BEST Riesling Tasting and BEST Martini Recipe

Riesling Importer Royalty

Summer is winding down. Sun is going down earlier. Evenings are chilling down and college football has started. Things are pretty much slipping into place for the Fall and Holiday season. Not so fast. Before we can put on the slippers and robe and dive into the recliner here came a quiet surprise. Local wine retailer Woodland Hills Wine Company recently hosted what looked to be an incredible tasting of Riesling wines. WHWCo is known for hosting all star importers such as Louis/Dressner and Becky Wasserman. Call this crew the Riesling all stars. tBoW dashed over after the UCLA Rose Bowl disaster [ed. Neuheisel? Would have to be a Nahe vineyard], plunked down the $29 tasting fee for the chance to finally meet Bill Mayer whose import company is the Age of Riesling. Glad we did.

Having loaded up on 1976 and 1983 Ausleses from the Mosel way back when, tBoW was already sold on what many regard to be the greatest wines in the world. However, it took Mayer’s Age of Riesling newsletter to convince tBoW to try Austrian red wines. How good and persuasive a writer is Mr. Mayer?!? This past Saturday he was pouring a selection of five wines, each under $20, We extended our glass which he graciously filled.

2009 Bernard Ott Gruner Veltliner Niederosterreich Am Berg $15: First taste of the afternoon. Very dry. Very “grey” which I guess means stones and overcast skies. Bought it. 11.5%

What a treat when Bill Mayer began waxing on how long wine grapes have been domesticated. tBoW was not exactly aware that vinifera appeared in the wild. Only inferior grapes like Norton that are ill suited to making wine grow wild, right? Apparently not. Mr. Mayer informed us Gruner Veltliner has been domesticated at most a couple hundred years. Intrigued now, we asked what about Pinot Noir (going straight to the top of the wine ladder)? Probably twice as long. Finally, we were able to halt the info cascade when we asked what grapes the Egyptians and Romans (he added “and Greeks”) were making wine from. No surprise Mayer lives in the Bay Area which generally has more smarties than LA.

2009 Summerer Riesling Urgestein $16: tBoW generally prefers Austrian Riesling to the other Austrian varietals. This is why. Highly acidic with bright fruit. Bracing. Bought it. 12%

2009 Bauerl Riesling “Ritzling” Federspiel $19: More dry acidic Riesling that sparkles when you taste it. Not in the spritzy sense but in the overall mouth feel. These are a bit more pricey than this past summer’s ringleaders among white wines, Vinho Verde and Verdejo. But they are also higher quality. The price difference seems fair and worthwhile. 12%

We asked Mayer to tag the Austrian wines with the German system of Kabinett, Spatlese and Auslese. He pointed out the Austrians used to do this but abandoned the practice in order to distinguish their wines more emphatically. Naturally, we agreed.

Rudi Wiest Selections was also being poured. These were all Mosel wines and we LOVE Mosel. We tasted all and bought the following. Rieslings from the Mosel can be transcendent. Not all of them and not always. Just enough to make you swoon.

2008 Von Buhl Forster Pechstein Riesling GG $45: The definition of transcendent Mosel wine…except it is from the Pfalz. Outstanding, exotic. Perfect balance of acid and apple gingerbread coaxed out as savory aromas and flavors. Elegant. Grosses Gewachs – GG – means something like highly selected. Jawohl! Broke the bank and bought it. Will certainly keep a few more years. 9%

2009 Weins-Prum Riseling Kabinett Graacher Domprobst $18: Simply beautiful. The 2009 vintage is not as acidic as the 1020 so says Kris-B and he knows. This wine is just delicious. Stones and ripe apple fruit. Delicate, pretty. 10%

2010 Monchhof Eymael Riesling Estate $15: OMG. Opened it for dinner same day as the tasting. Stood up to pizza and baked chicken. I could drink the entire bottle myself but I shared it. Saved some for next evening. This is the essence of Mosel from the lowest QBA rung. Not qualified for designation as a Kabinett which would be the next rung up. Can only imagine the damage those Monchhof wines will do to the tBoW budget. 8%

2008 Glatzer Riedencuvee Zweigelt
$17: Had to go back for this Austrian RED wine. Tasted it next to the Blaufrankisch which had charcoal in its dark flavors. This nose shouts bologna and salami. Would go great with a sharp sheep cheese in the Alps with Julie Andrews and Colonel Von Trapp. From the Terry Thiese Estate catalogue. 10%

BONUS TASTING NOTES: Spent some time with Doug Margerum recently at his MWC facility in Santa Ynez. Tasted the Klickitat Pinot Gris, Sybarite Sauvignon Blanc and a brand new blend of Syrah from multiple vintages. The Washington state Pinot Gris and locally grown Sybarite had the kind of sharp acidic bite we fell in love with this summer. Both recalled the Vinho Verde style. Doug decoded the Sybarite name.

“The SY is Santa Ynez. The ‘bar’ is for Santa Barbara and the rite is because these wines are right for this region.”

The Multi-Vintage Syrah screamed Chateauneuf du Pape with spicy sweet meats and middle weight fruit. All salami and bologna. I know. sounds awful. But it ain’t. It’s yummy. The blend includes three lots from 2008, two from 2009 and one from 2010 vintages. Highly unusual for a vintage-varietal driven US market. If you don’t know it by now, this guy follows his own path. He also shared his lab recipe for making the

Chock full of dopey gags this kind of humor is the last of the vaudeville style. The martinus line is at 4:50. Like they say in an Italian red tablecloth joint…Unjoy!!

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