Monday, August 22, 2016
International Tasting Beyond Dry Riesling – 5. Riesling Rendezvous in Seattle, Washington State
On July 17-19, 2016, Chateau Ste. Michelle of Washington State and Weingut Dr. Loosen of Germany hosted the fifth Riesling Rendezvous at Chateau Ste. Michelle and Bell Harbor International Conference Center in Seattle.
At the center of the 5. Riesling Rendezvous were 3 major tastings: the walk-around tasting at Chateau Ste. Michelle in Woodinville on Sunday, the blind tasting of 20 dry Rieslings on Monday morning and the blind tasting of 20 beyond dry Rieslings on Tuesday morning.
This posting covers the tasting of beyond dry Rieslings. This posting is part of a series related to the 5. Riesling Rendezvous in Seattle, Washington State. Here is a list of all (already released and still forthcoming) postings:
5. Riesling Rendezvous in Seattle, Washington State: Overview
5. Riesling Rendezvous: Grand Tasting at Chateau Ste. Michelle in Woodinville, Washington State
International Tasting: Dry Riesling – 5. Riesling Rendezvous in Seattle, Washington State
International Tasting Beyond Dry Riesling
The German Winemakers
Schiller’s Favorite Wine Bars in Seattle, USA - An Update
Schiller’s Favorite Oyster Bars in Seattle
Riesling experts from around the world - top winemakers, representatives from the trade and restaurant sector, and journalists – gathered in Seattle to celebrate, discuss and taste the arguably most noble white grape in the world - Riesling.
The Riesling Rendezvous in Seattle is part of the so-called Riesling Coalition, encompassing 3 major Rieslings events in Germany (International Riesling Symposium), in the US (Riesling Rendezvous) and in Australia (Riesling Downunder). Following this year’s Riesling Rendezvous in the US, the Riesling Coalition caravan will travel to Germany for the next International Riesling Symposium in the Rheingau in 2017, then to Australia for the 2018 Riesling Downunder and return to Seattle in 2019 for the 6. Riesling Rendezvous.
For the 2013 Riesling Rendezvous, see:
The World of Riesling in Seattle - Fourth Riesling Rendezvous in Washington State, USA
For the 2014 International Riesling Symposium in Germany, see:
The 2nd International Riesling Symposium in the Rheingau, Germany
“Riesling Rendezvous has grown into the largest event dedicated to Riesling in the United States,” says Ted Baseler, president and CEO of Ste. Michelle Wine Estates. “We are extremely fortunate to have some of the most renowned Riesling winemakers in the world sharing their stellar wines to demonstrate the great attributes and diversity of Riesling.”
The symposium was attended by about 300 people, including such luminaries as Stuart Pigott and Stephan Reinhard (Robert Parker) from Germany and Paul Grieco and David Schildknecht from the US.
The pictures are mostly mine, but I have also included a few pictures that were published on Facebook by other participants.
Riesling in the World
There are about 47000 hectares planted with Riesling worldwide. Germany – with 22500 hectares – accounts for about half of the total. The second and third largest Riesling producer are the US (mainly Washington State and Finger Lakes Region) with 4800 hectares and Australia with 4100 hectares. But this is only about 1/10 of the total. Alsace follows with 3500 hectares. Alsace, Ukraine and Austria follow with 3500 hectares, 2700 hectares and 1900 hectares, respectively. Overall, Riesling is really a niche wine, accounting for less than 1 percent of total wine production in the world - but a very special niche wine.
Hugel et Fils Wines and the Cuisine des Emotions de Jean Luc Brendel at Riquewihr in Alsace, France
Andrew Hedley, Framingham, New Zeland and Steffen Christmann, Weingut A. Christmann, Pfalz, Germany. See also: Tour and Tasting at Weingut A. Christmann in Gimmeldingen, Pfalz, with Steffen Christmann – Germany-South Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2015), Germany
The Focus on Dry German Riesling – Daniel Hubbard Presents the German DSWE Portfolio to the German Wine Society (Washington DC Chapter)
Beyond Dry Riesling
Many wine drinkers, in particular outside of Europe, when they see a Riesling in the shelves, have the association of a sweet-style wine. This is however misguided. Rieslings as a rule are dry wines. Of course, there are the famous sugar 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 specialty wine, 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 Germany (and elsewhere) to produce wines with a bit of residual sugar with these grapes. These are exceptional wines, essentially made by not letting the fermentation going its full course so that natural sugar remains in the wine. Alternatively, German winemakers are allowed to add sweet-reserve (sterilized grape juice) to increase the sweetness level in the wine, but today, this is mostly done, if at all, for fine tuning the residual sweetness. These fruity-sweet wines are the wines that are so popular among the fans of German wine in the world. These sweet-style wines have lost popularity in Germany, although there appears to be a comeback, but in any case remain very popular outside of Germany, for example in the US. Anyway, they are very present in Germany’s export markets, but account only for a small share of total German wine production. Steffen Christmann, the President of the VDP, the German elite wine maker association, estimates that 95% of German wine beyond a price point of Euro 15 is dry.
Moderator: Joshua Greene, Editor, Wine and Spirits
David Schildknecht, Vinous.com
Andrea Robinson, MS, andreaonwine.com
Bob Bertheau, Chateau Ste. Michelle, Washington State
John Hughes, Rieslingfreak, South Australia
Wilhelm Weil, Weingut Robert Weil, Rheingau, Germany
Chalem, 2013 Three Vineyard Riesling, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Suggestd Retail Price: $22
Wine Entusiast: As with all the 2013 white wines from Chehalem, the alcohol is way down and the acids up in this blend of the three estate vineyards. All-stainless fermented, it's quite tart with green apple and grapefruit flavors dominating.
Anthony Road, 2012 Art Series Riesling, Finger Lakes, New York State
New York Times: $27
Eric Asimov (New York Times):
I’ve had excellent rieslings from Oregon and Washington, and terrific rieslings from Michigan, though they are hard to find. But no American wine-growing region excites me about riesling as much as the Finger Lakes of New York.
More than any other American wine region, the Finger Lakes has devoted itself to riesling. Almost everywhere else, chardonnay is the diva white grape. But producers in the Finger Lakes largely agree that riesling is the white grape best suited to its conditions. Instead of an afterthought, it is the focus.
It shows. Good rieslings from the Finger Lakes are vibrant and alive. Depending on where the grapes are planted, they can display a rich core of mineral flavors, or they can be more floral and fruity, or they can range somewhere in between. Whatever the style, the best are resonant and deep, inviting you with captivating textures and reverberant flavors.
But as good as the wines can be, what’s most exciting about the Finger Lakes is knowing that the region is just beginning to discover a sense of its own potential. With time, these wines are going to get better and better.
Martin's Lane, 2014 Naramata Estate Riesling, Okononga Valley, British Columbia, Canada
WineFront: Super star this wine. From Okanagan Valley, made by Shane Munn, who once was at Woolaston in Nelson, New Zealand. Okanagan has some serious mojo for riesling. Has six to twelve hours skin contact, with natural ferment. The site is right by Lake Okanagan. Floral notes, faint honey, lime and citrus peel characters, big, sweet, fruity fragrance but not overblown, touch of slate-like reduction. Lightly creamy texture with tart core. Has some slippery, oiliness to texture, slips long through the palate and slightly sticky. Good intensity and concentration, with freshness on hand. Superb balance. 94
Charles Smith Wines 2014 Kung Fu Girl Riesling, Washington State
Los Angeles Wine Company: $8.99
Grand Tasting at Chateau Ste. Michelle in Woodinville, Washington State
Ansgar Clüsserath, 2014 Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Riesling feinherb, Mosel, Germany
Cellarhand: Weingut Ansgar Clüsserath in Trittenheim on the Mosel has been owned and operated by the family since its founding in 1670. But once again, it came to us through a CellarHand 'family' connection. In charge of winemaking these days is Ansgar Clüsserath’s daughter Eva, who happens to be married to 2014 Gault Millau Winemaker of the Year, Philipp Wittmann. Like Rheinhessen superstar Wittmann, Eva is a member of Germany’s new generation of winegrowers committed to traditional, ecologically sound viticultural practices as well as forward-looking methods.
Stephan Reinhardt: 92 points: The 2014 Piesporter Goldtröpchen Riesling Feinherb opens with a dusty/slatey bouquet intermixed with super clear and ripe Riesling, orange and red cassis flavors. Round, elegant and intense, with a nice creaminess and delicate tannins on the palate, this full-bodied, virtually dry and complex Goldtröpchen brings out the zesty/fruity character of the fresh red currant that which are so typical for the Goldtröpchen cru. This is an impressively intense and perfectly balanced fruit. A stunning and age-worthy wine!
See also: Cellar Tour and Wine Tasting with Philipp Wittmann and Eva Clüsserath-Wittmann at Weingut Wittmann in Westhofen – Germany-South Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2014)
Dr. Frank 2014 Semi-dry Riesling, Finger Lakes, New York State
The Wine Buyer: $11.99
WineFront: Finger Lakes, New York state. Has 23 grams residual sugar. Green herbs, lemon, ripe citrus characters, touch of green apple. Green apple to taste, oily textured, ripe fruit, juicy, then tightens up and gets tangy and chalky. Bright, vibrant wine, bit simple, but great drinking, and should mature superbly. 91
Cave Sprin Cellars, 2014, The Adam Steps Riesling, Ontario, Canada
Wine searcher average price: $18
WineFront: From Ontario, Canada. From west Niagra. This is a 1975 planted vineyard. Cooler vintage. Ripe citrus characters, ripe green apple, sniffs of slate and stone, flint hints, orange peel, stone fruits. Very lively to taste, juicy, fleshy in a way, but tightens up with citrussy tang. Some nice chalkiness amongst the warmer fruit here. It’s got clean, fresh, vibrant feel. The word ‘lovely’ comes to mind. 92
Angelo Pavan, Vice-President, Winemaker and Founding Partner
Framingham, 2011 Classic Riesling, New Zeland
Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board: $20.99
WineFront: Classic classic. Lemon lime sorbet, bright perfume, shows some flinty reduction, touch of moss/green herbs and mint. Lovely start. Incredible concentration and power here – drives with huge velocity and finishes mouthwatering and fresh. Great stuff. 93
Fox Run, 2011, Reserve Riesling, Finger Lakes, New York State
WineFront: Finger Lakes wine region, New York state. Holds 22 grams of residual sugar. Younger vines. A tank that was favoured. A very average vintage, allegedly. Whiffs of smoke, honey, toast over stone fruits, green apple, dried apple, sweet candied peel. Brown lime flavours, secondary flavours showing up, good tension in acidity, rich, generous in flavour, touch toasty, sweet-sour and finishes fresh. 92
Chateau Ste. Michelle and Dr. Loosen, 2008, Eroica, Columbia Valley, Washington State
Universal Fine Wine and Spirits: $19.99
schiller-wine: This is the result of a American/German joint venture, a collaboration between Chateau Ste. Michelle, the huge Washington winemaker, and Dr. Loosen, the eminent Riesling producer from the Mosel region of Germany. The wine is made at Chateau Ste. Michelle from grapes grown in the Columbia Valley.
Promoting the worldwide ascendancy of Riesling was a big reason why Ernst Loosen began the joint venture with Chateau Ste. Michelle. He was convinced that it would take a seriously good New World Riesling to help bring the variety back to the forefront. Eroica was launched in 1999. An intermingling of Old and New World philosophies and techniques enables the crafting of an extraordinary Riesling from Washington state grapes. Named for Beethoven’s Third Symphony, Eroica is supposed to reflect not only its variety and site, but also its heritage: bold and forward from its Washington roots, elegant and refined from German inspiration.See also: Wine ratings: Two American/German wines - Eroica and Poet's Leap - on Top 100 Wines from Washington State list for 2009
Andy Perdue: Last month at the Riesling Rendezvous, wine experts from around the globe were in the midst of a blind tasting of 20 off-dry Rieslings. One in particular stood out. The 300 or so Riesling aficionados were intrigued, many trying to guess where it could be from. One particular expert declared that it must be from Germany’s Mosel. There was no other possibility. When the wine was revealed, a hush across the room was quickly followed by gasps. The wine was the Eroica 2008 Riesling, a joint project between Chateau Ste. Michelle and Ernst Loosen. But the 2008? That seemed strange, as the current Eroica in stores across the nation is from the 2014 vintage. It’s all part of a “new” program from Chateau Ste. Michelle: aged Eroica.
“It all comes from Erni having all those amazing wines,” said Bob Bertheau, head winemaker for Chateau Ste. Michelle and Loosen’s partner in the Eroica label. “When he’s at home in Germany, he doesn’t open a bottle younger than 20 years old for dinner. All of this is founded from that.” Wait. Aged Rieslings? As it turns out, Riesling is a fantastic wine to drink young or age. Tasting a 40-year-old Mosel Riesling can be a remarkable experience. Some say a Riesling can age as well as just about any red wine. But that’s not how we think in the New World. As wine lovers, we tend to be in a hurry, and there’s little better than a chilled fresh Riesling on a warm day.
Paul Blanck, 2011 Riesling Grand Cru Furstentum, Alsace
Your Wine Cellar Online: $35.88
WineFront: Alsace. Been a while… Sweet limes and lemons, quite tropical here, hit of gingery spice, honey. Rich perfume. Ripe to taste, fleshy, juicy, unctuous but holds some fresh, soft acidity to balance. It’s quite simple in flavour, but pleasing. 91
Mac Forbes, 2015 RS 29 Riesling, Strathbogie Ranges, Australia
The Wine Society: $17.33
Syncromesh, 2015, Storm Haven Vineyard, Riesling, Okanangan Valley, British Columbia, Canada
WineFront: Mac Forbes RS29 2015 Strathbogie Ranges, with 29 grams of residual sugar. Brown lime, ripe lemons, whiffs of earth and stone, savoury toasty elements. Palate is angular, kind of wild with exotic tropicals, tangy citrus characters, minty notes, spice, zingy acidity, finishes chalky and dry – lots of phenolic work here (great!). Curious wine this, but has some serious thrills. 93
Carl von Schubert, 2014 Maximin Grünhaus Abtsberg Riesling Kabinett, Ruwer, Mosel
Los Olivos Wine Merchant and Cafe: $32
Loosen Bros. USA: The delicate Kabinett style from the estate’s very best vineyard. Always impressive with its explosive fruit, layered complexity and fine mineral structure.
See also: Weingut Maximin Grünhaus Joins VDP, the Association of Germany’s Elite Winemakers
Rieslingfreak 2014 No.8 Polish Hill Schatzkammer Riesling Claire Valley Australia
Fritz Haag, 2014, Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese, Mosel
Compass Wines: $37.99
Loosen Bros. USA: The Juffer Sonnenuhr is the choicest center cut of the Brauneberg — the steepest and most south-facing part of the hillside. This Grosse Lage (grand cru) site produces profound, distinctive wines with great purity and concentration.
Jancis Robinson: Quite tense and sleek on the nose. Exuberantly ripe and pure. Much, much richer than the Kabinett. One for traditionalists. Beautifully sculpted. Very precise. Clean with a strong citrus-peel element. (09-Sep-2015)
Egon Müller, 2009, Schartzhofberger Riesling Spätlese, Saar, Mosel
Wine Cellarage: $198.83
WineFront: Takes us to sweet town, starring 87.7 grams or residual sugar. The 2009 vintage was close to perfect in Saar. Vineyard was planted 1895 Bright perfume, touch youghurty, whiffs of slate and herbs, ripe citrus, ripe apples. Oily textured, concentrated, almost lime essence-like, slippery and long in flavour, sweet, chewy finish. Nice feel here, holding plenty of sugar it feels, but a touch cloying too, which disables ease of drinking. 90
Domaines Schlumberger, 2009, Cuvée Ernest Riesling Sélection de Grains Nobles,Alsace France
Ex-winery in France: Euro60
Wine Spectator: "Aromatic, with a delicious burnt caramel note underscaring the baked peach, pastry, orange marmelade and spicy flavors. This is creamy, with subtle acidity gently framing and balancing the rich flavors. With a lingering hint of meringue on the finish, this truly dessert in a glass"
See also: Thomas Schlumberger, Domaines Schlumberger in Alsace, presented his Wines at Bistro Lepic in Washington DC, USA, France
Dönnhoff, 2012, Oberhäuser Brücke Riesling Auslese, Nahe, Germany
Hart Davis Wine Company: $90
WineFront: From Nahe in Germany. Has 140 grams of residual sugar. Sweet deliciousness. Lime, kaffir lime leaf, floral notes, some reductive character, slate and stone. Oily, ripe apple, stone fruit, super concentrated, honey. It’s got power and grace, sweetness is easy to see but the acidity is up to task, keeping the wine buoyant. For sweet wine lovers, this is good gear. 94
See also: Wine Tasting and Cellar Tour at Weingut Dönnhoff with Christina Dönnhoff – Germany-North Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2014)
Robert Weil, 2010, Kiedrich Gräfenberg Riesling Beerenauslese, Rheingau, Germany
Fine and Rare Wines: $363
The word “Beerenauslese” means “berry-selected.” The harvest workers pick individual grapes that have shriveled down about halfway, due to botrytis or the dessicating effect of the winds that flow though the Kiedrich side valley down into the larger Rhine valley.
See also: Kiedrich: Visit of the Basilica of Saint Valentine and of Weingut Robert Weil - Germany-North Wine Tour by ombiasy (2014)
schiller-wine - Related Postings
The 2nd International Riesling Symposium in the Rheingau, Germany
Heads up for the 2017 Tours - to Germany and France - by ombiasy WineTours
Germany-East Tour 2016 by ombiasy WineTours: Wine, Art, Culture and History
Germany-North Tour 2016 by ombiasy WineTours: Quintessential German Riesling and the Northernmost Pinot Noir
Germany-South Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2015)
Thomas Schlumberger, Domaines Schlumberger in Alsace, presented his Wines at Bistro Lepic in Washington DC, USA, France
Vintage 2011 Tasting with Lucas Pichler, Weingut F.X. Pichler, with Dirk Wuertz at his Koenigsmuehle in Rheinhessen, Austria/Germany
Cellar Tour and Wine Tasting with Philipp Wittmann and Eva Clüsserath-Wittmann at Weingut Wittmann in Westhofen – Germany-South Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2014)
Tour and Tasting at Weingut A. Christmann in Gimmeldingen, Pfalz, with Steffen Christmann – Germany-South Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2015), Germany
The Dry and Ultra-premium Dry GG and GG Reserve Rieslings of Weingut Dr. Loosen – Ernie Loosen in Washington DC
Wine Tasting at Weingut Dr. Loosen in Bernkastel-Kues, Mosel – Germany-North by ombiasy WineTours (2015)
A New Dr. Loosen Project Setting the Standard for Dry German Rieslings
Ernst Loosen Presented his Wines at Weingut Dr. Loosen, Bernkastel-Kues, Mosel Valley, Germany
Wine ratings: Two American/German wines - Eroica and Poet's Leap - on Top 100 Wines from Washington State list for 2009
Weingut Maximin Grünhaus Joins VDP, the Association of Germany’s Elite Winemakers
Wine Tasting and Cellar Tour at Weingut Dönnhoff with Christina Dönnhoff – Germany-North Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2014)
Kiedrich: Visit of the Basilica of Saint Valentine and of Weingut Robert Weil - Germany-North Wine Tour by ombiasy (2014)