As we approach the warmer, (hopefully), summer months, I like to start considering wines that work especially well outside, either for dining or just hanging out. You know, those nice fruity sipping wines on the backyard patio or deck, or just sitting on the lawn. Well, if you want to raise the bar as they say, here are two outstanding dry (trocken) German Rieslings that come to mind that I am sure will enhance your summer brunch, lunch, dinner, or whatever. Yes, you read it right, these Rieslings are dry but yet give you all the aromatics and flavors that a fine Riesling can offer, much to the delight of many chefs in Germany!
This truly historic Rheingau estate, dating back to 1349 in terms of viticulture, is not only the oldest in Germany, but one of the oldest in the world, covering 27 continuous generations. Invoice documents also reveal that the Schonborns were among the first to purchase and use hand blown glass bottles dating back to 1725, and have maintained a collection to this day of three vintages from the 1700’s. So, needless to say, I think they know a little about how to make an exceptional Riesling, and this one certainly is quite exceptional! It is the only estate with 38 single vineyard holdings in the best parts of the Rheingau, and this bottling is from the fine Hasensprung vineyard which lies up the hillside from the Rhein riverside village of Winkel. All in all, the estate is one of the largest in Germany, owning over 50 hectares (125 acres), of vineyards throughout the Rheingau. What impressed me most when I first tasted this wine can be summed up in one word, “class.” Its elegance and sophistication comes through more in subtle nuances of exotic nectarine fruit, slightly creamy texture and impeccable balance. Wines of Spatlese classification work especially well for Trocken style Rieslings as they tend to have a bit more weight and not be so austere when vinified dry. Try this superb Riesling with a variety of seafood, a pork roast and, probably best of all, a sunset. It’s an incredible wine for just under $30.00!
2011 Dr. Loosen “Red Slate” Riesling – Dry – Mosel - ($14.99) The well known Dr. Loosen Estate, dating back over 200 years, is situated at Bernkastel in the heart of the Mosel river valley. Their vineyard sources include six major holdings designated “Erste Lage,” or the equivalent of grand cru, in the 1868 Prussian classification of the Mosel. Fruit not sourced from these designated single vineyards is classified as “Estate.” In 1988, Ernst “Ernie” Loosen took the helm and immediately innovated changes to give the finest possible expression of Riesling and terroir, cutting back yields, no chemical fertilizers and a severe selection process. The results have been dramatic and the Dr. Loosen wines are considered by many as some of the finest expressions of Riesling today. This particular bottling, “Red Slate,” comes from steep hillside vineyards near the towns of Erden and Urzig, a short distance from Bernkastel. And yes, the slate really is red due to the iron content, and this is what adds to the intriguing mineral component. Although certainly a fine wine for a fine dinner, its floral-honeyed aromatics and intense fruit is exuberantly displayed to say the least, and lends itself perfectly for an outdoor picnic. Have it with Asian dishes, sausages, pork and the swimming pool. A terrific Riesling for the price from a world class producer!
Gary M., Beltramo’s Wine Consultant