Thursday, August 21, 2014

Winechat: Terroirs of Riesling: Austria, Alsace, Germany

"...because the glory of Riesling is in its multiplicity of styles…
and the problem of Riesling is in its multiplicity of styles..."

Winechat last night explored three unique terroirs through three outstanding old world Rieslings from Alsace, Austria and Germany. Soil, climate and topography are the major components of terroir. Soil not only governs vine growth, but also influences the taste of the grapes and character of the wines and must have a balanced proportion of primary nutrients.  Heavy clay promotes a citrus aroma.  Rieslings produced in mostly quartz soil yield lean, aromatic, high acid/low fruit wine. 

With this background, we delved into the wines themselves. The beauty of Riesling, mentioned by many throughout the hour, is its versatility and wide range of expression. The three wines could not have been more different from each other, yet certain aspects, like the mineral, floral and citrus properties (unique in each), came across in all three wines. 

Riesling's Old World terroirs in Alsace, Austria and Germany.

Rheingau, Germany - Schloss Schönborn Riesling Kabinett Erbacher Marcobrunn 2011:

Grapes from a vineyard with loess-loam, chalk, marl and sand soils; pale yellow in color; honey, stone fruit, and floral aromas; honeyed stone fruit, melon, mineral, tropical fruit into citrus flavors; crisp acidity, nicely balanced with a creamy finish; 9.5% ABV; SRP $24.

Kamptal, Austria - Brandl Reserve Riesling 2011:

Grapes farmed without the use of chemicals from the Heilingenstein vineyard - sandstone and siltstone soils; vinified in stainless steel; palest straw color; floral, mineral, and subtle citrus aromas; mineral, green apple, spice, melon, and white pear flavors; nice acid within a balanced framework; touch of sweetness on a lingering luxurious finish; 14% ABV; twist-off closure; 3350 bottles produced; SRP $34.

Alsace, France - Paul Blanck & Fils Riesling Grand Cru Schlossberg 2010:

Grapes from the Schlossberg slope at 200-300m in elevation - granite soils; vinified in stainless steel; aged on lees in large wooden foudres for 12 months; aged in bottles for 2 to 3 years; pale straw color; citrus, herb, and white floral aromas; mineral, lemon, melon, honey, stonefruit, into tart grapefruit flavors; round, plush mouthfeel; bright acidity into a sweetish abrupt finish; 13% ABV; cork closure; SRP $35.

Riesling is an entry wine for many drinkers, as at its most basic it is a fruity and sweet wine that pleases all palates. The beauty of Riesling is that even the most basic wines have an acid backbone that pushes them beyond other basic whites. Riesling is also one of the most food-friendly wine s available, with the acidity, balance, and range of sweetness options making it a good fit for almost any cuisine. These three wines showed just a small range of what Riesling is capable of, and it was great fun to delve into the beauty of this grape across three very different terroirs.

Thanks to Teuwen Communications for providing samples. Teuwen Communications is a full-service public relations agency that specializes in marketing and brand strategies for the food, wine and spirits industries. Thanks also to Wines of Germany US, Austrian Wine USA, and Wines of Alsace for sharing your wines and passion with us.

These wines were provided for tasting purposes - all opinions are my own.

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