German Riesling Masterclass

One country that never disappoints its vinous followers with its great wines is Germany. This cold-stuck country produces one of the finest, and surely the best, Rieslings in the EU. Sommelier India Wine magazine along with the German Embassy in Delhi hosted a showcase of 16 of the most discerning Rieslings from the country. German Ambassador to India, Mr. Thomas Matussek, loves the wines and generously extended his house to host the masterclass. The room was packed with sommeliers, F&B professionals, connoisseurs, chefs, and media, and was soon buzzing with the slurping and spiting noises.

Carrying a unique identity to their style Germany Rieslings are marked for their balance between sharp acidity and residual sugar. Due to the severe cold grapes fail to convert the high acidity to sugar completely thus remain low in alcohol too. Riesling by itself is an aromatic grape with oily, floral, perfumed, rubbery, and minerally notes. Masters of Wines Jancis Robinson once quoted Rieslings to be the most dynamic white grape amongst the breed. And all nod in acceptance.

The best of Rieslings come from the regions of Mosel, Rheingau, Nahe, Pfalz, and Franken. Baden and Rheinhessen, other two important wine-producing regions, do a better job at producing other local varieties. Every region provides an element in their wines which becomes the identity of the place too. Mosel Rieslings are marked for their light-body, crispness, and minerality, the Hunsruck Mountain protected Nahe provides pineapple notes, while Pfalz have a strange yet amicable spiciness to its whites. Rheingau’s startigical position provides a longer ripening period to its grapes thus the wines are more flavoursome, fruity, and rich. It is because of this it is believed that Rheingau Rieslings are the best pick at any given point.

Sommelier Gurjit Singh BARRY and sommelier Gagan SHARMA had their eyes lit up with joy with every pouring portion. Here are their reviews of some of the wines they tasted:

2009 Weingut Dr. Siemens Riesling Kabinett– Mosel

Young pale straw appearance with some fine petillance. Floral and orange marmalade nose, typical to the region. Young off-dry palate but very refined and complex. Notes of rubber, candied white fruits, peach puree, mint candy, and eucalyptus. Easy sipping wine with low alcohol and commendable acid-sugar balance. A great wine overall.

2009 Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt Riesling Kabinett – Mosel

Youthful appearance. Great nose with so much to offer. Old rubber, oily touches, undertones of white fruits, tad meaty, but overall perfumed and aromatic notes. Very appealing palate, clean fresh acidity, tad syrupy but not cloying, white fruits, apple tart, cashew, and touch of white smoke. Great balance.

2009 Weingut Karthauserhof Riesling Kabinett – Mosel

Pale straw appearance with touch of green. Mild nose, fresh white and green fruits, touch grassy, creamy, and floral, like African Jelly. Dry perfectly balanced palate with floral, limey acidity, crunchy and earthy notes. An age-worthy wine. One of the best in the lot.

2008 Georg Breur Riesling ‘Terra Montosa’ – Rheingau

Very appealing nose with oily, minerally, gripping rubbery and musky notes Dry palate with some residual sugar. Coating rubberiness, almost chewy. Great tart acidity, low alcohol, and medium bodied. Very well balanced, structured, and elegant. Spiciness persistent on the aftertaste. A must-have.

2009 Weingut Herman Donnhoff Hermannshohle Riesling Trocken – Nahe

Very clean and upfront wine. Creamy, almost coleslaw-like nose, perfumed, fruit jam, musk, very stringent and spicy. Good refreshing acidity, low on fruity flavours, but very spicy, crisp and structured. The oily touches add more weight. A nice Trocken Definitely needs food to do justice to itself.

2009 Weingut Bassermann-Jordan Riesling Spatlese Deidesheimer Leinhohle – Pfalz

Young straw appearance. Very floral nose with creamy, fruity notes. Medium-dry palate, orange marmalade, white fruits, peaches, apricots, figs, tad sweet spices notes amongst others. Very charming and easily-approachable drop with moderate alcohol. Very diligently made Spatlese style Riesling

2003 Weingut Knipser Riesling Spatlese Laumersheimer Kapellenberg – Pfalz

Lemon-like appearance, showing signs of aging. Very intense nose with notes of honey, raisins, sultanas, caramel, oily touches, apricot, figs, and perfumed. Very nicely balanced with apt acidity to make a medium-dry wine look not cloying. Touch of waxy botrytis-like notes showing aging potential. Earthy, minerally, grainy, animally, and musty notes add depth to the palate. Though eight years old but still an infant, needs aging.

The more we tasted the better the evening became. The wines were outstanding and brought a liveliness to the table and conversations. Some of these wines are available in the country courtesy Mumbai-based importers Wine Park and Wine Rack. H.E. Mr. Matussek mentioned that promoting German Wines in India is a tough task. But given such commendable collection of Rieslings waiting to hit the local shelf definitely the selling job is will be an easy walk. To the great German wines, Zum Wohl!!

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