Showing posts with label German. Show all posts
Showing posts with label German. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Weissburgunder - Call It German Pinot Blanc

German wines tend to fall beneath the typical U.S. wine drinker's radar.  Aside from Riesling, one could be hard-pressed to find a German grape variety or even a German version of a more familiar grape, on a supermarket shelf.  Specialty wine stores will dig deeper, but depending on their inventory they may not have a very wide coverage. 

Los Angeles wine expert Matthew Kaner says of the new world of German wine, "there’s more than just Riesling," and he cited the Koehler-Ruprecht Pinot Blanc as an example.

Kaner commented during an online event that people should be drinking more Pinot Blanc.  Usually a sommelier suggests Riesling, it seems.  However, the grape known as Weissburgunder in Germany has some serious food friendliness of its own.

The history of Weingut Koehler-Ruprecht goes back to the 18th century, with Bernd Phillipi overseeing the place for three of the most recent decades.  Like his grandfather, Phillipi uses no irrigation, fertilizers or herbicides in his vineyard, and anti-pest and anti fungal treatments are kept to a minimum.  In the cellar, fermentations happen in large, old German oak barrels with the spent yeast cells - lees - in the mix for fullness.  He uses sulfur before bottling.

Phillipi is a busy guy, with winemaking activities on three continents competing for his time.  He has brought up Dominik Sona to handle most of the cellar duties in Germany. 

In addition to Pinot Blanc, the estate has vines full of Riesling, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer and Scheurebe on three different terroirs - Saumagen's chalky limestone, sandstone-based Steinacker and Annaberg.  The 2016 Pinot Blanc (Weissburgunder) is trocken - dry - has alcohol at 12% and sells for $20.

The 2016 Koehler Ruprecht Pinot Blanc shows yellow-gold in the glass.  The nose is laden with minerals, like a driveway freshly rained upon.  There are pears and peaches, but they fight to get through the wet rocks.  The palate also puts minerality first, with pear juice coming through.  The acidity is not very strong, but is zippy enough to carry a salad or shrimp cocktail. 

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Monday, December 24, 2018

German Wines: Pinot Gris

German wines tend to fall beneath the U.S. wine drinker's radar.  Aside from Riesling, one could be hard-pressed to find a German grape variety or even a German version of a more familiar grape, on a supermarket shelf.  Specialty wine stores will dig deeper, but depending on their inventory they may not have a very wide selection.  With this in mind I was thrilled to be asked to participate in an online tasting event involving German wines, with Matthew Kaner, wine director and partner at several wine bars in the Los Angeles area.

Kaner says of the new world of German wine, "there’s more than just Riesling," and he went on during the event to cover a Muller-Thurgau, a Pinot Blanc and a Pinot Gris as well as a Riesling.

Another invite appfreciated "the brightness, raciness, and lower alcohol levels in these wines," noting that "those characteristics are trademarks of Germany's refreshing, cool-climate wines. Not to mention their food-friendly nature"  That guy knows what he's talking about. 

Weinreich Basisweiss Pinot Gris 2017

Weingut Weinreich is located in a part of Rheinhessen called Wonnegau.  The owner writes that people seemed to either work at refineries or used car lots, which sounds a lot like how a friend of mine described our southeast Texas hometown.  The younger generation took over the winery a decade ago and is reportedly keeping the old ways farming organically and harvesting by hand, as grandpa did.

The wine is a Pinot Gris, known in Germany as Grauburgunder.  Alcohol is restrained at 12.5% abv and it retails for about 12 bucks.  The southwestern U.S. desert motif on the label may possibly indicate how dry the wine is.

This beautiful German Pinot Gris is only faintly aromatic with a chalky nose that features mainly limes.  The palate gets some apple in with the citrus and has a healthy dose of minerals, too.  Acidity is rippingly fantastic and the finish is loaded with fruity wet rocks. 

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Friday, October 12, 2018

German Riesling A Winner

German wines tend to fall beneath the U.S. wine drinker's radar.  Aside from Riesling, you'll be hard-pressed to find a German grape variety or even a German version of a more familiar grape, on a supermarket shelf.  Specialty wine stores will dig deeper, but depending on their inventory they may not have a very wide coverage.  With this in mind, I was thrilled to be asked to participate in an online tasting event involving German wines, with Matthew Kaner, wine director and partner at several wine bars in the Los Angeles area.

Kaner says of the new world of German wine, "there's more than just Riesling," and he went on during the event to cover a Muller-Thurgau, a Pinot Blanc and a Pinot Gris as well as a Riesling.

Another invitee, Dezel Quillen (@myvinespot) commented that he appreciates "the brightness, raciness, and lower alcohol levels in these wines. But those characteristics are trademarks of Germany's refreshing, cool-climate wines. Not to mention their food-friendly nature."  He knows what he's talking about.

Kaner spoke about German Rieslings, with their ability to age incredibly.  He said they are "time capsules" that can age for a century and called them the "archetype of an age-worthy white wine."  He also offered up an interesting tidbit for wine travel buffs, that the best way to experience Pfalz wine country is to "fly into Frankfurt and make the drive. It's quicker than LA to Santa Barbara."

The Von Winning 2015 Riesling called "Winnings" is a good way to do just that.  Imported by Skurnik Wines of New York, the Terry Theise selection scores big while delivering its attributes in a most understated way.

The Von Winning Weingut has been around for awhile, since 1849.  Leopold Von Winning really started the emphasis on quality wine in 1907, practically current times by European standards.  The team is led today by Stephan Attmann, whom Theise calls an "obsessive winemaker" on the Skurnik website.  The Von Winning grapes are farmed organically while the wines are fermented in oak barrels and handled as little as possible, often bottled unfiltered.

This Riesling from the Pfalz region hits 11.5% abv and sells for about $20.

The 2015 Winnings Riesling shows a golden tint in the glass and a nose which makes me glad I inhaled.  It's austere, with huge slate notes backed by hints of petrol that are starting to show and a whiff of citrus zest to finish off the scent.  The palate is smart and savory, with a sedate acidity softened by the almost creamy mouthfeel.  The finish stays long and leaves tangerine notes to remind the sipper of the pleasure.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

German Wines

German wines tend to fall beneath the U.S. wine drinker's radar.  Aside from Riesling, you'd be hard-pressed to find a German grape variety or even a German version of a more familiar grape, on a supermarket shelf.  Specialty wine stores will dig deeper, but depending on their inventory they may not have a very wide coverage.  With this in mind I was thrilled to be asked to participate in an online tasting event involving German wines, with Matthew Kaner, wine director and partner at several wine bars in the Los Angeles area.

Borell-Diehl Müller Thurgau Trocken 2017

The importer says Annette Borell and Thomas Diehl married and combined their families' three wineries into one, creating Weingut Borell-Diehl.  The various vineyards reportedly have such varied soil as loess, limestone, red sandstone, with deposits of mineral-laden limestone in some vineyards.

They grow, among other's, the Müller-Thurgau grape .  The variety was created in Switzerland in the 19th century as an early-ripening grape that could better withstand cold winters.  It is not very common in the U.S., but is reportedly the most widely-grown grape in Germany.  Borell-Diehl's grapes are sustainably dry-farmed near Hainfeld in the Pfalz region, with no herbicides or pesticides used.  Their Müller-Thurgau hits a reasonable 12% abv and comes in a one-liter bottle, containing an extra glass of wine for the $12 price. 

The wine has a golden tint to it, although pale.  The nose is beautiful, with apples and citrus at the forefront and minerals taking a back seat.  Those minerals come in more forcefully on the palate, which is to be expected of a cool climate white grown in limestone soil.  The lemon-lime flavor and the brisk acidity are quite refreshing. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

More Evidence Of Lodi's Value To Wine World

Lodi, California never ceases to amaze me in its efforts to prove itself worthy of inclusion in the the Great Wine Region discussion. Generations upon generations of agriculture flows through the Mokelumne River, and the growers like to proudly stand in the delta dirt and talk about how Lodi wine has grown up. Lodi has worked tirelessly to throw off the "jug wine" perception, work that probably started when they rebranded themselves from the "Tokay Capital of the World" to the "Zinfandel Capital of the World." The Lodi wine industry stepped up so bravely that it was was recognized as Wine Region of the World by Wine Enthusiast magazine in 2015.

The folks at LoCA, the Wines of Lodi, work with Brandlive to periodically stage virtual tasting events designed to get a few dozen wine writers excited about the region’s wineries. They needn't try so hard - we are already excited about Lodi. So much so that the annual Wine Blogger’s Conference 2016 is set to be held there in August.

The most recent virtual event focused on wines made from grapes in Lodi's noted Mokelumne Glen Vineyard.  In case the word looks unfamiliar to you, or even if you think you have it figured out, Mokelumne is pronounced Mo-KUL-uh-me, according to the vineyard's website. Once again, the event was hosted on a video feed by Stuart Spencer, owner and winemaker at St. Amant Winery and Program Manager at the Lodi Winegrape Commission. On either side of him were Markus Niggli, winemaker at Borra Vineyards and Markus Wine Company and Brett Koth, Vineyard Manager at Mokelumne Glen Vineyards. I was provided with samples of the wines for the purpose of the event.

Mokelumne Glen Vineyards is a small, family-owned vineyard specializing in grape varieties that originated in Germany and Austria. They are in the Lodi Appellation as well as the Mokelumne River sub-appellation.

There are more than 40 different grape varieties growing in their sandy, granitic soil, including Riesling, Kerner, Gewürztraminer, Zweigelt and Bacchus. The last one, I had never even heard of until this event introduced it to me.  Their collection of vines is reported to be the largest gathering of German and Austrian grapes in the U.S.

Koth spoke knowledgeably on his grapes, while Niggli offered his take as a winemaker who uses their fruit regularly. The vineyard only sells their fruit to a handful of vintners, so Niggli feels fortunate to get his hands on some.

The grapes involved in this tasting are largely thought of as cool-climate grapes, while Lodi has a warm, Mediterranean climate.  Koth told us, however, that it’s cooler than people think where his grapes grow because of the delta effect and the proximity to the river. “Temperature fluctuation is the key, “ to maintaining these varieties, he said. That and early picking to ensure the high acidity for which the grapes are known.

Holman Cellars Uncharted Bacchus 2015  $25
An earthy white wine, what could be better? Whites need to be earthy, I feel. Terroir gives them character in a much more visceral way the with reds. Winemaker Jason Holman is based in Napa, and the Holman Cellars "micro-winery" produces wines in extremely small lots. They like to make great wines from forgotten grapes. Forgotten? As I said earlier, I never even knew about Bacchus before this.

The grape represents only 2% of Germany’s plantings, so it is apparently not that well-known even over there.  They made 45 cases of this 100% varietal wine, which is about two barrels worth. The three days of skin contact is followed by stainless-steel fermentation.

It’s a pale wine and has an earthy lanolin note on the nose. There’s a waxy quality on the palate that fits well with the apricot and nutmeg shadings. The acidity is very good in this most unusual wine. I thought it reminded me somewhat of the Symphony grape, but more muscular and not as sweet.

Markus NIMMO Lodi White Wine 2014  $22

Markus is Niggli’s own label, and the name NIMMO originated from his time in Perth, Australia. When he was new there, he remembered his way home by making a word of the first letters of the streets he needed to travel to get there. Australia plays a big part in Niggli’s career - it’s where the Swiss native was bitten bu the wine bug.

This white wine is made from 71% Kerner grapes, 13% Gewurztraminer, 11% Riesling and 5% Bacchus, all from Mokelumne Glen Vineyards. It is fermented in 60% new oak and aged there for nine months. The alcohol sits at 13.8% abv

Gewurz and Riesling in oak? Brett was shocked when he heard Niggli’s plans for those grapes, but he says the winemaker convinced him to "get on board."

Native yeast “brings higher alcohol at lower brix,” says Niggli. He says he thinks of the Kerner grape as "the unknown," and was intrigued by it enough to use it as the base for this wine. Three days skin contact before vinification gives good color, made richer by the use of oak.

The pale golden straw color is appealing, while the nose certainly isn’t scaring anyone away. Clean earth notes define the apple, papaya and lime aromas beautifully. The palate shows off-dry pear, apple and Meyer lemon flavors on a bed of acidity. Finishing long, it’s the earth and citrus that stays around after the sip. The wine’s body makes it a lot more versatile that just "salads and sipping." Niggli recommends you pair it with anything off the grill.

Hatton Daniels Lodi Zweigelt 2015  $24

Hatton Daniels Wine Cellars is the result of several wine enthusiasts putting a winemaker’s skill to good use. The website shows that winemaker Dan Fishman also creates the bottlings of the Donum Estate and Stemmler, but with Santa Rosa-based Hatton Daniels he works with small vineyards to produce elegant, focused wines.

The vintners say this Zweigelt is "vibrant and alive," and is "meant for drinking in large, glorious quantities." They also say it’s a zero-sulfur wine, which some claim prevents hangovers. They say they make "no claim in this regard, but further study is recommended." Only 72 cases were made.

This wine is a tart little blast of cool-climate German grape, grown in Lodi. The earth that shows on the nose is mind-blowing. Raspberry fruit, oh yeah. Coffee grounds? Yep. Cola? Mm hmm. Meat? There’s some of that. The palate shows just as savory and just as dark, with tart berries, black tea and pepper.

M2 Wines Belle Etoile Blanche 2014  $24

For those who didn’t take four years of French in high school, and for those who did but have forgotten most of it, Belle Etoile Blanche means "beautiful white star." The m2 wines late-harvest dessert creation blends four German grape varieties grown in Mokelumne Glen Vineyard , 35% Rieslaner, 25% Weissburgunder, 20% Riesling and 20% Gewurztraminer. This wine is naturally sweet and is not fortified. Three months fermentation was accomplished half in neutral French oak barrels and half in a stainless steel tank. Alcohol is light, at 13.3% abv and there is less than 10% residual sugar.

Layne Montgomery is the winemaker, and he had the grapes picked as late as the first day of November and whole-cluster pressed to add character to the flavor. Koth notes that it’s the only sweet wine produced the grapes of his vineyard.  The consensus seemed to be to pair this wine with any "stinky cheese" you prefer.

M2’s Belle Etoile Blanche is a delightful dessert wine that is pleasantly sweet without overdoing it. The nose is honey and apricots, while the palate shows a crisp and acidic palate that draws a line against cloying and stands well apart from it. The fruit is clean and ripe - certainly - and leaves a citrus and stone fruit finish after the sip. This will pair with cheese in a heartbeat or a fruit tart in about the same time.

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Monday, March 7, 2016

Paulaner Beer Offers Tradition, Variety

I am way overdue on writing about these Paulaner beers. I received them around the Christmas holidays and one thing led to another, as things tend to do. I will admit my taste in beer is not as inclusive as in wine. With wine, I like a lot of different types and styles. With beer I am very specific. Several of the Paulaner beers do not fall into my wheelhouse - no fault of their own.

Paulaner is one of the largest breweries in Munich, and they produce beer in the style traditional American tastes love - lager. I don't love lager, I love darker styles, which Paulaner also makes.

Früli is a strawberry Belgian style white beer blended with strawberry juice. It’s interesting, but not my cup - a zesty wheat beer with big strawberry flavor.

Oktoberfest Märzen is a deep amber color with a creamy head and a spicy hop finish. Alcohol is
5.8% abv, and you should try it with potato salad, at a picnic, possibly.

Paulaner Original Munich Lager hits 4.9% abv and has yeasty aromas with a lemon flavor. It goes very well with Mexican food.

Paulaner Hefe-Weizen Natural Wheat Beer shows off a fruity flavor with a touch of bitterness underneath. 5.5% abv. It's great with seafood.

Salvator Double Bock is more to my liking. The dark barley malt really shines. The Paulaner monks served it as a replacement for food during Lent, and it seems fine for that purpose anytime, if you were to ask me. Malty, toasted caramel is the primary feature. At 7.9% abv, it’s potent. It's also a highly rated beer and it's great with sausage.

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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Dr. Beckermann Liebfraumilch 2011

This Liefraumilch is a German white wine made from Riesling, Müller-Thurgau, Silvaner and Kerner grapes.  The designation Qualitätswein means it is a quality wine.  It’s very low in alcohol - only 9.5% abv - and it is usually found on the cheap.  This wine was selling at Trader Joe for only four bucks.

Pale gold in color, the wine’s nose smells of sweet flowers - honeysuckle - with pears, apricots, peaches following.  The palate is sweet as well, a full mouthfeel, flavors of the aforementioned fruit with a mineral undercurrent.  It has a very nice acidity, especially when the sweetness is taken into account.

It’s not a wine that’s going to knock anyone off their feet, but it should prove a very pleasant companion out by the pool.  It should even match up nicely with a salad or a shrimp cocktail.

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Monday, November 12, 2012

Weller-Lehnert Spatlese Riesling 1998 at Sausage Palooza

A Los Angeles restaurant named Cook's County has become a favorite place for Mr. and Mrs. Now And Zin to drop in for dinner.  Incredibly fresh, local food plus a lean but extremely interesting wine list keeps us coming back to see what new additions have come to the menu.

They did a series of Oktoberfest Monday dinners, and we managed to snag a reservation for the last one, Sausage Palooza.  You had me at sausage.

The menu - prix fixe at $24, including the glass of wine - featured spretzels with mustard dipping sauce, a sausage platter - veal, lamb mergez and bratwurst - with bacon stuffed dumplings,  brussels sprouts and roasted squash.  It was an autumnal feast.

Sausage and Riesling happens to be one of my favorite food and wine pairings.  Sausage and anything, actually.  Riesling and anything, for that matter.  It's like bacon - and that was on the plate, too.

The wine was a 15-year-old Weller-Lehnert Spätlese Riesling, 1998.  Like many wine lovers, I thoroughly enjoy the aromas and tastes of a Riesling that is showing its years.  Strange things happen in Riesling, I understand, because of acid hydrolysis.  A compound whose name has more letters than the alphabet - which I’ll just call TDN - is credited - or blamed - for those offbeat smells and flavors in aged Riesling.

The rich, golden-orange hue looks exactly like it belongs with a fall meal.  Tons of honey on the nose are joined by apricots and a touch of petrol.  The palate also features flavors of sweet apricot along with a sense of rubber.

The sweetness of the wine was a little distracting for the food pairing, but I just sat back and sipped.

The night's menu closed with a quote from Julia Child:  "Life itself is the proper binge."  Eat more sausage, drink more wine.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Messmer Spätburgunder 2008

The desire for a late night stop after a movie hit us on the way home.  For Denise and me that's something which used to be reserved for vacation time. Since I'm on "involuntary extended vacation" now, we thought we'd take advantage of the fact that - for the moment, anyway - there's no such thing as a school night.

Vintage Enoteca is a small, dark "New York style" wine bar on Sunset Boulevard with a half dozen high tables inside.  The decor is spare and modern-looking.  The clientele appeared to be in coffeehouse mode - some chatty, with one woman even sitting alone working on her iPad while sipping a vino.  The service was quick to recognize that we were there, but problems ensued.

When we asked about the cheese plates, we were told they had over 50 cheeses available.  "Great," we said, because we like a good cheese selection.  "Can we see the cheese menu?"  "Uhmm," she purred, "There isn't a cheese menu per se but I can send her out to tell you about them.  "All 50 of them?"  "If you like."  To save everybody a big headache, we simply asked for "her" to surprise us.  We ordered the cheese and meat sampler - three cheeses and two meats for $15.

The three cheese selections we received were briefly stammered and the two meats were pointed at as well, but forget about digging any deeper.  Compared to the sort of attention  places like Cube and Artisan Cheese Gallery give to making sure the diner is aware of what's on the plate, this sort of approach was decidedly inferior.

The wine list looks decent - what I could see of it in the dark - and when my eyes were able to make out the word "Spätburgunder" I ordered.

Spätburgunder is German for Pinot Noir.  It's not something you see very often on restaurant wine lists in Los Angeles, so Vintage Enoteca get points for encouraging their patrons to explore off the beaten path.

The German Pinot I ordered is from Pfalz, the second-largest of Germany's 13 wine regions (Rheinhessen is the largest.)  Pfalz is said to be the sunniest and warmest of the German regions, with a climate that would put one in mind of Alsace.

The Messmer Spatburgunder appeals to me quite a bit. The smoky raspberry and black cherry nose is tempting and the palate offers a tart spread of cherry and raspberry.  The acidity is nice, and it went well with the cheeses and meats, whatever they were.

Denise ordered an Icelandic Ale.  It was an uncharacteristic order for Mrs. Now And Zin, but she's known for those.  She liked it, but the ale was so floral in aroma and flavor that it was a bit off-putting for me.  I'll stick with the Spätburgunder.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


wine news

News reports show up from time to time about people stealing grapes.  Lots of grapes, like a vineyard full of grapes.  An AP story recently appeared, telling the tale of thieves in Germany harvesting grapes that weren't theirs.

They came in the dead of night to Germany's Pfalz wine region and hand picked rows upon rows of Riesling, Trollinger and Grauburgunder grapes.  This would be a huge financial loss any time, for any winery, but a late frost in May 2011 killed many grapes, so the ones that survived are the last hope for these winemakers.  Add in the fact that the remaining grapes are thought to be of extremely high quality, and it's a double whammy.  Also, most of these family-run wineries have no insurance that covers theft of grapes.

It's not unusual for harvesting to occur at night, so there would nothing overtly suspicious about seeing people with flashlights working the vines in overnight hours.  Some witnesses claimed later they did see people in the vineyards, but simply thought it was the usual harvest.

Some winemakers in the region are now clinging to ice wine as their last chance to salvage something from this vintage.  Grapes for ice wine are harvested when frozen, and the winemakers are keeping close watch on their vineyards until it's time to harvest them.  They know, however, that the criminals are watching closely, too.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Selbach Riesling Dry 2006

The Selbach Riesling is a quality wine from the Mosel region, with grapes taken from the vineyards on the steep banks of the Mosel River.  It's described as a Kabinett wine in German wine terms, produced in dry style.  The alcohol content is 11.5% abv, so it's fairly easy to drink.  The wine came to the United States courtesy of Terry Theise, an importer and writer whose book, "Reading Between the Wines," has gotten a lot of fantastic press.  The bottle was listed at $14 when I picked it up earlier this year at a sale price of $9.

This '06 Riesling has enough age that the petrol smell for which Riesling is known is starting to come through.  There's a fairly nice scent of "gasoline on the water," which will be familiar to you if you've ever gone swimming near an outboard motor.  In fact, the scent is strong enough that it is clouding the fruit expression.

There's an herbal flavor profile and white fruit flavors that try very hard to compete with the minerality from the slate soil.  The minerality wins the battle.  The acidity isn't razor sharp, but there is enough zing there to provide a nice, refreshing Riesling experience.

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Monday, August 15, 2011


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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Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Eisacktaler Kerner

Kerner is a grape I don't see very often on wine lists.  German in origin, the Kerner grape is a cross of Riesling and Trollinger, which is a red variety.  It was created in 1929 and named for Justinus Kerner, a medical writer who also happened to write poetry concerning wine.  It wasn't bred commercially until 1969 and by the mid-'90s it was the third most-planted grape in Germany, although its popularity has slipped since then.
This wine is from the Sudtirol region of northern Italy (South Tyrol), part of Trentino-Alto Adige.  The cool, Alpine climate there is where Kerner thrives in the gravelly, sandy soil.  The winery, Eisacktaler Kellerei, is in the Valle Isarco area.  According to their website, this is where, "glaciers meet the gentle hillside landscapes of the Mediterranean."  It sure sounds beautiful enough.  I found this Alpine gem at Little Dom's in Los Feliz, $11 by the glass.
Yellow-gold in the glass, the wine's flinty minerals come through on the nose even though it's served ice cold.  Fruity flavors - mainly crisp golden apple - sail in on a zippy acidity.  I am reminded immediately of Sauvignon Blanc, but with a fuller mouthfeel.  It's a perfect match with my wood oven-roasted eggs, almost perfect with the side of wild boar bacon.  This is a fairly versatile wine.

Friday, November 19, 2010


Clean Slate Riesling at Fabrocini's

A beautiful, sunny Friday provides a great excuse - as if I need one - to hit Mulholland Drive and make my way over to Fabrocini's Beverly Glen.  This Italian restaurant in the Beverly Glen Center has my favorite dish for lunch.  Their calamari and scungilli salad is on the short list of things for which I live.

It was extra good this time, with less lettuce and more of those tentacled creatures from the deep.  There might have been a better choice for wine, but I was in the mood for a Riesling.

Clean Slate takes its name from the slate stones in the vineyards. They describe it this way:
"The thin slate stones of our vineyards in the Mosel River Valley are a critical factor in crafting a Riesling of exquisite balance.  So precious are these stones that those which slip into the river are carefully carried back up the treacherously steep vineyard slopes and returned to place.  Reflecting and retaining heat, the slate is essential to ripening the grapes in this cool climate..."

This Riesling has a pale yellow-green tint and a pretty nose that's fruity with pears and white peaches.  Nice and full in the mouth, it tastes of peaches and pears with a squeeze of citrus.  The minerality - no doubt owing some debt to those slate stones - is very refreshing.  It has a good acidity, but it doesn't come on really strong.  A nice finish leaves a slate and citrus feel on the palate.

Clean Slate Riesling is sold by the glass at Fabrocini's for $9.

Monday, August 23, 2010


Dillman Delight Riesling

All the watering holes at the M Resort in Las Vegas go a little heavy on the house brand wines.  There are, however, some good selections available on the wine lists throughout the bars and restaurants of the hotel and casino.
I took a break from the action on the casino floor to visit the M's Lobby Bar for a glass of Dillman Delight Riesling.  Despite the name - which I think sounds like a moonshine from The Dukes Of Hazzard - it's a German Riesling from Bernkastel in the Mosel-saar-ruwer region.  The steeply-sloped vineyards of the region produce some mighty fine Riesling grapes.
The waitress on duty at the nearly empty bar said she likes Dillman Delight because it reminds her of Pinot Grigio.  How ringing that endorsement is depends on your view of Pinot Grigio, I suppose.  After she assured me it was German, I decided to give it a try.  It's $9 per glass.
The Dillman Delight is very pale in color.  I'm told the nose carries tropical and mineral aromas, but the M perfumes their air conditioning, so getting past the Febreze scent was a challenge.  Pear juice comes through nicely on the palate with some citrus and mineral notes and a decent acidity.  There is a trace of petrol that lingers into the short finish, for which I an always grateful in a Riesling.  The waitress didn't seem to share my delight with that petrol emotion.
I tried a few other wines in a few other places while at the M Resort.  I'll be telling you about them in the coming days on this blog.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Weil Estate Riesling Rheingau 2007

When I talk to people about trying to find a wine that smells like gasoline, it's generally accepted as a joke.  Unless, of course, I'm talking to someone who knows Riesling.  On a recent visit to the Wine House in West Los Angeles, I asked about just that.  

They're very helpful at the Wine House, and when I asked for help in finding a Riesling with a good strong hint of petrol, the response was quick and accurate.  Robert Weil's Estate Riesling is as dry as a bone and as German as a Volkswagen.  The pale yellow color looks tame enough, but the nose brings that petrol aroma along with a floral note.  The wine tastes tart, with bracing minerals and a well-balanced acidity. 

Varietal:  100% Riesling
Appelation:  Germany > Rheingau
Vintage:  2007
Alcohol Level:  11.5% abv
Price:  $15
Acquisition Disclaimer:  Purchased by author

Friday, January 8, 2010

Henkell Trocken Piccolo Dry-Sec Sparkling Wine NV

A leftover from the holidays, this German sparkler delivered a 187 ml serving that was serviceable, if not a really special wine.  The label is German, but the grapes came across the border.  Henkell Trocken is made up of French Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Blanc de Noir from French Pinot Noir and Chenin from Saumur.

The wine is 11.5% abv and pours up as a golden yellow in the glass.  The effervescence was rather slight, but the nose was very yeasty, offering lots of promise.  The palate came across very smooth, almost creamy, in fact.  There just didn't seem to to be a lot going on here.  That's a shame, since I generally find most sparkling wine a bit too bubbly and often quite sweet, especially in the lower price range.  Henkell Trocken is pleasant enough drink, it just didn't move the "wow meter" too much.

Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Chenin Blanc 
Vintage:  NV 
Alcohol Level:  11.5% abv 
Price:  $3 
Acquisition disclaimer:  Purchased by author