Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Riesling in Paris

In Paris this weekend I met up with Lars Carlberg, who represents a number of exciting growers in Germany's Mosel Valley through his Trier-based company, Mosel Wine Merchant. Lars was in town showing some new wines to Mark Williamson of Willi's Wine Bar and Macéo (that's the two of them in this photo), and invited me to join them for a morning Rieslingfest, along with Macéo sommelier Guillaume, Drew Harre of Fish la Boissonnerie and Dany Bertin-Denis of Les Enfants Rouges.

I've been so occupied with other things this year that I haven't had the chance yet to taste a single German riesling from 2008 up until now. On Saturday, Lars opened about 20 wines from the vintage, mostly dry—I loved the St. Aldegunder Himmelreich Kabinett trocken by Ulli Stein, inspired by Vinho Verde. Stein's idea was to make a truly dry wine under 10 degrees of alcohol, and while this may not be the most profound or complex riesling in the Mosel, its crisp, summery freshness just makes you want to drink loads of it. For profundity, the Ayler Kupp Fass 6 from Peter Lauer was sophisticated in its delicate balance and keen expression of terroir, showing all of the detail and class of this top site—not all of the Kupp is up to this quality, but this wine comes from the original parcel known as Kupp prior to the expansion of 1971. In a bigger, gutsier vein, the Kabinett trocken from Clemens Busch was delicious, combining rich fruit with incisive acidity and a hint of pleasantly herbal bitterness to keep it refreshing and buoyant. It's entirely from the upper portion of the Pündericher Marienburg, but this can't be marked on the label due to the new VDP regulations (don't get me started on that). Also delicious was Steinmetz's Kestener Paulinsberg Spätlese** (two-star), which Stefan Steinmetz has made in a sort of homage to Joh. Jos. Prüm—lithe and filigreed, it of course shows a very different terroir signature to, say, Wehlener Sonnenuhr, but it's marked by the "sponti" notes of Mosel wild-yeast fermentation that made me think of this post by Brooklynguy. That might put some people off, but I think the wine is beautiful.

The wine of the day for me, though, was the 2008 Röttgen trocken by Knebel. The Uhlen, as usual, was sterner, more tightly-wound, with more overt stuffing, but in this vintage the Röttgen has such a gorgeous purity of expression, its fruit essentially existing solely to provide a platform and structure for maximum transmission of terroir character. Fruity riesling it is not, but if slate and site-specificity are your things, this is definitely a wine to seek out.

3 comments:

Bluepastures said...

Peter-

Many thanks for the great report. Curious as to how "trocken" you found the Knebel Rottgen- any off-the-cuff estimate on RS on this one?

Sincere thanks and regards,

jb

Matthias Knebel said...

jb,

the rs on the röttgen is 6g.

peter,

thanks for tasting. good to hear that you liked it.

best

matthias

Lyle Fass said...

Great notes Peter.

I need to taste these 2008's.