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by Steven Fox
I apologize in advance for stepping up to the pulpit and preaching, but I need to tell you about the gospel of Riesling, your palate, and its saaaal-vaation.
Riesling is good. Riesling is great.
Riesling is the greatest white wine of them all. The greatest story ever told!
But alas, poor Riesling suffers from a tainted reputation. I say ye who are without sin cast the first flinty stone!
“Riesling is toooooooooo sweet” people say. Well how dark is this world for something whose only trespass is sweetness -- to be cursed into eternal damnation?
My good people, maybe the Rieslings you tried long ago were too sweet.
The German wineries were selling wine to the Pepsi generation after all -- do you blame them for hedging their American market bets?
But we’ve come a long way baby!
Riesling is liquid sugar no more!
I command thee to take thy wallet to your wine store or restaurant and open your hardened heart to Riesling.
Let us pray: “Ye thou I walk through the valley of insipid wines, I fear no evil for the thirst of Riesling is with me.”
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Last week I experienced a Riesling convergence.
It started with tasting my first ever sparkling Riesling at NYC’s Terroir Wine Bar. At first it seemed a bit too rugged and showed a sharp cheese note on the finish. – I was pretty sure I didn’t like it. But the second glass changed my opinion. I started falling for its subtle boldness and its alto voice -- so opposite of the bass toasty, yeasty qualities I normally associate with bubbly wines. Though not something I’d put in my cellar, I feel I’m a better wine lover after experiencing it.
Terroir features at least two pages of Rieslings on their list. I am always confused about the gap between what’s popular in Manhattan as compared to here in sleepy, leafy Westchester County – a mere thirteen miles north. I asked their manager what’s been their best selling white wine by the glass lately. Without a pause he said: “Riesling from Australia.”
No chance of that up here.
The next day, Tuesday, Theresa Breuer (not Teresa Brewer the late singer of “Music, Music, Music” -- but that was her birth name!) came into the store to taste me on the recent releases from her father’s Rheingau winery: Georg Breuer.
The Breuer Rieslings are dry in nature, rich and full with a touch of fruitiness on the finish. I highly recommend their 2007 Terra Montosa that runs about $47.00 a bottle. It’s an elegant wine, yet it will stand up to steak or BBQ as well as any big red out there.
Teresa is an intelligent wine maker, easy on the eyes and has great sense of humor. Her visit and wines put me in a most positive anticipatory mood for the next day.
Wednesday is my weekly tasting group get-together and we previously selected Riesling as that week’s theme. Between Breuer and the sparkling Riesling, I was really in the mood for a lively discussion and great wines.
Early Wednesday morning presented a timely surprise because in that day’s New York Times, wine writer Eric Asimov’s wrote about tasting 20 different 2008 Mosel Kabinett Rieslings. (Mosel is a legally defined wine region in Germany.)
Asimov described the Kabinett style of Riesling to be the perfect spring wine. His article was excellent in explaining the designation “Kabinett” (grapes picked at an early stage of ripeness) and in describing 2008 vintage characteristics for the Mosel.
At our tasting, we had various vintages and styles by great German producers such as Donnhoff, Hexamer, Muller-Catoir and from Washington State: Long Shadows Poet’s Leap made by the German producer Armin Diel. --Each and every one a lovely and seductive wine.
And so in the spirit of late night television, or maybe the Ten Commandments, I leave you with:
Ten Reasons why you should love Riesling:
1) Sexy bottle has a long, lean neck.
3) It’s a charter member of the A.B.C. (Anything But Chardonnay) Hall of Fame.
4) Low in alcohol – That fourth glass is a charm.
5) Great food wine – goes well with asparagus, egg yolks and blood sausage.
6) Official wine of hot blond German models wearing little black dresses and thick-rimmed glasses discussing Kafka in cafes at 3:00 a.m.
8) Useful as a refreshing mouthwash in a pinch.
9) As Florence Henderson sings:” It’s got that certain min-er-al-i-ty.
10) Drinkers throw around cool wine terms such as: Trockenbeerenauslese.