Wednesday, September 26, 2018

From Dry To Sweet, German Riesling Has Style To Suit All Occasions

German Riesling has cascading levels of sweetness, from rich, honeyed wines to bone dry sippers. We uncorked a pair of very different bottles.

You Are Like A Hurricane

After about a week of a constant news drumbeat about Hurricane Florence, it was time for us to make our move. We had booked a vacation rental in Asheville, at the western edge of North Carolina and about four hours from our Raleigh-area home.

The weather forecasters (or as my friend calls them, “weather guessers”) had predicted that the storm would make landfall at Wilmington, NC, and then march directly toward our home. We secured the house by moving our patio furniture inside, unplugged everything, and filled the bathtub with water.

We packed all the essentials for our trip: my guitar, our dog, some whiskey and two bottles of great German Riesling. Then we hit the road.

Grilled Shrimp And Trocken Riesling

Our trip to Asheville (actually the neighboring community of Black Mountain) was an annual get-together with friends from college. There were 13 of us there and we alternated responsibilities for the evening meal. My wife and I were on for the first meal. My involvement was limited to making sure everyone had wine. Meanwhile the Green Dragon whipped up spicy grilled shrimp and grits with a spinach salad. I’ve encountered a version of the dish that has tomato-y grits, but my favorite (which we prepared) is buttery grits with bacon and perhaps andouille sausage.

Paired with the shrimp and grits was the 2014 Weingut Wittmann Westhofener Riesling Trocken from Rheinhessen. This is a VDP wine, marked by the black eagle of the Association of German Prädikat Wine Estates, a group of Germany’s leading estate wineries. We’ve found the VDP wines to be excellent in quality.

The Wittmann is the 2014 vintage, which would be suspect for some inexpensive Riesling. Germany Rieslings, however, are quite capable of aging and this bottle is prime for drinking through 2021.

Light gold in the glass, it has an expansive minerality. Flavors of apricots and peach rush forward and are balanced with a nice acidity that keeps everything nice and “trocken” (dry). There is a slight nutty flavor, which adds to the complexity.

This is one of the nicer Rieslings we’ve tried this year. It’s from the Rheinhessen region located on the south and west banks of the Rhine. The average price for this bottle is $24.

Stepping Into The Sweet Side

The next night we again gathered at the two large dinner tables that had a spectacular view of the Blue Ridge Mountains and Lake Burnett. Our meal this evening was sautéed chicken with a selection of steamed vegetables.

To accompany this meal, we opened the 2016 Mönchhof Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Spätlese from Mosel. The Würzgarten vineyard translated is “spice garden” and is so named because centuries ago monks noticed that its grapes had a spiciness distinct from its neighbors.

Spiciness, however, is not the main quality of this wine. It is unapologetically sweet. There are flavors of melon and honey with a perfumy, floral aroma. It’s juicy with a nice long finish.

This was an enjoyable wine that would have fared better with a sweet dessert, like an apple pie. We sampled it again the next night and found it even more tasty. The average price for this wine is $29.

We made it through the storm with no problems at home. The storm had rolled south through South Carolina and then curled up to nip at us in Asheville as we prepared to leave. Come sunshine or storm, there is a German Riesling for all occasions.

(Publisher’s Note: Although we were fortunate, thousands in North Carolina and South Carolina were not. Soon after we returned, my wife was deployed with Red Cross disaster services to help feed some of the flooded out residents in North Carolina.)

Full disclosure: We received this wine as marketing samples.

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