I make no secret that Riesling is one of my favourite grape varietals, who would I be if I didn't try to share this terrific wine with the rest of the world!? Jancis Robinson (famous UK wine critic and writer) describes Riesling as:
"Unbeatable quality, indisputably aristocratic, ludicrously unfashionable."
An opinion I heartily agree with. The magic of Riesling is its versatility, from bone dry to super-sweet and everywhere inbetween, its a grape that enjoys some extra age, and goes with a terrific array of different foods.
We kicked off our tasting with Dry Rieslings, with the Gustave Lorentz Reserve Riesling from Alsace up against an aged library release from Forrest Estate - Valleys Dry Riesling 2004. In it's drier form the natural acidity of the grape is more pronounced, and the aged Forrest wine was an easy favourite. Made from very thin stony soils, and showing distinctive minerally and smoky characters. Matched nicely with Sauerkraut (Choucroute) and roast pork.
Next up, off-dry styles, Arthur Metz Cuvee Anne Laure from Alsace paired against the Black Estate Riesling from Waipara. The Metz exhibited intense floral perfumes- orchids and lilacs with orange and mandarin, yet more subtle on the palate. The Black Estate the polar opposite, shy on the hose but very expressive on the palate with oodles of citrus and river stone.
Medium Rieslings are starting to step into the sweeter end of the scale, more typical of the old German winemaking styles. Back in the days before technology allowed the control of temperatures of fermentation and winemaking, the cold German winters stopped fermentation naturally leaving generous sweetness in the wines. We kicked off with a Carrick 'Josephine' Riesling from Central Otago - an organic wine with a long slow ferment with natural yeast making a rich and textured wine. Matched up particularly well with the onion and feta tart on the tasting platter.
This was up against the first of our two Kerpen wines from Germany, boasting 250 years of heritage and made in the sought after Wehlener Sonnenuhr region of Mosel. The medium-sweet example was a Spatlese from 2004, terrific balance flavour and texture. Bob Campbell gave this wine 96/100 and we can see why.
Lastly the sweeter styles of wine, from NZ we had a treat from the cellars of Pegasus Bay, 2004 vintage of Aria Late Harvest riesling. This vintage enjoyed 30% botrytis that was immediately noticeable with a deeper colour, palate weight and viscous texture. It looked great next to one of the stars of the show, a 2003 Auslese from Kerpen. Both wines worked perfectly with the foie gras du canard on the tasting platter.
Outstanding wines individually, and together as a collective leading to a great evening.