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Mosel Riesling, or what 18 months ago was Mosel-Saar-Ruwer Riesling is the area of Germany where the Riesling grape finds its best expression. Aside from Alsace, the other great Riesling producing region of France, (that once was Germany, where German Shepherd dogs are named after, but really should be called French Shepherd dogs post 1945, but that wouldn’t frighten any intruder now would it?) Riesling is thought to be king. Frankly, it’s all a bit complicated before we even begin. For German wines, the categorisation of such, the different harvest times and the unpronouncable terminology leave me a little confused. Italian wine is a dive in the penalty box compared with your Eiswein, Spätlese, QbA’s and Prädikatswein.
It’s worth it. If only for the bottle shapes alone! Riesling is still out of vogue which is a bizarre trend seeing as the wine could be described as the antithesis of Chardonnay, as Riesling never has an oaky character. Since my London wine flight two months ago where a sweet Riesling from New Zealand hit 9 other big names out of the park I’ve been sampling Rieslings from any country at every opportunity, which living in Italy, isn’t all that often actually! However, when I see Riesling on the menu it jumps out at me and is definitely my grape of the season. That season being summer, it’s a timely grape fad as with Riesling you have the luxury of a range of sweetness in your wine and a variety of countries growing the grape. As possibly the most terroir driven grape variety I would recommend anyone studying wine or interested on picking up on the nuances of terroir to stick with Riesling for a few months and really come to appreciate it.
In 2 days I fly to Frankfurt, just 100 miles outside the Mosel zone for a long weekend where I plan to sample a full range of Rieslings. I have the wine lists of a few restaurants printed out already and I’m good to go. Of course the notes will appear here on Wine 90 as will restaurant recommendations, if they’re any good of course!
Mosel Riesling has a huge production and a wide variety of producers who go about making wines through the sweetness range from the dry Rieslings right the way thru to Eiswein (Ice Wine), so called because the grapes have been frozen on the stalks and harvested as late as necessary, usually December. The frozen water within the grape creates a concentrated must and a super sweet wine. Whilst Eiswein is waxed lyrical across internet wine blogs, I have never had the pleasure, so this is one of my “must do” experiences for Frankfurt. The top Eiswein names to look out for are Hermann Donnhoff, Selbach-Oster and Dr Loosen among others, to make an Italian comparison these are Gaja priced producers and I’ll be looking for something a little more value driven on my trip.
Mosel Dry Rieslings are usually well balanced fruity affairs with precise and clear flavour profiles. These wines are usually quite low in alcohol, crisp and light bodied and very good value. If this is the white wine profile you enjoy then producers to seek out include the guys above who produce a range of sweetness among their Rieslings and Fritz Haag, Winninger, Egon Muller and Merkelbach.
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Any restaurant or sight seeing recommendations for Frankfurt? Any Riesling recommendations? Do you enjoy Riesling? have you tried Eiswein? can you speak German? ever been bitten by a French shepherd? or any other rootin’ tootin’ thing you have to say.