German Riesling Versatility
By all rights, Germany shouldn’t be able to produce excellent wine. Germany is home to some of the world’s coldest climate vineyards and it is far away from a large body of water. It’s difficult for grapes to ripen in such conditions.
Through determination and wise vineyard selection, with southern-facing slopes and close to rivers, German winegrowers have experienced success. Riesling, a cold-hardy variety, is the most widely planted grape in the country.
In contrast, the 2015 Louis Guntrum Niersteiner Rehbach Riesling Spätlese from Rheinhessen is an amply sweet wine. How sweet? It was sweet enough that my sister-in-law snuck into the fridge and opened the wine a few hours before our meal.
The Guntrum Riesling is juicy with honey flavors and notes of tropical fruit. Spätlese means late harvest, and the grapes are more intense in flavor than the lower Kabinett level. The ripeness can also come with sweetness.
For our dessert, we had pumpkin and pecan pie. The dessert that paired best with the Spätlese was prepared a few days later by our daughter: Bartlett pears poached in lemon jasmine tea spiced with ginger. The sweetness of the dessert dials down the sweetness of the Riesling. The pears also had some nice savory notes courtesy of the tea and ginger, which had delicious interplay with the subtle notes of the Riesling.
Rheinhessen is the largest wine-growing region in Germany and on August 6, Rheinhessen saw the first grapes picked for the earliest harvest in Germany’s history. These grapes are used to make Federweißer (“new wine”). The partially fermented, traditional beverage is halfway between grape juice and wine. It’s offered all around Germany but not exported.
Germany Riesling runs the gamut from bone dry to sublimely sweet. It’s a perfect “pearing” for you holiday meals.
Full disclosure: This wine was received as a marketing sample.