Keith M wrote:Headed over on a typically stellar September afternoon in San Francisco to Dee Vine Wines and their new approach to hosting tastings that feel like cocktail parties with a convivial atmosphere, food pairings and, of course, wonderfully selected riesling. First up, the 2007 Solter Riesling Sekt from the Rheingau was a really beautiful wine—even more to my liking than the 2006 which had grown on me. A beautiful herbal and peach nose with ripeness goes down on the palate as delicate, beautifully crisp, yet rich in flavor. Pure fantastic finish. This is a really fun wine. After waiting in line a bit for some raw oysters and clams (delicious!), I headed over for a splash of the 2008 Fritz Haag Mosel Riesling from the Middle Mosel. The aromas are phenomenal and stony and it tastes cold, crisp, stony and precise. Very focused but with a bit of weight to balance the mineral focus. Superb match for the oysters. Stunning wine and great value. The 2008 Emrich-Schönleber Riesling Trocken from the Nahe had a spicy nose that suggested black fruit, but the wine itself was very inward, dark and hard to read. I would have thought it was shut down, but it seems a bit early for that. I didn't catch other opinions on that wine, but I found it very hard to read. The 2008 Gerhard Hattenheimer Schützenhaus Riesling Spätlese Trocken from the Rheingau had a nose of rich, really ripe fruit that was followed by mandarin juicy citrus in the mouth and a really cool layered approach to ripeness that still finished dry. An interesting wine. The 2008 Prinz Hallgartener Schönhell Riesling Kabinett Trocken, also from the Rheingau, offered a show-stopping nose of cardamom, indian spices and a feel of a multilayered cake. Oh yeah baby, bring it! Dry and tart lake water, reminded me of fishing for perch on the lake growing up. The wine screams seafood (or perhaps, for me, lakefood!). Fantastic grip (doubly so noted in my scribblings), acid backbone, playful. Fantastic! But just when you think things can't get better, head over to one of my favorite regions of Franken for the 2006 Hans Wirsching Iphöfer Julius-Echter-Berg Riesling Grosses Gewächs. Amazing depth on the nose, could sniff for hours. Textured fruit, the wine has presence. Pure and intense, paired amazingly with the wasabi on the oysters which suggests that though it is bone dry, it offers interesting qualities for pairing with spicy foods (and did awesomely with oysters). Incredibly pure—I adored it. Then onto the 2007 Knebel Winninger Röttgen Riesling Kabinett from the Middle Mosel which smelled rich and honey and tasted deep, delicious pear, quite juicy, deliciousness everyone will love.
Proceeding to the second table with spicy shrimp and three wines with a bit more weight and sweetness to balance that spice. The 2006 Maximin Grünhauser Abstberg Riesling Spätlese Superior #21 from the Ruwer offered a phenomenal nose and tasted strongly of tea leaves, barely-there stone, elegant, pinnacle of precipitousness, deliciousness and iced tea—yet more familiar than such a description of riesling would suggest. Interesting indeed. The 2008 Schmitges Erdener Treppchen Riesling Kabinett Trocken from the Middle Mosel had a nice nose, but a bit harder to evaluate—still beautiful, though. Not my style for taste, though the weird layered tart and rich good fruit did have charms of its own, but not my thing. Wow, the 2007 Willi Schaefer Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Spätlese #14 (also from the Middle Mosel)—utterly drinkable deliciousness with layered stone and peach skin on the nose. Fun! Fantastic rieslings on a fantastic afternoon.
Keith - Thanks for taking the time to post all of these notes!
The Knebel, Schafer, Wirsching, and Prinz all sound great. I have no experience with German Sekt, but the Solter sounds very interesting. Will have to try some German sparklers sometime.