Category: Wine Tasting Notes

The Big Fight Over Riesling

I don’t know, Rocky. Maybe if you were a little bit drier?

Riesling has been the source of a great deal of contention of late. Two wine critics seem to rather handily summarize the entrenched positions on either side of the debate.

In this corner: Steve Heimoff firmly positions himself amidst the jeering masses that dislike Riesling, and resents wine cognoscenti’s insistence that it be appreciated.

And in this corner, after a lifetime of trying to spread the Gospel about its virtues, Jancis Robinson worships Riesling as king, but now frets over its ability to fulfill its destiny and claim its throne among world markets, particularly in light of recent contracting sales data.

Thinking aloud about what may be holding Riesling back, Jancis notes its strong characteristic “flavour” (unexplained in youthful Riesling, and described as petrol in older Riesling).

There’s no denying Riesling ages into a petrol aroma, but, let’s fill in the blank … that youthful flavor is one of fruitiness: a blessed, fulsome fruitiness.

If we agree to take German Mosel Valley Riesling — the most edgy and rocky of all Riesling terroirs — as a yardstick, the terroir typically expresses itself in a fairly limited set of aromatic profiles: “… the most typical blue slate fruit-driven character is typically apple, white peach, or — if ripe — yellow peach; red slate, by comparison, offers more brawny, spicy minerality, and occasionally tropical fruit” 1Quoth Ernst Loosen at an aged Auslese Tasting at Hearth, 9/15/2011, New York, NY.

As we’ll see shortly, however, this fulsome fruity blessing is equally its curse.


The True Test of A Burgundy Lover

Village de la Côte de Beaune : Saint-Romain dans la brume. Photo: BIVB / JOLY M.
Village de la Côte de Beaune : Saint-Romain dans la brume. Photo: BIVB / JOLY M.

It was Kermit Lynch who wisely proffered the following edict many years ago 1Try as hard as I may, I can’t find the exact reference, but believe it was somewhere in Inspiring Thirst.: “Get to know a producer through their Bourgogne; purchase a case”.

Great advice. A case of Bourgogne lets you see how a wine behaves differently in reaction to different foods and seasons, and becomes an inexpensive gateway to a producer’s style.

Honestly, I would even take this further, and say that you simply cannot pretend to love Burgundy if you don’t regularly drink Bourgogne.

It holds true for other noble wine regions as well: German estate Riesling, or Langhe rosso in Piedmont. Perhaps less so in places like Bordeaux, where a ‘second wine’ is too often a disappointment.

This is not about shaming wealthy people, nor is this a reaction to hordes of Internet braggarts posting photos of grand cru bottles for others to covet — it goes deeper than that.

It’s about loving all that Burgundy has to offer, and respecting the wine by recognizing that different wines work at different moments.

mr burns drinking
Will they ever bring me my spaghetti? This Bonnes Mares is getting warm.

Even if I were wealthy enough to buy a new house once mine became too dirty, I’d still drink great Bourgogne. You simply can’t (Click to Read more)