I have a small confession. More than half of the time the wine I choose to drink is white.
Why whites then, you might ask? Let’s just say that I’m a sucker for wines with a sense of place; those that reflect where they come from and don’t taste like they could’ve been made just about anywhere. Personally I believe whites, on average, channel this ideal better than most reds. I frequently seek out wines where you can taste a bit of their soil; often described in my tasting notes as “crushed stones”, “mineral”, “flint” “chalk” or “slate.”
Perhaps no other white wine reflects the essence of its terroir better than Riesling, a truly great varietal that just doesn’t get its due in a wine world awash in oceans of Chardonnay. What a shame too. Not only is Riesling a terrific food match with chicken, pork, an array of cheeses and Asian cuisine, but many good examples will consistently improve with bottle age. These days you can often find a world-class Riesling for less than $25 a bottle that can be enjoyed immediately or stowed away and cellared for upwards of a decade or more.
No discussion of great Riesling would be complete without a nod to Germany, the grape’s ancestral home. A recent trip to the heralded wine regions in the southwest of the country has only deepened my affinity for these remarkable wines. It also realigned my focus as to the wonderfully diverse soils that great Riesling often inhabits. Pardon the pun, but I thought I knew the subject of “slate” cold. That is until I encountered green slate in the Nahe, grey slate in the Saar, blue slate in the Mosel and red slate in the Rheingau!
Schloss Reinhartshausen is one of the Rheingau region’s top wine estates and traces its winemaking heritage all the way back to 1337. Their vineyard holdings include over 80 hectares encompassing parcels in fifteen of the best sites around the towns of Erbach and Hattenheim including the monopole Erbacher Schlossberg.
Since 2013, Schloss Reinhartshausen has been in the very capable hands of the Lergenmüller family, owners of Weingut Möller in the Mosel.
Here’s a rundown of new releases from this dynamic estate now available in select ABC Fine Wine & Spirits store locations.
Schloss Reinhartshausen Old Vines Dry Riesling ($22) is made in a crisp, dry style and utilizes fruit from 45-year-old vines planted within the Hohenrain vineyard, a south facing hillside above the village of Erbach. This wine displays zesty citrus and stone fruits with lively freshness and minerality. Fans of unoaked dry whites like Italian Pinot Grigio or New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc should take note here.
Wines made in the traditional Prädikatswein style (Kabinett, Spatlese, Auslese, BA, TBA, Eiswein etc.) may indeed be a more familiar presentation of German wine to most US Riesling devotees as these wines do have varying degrees of residual sugar on the palate. Personally, I considered the first-picked Kabinett style to be semi-dry, but I’ll reserve the philosophical sweet/dry German wine argument for perhaps another blog post.
Schloss Reinhartshausen Hattenheimer Wisselbrunnen Riesling Kabinett ($22) comes from the 18 hectare Wisselbrunnen, a prime vineyard site in Hattenheim. It gets its name from the pipe-shaped spring that’s located there (“Wissel” translates to “tube”, “Brunnen” means “fountain”). Citrus, honeydew and peach with hints of currant and spice and a pronounced juicy richness hallmark a distinctive, age worthy wine that would stand nicely today up to a mild curry, pork tenderloin or roasted turkey with all the trimmings.
Jim Greeley, ABC Fine Wine & Spirits wine and spirits supervisor
Follow me on Twitter @ABCWineJimG