Tuesday, August 7, 2012

2007 Piesporter "goldtropfchen" Riesling spatlese weingut St URBANS-HOF

Riesling; the longest-lived wine on the planet. Period. There is a barrel of Riesling in a German museum, which is still drinkable and tasted every 5 years by a panel of experts, from the mid-1600's.

   That's right, the wine is almost 400 years old.

   I thought an exclamation point at the end of that last statement would be overkill, but I'm sure you felt the implied emphasis! Riesling is a kind of "magical" varietal and no one is (arguably) better at working with this ancestral vine then the Germans. Baden, the Mosel, Pfalz or the Rheingau ; all of these areas and more, every part of Germany lends something different to it's wine. Some give a clean-slate minerality, others- ripeness of fruit, whilst some offer a baked-honey-utterly-lavish finish to the late-harvest wines that most of the world only dreams of.

   Yes, in Germany the mighty Riesling  becomes more then the sum of it's parts.

   And in Germany, depending on when in the picking season the grape is harvested, the sums of those parts will be given a different name. I suppose I should start by offering that these ingenious folks even have different names for varying levels of quality. Not given arbitrarily, all wines are given rigorous tasting and testing before judgement:
  1. Deutcher Tafelwein : basic table wine
  2. Deutcher Landwein :  a little better quality, from one of the specific 19 regions
  3. Qualitätswein bestimmter Anbaugebiete (QbA):  here's where we start to find some good quality; region specific to only 13 areas... these wines start to speak about where they come from
  4. Prädikatswein :  the best quality; this is a new title replacing a much longer one that was easily confused with the third level (especially for non-German speakers)... although these can be dry, they almost always have a lip-smacking, dentist-(un)approved residual sugar. These wines tell a story, and tell it well.

St Urbans-Hof slopes
   So alot of information to digest, but this article is going to focus on one  Prädikatswein in particular: the St Urbans-Hof Riesling Spatlese... always a thing of beauty, this particular vintage (2007) is a true gem. I truly am thankful to the friend and colleague who turned me on to this small band of artisans. 

   Of course, this isn't the first article I've written about the family run winery from the Mosel region ( http://astudentofwine.blogspot.ca/2011/03/riesling-st-urbans-hof-mosel-germany.html ) and I imagine that it won't be my last. These wines are filled with depth, concentration, balance and offer good to excellent value at any price-point.

   You doubt my words? Fine with me, for the proof (as always) is in the glass my friends.

2007 piesporter, goldtropfchen, Riesling-spatlese weingut 
St Urbans-Hof (winery), Leinwen, Mosel, Germany
$55 regular, on-sale at some speciality stores in BC for $39
93 Points

wine merchant in BC/Alberta: www.renwine.com

let me diverge from my normal style of article and talk about the label for a second, and the litany of words/names that appear.  

piesporter :   name for the (small) wine-growing region around the village of Piesport on the north bank of the Mosel river. Approximately 69 HA
goldtropfchen :   a term used to signify a this regions' top-level wine meaning "little drop of gold" 
Riesling-spatlese :   these Rieslings almost always carry a richer currant of ripe fruit flavors; I often find stonefruit dominant in tasting notes, and because of a generally higher level of residual sugar often have a fuller body and higher alcohol 
weingut :  meaning an estate which is growing grapes for wine, as opposed to purchasing their grapes, purchasing their juice, or growing their grapes for someone else's wine
Leinwen : is the name of the small town and Mosel as stated earlier is the region
  • visual:   clear; ultra pale straw core with gold and silver highlights
  • nose:   clean; fully intense and developing aromas of warm hay, honey, ripe stonefruit and stewed apricots, a super-intense line of crisp/vibrant minerality is piercing and yet balances thr ripe fruit perfectly
  • palate:   clean; off-dry (64.7 grams sugar/L), full (yellow grapefruit) acids, moderate- body, moderate- alcohol (9% ABV), fully intense and developing flavors that mimick the nose with that strong current of minerality running rampant throughout... a strong spicy finish reminiscent of great Gewurztraminer. Excellent balance, very good structure and long length
  • conclusion:   already drinking well, this wine has the acidity and sugar levels to ensure a long life in the cellar, but will not develop appreciably. Drink 2012-2025
  • FOOD PAIRINGS:   use the sugars to best effect! Consider grilled lobster with fresh Thai basil coconut sauce on roasted peanut rice noodles and steamed gai-lan ... lobster loves Riesling  and a slightly spicy sauce will play well off the residual sugar in the wine. The mineral tones will embrace the earthy flavors from roasted nuts and the fresh vegetable will act as a little palate cleanser.

looking DOWN the slopes at St Urbans-Hof

    So many names, so many descriptive words. The Germans seem determined to make something as simple as fermented grape-juice as complex as they can. But what are we talking about? What is wine?

   Wine is more then just the grapes, more then just the fermentation process, or the maturation. Wine is more even then the people that perform all these tasks and more. Wine is a sometimes magical process that allows the grapes to tell the story of the land and the people that they come from.

   Perhaps a simple concept, but not an easy task. St Urbans-Hof has managed to do just that; with the German concepts of name, name, naming I can start to understand that story a little better from the moment I pick up the bottle. I know where this wine is from, and a bit about the people who made it. They're proud of what they've done, to put their name on the label so prominently.

   And so they should be
Nik Weis, current winemaker/proprietor

As always, I welcome your comments and questions.

CINCIN~!!!     SLAINTE~!!!     CHEERS~!!!

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