Thursday, January 19, 2006

The appeal of mature German Rieslings

I love Riesling but I rarely drink German Rieslings. I usually find them too sweet and hard to match with food. But the other day, I had guests at home that were German wine lovers and so I took that opportunity to open a bottle of 1996 Egon Müller Scharzhofberger Riesling Spätlese that was quietly lying in my cellar since 1999.

The Scharzhofberger Riesling of the Müller family comes from a 8 hectare lot that the estate owns in the famous Scharzhofberg vineyard along the Saar river. Scharzhofberg is renowned for its wines of great elegance and finesse thanks to its well drained slate soil where grapes enjoy a slow and long ripening season. Good drainage is necessary because the region is cool and rainy and slate allows the soil to warm up quickly.

1996 was a good vintage in Germany that produced ripe, healthy grapes with good acidity. Because of a relatively cool and dry summer, the harvest started late but the weather remained fine during the fall months and grapes could be safely picked for the Spätlese wines at the end of October.

Did the wine hold its promise? Absolutely! It exhibited a light golden color and a characteristic nose of petrol-mineral aromas. On the palate, it was slightly sweet with a refreshing acidity, along with complex flavors of peach, pear, grape, honey and citrus. On the finish, it was rich and juicy.

Now, am I turning into a German Riesling fan?

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g58 said...

Interesting... so in the end did you serve it as strictly an appetizer or did you pair it with food? I too was a bit surprised by the mildness of the German Riesling and I think a lot of its sophistication is wasted on me. It often tastes like really good apple juice!
In Niagara, the style is markedly different. I tasted a 1993 with a rich and creamy fish soup. It was beyond belief the character it had developed. Such a fascinating grape.
I enjoy your site. I am getting ready to upload my cellar to your software this weekend, so thanks for these wonderful resources.

Catherine Granger said...

We drank it as an appetizer. For dinner, we had an excellent Châteauneuf-du-Pape Domaine de Marcoux 2000 for dinner to go with a Lamb Shank Stew.

Anonymous said...

Fruity German Riesling can certainly be paired with food.
It depends on what cuisine.
Asian, Pacific-rim, fusion - yes.
Traditional European - no.