Dry January? How About Dry Wine?
I’m note sure where the concept of Dry January came from, but as a wine writer you can imagine I’m not completely on board. I have in the past abstained from wine during Lent, but it was a challenging 40 days.
A refreshing alternative comes from Germany. Instead of having a dry month, how about some very nice dry wine? That’s an idea we certainly can support. We tried a pair of dry German whites that we found to be outstanding.
The Red Hang
Riesling is one of our favorite grapes and we are partial to the drier style. We tried the 2014 Gunderloch Nackenheimer Rothenberg Riesling Trocken from Rheinhessen. Like many German wines, the long name can appear intimidating, but conveys some important information.
The Rothenberg Vineyard in Nackenheim is on the Rhine River and is on the north end of what is known as the Red Hang. The vineyard is steep, with slopes ranging from 30% to 80% and the soil is made of 290-million-year-old red slate.Trocken indicates that the wine is dry.
The Grunderloch winery has 28 acres that are planted to Riesling, Silvander, Rulander and Gewurztraminer. They produce about 9,000 cases of wine annually.
Inspired is a good description of this wine. Although dry in style, the flavors are not muted. The unique soils lend a nice flowing minerality and a bright acidity creates a crisp finish. The swirling flavors include citrus and apples with a touch of herb. The wine is light gold with green reflections.
This Riesling is a Grosses Gewächs wine. All Grosses Gewächs comes from a Grosses Lage (‘great site’), the best vineyards according to the German VDP classification system. We’ve found “GG” wines to be outstanding.
That Germany excels in white wine is not a recent discovery. What is relatively new is the increased production of Weissburgunder, known elsewhere as Pinot Blanc. The grape grows in fertile or chalky soil and ripens late. It is a Pinot mutation, sharing genetics with Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris.
In the 1970s, less than 1% of German vines were Weissburgunder. Today that figure is 5%, a noticeable increase. We sampled the 2015 Alexander Laible Weissburgunder from Baden. Baden is the southernmost of Germany’s wine regions.
This was a pleasurable wine to sip. The flavors are subtle peach and white flowers with a dash of herbs. The Laible Weissburgunder is perfect for any light chicken or seafood dish or, as we did, just enjoying in the evening. It is medium bodied and refreshing.
If you have to endure a “dry” month or winter, we suggest that you do it with some dry German white wine!