancis Robinson

Lusciously Sweet Rieslings - Wine Tasting at the 1st International Riesling Symposium

In the Glass: 2009 Kiedricher Turmberg Riesling Trocken and 2009 Riesling Kiedricher Graefenberg Spaetlese, both Weingut R. Weil, Kiedrich, Rheingau

Visiting Jean Trimbach at Maison Trimbach in Ribeauville in Alsace

Visiting Yann-Leon Beyer at Maison Leon Beyer in Eguisheim in Alsace

First Class Dry Riesling Wine Tasting at the 1st International Riesling Symposium

2 comments:

  1. Very Cool blog thanks a lot for this great contribution.


    Smith ALan

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  2. Thomas Pennachetti from Cave Spring Cellars in CanadaFebruary 10, 2011 at 1:43 PM

    Dear Christian,

    Thank you so much for including our wines in your posting on the IRS, and of course for the nice photo. It was a pleasure meeting there and discussing the wines. If you are ever in our region, be sure to come and see us.

    Tom P.

    Thomas Pennachetti
    Vice-President, Sales & Marketing

    CAVE SPRING CELLARS
    3836 Main Street
    Jordan, ON L0R 1S0 Canada

    ReplyDelete