As I mentioned in this week’s Monday Morning Humor, Oktoberfest starts this Saturday and it’s time for sport-glutton.com to get the celebration started with a review of four German Riesling from the Mosel region. Wait a minute…wine? Oktoberfest is a celebration glorious Munich beer not Germany’s national grape varietal. Well, the limited beer selection available in the State of Utah curtailed my efforts this week to bring you a review of Oktoberfest beers (can you say beer run to Wyoming???). Therefore I’m shifting gears and attempting to satisfy your thirst with German wine instead.
I selected two Qba Rieslings and two Rieslings Kabinetts that range in price from $15-25 per bottle. While the first wine reviewed, Dr. F. Weins-Pruem, isn’t the most exciting wine, other three Rieslings are all solid picks to quench any craving for a good Riesling you might have. Also, for those interested, I included a quick breakdown to understanding the different quality levels of German Rieslings at the bottom of the post.
Here are my reviews:
2009 Dr. F. Weins-Pruem Estate Riesling Qba (Mosel, Germany)
The non-impressive watery yellow color of the Weins-Pruem’s Estate Riesling foreshadows the nearly non-existent nose (the subtlest notes of petrol and white pepper do exist). The wine does have substance on the front half of the palate with flavors of white pepper along with sweet grapefruit. However, the wine’s essence evaporates towards the finish and one is left with a not unpleasant peppery acidic aftertaste.
Retails around $15
2008 Bastgen Bauschiefer Riesling Qba (Mosel, Germany)
Pale golden yellow in color, the Bauschiefer from Bastgen expresses notes of apricot and passion fruits on the nose with a hint of spice. The palate opens with bright citrus acidity and an almost tingly spice aspect concluding with a mouth-watering finish. Far and away the lightest and most refreshing of the four Rieslings reviewed and excellently priced.
Retails around $17.
2009 Dr. Loosen Blue Slate Riesling Kabinett (Mosel, Germany)
Pale golden yellow in color, the Blue Slate exhibits extremely subtle hints of flint and petrol on the nose. The palate offers a harmonious progression of lime, apple, and ripe white peach flavors in a sweet finish. Has a thicker mouth feel than the other three wines reviewed. Overall, a solid QbP wine at a good price.
Retails around $20
2009 Dr. H. Thanisch Bernkasteler Badstube Riesling Kabinett (Mosel, Germany)
The highest priced of the four Riesling reviewed is also the most complex and balanced wine of the bunch. Opening with petrol and ripe fruit on the nose, this medium-full bodied Riesling has flavors of sweet peach and apricot followed by orange and spice on the palate. The flavors linger pleasantly on a lighter finish with a subtle return to the petrol beginning. Nothing to complain about here for lovers of Riesling.
Retails around $25
Breaking down German Rieslings
German wine labels are typically very helpful in determining the quality of wine you are purchasing, you just have to understand what to look for. German Rieslings are broken up into classification levels which are based on the ripeness level of the grape at the time of harvest. Roughly 90% of German Rieslings fall into two categories: Qualitaetswein bestimmter Anbaugebiete (Qba) and Qualitaetswein mit Praedikat (QmP). While both of these categories ensure that you are not purchasing simply uncontrolled swill, QmP wines are made from grapes that remained on the vines longer, allowing for great sugar and flavor development in the grapes. This of course typically equates to higher quality wines.
This is not to say that Qba wines are of poor quality, as many higher end Qba’s can hold their own against lower end QmP. But another key difference between the categories is capitalization, or the process of adding of sugars before and/or during the fermentation process, resulting in higher alcohol content for the wine. Qba wines are allowed to use capitalization, while QmP’s are forbidden, except in the coldest of years.
To make sure that you are purchasing a Qba wine look for Qualitaetswein on the label. For a QmP look for the word Pradidikatswein on the label.
Finally, Riesling’s categorized as QmPs are divided into an additional six classifications that further deal with ripeness level of the grape at the time of harvest. The classifications are as follows: Kabinett, Spaetlese, Auslese, Beerenauslese, Eiswein, and Trockenbeerenauslese. In simplistic terms, these classifications are a progression from the driest to sweetest wine in that order (the final three are basically dessert wines). So if you prefer sweeter wines head towards Trockenbeerenauslese and if you prefer a drier Riesling pick up a Kabinett.
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