Our last Riesling offer from JJ Prüm focussed on Spätlese, Auslese and Eiswein Riesling.
Each pairing offers the same or adjacent fruit source made as a Dry wine with up to 9g/L sugar and a Kabinett style with up to 45g/L sugar.
Put the tech stuff aside through and focus on the old favourites to assess the wines: depth and length of flavour and aroma, balance, complexity, texture, and, freshness with good pre-bottling development. Most importantly harmony and a style that showed personality.
If you listen carefully to the glass you’ll hear them whispering ‘DRINK ME! DRINK ME!’
The Context – German Riesling
The Contrast – 2 Styles: Trocken vs Kabinett
3 Makers: Dr Loosen, Keller, and, Wagner-Stempel
2 Regions: Mosel and Rheinhessen
If you really want to get your head around these wines, taste at least 2 at a time.
The Trocken and Kabinett from a producer is a solid way to go. It makes it so much easier to find the differences and helps you to appreciate each wine’s qualities. Having a glass for each wine is the way to go!
If you’re up for it taste them all at once with some scaly mates. Don’t fear they’ll last for a couple of days open.
Watch out for offers from us giving you the opportunity to taste in Context and with Contrast.
Tips for Drinking these Wines
🌡Temp: 8-10°C. If they’re in the fridge let them warm a little. Start cold and experiment. You’ll find they become more expressive as they warm up.
De-gassing: Many Rieslings are bottled with a significant amount of dissolved CO2. It has the effect of helping protect the wine from oxygen in bottle and allowing it to stay fresher for longer. It’s a common practice world wide, typically seen in young Semillon from the Hunter too. I find it masks the aromas and flavours of wine. It’s easily removed by pouring a small glass from the bottle then replacing the screwcap or putting your hand over the top of the bottle, giving it a vigorous shake, allowing the foam to settle and then releasing the pressure by undoing the screw cap or removing your hand. Once is usually enough, go again if you think it needs it. Added bonus is the introduction of oxygen to the wine helping it open up and start to show itself in the glass a little earlier.
⏳Time: I love trying good wines stand alone, with food, and, often the next day. It gives them the chance to shine and ensures you don’t miss a good wine through impatience or fail to bring out it’s best by not marrying them to food. These young Rieslings will open up and be more expressive with a bit of time in the glass.
🕯Cellaring: Riesling, when young has a raw attractiveness to it, age it and you’ll see it go through several phases of development. After a few years the youthful primary characters subside, the wine comes together, more sophisticated aromas and flavours develop. After 10 years what we call secondary characters associated with ageing wines start to develop and layer in, creating complexity, they become adults. The good ones will continue to age beautifully for decades. Seriously, get at least 2 x 6 Packs drink one soon and put the other away. If you really want to find the true potential of these wines get 3 or more 6 packs from these 2 excellent vintages and lose one somewhere for a decade!
Food Match: These are incredibly versatile wines, in Australia we love drinking them with fresh vibrant Asian food, they great with seafood, but can easily go toe to toe with chicken, pork and mid-weight pasta. Riesling and cheese work particularly well together! The little bit of fat balanced by the acid and the salt of bringing out the flavours beautifully.
Tasting Order: Taste the Trocken(s) first then Kabinett(s).
Look out for the balance in these Trocken vs Kabinett wine pairs. The Kabinetts have lower alcohol, higher acidity and higher sugar, the reverse for the Trocken wines, yet both are beautifully balanced. When you think about this it makes perfect sense. When you’re cooking, and, a dish is a little tart, you add a sprinkle of sugar, when, it’s too sweet perhaps a squirt of lemon juice for acid to balance it.
Add to this the depth of fruit, both are made from seriously high quality fruit, the residual sugar is not being used as a substitute for low quality fruit in the Kabinetts, simply to make a different style. I love both, which gets grabbed from the cellar just depends on what I feel like on the day.
You can read more about the different Riesling styles including sugar, Kabinett to Trockenbeerenauslese, from the Riesling Maestro Ernie Loosen in here.
Trocken or Dry
Alcohol: 9.5-13% Acid: ~7g/L Sugar: Up to 9g/L
Trocken styles can contain up to 9g/L sugar. With the natural acidity of Riesling, particularly in the cooler climates of the Mosel and Rheinhessen the small amount of residual sugar simply, combined with the higher alcohol in the Trocken wines compared with the Kabinett balances the wine, giving it a sense of generosity and harmony. If you’re not told you probably wouldn’t even know it was there! The grapes for Trocken styles will have less influence from Botrytis or Noble Rot than the dessert styles.
The Keller at 9.5% Alc and 3g/L sugar, is the most elegant of the three, the Wagner-Stemple at 12.5% Alc from the warmest part of the Rheinhessen the most immediately rich. With the same 12.5% Alc, the Dr Loosen GG shows just how much difference the site makes. The restraint of the cool, steep, slate slopes of the Wehlener Sonnenuhr vineyard shows. Look out for the serious depth of fruit just waiting to pop. With a few more years in bottle, it’ll really shine.
Kabinett or Lightly Sweet
Alcohol: ~8 % Acid: ~8.5 g/L Sugar: ~40-45 g/L
Of the styles including sugar, the freshest style is Kabinett with little influence from Botrytis.
The standard line for the German’s being that where the English offer tea to guests in the afternoon the German’s offer Kabinett or Spätlese wines, more akin to a table wine. That said I devoured a Wagner-Stemple Kabinett, with pasta and cheese on a 38°C day in Melbourne, perfection!
You can see the different condition of the grapes and the detailed selection process required to produce the different styles in the film below. Starts at 2mins 30sec.
In general, you’ll find the wines from the Mosel, particularly the Wehlener Sonnenuhr vineyard, to finer, more restrained than the wines of the Rheinhessen. The Wagner-Stemple will be the fullest of the 3 makers, a reflection of Daniel’s sites.
The Mosel river snakes its way between dramatically steep, slatey slopes from just south of the ancient Roman city of Trier to Koblenz to the north, where it empties into the Rhine. The valley is home to many of the world’s most famous Riesling vineyards. The wines are richly fragrant, pale to golden in colour and light-bodied with lively acidity. The slaty soil lends a distinctive taste to wines which range from fine and fruity to earthy or flinty, often with a hint of spritz.
In the video below Ernie Loosen talks about the famed Wehlener Sonnenuhr vineyards. Checkout:
- How ridiculously steep the site is!
- Note the slate that makes up such a high percentage of the ground.
- How much manual labour has to go into working the site.
- How small the bunches are and how few there are per vine.
- The grapes that look rotten, but actually, have a beautiful natural Botrytis infection or Noble Rot, that will impart so much personality & texture into the wine.
- The natural river fogs create the perfect environment for Noble Rot, like the caves of Roquefort for its delicious blue moulds.
Deep within a valley of gently rolling hills, bordered by the Nahe River and the Rhine rivers, lies the region of Rheinhessen. Germany’s largest wine growing region by area is a land of varying climates and geography. Many different types of grapes, both red and white, are planted, producing medium-bodied wine that is delicately fragrant. Some of the finest white wines in Germany are produced among the Rheinterrassen – the vineyards on gentle slopes directly facing the Rhine near the town of Nierstein. Celebrated Riesling author Stuart Pigott calls this “the dream factory of dry German white wine”.
The video below is in German, it’s well worth watching. Look out for:
- The difference with the soils, red clay with little stone, compared it to the slate Mosel vineyard of Wehlener Sonnenuhr.
- Most of the vineyards are on rolling hills rather than steep slopes.
- The vineyards are spread across a broader area, compared with a thin strip adjacent to the river as in the Mosel.
- You’ll see the tiny bunches of Riesling they look to be 50-100g per bunch, very small.
- Note the berries, you’ll see small ones and big ones, known as Chicken and Hen in English and Millerendage in Frecnh. These small berries are concentrated powerhouses of juicy acid and vibrant flavours.
- Watch Peter Keller removing individual berries from bunches by hand in the vineyard, trust me, this is not for the camera! It’s painstaking work and one of those 1 percenters that takes wine from being good to exhilerating.
Loosen has been in the same family for more than 200 years and its present guardian, Ernst Loosen, is one of the great characters of the wine world. He assumed ownership of the estate in 1988 and immediately realised that, with ungrafted vines averaging 60 years old in some of Germany’s best-rated vineyards, he had the raw materials to create stunningly intense, world-class wines. To achieve this, Erni dramatically reduced his crop size and ceased using chemical fertilisers, preferring only moderate use of organic fertilisers. And, most importantly, he turned to gentler cellar practices that allow the wine to develop to its full potential with a minimum of handling and technological meddling.
It’s interesting that Klaus-Peter trained with Hubert and Romain Ligner, and, Eric Rousseau in Burgundy. The parallels between the domains are worth considering. Meticulous care of the vineyards, low yields, wines of great harmony and texture. It’s the last, texture that has always fascinated me as a winemaker. It’s the one that often separates the great wines of Europe from their Australian counterparts, and, the one I was heavily focused on refining at Yarra Yering.
Keller has been in the family since 1789. Their 18ha holding consists of 15ha of Grand Cru sites. The Limestone and Von der Fels Rieslings are blessed to incorporate GG fruit!
“For me the best riesling is not supposed to be a monster riesling. The word high quality in combination with riesling is for me precision, finesse and minerality. When the glass is finished I must be eager to drink the next one- only then do I know that the wine is good.” Klaus-Peter Keller
Since taking the reigns in 2001 Klaus-Peter has gradually increased the proportion of dry Riesling produced by the estate, and, it is these wines that have brought critical acclaim. Read more about Keller here.
Daniel Wagner is known in Germany as Mr Riesling. It’s a richly deserved moniker. Siefersheim is located in the extreme west of the German region known as Rheinhessen, just a few kilometres south of the town of Bad Kreuznach, amidst a landscape of steep hills of volcanic origin, interspersed with heath, untouched brooks and small streams, old stone quarries and overgrown walls built of rocks, the gateway to the region known as the “Rheinhessische Schweiz” (Switzerland of Rheinhessen).
The foundation for the Wagner estate was laid in 1845, with earlier generations shaping what was originally a classic mixed farming operation into a widely renowned wine estate, and leading the Höllberg and Heerkretz vineyard sites to supra-regional importance in the early decades of the 20th century.
The fruits of Daniel’s passion for wine are evident each year in a range of wines characterized by clarity and freshness on the one hand, challenging, complex and concentrated on the other hand. An original style, as confirmed by critics, and acceptance into the elite circle of premium wine producers in 2004, as well as the awarding “Newcomer of the Year” by Gerhard Eichelmann and the wine critics of the Gault Millau WineGuide are a clear indication that the wines made by Daniel Wagner are something special indeed.
Want more info?
Stay tuned! Will be publishing more about Riesling in the Wine Bites Mag soon. If you’re not already a member of the Wine Decoded Community you can Join us Here!
Want more Wine?
We have access to all of the wines from Loosen, Keller and Wagner-Stemple + a massive range of German, Alsatian and Austrian wines. If there’s anything elese you’d like call us on 1300 811 066 or Request a Wine Here.