2006 Dönnhoff Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle Riesling

A few months ago, my girlfriend, father, and I had a miniature Dönnhoff vertical with a few special bottles we had picked up on a whim at a wine store. This was one of the best cheaper finds we’d come across. The store was selling two of these, the 2006 and 2007 Dönnhoff Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle Riesling Spatleses, for $35 apiece, marked down from their original prices of $73 and $70, respectively. Arguably two of the best vintages for this particular vineyard since the famed 2001, these tweak my buttons in the perfect way. Who doesn’t love quality wine at cheap prices? Read more of this post

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1990 Weingut Günther Steinmetz Kestener Paulinsberg Riesling Spätlese

“If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.” Or is it? As I’m mired in my LSAT exam preparation, I’ve been taught to sniff out buzzwords like “probably” and “likely” as baited quantifiers that could either drastically minimize or overstate the scope of an argument. Sometimes these words can aid in helping find a middle ground between an argument that limits a theory or one that is too vague, but other times, they serve as blinking red lights leading me to doubt their usage in a question. Read more of this post

2010 Willi Haag Brauneberger Juffer Riesling Kabinett

Bargain bins get me every time. I’ll let you in on a little secret- I’m kind of glad that some of my local wine stores are less than well-versed in the art of deciphering German wine labels. I found this eye-raising gem in the “last of the summer wines” bin at an unnamed establishment for a mere $12 and snagged it immediately. Not that there was a whole lot of clamor for white wine in the middle of December, but you never know who’s scouting. Yup, dropped the ’47 Lafite right where I was standing and headed for this. Who needs Bordeaux when you’ve got Brauneberger Juffer?  Read more of this post

2007er Muller-Catoir Breumel in den Mauern Riesling Grosses Gewächs: AKA, Irreparable Riesling Done Right

Wine isn’t always perfect. It’s not a bad thing, but it’s the risk you take when you buy it. In my defense, I rarely take risks on wines I’m not as familiar with, but this one seemed too good to be true. A 2007er Muller-Catoir Grosses Gewächs, the German equivalent of a Grand Cru, from one of the best ‘Clos’ vineyards in the Haartder-Bürgergarten estate, the likes of which had nothing short of rave reviews detailing unusually organic flavors– earthy, dirt-like scents were a persistent theme in all the reviews I read, a factor that intrigued me quite a lot. With a $29.99 price tag marked down from a cool $90, we were almost inclined to take home a few more to sit on.
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2008 Georg Breuer Rudescheimer Berg Schlossberg Riesling Trocken

Indulge me, if you will, and entertain the notion of wines as women. For the umpteenth time. Not a small feat for some, I’m sure, and yet for others, I’m sure your eyes are already glazing over your MacBook, your lower lip drooping and your hands descending. Thank me later. On both the outside and the inside, the Riesling is an absolute dream girl. She is tall, slender, and smooth, with a snappy, flirtatious core of rapier-sharp wit and a snappy complexity beyond her years. Riesling is like a smarter, sexier Barbie with the intrusive curiosity of Derek Zoolander’s Matilda or the caddish unflappability of Irene Bullock. Read more of this post

2008 A.J. Adam Hofberger Riesling QbA

I was kicking myself. Our local wine store was a mob scene, a slow stampede of sluggishly moving people in their mid fifties the day before Thanksgiving, stocking up on Natty Light and Thunderbird, or whatever the kids are drinking these days. Already worried about looking painfully out of place with two German Rieslings and a six-pack of Mike’s, I was steeling myself for a barked request to present sixty different forms of ID and potentially getting arrested for having an out-of-state license.

And I grabbed the wrong Riesling.

I’d researched my selection before- my initial intention was to grab the 2008 Hofberger Spatlese to go with the 08 Donnhoff Kab I’d brought, but in my haste, I snagged the only other Adam selection for the same price, the 2008 Hofberger QbA, the German classification for estate wines. Makes for a good crash course in German wine classification, though- new readers, bone up! Some wines are made from single-vineyard grapes at different levels of ripeness (in this case, the Hofberg) and some are made with grapes sourced from multiple vineyards, but all are single varietal wines made from German grapes in accordance with the 1971 German wine law of quality categories.  Read more of this post

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

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 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

2001 Weingut J. & H. A. Strub Niersteiner Paterberg Riesling Spätlese

I wish I could tell you that my first real, vivid recollection of wine was a Mouton Rothschild, a Dönnhoff, a Pétrus. That I grew up ingesting Gerber along with Guigal and macerated baby food with a nightcap of Dow’s. But though I tasted small sips of whatever my family was drinking at the time, my inaugural introduction into the wonderful, wild world of wine was a casual interaction some ten years ago, a sip of fate that would make an indelible impression on my tongue and soul.

It was probably about 2002. No, I wasn’t 21. No, my parents didn’t know. But it was summer, July, and we had just finished a beautiful dinner with some family friends, capping the evening off with a cherry clafoutis. Unbeknownst to all (this, I cannot stress enough) I was alone outside briefly, long enough to grab the last of a glass and change my palate forever.At first sip, the J & H.A. Strub is unremarkable. It has all the hallmarks of a fine German Riesling– a pale, sun-kissed  straw yellow color with slight saline, a mineral touch on the tongue with a cool, rich texture, a sweet bouquet of apples and stonefruits, and a clean, sweet finish. But that’s what makes it so alluring to anyone, especially a 13 year old flirting with the noble Riesling. Throughout the course of an evening, it simply rises above itself with a defined flavor evocative of late summer– apple orchards and a solid citric aroma. It may not be special or expensive, but it is solid, a refreshing alternative to other sugar-laden Spats, and a surprising contender to most Mosels, harkening from the lesser known Rheinhessen region of Germany. At its best, it has a round, honeyed lingering finish. While it lacks the firm acidic bite of the 2001 Gunderloch Spätlese Nackenheimer Rothenberg and does little to step outside its varietal character, it is remarkably resilient to temperature changes and opens up quickly after uncorking. Delicious, a phenomenal example of its vintage and a good team player. The consistency is what counts here. And eight years later, I haven’t looked back.

2001 Weingut J. & H.A. Strub Niersteiner Paterberg Riesling Spätlese
MSRP $18.99
90/100