Riesling? Go on, surprise yourself and try it...
Riesling is, for me, the purest flavour on Earth...
... and believe it or not - given the infrequency with which this particular page is 'updated' (if you could call it that), my fridge usually contains several new Rieslings. It also contains many bottles which have been open for several days which still taste as fresh as a daisy - just one of the many reasons I regard Riesling as drop dead gorgeous.
Posted Thursday 13 December 2012
The newest Kiwi Riesling to touch the sides of my glass is...
2011 Kalex Wines
Riesling Central Otago RRP $28-$29
about putting Central Otago’s best white wine foot forward. Floral aromas lead
the charge in this light bodied summery white from a new producer in Central. While
the alcohol is 11%, implying a degree of residual sugar in the wine – there is
a luscious 54 grams residual sugar here - this Riesling walks an exquisite
tightrope of balance that characterises the world’s great Rieslings. Its
natural grapey flavours are in the white lily, mandarin and red apple spectrum
and balanced beautifully by acidity which allows the wine to seemingly finish
on a dry note. I like the length of, coupled with this subtle but fresh acidity
as it may sound, this wine is a good candidate for the decanter. As with many
young screwcapped whites – particularly those driven by aromatic appeal – this
wine opens up noticeably, improving dramatically within a day or a matter of
hours, if a decanter is used.
Wines is the brainchild of the 88 year old, Polish-born Alex Kaufman, whose
incredible life story is published online on the winery’s website at www.kalexwines.com.
Especially the 2009 Pichler Smaragd and 2005 J J Prum Spatlese...
Thanks to the South Island winemakers in New Zealand who have just shared these outstanding Austrian and German wines with me. You know who you are!
What is it that makes these wines taste so refreshing, intense and delicious?
They get better day after day - the Pichler really came into its own on day 2 but day 3 and 4 it was still tasting outstandingly fresh, zippy acidity racing through every mouthful.
The J J Prum 2005 is simply still a baby but a very pretty one with commanding zesty acidity and a core of fresh apply fruit. Delicious.
Max Marriott's Auburn Rieslings, posted 21 February 2012
Where is the best place in Central Otago to make Riesling?
For Max Marriott, the region's sole single varietal producer of Riesling, the jury is still out, but with four new sub-regional Rieslings in bottle from the 2011 vintage, he's doing his best to find out.
"So far the greatest stylistic tendency is probably Alexandra for bone
dry wines; the area is incredible – no soil, very free draining and very hot and the Riesling grapes we get from there just want to be made into a drier
wouldn’t peg it on one thing. It’s a mixture of things. I think the heat counts
for a lot, particularly the density of the canopies. The vines shut down as
soon as you get above a certain temperature so they’re not going to be working
and producing carbohydrates but, for us, ‘dry’ is about appearance and style rather than actual technical data.
The four sub-regional Rieslings he 'made' - "Really the wines make themselves. It's what everyone says but for our Rieslings, it's true," he insists - are from that Alexandra vineyard as well as vineyards in Lowburn, Bendigo and Bannockburn.
His first vintage of Auburn Rieslings was 2009 and since then Riesling fanatic Max Marriott and his two partners in wine - David and Andrew (both overseas-based and, sorry, I don't know the spelling of their surnames, so won't risk getting it wrong) - have been doing their best to pinpoint what makes Riesling from all over the world tick. Not that this is a new quest to this trio of Riesling devotees, but Marriott himself worked his first vintage in 'Riesling HQ' - Germany - in 2011, which helped no end, he reports.
I realised is that in Germany they’re all making multi-cuvees whereas we’re much more single vineyard
and single sub-region-focussed, as opposed to the Mosel where they tend to have many
parcels in those vineyards; like Burgundy on one hand and Champagne on the
other. It was interesting to see. It also showed me first hand how soil
and wine translate to each other brilliantly well in the Mosel: Heavier soil =
heavier wine; lighter soil = lighter wine."
The only question in my mind is: why on earth didn't someone think of becoming Central Otago's only sole-Riesling maker before now?
Perhaps like some of staunch devotees to this great white grape, others have thought of it, whereas Marriott has done it.
2011 Auburn Bendigo Riesling - luscious, medium-sweet style, succulent and sensationally lemon-lime-like in flavour but not for the faint hearted; 64 grams/L residual sugar.
2011 Auburn Bannockburn Riesling - powerfully medium-bodied, off dry, intensely flavoursome with a lingering finish. Gets better each day it's opened. Beautiful balance at 47 grams/L residual sugar).
2011 Auburn Alexandra Riesling - tastes drier than the others by a long shot - and it is, going by the technical data (15 grams/L residual sugar compared to far higher data for the others.
2011 Auburn Lowburn Riesling - lovely style walking the inimitable Riesling tightrope of power, lightness and intensity all at once; 48 grams/L residual sugar.
Which did I prefer?It depended on the time of day, night or mood I was in but initially the Bendigo grabbed my tastebuds and wouldn't let go, then the Bannockburn did the same, until I needed crisp acidity ahead of all else and then the balance of the Alexandra wine beckoned. Then again, Lowburn...Overall impressions: Bannockburn and Alexandra, for me, had the best balance.
2010 Joh. Jos. Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Spatlese NZ$62
Available:From top wine stores like Decant, 61 Mandeville Street, Riccarton, Christchurch, New Zealand, e: email@example.com,
The name 'Wehlener Sonnenuhr' refers to the sundial of the village of Wehlen, where the Prum family have lived since about 1156. Visiting the home of this Riesling was a pilgrimage for me when, in 2001, I travelled to this hallowed site on the Mosel River, Germany. www.jjpruem.com
Left: A thing of beauty
from the Middle Mosel in Germany where vineyards teeter on slopes so steep it's easy to wonder how the vines manage to cling to the slippery slate that parades as 'soil'; the wines walk the same precipitous tightrope of flavour; vibrant acidity, intense fruit and length of taste that defies description, analysis or wine jargon.
Is it any wonder Riesling has harnessed a growing global fan club of devotees?
2010 Van Volxem Saar Riesling
Love the maverick nature of the winemaker as much as I adore the freshness of his wines; to call him maverick is to understate the case of this German winemaker, who has given up on the pradikat system of must weights (aka sweetness levels), opting instead to make wines that fit in with his idea of taste, style, purity and freshness.
This is a wonderful wine, every sip a reminder of the unique freshness of great Riesling; its length of flavour lingering long after the wine has gone.