Readers will know that I have a strong passion for German Riesling wines .. a passion that dates back to the early 1990s.
I was therefore thrilled when I had the possibility to meet one of the new and upcoming stars of Rheingau Eva Fricke in Copenhagen. So this weeks WotW are from Rheingau Germany ..
My Riesling dilemma
I love Riesling but over the years the climate has changed and my low alcohol kabinetts and Spätleses from the Mosel valley are now in reality ausleses either with plenty of residual sugar or a higher alcohol level.
A Mosel wine should in my view be below 8.5% alcohol as this is when you start to feel the influence of the alcohol on the palate. This is however difficult these days, as the grapes presumably due to global warming are harvested at quite high auslese level – and to produce kabinett or even true oldschool spätlese styled wines one would need to convert some of this suger to alcohol – hence a higher alcohol level.
So the classical kabinett and spätlese of the early 1990s are more or less gone .. as quality and sweetness has improved with the weather conditions … in the 1970 some years the struggled to make a spätlese – today the struggle to make less than a big auslese … corks for thoughts!
So in reality I have started looking in other regions to find wines with more body than the Mosel wines, that can produce some more harmonious dry or off-dry rieslings .. I was never the great fan of dry Mosel rieslings as they often becomes a bit bony when the sugar is taken out of the equation. That to say I do enjoy a spätlese trocken from Mosel on occation but I do prefer my Mosel lieblich – the poetic German word for the sweet styled Mosel wines.
So this journey has taken me to Rheingau where I have tasted some really good wines as of recently .. and I have discovered or should I say rediscovered this proud old region.
Terroir wines first and foremost
Eva Fricke is producing some magnificent Rieslings that expresses both the riesling grape and the terroirs of Rheingau. They are terroir wines .. perhaps to a greater internt and extend than the traditional wines from the region – as they explore the individual terroirs more than usually, thus enhancing and playing with the expression of the soil to create different expressions of the Riesling grape. The Riesling grape is perhaps the best and most giving canvas to use when exploring soils, terrois and climates.
These are not wines that focus on the normal German classification scale .. Kabinett, Spätlese, Auslese .. but rather focus on terroirs and the perceived richness as one moves up the quality ladder. This is perhaps sort of more realistic in a world where true kabinett and spätlese rarely are harvested at a fine auslese level.
In fact the system is also familiar to me as a Burgundy writer .. as Eva works with the estate level (equivalent to AOC), village level and then single vineyard level.
The purity of perfection uncompromised
The wines from Weingut Eva Fricke are very pure indeed with a strong and clear expression of the minerality of the individual terroirs. These are strong statements of terroir – uncompromised and finely matched with the residual sugar (sweetness or dryness) to create variations of the expression as the sweetness expose new sides of the riesling grape.
Starting out with the estate Rheingau Riesling QBA Trocken 2015 one find a crystaline mineralic expression of Riesling. It’s completely dry style, with loads of minerality creating a rather powerful mineralic framework and body to express the Riesling grape. With a lovely tension and energy this is a wine for food, and for this level it offers plenty of mineral intensity and focus. The purity and expression of the mineral side of the region is impressive and uncompromised even at this estate level.
The first is the Kiedrich – Kiedricher Riesling QBA Trocken 2015 … this is also a dry styled riesling but with the terroir adding more to the flavours and impressions. Again a cool and crystal clear expression of the riesling grape with some delicate notes of citrus .. orange cest, candied citrus .. that is interlinked with the intense minerality. The citrus side of this wine is very facinating and show the many sides of the riesling grape .. was thinking quail salad .. and this citrus infused note would go well with truffle also (allways remember plenty truffles).
The next one out .. a mineral powerhouse .. Lorch – Lorcher Riesling QBA Trocken 2015. This is a almost painfully mineral wine .. with plenty of slate and quartz minerality. It’s crystaline and powered by a strong and intense mineral framework expressing new sides of the Riesling grape. I still find citrus notes – but more the classical grape with perhaps a hint of lime .. adding to a more unpolished and uncompromising expression. This is a more weighty wine due to the more powerful terroir feel … and would accommadate more substantial food .. am thinking grilled lobster (as I write around 8 in the morning) again truffles would be nice. This is not a wine of compromise .. the real deal .. more so than Evander.
For a Mosel lieblicher like me the next wine is more familiar territory … the Wisperwind – Lorcher Riesling QBA off dry 2015. The name Wispervind almost reveal a more forgiving level of residual sugar and some of the more exotic elements of the Riesling palate. The palate is more rich with more fruit sensation and notes of melon, peach and some citrus elements to ad other dimensions to the saline terroirs of Lorch. This is a wine that works well with light food and as a off-dry aperitif … or just plain right drinking on the terrasse in the summer (with truffles selbverständlich!). This offer some of the values I found in the kabinetts in the early 1990s … fresh, refreshing without getting a sweet or even close to a sticky sweet sensation after a few glasses.
Last but not least … Krone .. a single vineyard wine from the Lorch village. So the full and very German name is .. Krone – Lorcher Krone Riesling QBA Trocken 2015. This vineyard has two main mineral characteristics .. the slatety soil seen in the previous Lorch wines, and then a quite prominent chalk subsoil. This translate into a wine that expressed new sides of the Riesling grape, as the chalk soil gives a more fullbodied palate and express more of the yellow riesling notes – hence also perceived richer. Its refined yet also very long and intense. The chalk is quite prominent in the bouquet and this with the richer and more delicate textures calls for more refined and or even spicy food would go very well indeed with this wine. This is a very complex wine that needs plenty of air and even a larger Burgundy stem to accommadate the chalky notes in the bouquet (not tried that though).
Out of my Bourgundian comfort zone!
It was a great experience to taste the wines from Eva Fricke – unique wines that are outside the traditional classification, wines shaped by the soil as statements of the riesling character and the individual terroirs. Somehow German wine redefined .. in a pure and uncompromised way.
These wines comes highly recommended to all who enjoy terroir driven wines and Riesling .. they are pretty unique.
Great to be out of the Bourgundian comfort zone for once … at least the village wines and other Bourgundian terms were there to support me in my quest for fresh German rieslings far from the safe haven of Côte d’Or.