A week has not yet passed since Johan and I completed the Long Beach Marathon, an event celebrated with a very nice bottle of one of our favorite grower Champagnes, Pierre Peters non-vintage Blanc de Blancs, which we paired with seared scallops, followed by delicious, tender braised lamb shanks. Delicious...... but I digress. Just 5 days after the marathon, we hosted our first SCGGG (pronounced S-C triple G) "Southern California Grape and Gripe Group" wine tasting at our place... and the topic was German Riesling Kabinetts any vintage, and guess who picked the topic....
Yes, I was reponsible. By Friday afternoon, I was starting to wonder why I picked a topic I deal with every day. Why hadn't I chosen Tuscan reds? Or Piedmont reds? Or Oregon Pinot Noirs? Or red Burgundies? In other words, why didn't I choose a wine I didn't work with every day? I'm not sure what the answer is, but for some reason, the topic Riesling Kabinetts came to my mind, the e-mail was sent, and there was the theme to this month's SCGGG tasting.
There were 7 of us in attendance - Lester, Brian, Tom, Linda, Bennett, Johan and me, and 7 bottles of wine. They were the following:
2008 Von Hovel Oberemmeler Hutte Riesling Kabinett
2007 Fritz Haag Brauneberger Juffer Riesling Kabinett
2007 Wegeler Rudesheimer Berg Schlossberg Riesling Kabinett
2005 Kunstler Reichstal Riesling Kabinett
2002 Reinhold Haart Piesporter Goldtropfchen Riesling Kabinett
2006 Dr. F. Weins-Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett
2004 Joh. Jos. Prum Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett
All the wines were bagged as this was a blind tasting. Everyone then ranked the wine in order of preference. Then all the wines were scored to see which wine was most liked and which was least liked.
The wine that stood out the most was the one that seemed to be the oldest - it was darkest in color and most mature in flavor and aroma. Everyone at the table thought this was the 2002 Reinhold Haart Piesporter Goldtropfchen Riesling Kabinett since it was the oldest of the wines on the table; however, it turned out that everyone was wrong! The most mature wine was the 2005 Kunstler Reichstal Riesling Kabinett! What a surprise. In retrospect, in some ways it made sense - the 2005 vintage was much warmer than the 2002, and the Rheingau, where Kunstler is located, is much warmer than the Mosel, and typically, wines in warmer regions and in warmer vintages mature faster than cool regions and cool vintages. But even so, it was a surprise, as the 2002 Haart did not stand out at all as being an older wine - it was fresh and zippy and young.
Of the other wines, they showed varying levels of perceptible residual sugar - the 2006 Weins-Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett was sweeter and fuller-bodied than the others, and I liked it, while others thought it was too sweet - I felt this represented the very ripe 2006 vintage very well, and would have been terrific with an Indian or Thai food dinner. The 2008 Von Hovel Oberemmeler Hutte Riesling Kabinett was favored by many as it showed very good acidity and crispness owing to the cool 2008 vintage. The 2004 J.J. Prum Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett also showed some good acidity along with slatey minerality.
Overall, it seemed that more people liked the mature flavors in the 2005 Kunstler and the wine that didn't show that well in the overall line-up was 2007 Fritz Haag Brauneberger Juffer Riesling Kabinett - which is quite shocking as I've always loved loved loved this wine! And I believe I still do... but the wine might be in a "dumb" phase or something, or this bottle didn't show particularly well, because even in my notes I indicated, before the unmasking, "not my fav."
Here's how the overall rankings went, along with my personal rankings in parentheses:
First overall: 2005 Kunstler Reichstal Riesling Kabinett (I ranked it first as well)
Second overall: 2004 J.J. Prum Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett (I ranked it last!)
Third overall: 2007 Wegeler Rudesheimer Berg Schlossberg Riesling Kabinett (6th)
Fourth overall: 2008 Von Hovel Oberemmeler Hutte Riesling Kabinett (5th)
Fifth overall: 2002 Reinhold Haart Piesporter Goldtropfchen Riesling Kabinett (4th)
Sixth overall: 2006 Dr. F. Weins-Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett (2nd)
Seventh or last overall: 2007 Fritz Haag Brauneberger Juffer Riesling Kabinett (3rd)
Looking at these results once again, the day after the tasting, I am struck by the same feeling that I had last evening after hearing these scores: I think my taste buds prefer wines, especially these types of wines, with a good level of residual sugar and richness. I rich-tasting Kabinett does not bother me (see above the 2006 Weins-Prum and the 2007 Fritz Haag). I'm surprised the 2007 Wegeler made it as far up as it did in the list. Overall, though, I tended to agree with others than the aged wine was impressively so, even though it wasn't that old!
In the final analysis, it was an interesting tasting, everything turned out great - we had an Oktoberfest theme with some tasty sausages from Alpine Village Market in Torrance, some Dusseldorf mustard, and some cheeses.
And most finally, I look forward to the next SCGGG which will be one with wines I don't taste on a regular basis. :)
Thank you to everyone who participated and brought such great single vineyard Kabinetts!