Some of the best values in the wine world are German Rieslings. Not only are they delicious, but many of these wines languish away on retailer’s shelves, due, in part to their confusing labels that are written in imposing gothic script. Eventually they get marked down in order to make room for the next vintage.
I am a fan of Germany’s wonderfully aromatic Riesling wines from the Mosel River region. These wines are produced in a variety of styles that range along a continuum from crisp and dry to sweet and bright. The vineyards are usually found along the steep river valleys that feature sheltered slopes, each with their own unique terroir. Much of the mineral laden soil is covered with slate which absorbs the sun’s heat during the day and gently radiates it back into the vineyards at night. And as an added bonus, flavors of slate and mineral can be underlying characteristic trademarks of these wines.
One of the best values for a genuinely delicious Riesling is the 2010 St. Urbans-Hof Riesling Estate Bottled from Mosel. It is loaded with notes of bright Gala apple and ripe peach fruit, dotted with notes of baking spice and slate on a broad, tangy body. The wine is crisp and the flavors are well-delineated from start to finish. The finish features more undertones of steely slatiness. $16
The term Kabinett in German literally means cabinet and is used as a category of wine that is made from fully ripened grapes of the main harvest. These wines are generally lighter in style. The 2009 Margarethenhof Kabinett from Mosel is on the lighter side of most Kabinetts and is just slightly sweet (lieblich). It features an aromatic honeyed nose, with concentrated flavors of white fig, ripe peach, nectarine and apricot. The wonderfully tangy citrus notes on the end provide a crisp and refreshing finish. $18
The German word Auslese is used to denote that the grapes originated from a “selected harvest.” It applies to a riper category than Kabinett as the grapes are hand-picked from very ripe bunches in the vineyard. This category of Rieslings is usually made in only years when the weather has been warm, such as in 2009 when the 2009 Leonard Kreusch Auslese Mosel was produced. Featuring aromatic scents of gooseberry, green melon and gardenia, the wine dives into a pleasant-yet-unusual creamy mouthfeel that sports luscious flavors of white raisin, mango and ripe fruit cocktail. A mere hint of slate on the slightly sweet finish is a reminder of its pedigree. $19
One of my “go to” Riesling wines if from a producer that I fondly call “JJ.” The 2008 Joh. Jos. Pr