When You Wish Upon A Star - A Collection of Rieslings

Before I ever drank my first Riesling, I read the Terry Theise 2002 catalog. If there's one thing you should take away from reading the Terry Theise catalogs - indeed, from any body of work on Riesling - is that Riesling is the grape of love. It shoots out Cupid arrows and entrenches you in the bosom of a place and time and, hopefully a loved one. Always drink Rieslings with a loved one! Believe me, no matter how much it drains your bank account, you'll be a richer man or woman for it.

Especially if it's a Riesling from the Mosel.

Riesling is so damn flexible and adaptive. It's like a super alien from a science fiction thriller. It can vary so much depending on terroir and climate that your mind becomes an amoeba trying to grasp its complex potential.

For example:

Schloss Gobelsburg, Kamptal Reserve, Gainsberg 1er Lage, Riesling, 2012

 think Austria is the best country for dry Rieslings. I think Riesling is loaded with mineral flavors that work best when balanced by residual sugar, but in Austria, I find the RS would be redundant. In the best Austrian vineyards, the wine works well in a dry form. This wine is typical of Austria's finest. It's spicy - think of baked apples sans sugar - and the salinity and acidity lend it an almost crystalline character. I used to drink quite a lot of Gaisburg from Gobelsburg and Hirsch - Theise calls Gaisburg one of the grand crus of the world and he's quite right, they were often spectacularI think this is more chalk and sandpaper than crystalline, but it's still complex and an eye-opener.

Selbach-Oster, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Zeltinger Schlossberg, Riesling Auslese, 2011

I tasted a bottle of the Zeltinger Schlossberg, Riesling Auslese, 2011 four years ago. I thought at the time that drinking it was like being hugged by a friendly retriever. Now, it's a wild, sensual kiss that doesn't stop. It hits you in the right places, it holds on tight, but gives you enough room to explore. Deep inside, it's as savory and lush with as much salty-sweet musk as the Austrian, but the breadth of depth of the fruit, the chimelike clarity of the acidity, take you from the fields to church.

Hermann Ludes, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Thornicker Ritsch, Riesling Spatlese, 1995

All that magic I wrote about before - it exists in Riesling from its youth. But take a great Mosel Riesling and age it, let it unfold all its secrets, and you'll be transported to another universe. The nose... how do these gems cultivate so much beauty in what boils down to relatively few components?  Lemon pie, slate and dill, in this case. It all has to do with the precise balance of, and interaction between, these components, plus age always adds an intangible sense of a confection that took a long time to get ready. Another thing age does is mellow the sugar level, so the body comes off somewhat lean here, in maturity, but it's expressive and flavorsome, the flavors dancing across the tasty acidity like a surfer riding the pocket, at the exact spot where lemon and green apple flavors intersect.

Hermann Lodes, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Thornicker Ritsch, Riesling Auslese, 1995

Oddly enough, the Auslese doesn't show as well as the Spatlese. It does show a perfect marriage of sweetness, acidity and saline minerality, although with less texture and complexity. I would guess the problem is with my bottle.

Hermann Ludes, Mosel, Thornicher Ritsch, Riesling Kabinett, 2017

A complex nose showing apples, a little lemon pie, salt, minerals, mint, aromas echoed on the palate, which is so focused it creates the illusion of a body bigger than that of a Kabinett. If nature was an artist, or even an artisan, I’d say she dealt out the acidity with calculated precision.

Von Othegraven, Saar, Kanzemer Altenberg, Riesling Kabinett, 2017

I'm not familiar with the Saar, and the producer is new to me, but this bottle does a great job selling Altenberg as a great vineyard. The nose is a charmer, even if it's not especially complex, lemon pie and chalk - but the real magic is on the palate, with its amazingly zesty  acidity, an energetic intersection of freshly picked apples and freshly squeezed lemons. So, even though this tastes as sweet as a Spatlese, it is racy as a true Kabinett. 

Weingut Reinhold Haart, Mosel, Piesporter Goldtröpfchen, Riesling Kabinett, 2019

The thing with Rieslings, the good ones, is this: they bring out your inner beauty and you wind up not knowing where the wine ends and you begin. Because Kabinetts are smaller-scaled than Spatleses and Ausleses, you need to be more attentive to experience that Zen-like conjugation of spirit and wine. I always love the spring-water clarity of a Kabinett and here, because Goldtröpfchen has a lot of southern exposure, the wine has more extract than usual (in general, Kabinetts are bigger these days due to global warming) and the flavors are more peaches than apples.