If I could give only one piece of advice for new people to wine it would be: try to taste with people more experienced than you.
Grand Cru Riesling is a challenge in all its decadence. It is all on the aromatic plane and quickly lapses into metaphor. There are no hard facts of flavour.
This is the attraction.
It’s a fairytale. But an urban fairytale with a backbone made of steel.
With Riesling at this level flavours are not SOLID. Forget your W SET lessons. Up to a level you think you know how “pineapple” tastes but what about pineapple slipping into cherry into kirsch with a sprinkle of crunchy icing sugar like a hot-baked Austrian pastry.
It is the closest thing to poetry. And in a little of group of tasters this is the closest thing to a communal experience. I don’t think it should be discounted. It’s one of the loveliest things about wine.
Here are my notes, or more accurately, transcription, of this incredible line up from St. Urbans-Hof Piesporter Goldtröpfchen 1996-2010 with Walter Speller and winemaker Nik Weis. Only someone of Walter Speller’s mind would put this lineup together of point/counterpoint… there was nothing linear about the tasting other than the sequence of years.
Goldtröpfchen (“little drops of gold”) is the vineyard in Piesport, on the left-bank of the Mosel.
Favourite wines from the tasting …
1996 Piesporter Goldtropfchen-Spatlese – dark green gold colour with saffron and… melting caramel characters! Stunning acidity, surprising clean, seamless finish. 1998 Piesporter Goldtropfchen-Spatlese – incredible slide from honey, spice, blood orange peel. 2004 Kabinett – steely apple, brilliant showy finish like a Chinese fan flipping shut – precision, muscular yet lean with lift like a ballerina. Talked about “pop rocks” loved as a child. Crackling on tongue. 2005 Spatlese – Impact. Pineapple and cherry is a classic combination. Kalaidoscopic, baroque flavours.
Fourteen wines later, I left feeling as if I had snuck away to a lunchtime matinee of ballet for a dazzling hour spent in a dark concert hall. Suddenly I found myself out in the bustle of the Soho streets. Snapping out of the daze, slipping on metaphors, I saw a gold Transformer in a shop window on Old Compton Street, and I thought, yes.A cosy tasting, Nik Weis, Anne Krebiehl, Walter Speller and flying visit by Mac Forbes while he was in town. Many thanks. Full list of notes by Anne Krebiehl for Harpers