Due to Riesling’s generally high acidity and wide range of styles from bone dry to lusciously sweet, it is extremely versatile at the table. Consequently, I decided it would be fun to open up not just one or two Riesling to pair with our Thanksgiving dinner this year, but ten different bottles. So it was that I found myself staring down ten, numbered glasses an hour or so before the feast.
My husband did the honors of preparing the set-up and since neither of us was fully acquainted with these wines, we determined that the best approach was to line them up from highest alcohol (and presumably the driest) to lowest alcohol (and likely the sweetest). If we’d had any wines of Auslese-level or higher this wouldn’t have worked quite as well, but since our selection included Kabinett and Spatlese only, we felt it was reasonably safe way to proceed. And, to our pleasant surprise, there were only two tweaks I felt were needed when I actually sat down to taste the samples.
Of further interest, the wines in question ranged in price from a low of $11.00 to a high of $67.00, with an average of $30.00/bottle. This price divergence was the primary impetus for tasting the wines blind, but, of course, removing all preconceived notions (not just that of price) enabled a more unbiased evaluation.
Also of note, while well-liked and well-regarded, the most expensive wine wasn’t the immediate favorite and didn’t necessarily stand out among the “crowd.” Additionally, the sweeter, but balanced, styles were more preferred than the drier ones.
The wines are listed in the order in which they were tasted:
1. Kesselstatt Josephshofer Riesling GG 2010, Mosel, Germany, $67.00
Pronounced nose with honey, tropical fruit, lychee; Dry with high acidity, citrus, spice and zest; extremely long length. Well structured and balanced; lean and nervy with some complexity.
2. Baron K Riesling Kabinett 2011, Rheingau, Germany, $18.00
Floral, lime and lime zest aromas; Off-dry with citrus, peach and floral on the palate; medium+ to long length. Well made and classic.
3. Undone Dry Riesling 2011, Rheinhessen, Germany, $11.00
Slight petrol notes, floral and nectarine; bone dry with medium+ acidity; citrus, pith, mineral and some nectarine.
4. Johannishof Charta Riesling 2011, Rheingau, Germany, $25.00
Slight spice with citrus and citrus peel, some floral aromas; Dry with high acidity, peach, citrus, petrol and honey; Angular with good complexity.
5. Joh. Jos. Prum Riesling Kabinett 2011, Mosel, Germany, $24.00
Quince, lychee, petrol and minerality; Off-dry almost medium sweet, with peach, tropical fruit and mineral; Rich and tropical.
6. Schloss Saarsteiner Riesling Kabinett 2010, Mosel, Germany, $27.00
Limited nose with petrol and citrus, but opening up on the off-dry palate with citrus, petrol, spice and honey, culminating in long length; One of my favorites.
7. Schloss Saarstein Riesling Spatlese 2011, Mosel, Germany, $38.00
Citrus, citrus zest, floral and a hint of minerality; Off-dry, but on the sweeter side of off-dry, citrus, floral and mineral.
8. Maximin Grunhauser Abtsberg Riesling Spatlese 2010, Mosel, Germany, $38.00
Quince, spice, honey; Off-dry with spice, honey and quince; Exotic and luscious.
9. Graff Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Spatlese 2011, Mosel, Germany, $17.00
Shy nose displaying floral and peach notes; Medium-sweet palate with floral, peach and pineapple; Balanced by the acidity despite the sweetness level.
10. Graff Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Spatlese 2010, Mosel, Germany, $17.00
Petrol and floral aromas; Off-dry with rich quince, honey, floral, petrol, citrus zest and very long length; Nicely balanced and complex.