One of my favorite times of year has finally arrived. In fact, it may truly be any sommelier’s favorite time of the year, the time when the occasion to drink riesling is always upon us. We like to deem this the #summerofriesling. A renaissance of riesling has come into fashion over the last decade or so as we seek out drier versions of the wine and realize the magnitude at which it has been planted on this globe. Paul Grieco may be the incubator for such a movement, but he had only given the first nudge to an ever rolling snowball.
On so many occasions, as documented in numerous @sommmunoz IG posts, a bottle of riesling has captured the moment. Riesling can be immensely spectral like Chardonnay or Pinot Noir or light for that matter. Over the course of the next few months, we will tap into any number of expressions of riesling as we will be pouring #rieslingfordaysss.
Leitz “Dragonstone” Riesling Rheingau 2014…a.k.a. breakfast riesling
First of all, Johannes Leitz is the MAN! Everything he touches turns to pure riesling gold. He handles dry rieslings like Zeus and his lightning bolts. Electrifying acidity balanced with immense structure and pristine clarity of terroir. To have such an affordable and exemplary wine as Dragonstone be in the hands of an idealist as Leitz is a godsend. Every vintage, regardless of climate, seems to get better and better.
Secondly, it’s called DRAGONSTONE. The German name for this site is Drachenstein. This wine is treated no differently than his grand cru sites of Schlossberg, Rottland, and Roseneck. Drachenstein tends to lend beautiful ripeness early, so the fruit has luscious sweetness and racy acidity. Johannes basically gets out of the way and produces a wine that captures an aromatic of orange candies with refreshing acidity that is an obvious complement to your french toast, hence #breakfastriesling.
Rebenhof “Von Wurzelechten Reben” Urziger Wurzgarten Riesling Trocken Mosel 2014…a.k.a. dry riesling
After taking charge of operations in 1986, Johannes Schmitz began to restructure the small wine estate in Ürzig. He disposed of any vineyards of lesser quality and uprooted vines of other grape varieties, concentrating solely on the cultivation of Riesling. He also began to acquire more sites in prime locations, not deterred by the hard work these steep and often rocky parcels of land required. His attention was particularly focused on ungrafted vines with naturally lower yields and higher quality. Growing on their own roots they have developed a genetic composition which provides them with a far higher resistance to diseases than that of “engineered” vines. Johannes Schmitz is highly esteemed among his fellow growers for his extraordinary work of perfecting the propagation of clones from pre-phylloxera Riesling vines. Today the estate solely grows Riesling on slopes with a steep incline. The autochthonous vines with their well-established root system generally require only a quarter of the water supply that, for example, Pinot varieties tend to need. The grapes for all wines are hand-harvested and vinified separately according to the conditions of their individual provenance. These wines show the fruits of his work.
Riesling “Von Wurzelechten Reben” Trocken is produced from 15-20-year-old vines from the esteemed Urziger Wurzgarten vineyard on the Main River (a tributary of the Rhein) outside of the city of Urzig in the Mosel. The completely south-facing steep vineyard is composed of Mostly stony soil of fragmented red slate with a thin cover of fine earth. The fruit is hand harvested Although classified as trocken (dry), the “wurzelechte Reben“ (ungrafted vines) exhibits gentle charm with a fine fragrance of acacia blossom and herb garden. A touch of pink grapefruit completes a Riesling which finds its strength in subtlety rather than power.
Spreitzer Hattenheimer Engelmannsberg Riesling Feinherb Rheingau 2015…a.k.a. riesling ‘cuz riesling
Riesling, Riesling, Riesling. So what is that funny word Feinherb you might ask? Well, it is similar to the idea of halbtrocken, or half dry, meaning half the sweetness and closer to dry than racy, fruity rieslings like the Dragonstone above. If that isn’t confusing enough, this wine is exactly that. It teeters on that edge where you have to ask yourself if it’s sweet or dry. That playfulness is everything I love about riesling, because you eventually just stop questioning this preponderance and realize you just enjoyed your whole glass of wine and need another. This is riesling that isn’t necessary to be paired with food, it is almost complete on its own. It is balanced by savory tones of cheese and bread while orchard and stone fruit sweeten the palate and mineral structure cleanses the finish. Awesome wine from the center of the Rheingau.
Spreitzer has been around for centuries producing wines off of their estate in an honest and sustainable way. The Rheingau is one of the kings of dry rieslings as a region. So many Grand Cru sites lie on the south facing slate and quartzite slopes producing powerfully structured and transportive wines. Spreitzer is lucky to be located near the town of Hattenheim, right smack in the middle of it all as the serpentine Rhine river strides through it’s westerly turn before finishing its northward journey toward Dusseldorf. If wine drinkers aren’t convinced by this riesling stunner, then get ’em their goddamn chardonnay!
It ain’t summer till you had your riesling!!!
As seen on our Wines BTG:
breakfast riesling orange candies
Leitz Drachenstein Rheingau, DE ’14
10 27 40 54
dry riesling spiced red tarts
Rebenhof Ürziger Würzgarten Mosel, DE ’14
12 32 48 64
riesling ‘cuz reisling
Spreitzer Hattenheimer Engelmannsberg Rheingau, DE ’15
14 37 56 74