this week's tasting - riesling

love it or loath it, riesling is a special grape indeed.  producing wines of all degrees of sweetness, riesling is grown all over the world and finds it's home in germany's mosel region where it can produce some of the finest, most complex, longest lived white wines.  in fact, german rieslings were once commanding higher prices than today's most expensive bordeaux and its wines are sought after by wine lovers from all over the world.

the grape can produce wines of refreshingly high acidity with a lightness of body that is rarely matched by any other whites.  it is highly aromatic, delicate, racy, and expressive.  it can make a totally different wine depending on where it is from and sweet wines can be extremely complex with layers after layers of mind boggling flavours, refreshing acidity, and fantastic length.

from germany, wines are produced as per various levels of ripeness.  kabinett wines will be dry, crisp and light.  spätlese, one level more ripe will be off-dry and medium dry.  at their best, they will be complex, fuller, rounder with a long lingering after-taste.  up one level, auslese wines will be made from very ripe grapes in a sweeter style.

from alsace, the wines are bigger and more alcoholic with riper fruits, flavours and touch of spices.  there are various levels of sweetness and the best are from grands crus vineyards.  from austria's wachau and kremstal's regions, the best in the country for fine riesling, the wines will have similar classifications as in germany with generally higher alcohol content.

from australia, they will be fuller bodied, with limey, tangy, and tropical fruit character.  the best come clare valley and eden valley. from new zealand, especially from the cool central otago region, the softness and extreme purity of fruit will show more elegant and complex wines with peachy and kerosene characters on the nose and palate.

typically, you will find a crisp and refreshing acidity together with powerful aromas, reflecting minerals, lemon, lime, grapefruit, muscat, apples and pears.  white flowers, roses and peach.  as it evolves, wonderful spices, honey, and some say kerosene or petrol notes will be detected.

today, we tasted 4 wines from various regions of the world (our notes are available in pdf format by clicking on each link):

darting estate dürkheimer michelsberg riesling kabinett 2006 - michelsberg

an acceptable mid-level wine in balance, some varietal characteristics, but lack complexity, a little short.  more complexity on nose than palate.  simple.

kientzler – riesling grand cru 2001 - alsace good premium level.

a good intensity & extraction.  good balance of acidity and alcohol supported by quality fruit.  long satisfying length.  well made wine of richness & complexity.

gunderloch rothenberg nackenheim 2006 - rheinessen 

an acceptable premium wine.  excellent complexity, richness, extraction, and length on palate but not matched by the intensity of its aromas.  good characteristic flavours and the acidity well supported by its fruits and sweetness.

grosset springvale riesling 2007 - clare valley

a good premium level.  excellent complexity and varietal characteristics with powerful fruit flavours that supports it’s high acidity. however, the length is a little short.

these wines were purchased at marks & spencer as well as watson's wine cellar in hong kong.