Riesling & Co. NY 2009

I had the good fortune of attending the NY Riesling tasting organized by the wines of Germany.  The tasting was held this past Wednesday at the Tribeca rooftop in downtown NYC.  In attendance were wineries primarily from Germany, but there were also a few reps from Alsace & Austria.  I tasted wines made of Weiburgunder (Pinot Blanc), Rivander (Muller-Thurgau), Grauburgunder (Pinot Grigio), Chardonnay, Spatburgunder (Pinot Noir) and of course, the star of the show RIESLING…


Riesling is a grape that I am still trying to figure out.  Sweet wines are often mocked in the wine world and not taken seriously and just about all Rieslings contain a fair amount of residual sugar.  Ranging from about 3-6 grams of RS (grams of residual sugar per liter) for the “dry” wines up to 120 grams of RS for the sweet, late harvest Auslese’s.  However it is the balance of a fine Riesling, its harmonious relationship between acidity & sweetness, combined with its sensual bouquet that I think is what has led to its cult varietal status.

Apparently over 50,000 acres or 60% of the worlds 85,000 acres planted in Riesling is grown in Germany.  Riesling, according to AC Nielsen, is the fastest growing white wine varietal in the US for the third staright year, with consumption growing by about 25% the past two years.  Riesling, in its different styles is a very versatile food wine, and of the 76 wines I tasted there was not (in my opinion) a bad wine in the batch.

Having stated all the positive I must now confess that I was not blown away at this tasting.  Last years Riesling tasting contained some older vintage wines and tasting the wines at 5, 10 and 20 years of age was eye opening, proved the cellar worthiness of these wines, and well…blew me away.  This tasting focused primarily on wines from the 2008 vintage.  The wines were fresh & refreshing.  They had lively acidity and nice fruit.  Many of them were kept in large ice buckets and the resulting COLD temperature made it difficult to properly assess their bouquets.  But overall not much that I would call UNUSUAL or that really stood out to me.

Given the state of our economy or at least the state of wine purchases in and around NY I was interested in finding some value wines.  And when I happened upon the Kendermann table and some friendly and familiar faces from last year I was happy to hear that many of their wines have a suggested retail price of $9.99.  All of their wines were tasty and refreshing.  The packaging is clean and modern.  And everything from their Riesling & Gewurtztraminer to their Pinot Grigio and Pinot Noir, at $9.99 present excellent value for the price conscious consumer.

Of the others I was getting less of the cotton candy or bubble gum that I often get in a good Riesling and where I was able to pick up the aromas I was getting more floral notes.  I wonder if that has anything to do with the vintage or if it is more a reflection on the temperature of the wines.  I can see the appeal of the drier, crisp wines as good food wines, but several of them seemed to have tart or even bitter flavors.  Finally,  I was once again amazed at the acidity in some of the sweeter Kabinetts (~40 g RS), Spatlese (~80 g RS) & Auslese (~120 g RS).  That acidity really makes these wines lively, where their inherent sweetness could otherwise have made them cloying or flabby.

In all it was a nice tasting.  Maybe not the best, but there were certainly some very nice wines, some terrific value wines, and some producers seeking US reps whose wines I have not written about as in the coming days I will be speaking with and encouraging clients/colleagues to consider the possibility of importing some of their goods.

Happy Riesling wine tasting!


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