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MWG February 13th tasting (1/5): Dry Riesling shoot-out

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The idea for a flight comparing dry Rieslings from Germany and Australia came from a couple of recent Gazette articles (here and here) by wine critic Bill Zacharkiw, who says he plans to devote a good number of column inches in 2014 to promoting this underappreciated grape variety. All four wines were highly recommended, and rightly so (though in our case the Leitz was done no favours by being served last).

Riesling 2009, Eden Valley, B3 Wines ($24.55, 11034935)
B3 is shorthand for the three brothers Basedow who own and run the estate. This 100% Riesling sees only stainless steel. Screwcapped. 12.5% ABV.
Textbook nose of lime, green apple, white flowers, chalk, slate and petrol. Smooth and muted at first but gaining complexity. Quite dry and very present. The clean, bright fruit glows against a slatey backdrop while the acidity and minerals are intense enough to produce a faint burning sensation on the finish. The sulphurous note would have dissipated if I’d carafed the wine a half hour. (Buy again? Sure.)

Riesling 2012, QbA Rheinhessen, Trocken, Weingut Keller ($25.30, 10558446)
100% Riesling. Fermented at low temperatures and with indigenous yeasts. 12% ABV.
Lime, green pear and flowers on the nose – the fruit lightly candied, even a bit caricatural – along with an unexpected grassy note. Lighter and more rainwatery on the palate than the others and a little less dry, the better to balance the sharp acidity. The fruit takes a backseat to the crystalline minerality. A jalapeño note adds intrigue to the finish. And it’s all lifted by a faint carbon dioxide tingle. Focused, balanced and, as Zacharkiw says, fun. (Buy again? Yes, despite the high price for an entry-level wine.)

Riesling 2012 Springvale, Clare Valley, Grosset Wines ($38.25, 11625081)
100% organically farmed Riesling. Manually harvested. Sees no oak. Screwcapped. 12.5% ABV.
Deep if restrained nose: dried lime, yellow apple, chalk and meadow. The richest, weightiest and steeliest of the four. Bone dry too. The fruit is tightly wound around a talc-like mineral core. The acidity gives great cut. A saline note adds tang to the impressively sustained finish. There’s at least a decade’s worth of ageing potential here. Would make an interesting ringer in a flight of Alsatian grand cru Rieslings. (Buy again? Indeed.)

Riesling 2012, QbA Rüdesheimer, Leitz Weingut ($20.25, 11688402)
100% Riesling. Fermented with selected yeasts and matured in stainless steel tanks. Screwcapped. 12% ABV.
Sweet and sour lemon/lime, green apple and a hint of spicy peach. Relatively simple but appealingly fresh. Full of acidity but not sharp. The fruit is light and pure, the minerals tend to chalk, the finish is clean and long. In the vin plaisir category. (Buy again? Sure.)

Other than the wines themselves and seeing that Australia could easily hold its own, what was most striking about this flight was the lack of excitement it generated around the table. The tasters – who as a group are receptive to white wines and new experiences – were generally unenthusiastic. It’s not that they disliked the wines or couldn’t recognize their high quality. It’s that the wines didn’t push their buttons. Why that’s the case isn’t obvious to me, a Riesling lover from birth, but it would be interesting to know the answer.

Written by carswell

February 24, 2014 at 10:31

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