When our guide to the grape, Dick, decided that the spring Cork Poppers gathering would be tasting Austrian and German wines, I was a little apprehensive. I like dry wine and prefer red. The only German wine I'd ever had was sweet and not my thing.
But I love it when I was surprised and I was indeed as on a steamy hot Sunday, coming fresh from staffing the art festival, I got to sip chilled whites that were complex, fruity, (sometimes sweet), and in general, delicious.
I caught up to the group with a good sized (and eagerly awaited) taste of what would be my favorite of the day -- Domane Wachau 2007 Reisling, Terrassen Federspeil, from Austria.
At $21, it's more than I would normally spend for a bottle of wine. That said, it was delicious!
Then it was on to the German wines. Dick said he had trouble finding as much information on the German wines as he generally does about those from other countries, but I learned quite a bit.
For example, there are two primary wine regions -- Rhine and Mosel. Wines from the Rhine come in brown bottles; from Mosel, in green bottles. Most of what we had was from Mosel.
At $6.50 a bottle, Clayton called the Karl Heins Piesporter Michelsberg 2009 "great for the relatives." He must not like his relatives as much as I like mine, because I'm not sure I'd even serve it up to them. Too sweet for me.
(I learned at this point that sweet wine hasn't fermented nearly so long as the dryer versions, so you can get things with the same grapes and have a totally different flavor.
Our third wine was Nobel House 2008 Riesling, by winemaker Dr. Pauly Bergweiler. Another Mosel wine, this was peppery, not too sweet, not sour -- but it was also "just there."
I found it light but bland. I can't remember which of our tasters called it "good for breakfast," but many of us agreed it would be something fine to add to a punch where the wine is overridden by everything else you throw in. At $14, not worth it from my point of view.
Around here we learned that until 1805, the Mosel region was owned by the Catholic church. But then Napoleon sold it off to finance the war. My history is weak, but I never knew Napoleon had enough power over Germany to be able to sell off the land. Learn something new every day.
Number 4 was Urban Reisling 2010, Nik. Weis Selection, again from Mosel. At $11, this peppery wine with a floral aroma was pretty tasty. Rick called it "Best so far" and liked it better than the one to folllow.
I loved the elegant, simple label.
Door number 5 was a Piesporter Riesling -- Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt 2007. Remember, I didn't like the Piesporter earlier -- no one did. But this was quite nice. It wasn't my favorite and at $19, I probably wouldn't buy it. My notes said, "I like this OK."
(Meredith and Roger, on the other hand, called it "Vanilla pudding gone bad."
Dick, rick, Claton and I all liked Urziger Wurzgarten Riesling Spatlese 1997. (I called it "not at all bad.")
But it had really mixed reviews. It smelled great. I mean, GREAT. Or, as Cheryl said, "This doesn't smell like cat urine." Roger said, "This is terrible" and Barb said "This tastes like goldfish water." (Which leads me to ask....)
At $19.50 I wouldn't buy a bottle to sample unless you have a nice wine budget. The reviews were too mixed.
One of my favorites was the last white, Dr. Loosen 2007 Blue Slate Riesling Kabinett. I have expensive tastes -- it was $22.50.
I found this one peppery, spicy, a tad sweet but also tart and not too sweet. It wasn't cloying. Cheryl, who doesn't much care for wine, loves this one. Dick said this is a top quality, light, semi-dry and given that his wife Cheryl loved it, was worth the price! I just wrote "Yumborama."
We had one red -- a Reinhessen 2008 Dornfelder Rotwein (well named). I'm a red wine fan and wrote "decidedly disappointing, this is NOT doing it for me."
At $10.50, it's reasonable. but there are so many better reds for that price or less, particularly from South America. I'd opt for one of those.
Dick pointed out that Germany isn't noted for its reds -- it is far too north to get the grapes right, with a latitude equivalent to Newfoundland. In fact, Germany is the northernmost country in which grapevines can grow, he said.
Other facts -- Germany produces 2-3 percent of the world's wine; they are better known for beer. About 80 percent of the vines are on hilly slopes and have to be handpicked.
Here's another fact -- with German wines, 85 is the number to remember. It produces 85 percent white wine and if a wine is labels "Riesling," for example, 85 percent of the grapes must be of that variety. Most use 100 percent of the particular grape. German wines are also lower in alcohol than French -- 8-11% compared to 11-13%.
Of course, our group always eats! This week was no exception with Chicken divan, a wonderful veggie cheese dish and potato salad by Rick.
Pat's table was gorgeous. I loved how she put the menu on our favors -- truffles -- by attaching a "back" to the box and writing it there.
A very good tasting. Now, if we ever get anymore hot summer nights, a cool white might be just the thing -- and I'll have some favorites!
(Note: Over at my book blog, Chopsticks and String, a delightful wee book about Paris -- this may become my favorite guide book!)
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