Before reading on....
It's always more fun that way, right? (Plus, as I've mentioned, testing yourself is one of the best strategies for learning!)
So, did you make your guesses?
If you still need a hint, all of the grape names start with the letter "R"
Wine #14: RIESLING, Marlbough, New Zealand (2010) DRY*
Wine #15: RIESLING, Finger Lakes, NY (2010) - SEMI-DRY*
Wine #16: RIESLING, Mosel, Germany (2011), Kabinett feinherb*
*In a future post, I'll quickly review various sweetness/sugar levels and go over what all those fun German terms mean... Kabinett vs. Spatlese, etc (SEE HERE FOR DIAGRAM)
and then separately, Trocken, Halbtrocken, Feinherb, etc.
For now, just know that:
DRY = not sweet | SEMI-DRY = semi sweet | FEINHERB = slightly sweet
(Kabinett has to do with when the grapes were picked, not necessarily sweetness, but typically a more dry style)
BARKING HEDGE, DRY RIESLING (2010)
From the Producer: "The soils of the river terrace, comprising of river shingles and silt, were the perfect combination to the planting of riesling in 2007. Our first vintage was 2010 and is a dry riesling with complex flavors, crisp and fresh with tropical fruit at the base. The wine has been made completely dry with no residual sugars added and will age particularly well probably around 7 to 10 years."
From the NYCorkReport: "Juicy pears and white flowers dominate an effusive nose, accented by subtle almond note. Off-dry but balanced, the palate shows not only pear fruit, but a distinct fig quality up front that leads into a long, floral finish that shows a light slate note. A bit more acidity would bring focus and elevate the wine a bit, but the residual sugar is still balanced enough to avoid being cloying."
Had this wine at Chianti Il Ristorante during ChowderFest!
Couldn't find reviews for the 2011, but here is one for the 2010**
"The Brauneberger Juffer Riesling Kabinett feinherb from Weingut Günther Steinmetz is the most mineral Juffer Riesling I have tasted to date. The nose is dominated by crystalline stone and citrus aromas. On the palate this Riesling is only slightly sweet ("feinherb" indicates a wine technically not dry but not really sweet either), the electrifying acidity and the pure mineral flavor create a palpable tension in the mouth. This wine has a lot of structure, with flashes of citrus fruit flavors here and there. But really, this Riesling is pure Juffer slate that persists over a medium(+) length. Exciting Riesling!"
**NOTE: VINTAGE is REALLY important, especially for Riesling, as the amount of ripeness from year to year will vary depending on the weather. The amount of ripeness can determine how dry/sweet the wine will be!
So - were you fooled? Or did you know that all three were Riesling?
I put these all together since I thought it was interesting how different each one tasted. I honestly had no clue what to do with Wine #14, and it was the first one I tried, and DRY! No RS (residual sugar). I'd like to think I could pick it out now... Even though I was SO SO SO WRONG. I picked a Sauv Blanc from France... And it was Riesling from NZ. OUCH. I need to taste more Sancere & Pouilly-Fume'...
The other two were, to me, at least, unmistakably RIESLING, especially Wine #16 from the MOSEL, arguably one of the best places in the world for this varietal. In fact, the vineyard, Brauneberger Juffer is quite well known among German-Riesling-lovers. The southern facing slopes allow the grapes in this cool climate to ripen. And of course, the Mosel river itself aids in the ripening process as well (yay for heat & light). I'm quite excited to try even more German Rieslings (from other regions, as well as different parts of the MOSEL) this upcoming weekend at RIESLINGFEIER. Riesling is a grape that truly expresses the soil in which it is cultivated, and the nuances between, and even within vineyard sites are nothing to scoff at... especially in the Mosel, Rheingau, Rheinhessen, and other German wine regions (there are 13 total). Blue slate, red slate, etc. They all affect this noble grape differently.
Given the varying sweetness levels, it is hard for me to really make any grand conclusions across the three regions that I've tried. It is not as though the Finger Lakes wines will ALWAYS be sweeter than German ones - you just need to know what you're looking for. That being said, the NY Riesling was CLEARLY new world, and I had more trouble with the NZ wine since it was so dry. Of the three, I LOVED the German feinherb - it had such lovely minerality (it tasted like slate) with just a touch of sweetness, and the acid kept it crisp and lively, while the floral/frutiness made it all come together. Such a lovely balance.
One thing is for sure: RIESLING, as a grape variety, naturally has HIGH ACIDITY, especially in these cooler climates. The acid helps to balance out any RS... Think of a lemon. If you just eat a lemon -- ew. It would be like THIS:
But with a little sugar, like in lemonade... Yummmm. The trick its getting the balance between acidity and sugar.
Of course, I could babble on Riesling for several posts (and I likely will). But hopefully this has been a nice little introduction.
Just for good measure, I threw in a red wine, maybe to throw you off the trail that all the others were Riesling.
SO, what was WINE 17?
REFOSCO, Aquila del Torre, Friulli, Italy (2007)
Ever heard of REFOSO? If not, don't worry. Not many have!
It is a red grape from Friulli (North East, Italy) that makes a deep, purple, medium bodied wine. I'm a little upset with myself that this wasn't one of the dozen wines that ran through my head while I was making my guess, but I AM excited that the bitter-finish led me to Italy. After googling both REFOSCO & DOLCETTO, I'm not TOO upset with my "dolcetto" guess...
The wines this grape yields can be quite powerful and tannic, with a deep violet color and a slight bitterness. On the palate, there are strong currant, wild berry and plum flavors.
Dolcetto wines are known for black cherry and licorice with some prune flavors, and a characteristically bitter finish reminiscent of almonds. While the name implies sweetness, the wines are normally dry. The tannic nature of the grape contributes to a characteristic bitter finish.
I need to taste these two side-by-side now. Currant/Plum vs Black Cherry/Prune. Hm... Hopefully this would never actually be on a blind tasting exam. At least I've learned something!
Thanks to Christy Frank from Frankly Wines for playing along and taking a guess!
So - I know this was A LOT... sorrryyyyyy.
I probably won't do these marathon posts, both for my sanity and yours. I think I like leaving you hanging a few days before you find out the answer (maybe on WINE WEDNESDAYS #ww), but we'll see what works best.
Again, this blog is less than a month old, and still in "beta" mode, I suppose. We'll figure out what works best!
I hope that you were able to learn something from all this!