Pictures (from left to right): Ingo Swoboda, John Dade Thieriot (Dee Vine Wines, San Francisco), Jancis Robinson, Wilhelm Weil
The 1st International Riesling Symposium
Eight very interesting lectures, four outstanding wine tastings - one in the morning and one in the afternoon of each day - and a walking wine dinner provided for two fascinating and highly entertaining days around Riesling at the 1st International Riesling Symposium that took place a couple of days ago at Schloss Rheinhartshausen in the Rheingau in Germany. The symposium was attended by about 150 people, including such luminaries as Jancis Robinson from the UK, Willi Bruendlmayer from Austria, Helmut Doennhoff from the Nahe, Ernst Loosen from the Mosel and Colette Faller from Domaine Weinbach in Alsace, and many others. I have provided my impressions about the symposium here.
This posting focuses on one (of the four) major tastings, in which we tasted 21 aged Rieslings from Austria, France and Germany.
Worldwide, there are about 34.000 hectares planted with Riesling. Germany – with 22 .400 hectares – accounts for 2/3 of the total. The second largest Riesling producer is Australia, with 4500 hectares. But this is only about 1/10 of the total. Nevertheless, Australia was a bit underrepresented at the 1st International Riesling Symposium. Alsace follows with 3500 hectares. Austria, the US with Washington State and New York State as well as New Zealand make up the remainder. But overall Riesling is really a niche wine, accounting for only less than 1 percent of total wine production in the world - but a very special niche wine.
Wine Tasting: Aging Potential of Riesling
Jancis Robinson, Financial Times, led a fascinating tasting of 21 aged Rieslings. It was a very lively tasting with many of the winemakers present and also commenting on their wines. Jancis was assisted by John Dade Thieriet (Dee Vine Wines, San Francisco. I was able to pick up some of the comments of Jancis and those winemakers who commented on their wines.
1970 Heiligenstein, Riesling, Schloss Gobelsburg, Austria
JR: Very interesting, very delicate, filigran, fully mature, the wine gets us on the way straight away, light bodied, bone dry, a souvenir, sliding into old age, I like the breadth of the wine, reminder of how long Rieslings can age.
1990 Cuvee Frederic Emile, Riesling, Domaine Trimbach, France
JR: Only Alsatian wine of the tasting, absolutely lovely, very brisk, wonderful structure, citrus nose, could happily go on for another 10 years.
Picture: Christian G.E.Schiller with Jean Trimbach at Maison Trimbach in France
1994 Zoebinger Heiligenstein, Riesling Alte Reben – Magnum, Weingut Bruendlmayer, Austria
JR: Magnum bottle, looks fantastic, Willi Bruendlmayer feels that many wines are consumed to early or too late - this one is right on time, bone dry with great balance, not lush, Riesling in its prime.
1995, Siegerrieder, Riesling Smaragd, Weingut Franz Hirtzberger, Austria
JR: Another great Austrian wine, quite different from the previous wine, 15% botrytised grapes, quite powerful, as near as Riesling gets to a powerhouse: right up at the limit, in its prime now.
1997, Ungeheheuer G.C., Riesling Trocken, Weingut Dr. Buerklin-Wolf, Germany
JR: Strong grapefruit notes on the nose, a well polished wine, note of wild flowers which I like, made for a long life, fine finish.
2001, Kirchenstueck Forst, Riesling Trocken Grosses Gewaechs, Weingut Reichsrat von Buhl, Germany
JR: Much more developed than the previous wine, full, very slight oiliness on the finish, quite tight on the end.
2001, Schuett, Riesling Smaragd, Weingut Emmerich Knoll, Austria
JR: Another 2001 - 2001 is only now opening up, spicy nose, raciness on the palate, showing well now, very ripe, great fun to drink.
2002, Pechstein, Riesling Trocken Grosses Gewaechs, Weingut Dr. von Bassermann-Jordan, Germany
JR: Back to the Pfalz, floral notes, the wine grabs my attention, very flirtatious on the nose, very impressive on the finish.
2000, Kellerberg, Riesling Smaragd, Weingut F.X.Pichler, Austria
JR: The wine is very tight on the nose, long distance runner, an elephant on a tight rope, big wine, slight note of bitterness, quinine (tonic water) on the finish as well as peach notes, pretty much the moment to drink it.
2003, Klaus, Riesling Smaragd, Weingut Prager, Austria
JR: 2003 was a difficult vintage, the wine has not lost its freshness, wine is still very fit.
2005, Erbach Steinmorgen, Riesling Erstes Gewaechs, Weingut Jakob Jung, Germany
JR: Notes of a wet bull and a bunch of flowers on the nose, the wine tastes relatively sweet, interesting to see if the wine develops a bit more complexity over the coming years.
1969, Erbacher Bruehl, Riesling Cabinet, Schloss Reinhartshausen, Germany
JR: An old wine, shows very well that Riesling can last, no shortage of extract, exotic taste, a wine you do not want to pair with food, but drink by itself, still alive, but in the retirement home, gives us lots of pleasure.
1964, Schloss Johannisberg, Riesling Gruenlack Spaetlese, Schloss Johannisberg, Germany
JR: Despite its age, very much alive and well, a senior citizen, who is still going to keep fit classes, amazing wine, heavy.
1959, Steinberger, Riesling Spaetlese, Hessische Staatsweingueter Kloster Eberbach, Germany
Dieter Greiner(Managing Director): I selected the wine because it shows very well the Steinberger terroir with stony soils, is a good example of the Steinberger.
Picture: Dieter Greiner
JR: Really a treat for us, great vintage and great vineyard, magnificent, so much density, a bit of mustiness, stunning on the palate, builds up towards the end, majestic finish.
1990, Scharzhofberger, Riesling Kabinett, Weingut Egon Mueller-Scharzhof, Germany
Egon Mueller: I chose the wine because it is good example of a classic Kabinett wine, which is now 20 years old, presents itsself very well.
Picture: Egon Mueller
JR: Another treat from the Mosel, amazingly -not yet ready to drink, single most ascertive wine so far, , not yet middle age, very youthful, very dense, massive finish.
1990 Uerziger Wuerzgarten, Riesling Auslese, Weingut Dr. Loosen, Germany
Ernst Loosen: I picked this wine because it is a classic Auslese from the Mosel, a Mosel wine at its best, how Mosel should be.
Picture: Ernst Loosen
JR: More developed than the previous wine, a bit of lime juice on the palate, is in its prime, a middle Mosel classic.
1998, Leiwener Laurentiuslay, Riesling Spaetlese, Weingut St. Urbans-Hof, Germany
Nik Weis (Owner): I picked this wine because Mosel is at its best at the Spaetlese level, also, 1998 showed Mosel wines from their best side.
Picture: Nik Weis
JR: Lovely wine, is slim but not skinny, very elegant, very appetizing, great stuff.
1975, Johannisberger Klaus, Riesling Auslese, Weingut Prinz von Hessen, Germany
JR: An amazing wine, presumably gets drier every year, very nice, very ripe, very opulent wine, it has evolved beautifully, lovely finish.
1994, Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Riesling Auslese, Weingut Joh. Jos. Pruem, Germany
Katharina Pruem: This wine is a very good food partner, I would serve it with venison or seafood, we only do spontaneous fermentation.
Picture: Katharina Pruem
JR: A big treat, wonderful wine, very opulent opening , passion fruit notes, extremely well balanced, beautiful wine, so youthful, is a baby, sweetness is there, but almost hidden.
1998, Dorsheim Pittermaennchen, Riesling Auslese, Schlossgut Diel, Germany
Armin Diel: Food pairing? This is French idea. This wine does not need nor want food, it should be consumed on its own.
Picture: Armin Diel
JR: A lovely wine, big bouquet of flowers on the nose, with a mineral undertone, can go for another 12 years, well balanced.
1999, Monzinger Halenberg, Riesling Auslese, Weingut Emrich-Schoenleber, Germany
JR: 20 % botrytised grapes, nose very tight, less developed than the previous wine, polished, lots of layers, I got a little bit of chew on the finish, has gotten this great Schoenleber balance, filigran, great potential.
2001, Hattenheim Schuetzenhaus, Riesling Beerenauslese, Wein- und Sektgut Barth, Germany
Norbert Barth: 192 Oechsle, an extremely dense wine, beautiful, can go on for many years.
Picture: Norbert Barth
JR: The only Beerenauslese of the tasting - and a very intense Beerenauslese, very nice sweetness/acidity balance, has enormous aging potential, great stuff.
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1st International Riesling Symposium, Rheingau, Germany