Monday, August 15, 2011

GERMAN RIESLING 101


German Riesling at Wood Ranch at The Grove

German wines can be a little tricky for the uninitiated to navigate.  The names given to the various levels of quality in German wine can appear awkward and foreign to the eye of a novice.  Well, they are foreign if you aren't German.  They aren't awkward, though.  Except maybe trockenbeerenauslese.  That's probably why it's often referred to as TBA.

There are seven levels on the Pyramid of Quality in German wines, which you can see on the Schmitt Söhne website.  The higher on the pyramid a wine appears, they riper the grapes were when harvested.  It's not a measure of sweetness.

According to the Schmitt Söhne website, they believe most people see German wine as sweet, when, in fact, two-thirds of German wine are dry or very dry.

Schmitt Söhne is located in Germany's Mosel-Saar-Ruwer region, along the banks of the Mosel River in the little town of Longuich.  The Schmitt family has been growing grapes and making wine there for two centuries.

I had a glass of their Kabinett Riesling at lunch recently, at Wood Ranch in the Los Angeles shopping mecca known as The Grove.  This was on a day, as serendipity would have it, that a Norwegian men's choir was performing a few hundred feet away.  German wine and Scandanvian music: that's the international flair for which Los Angeles is famous.

Kabinett is the third level up on the Pyramid of Quality.  The Riesling grapes used in making Kabinett wines are fully ripe, and the alcohol level is usually fairly low.  This wine was $8 by the glass.

The wine is pale colored and served quite cold, so it was a little difficult for me to experience much in the way of aromas.  A slate minerality was about as deep as my olfactory sense could scratch.

The taste however, was very pleasing.  A medium mouthfeel carried lovely flavors of apple, peach, pear and cantaloupe.  The Schmitt Söhne Kabinett Riesling paired well with my New England clam chowder, which was creamy in a way I don't often have, as a guy trying watch his weight.  It was a splurge day.



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