An Efficient Riesling Tasting

Riesling Tasting, 2014I recently had a wine tasting using the Society of Wine Educators’ tasting rationale. We tasted through six Rieslings from different regions, starting with the driest and going to the sweetest. Sticking to the form was a little like writing a lab report. It was somewhat frustrating to have to describe the flavors and aromas with the general terms given rather than using the words that came to mind. Words like ‘lemongrass’ had to be substituted with the word ‘grassy.’ What was ‘candied pineapple’ on our palates became ‘tropical fruit’ on paper. And ‘sweet iced tea’ became ‘honey’ and ‘tea.’ But there is a world of difference between ‘sweet iced tea’ and ‘honey’ and ‘tea.’ The former conjures up images of hot, lazy summer afternoons whereas the latter reminds one of a sore throat in the dead of winter.

While we addressed each quality on the form, there were other qualities to the wine that were not part of the form. For example, while one wine was quite interesting and stimulated a discussion about the importance of balance in not only the structural elements of the wine but also in the flavors and aromas of the wine, another wine could be described as nothing less than beautiful. Wagner Riesling from the Finger Lakes region had flavors of citrus, tree fruit, honey and tropical fruit along with a sweet iced tea flavor, but the flavors were a little disjointed, like the wine didn’t know quite what it wanted to be. But that disjointedness also made the wine interesting. The C.H. Berres, also had honey and fruit aromas with some petrol and floral, but that wine was downright beautiful. It knew what it wanted to be, and it just kept talking to us.

I love the SWE form for its efficiency. It really forces one to focus, study and identify. But in that efficiency, some of the poetry of the wine is lost.

Trefethen, 2012 is from Oak Knoll California. The clarity is brilliant, the depth of color is pale, the hue is lemon green and it has tiny bubbles. The condition is clean, no off odors and medium intensity. The aromas are citrus fruit, honey, tree fruit, petrol, vanilla and floral. The maturity is young. The sweetness is dry. The acidity is medium high. There is no bitterness, no tannin, a low/medium alcohol and a light/medium body. Flavor intensity is medium/plus consisting of citrus, spice, honey, tree fruit, and tropical fruit. There were no off flavors and the finish is short to medium.

Albrect 2012 from Alsace, France is brilliant with pale depth and a lemon-green hue. There are small bubbles. In aroma the condition is clean with no off odors. The aroma intensity is medium with petrol, honey, spice, citrus and tree fruit. The maturity is developing. On the palate the sweetness is dry. The acidity is medium/high with no bitterness and no tannins. The alcohol is medium. The body is medium. The flavor intensity is medium plus with citrus, honey, tree fruit, and spice. There are no off flavors and the finish is medium.

Thorne Clark, Mt. Crawford, 2012 from Eden Valley, Australia is brilliant with pale depth and a lemon-green hue. There are bubbles. In aroma the condition is clean with no off odors. The intensity is medium with aromas of petrol, tropical fruit, citrus and vanilla. The maturity is developing. On the sweetness is dry. The acidity is medium high with no bitterness and no tannin. The alcohol is medium, the body is medium, the intensity of flavors is medium plus with citrus, tree fruit and minerality. There are no off flavors and the finish is medium.

Dr. Loosen Eroica, 2012 from Columbia Valley, Washington is brilliant in clarity with a pale depth and a lemon-green hue. There are no bubbles. On the nose the condition is clean with no off odors. The intensity is medium with petrol, honey, grass and citrus. The maturity is developing. On the palate is is off-dry and a medium acidity with no bitterness nor tannins. The alcohol is medium as is the body. The intensity is medium with flavors of tropical fruit, citrus fruit and honey. There are no off flavors and the finish is short/medium.

Wagner, 2008 (not affiliated with Wagner Family Wines of California) is from the Finger Lakes region of New York. The clarity is brilliant. The depth of color is medium, the hue is lemon. There are bubbles. In aroma the condition is clear with no off odors. It is intense with aromas of tropical fruit, honey, oak and nuts. The maturity is developed. The sweetness is light medium. The acidity is medium with no bitterness nor tannins. The alcohol is medium. The body is medium plus. The intensity on flavor is medium plus with citrus, tree fruit, honey, and tropical fruit. There are no off flavors and the finish is short to medium.

C.H. Berres, Auslese 1997 from Mosel Germany has brilliant clarity, medium depth and a lemon hue. In aroma the condition is clean with no off odors. It is intense with aromas of nuts, honey, and petrol. The maturity is developed. There is light medium to medium sweetness and low medium acidity on the palate. There is no bitterness and no tannin. The alcohol is low/medium with a medium plus body and a medium plus intensity of flavor with Floral, petrol, honey and dried fruit being the most prominent. There are no off flavors and the finish is medium to long.

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This entry was posted in wine.

8 comments on “An Efficient Riesling Tasting

  1. frankstero says:

    What do you think of the WSET systematic approach to tasting method?

    • foxress says:

      As with the SWE, I appreciate the ‘systematic’ approach that the WSET has designed for tasting. But like the SWE, it doesn’t leave room for the poetry of wine, which is a good thing in the long run. If tasters waxed poetic while evaluating wine, they’d get very few wines evaluated. Better to leave the poetry to the wine bloggers, eh?

  2. renobarb says:

    As a writer, I am saddened to hear that the poetry was lost in the format of the descriptions. That robs you of the full ability to describe the experience. But as a drinker of wine, I’m happy that you were able to sample some wines and to pass on the recommendations.

    • foxress says:

      I think evaluating wine and writing about wine are two different things. Where evaluating wine takes focus and observation, writing about wine takes reflection…and focus and observation. Evaluation is a part of writing, but writing goes beyond the matrix of the evaluation.

  3. Interesting article and comments. On a different note, I will add that Trefethen Dry Riesling is one of my favs!

  4. I really enjoy Trefethen wines generally, I will certainly have to pick up one of their Rieslings.

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