2007 Dönnhoff Oberhäuser Leistenberg Riesling Kabinett

It’s not out of the realm of possibility to see wines as people. I wouldn’t even pigeonhole certain people in certain varietals, but some wines just seem to evoke wholly organic, thoughtful qualities similar to those that people emit in their actions and dress. When we drank this Dönnhoff, a 2007 Oberhauser Leistenberg Kab over the summer, thoughts of teenagers in tuxedos popped into my mind, the juxtaposition of gangly juveniles in tailored sportswear. The flavors in this wine spoke of resting at the intersection of youth and maturity. When Helmut Dönnhoff said that Rieslings were best at the first two to three years or after ten, it certainly applied to this particular wine. Read more of this post

1982 Château Léoville-Barton

Writing about this wine is difficult, because it isn’t really my place to write about it. This wine, as my dad says, marks the end of his youth, a phase in life that somewhat cripples me for wine critiquing as I’ve no perspective to look back on it for the moment, looking forward as we speak. At 21, I lack the perspective of age but carry the potential of years to come, so my thoughts on this wine are, as always, tainted by my youthful exuberance and inexperience. Regardless, enjoy. Read more of this post

2008 Georg Breuer “Terra Montosa” Riesling

Egon Muller of Egon Muller Scharzhof says that the Riesling grape “will never be an obvious grape with an obvious flavor like Chardonnay.” And he’s damned right about it. In fact, that’s what makes Riesling one of my favorites, that it has the tendency to beguile the senses with a complexity spanning continents and terrains. It transports you to another place with a mere whiff, no small feat for a typically light, summery varietal. Read more of this post

2010 Meli Dry Riesling

Some may bemoan the end of Riesling season. And to that, I say that some are uncreative and stuck in seasonal ruts. I’ve never been a Riesling summer, Burgundy winter kind of girl. Despite barbecue season coming to a close, I’m easing into winter with a whole slew of Riesling-focused recipes to accommodate my fetish for the grape. Granted, I’m handicapped in that living in New England gives me some leverage for spontanaeity- a still mid-November evening in the mid sixties following a freak snowstorm will do that for you.
Tonight, I cracked open this bottle, a 2010 from the Central Valley region of Chile, to enjoy with an impromptu picnic of sandwiches and a few apples. Thiswas one of the samples I received from Global Vineyard Wine Importers to taste. What I relish about Rieslings is the familiar, yet unexpected notes one can detect with a few sniffs. In this particular case, I encountered an expressive array of partially ripe apple, pear, and pineapple notes, fairly standard for a Riesling, with a slightly chalky scent. The wine was lush on the palate with a mid-range richness and a tapered, but sweet finish of cool slate on the back of the tongue. The wine has no residual sugar, a fact that is somewhat painfully obvious with each sip. It lacks the delicate balancing act of sweet and acidic that the Donnhoffs so skillfully execute and as a result of that, has a subdued and succinct flavor that leaves the palate far too quickly. While quenching, the severity of the acidity and austerity in this made it somewhat difficult to enjoy as an easy drinker.

To me, this is less the Cadillac of Rieslings than the Toyota Camry. It does everything it’s supposed to do and is fairly serviceable, blending in with others from its tier and never really standing out in a good or bad fashion. It carries the predictability and steady, if unimpressive functions of its vehicular counterpart and does the job well.I’d have no qualms finishing a bottle of this, or giving it as a hostess gift at a dinner or holiday party.

For its price, around $11, it’s a fairly decent alternative to the more commercialized Yellowtails and Franzias and allows you to explore the varietal quirks of the Riesling grape without breaking the bank on a Weingut Keller G-Max to serve with a rotisserie chicken. Personally, I’d rather spend twice that on a lesser known German Riesling, like the 2007 Selbach Oster Zeltiger Sonnenuhr Kab to get that mellifluous complexity, or the 2010 Peter Lauer Ayler Kupp. As I’ve mentioned, I like a little weird with my wine- too much is never enough. For drinking and drinking alone, it gets the job done, but outside of that realm, I can’t say I’m enamored.

2010 Meli Riesling
MSRP $11
80/100

2010 A.J. Adam Hofberg Riesling Kabinett

I’m a huge fan of oddities, and I’m a huge fan of deals. The wines from A.J. Adam include both. Adam’s vineyard is a little over a decade old and is producing some of the finest wines this side of the Mosel. I say that with a little over a decade’s experience of Riesling sampling under my belt. For starters, the 2010 vintage report for German Rieslings is said to be one of the most polarized vintages of the decade. These wines are superfreakier than Rick James himself and get down and dirty in record time. Tantalized by wines that are able to get a little freaky, I’ve already stored away a few ’10’s from Adam as well as Donnhoff, and I’m anxious to see how these mature. This is a producer to not only watch out for, but to purchase while the prices are low. At $33, it delivers some of the most bang for your buck that I’ve seen for a Riesling of its age.

In the words of The Simpsons, this wine is “groin-grabbingly transcendent.” It smells almost pubescent at first, not surprising considering it’s only about a year old. An amateur whiff finds this snappy and vibrant, a predominant waft of pineapple rising into the nostril. Sipping, though, allows the mask to recede. This is like drinking Stanley Kubrick’s Lolita. The mouthfeel is typical of a wine twice its age- lush and silky, but the flavor is youthful and vibrant with a curiously bracing acidity. This is a wine that holds nothing back, with an authoritative whip crack of acidity at the forefront of the palate and a shivering bite with each swallow. Each sip is cruel, but benevolent.This kab in particular starts out with a near-electric shock of the aforementioned sour bite, not a surprise considering its 10.8 grams of acidity, and ten, eleven seconds into the sip, just as you’re quietly considering spitting it out and putting a car battery to your tongue for a change of pace, it goes sweet on you, the acidity waning slightly (never entirely) to reveal a delicate, mineral-laden side not unlike a spatlese. What gives? This wine exhibits more of the warning signs of emotional abuse than Chris Brown does. And yet, it’s beautiful. It’s a monster, and a jacked one at that, but one that hides behind a glossy, perfect veneer. I couldn’t have seen this coming a mile away. Needless to say, this stomped on our pommes anna and laughed in the face of our lemon pepper roast chicken. Caveat emptor, this will be a tricky wine to pair food with because it dominates everything within a mile’s radius. But don’t let that deter you.
Terry Thiese says about this year’s vintage that “what’s good is absurdly good, and there are enough of them. What’s not good is a mess.” While this may seem like the potable equivalent of your ex-girlfriend, it’s not. It’s more multi-faceted, sharper, and likely has better tonguing action. Minutes after swallowing my last sip, I was feeling the aftermath of the acidity in the inside of my mouth and on the tip of my tongue. It’s just as good as any Donnhoff I’ve had, earning the rank of “best first impression” from a new German producer. Whether this consistency will span its other vintages, only time will tell. As far as these particular wines go, I have three of these in storage now and I am anxiously awaiting the next opportunity to crack one open. Whether that will be one, five, or ten years in the future is yet to be determined, but I’m confident that these can only get more quixotic and brash as the years go on.

2010 A.J. Adam Hofberg Riesling Kabinett
MSRP $32.95
95/100