Shana Speaks Wine

Wine Journalist, Copywriter, and Marketing Consultant

Drinking out loud. 

Filtering by Tag: Riesling

Alsatian Riesling

Poor Riesling. No matter how hard wine aficionados champion its qualities, it remains one of the most misunderstood grapes.  Many people associate it with being uber-sweet and often shy away from its bold, aromatic qualities.  However, this is one versatile grape that can be vinified across the entire flavor spectrum, from bone dry to luscious dessert wine; sweet is only one chapter of the Riesling story.  It is also a highly adaptable grape that is grown all over the world. While its roots are European, burgeoning wine regions, such as the Finger Lakes, have had great success producing wines.

While it is often associated as one of Germany's premier grapes, Alsace is also renowned for its Riesling production. This northeastern French region is home to 13 different terroirs, and these distinctions can be tasted in the wines. Many winemakers commonly use organic and biodynamic practices to lessen the manipulation of the wine and let the terroir define the wine. 

I was sent a bottle of Albert Seltz, Riesling Reserve, Alsace, 2012 for review.  The winemaker took over the family vineyard when he was just 19 and has been overseeing production since 1980.  In true Alsation form, he provides minimal intervention in the winemaking process, letting the wines ferment with indigineous yeasts (as opposed to adding yeast to affect the fermentation process) and letting it sit on its lees.

The result? This unctuous wine, with tones of ripe canteloupe, lemon zest and mineralty on the nose, was an aromatic treat.  Med plus body and acid, the  palate showcased a higher citrus profile, along with slate that was mouthwateringly rich. This is a great introductory Riesling for those that normally shy away from the varietal.

Albert Seltz, Riesling Reserve, Alsace, 2012.  Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine. 

Albert Seltz, Riesling Reserve, Alsace, 2012.  Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine. 

Keep tasting, friends....

New Zealand Wine Fair

New Zealand wines have always been a bit of a hard sell for me. Touted for their Sauvignon Blanc, I haven't been able to fully get on board with the cut grass/pineapple/cat piss thing that is prevalent in so many of these wines.  I always get a little gun-shy when ordering and inevitably hide behind the fort of Old World vinos.  

So, at a recent James Beard wine event, I went into the trenches and put myself in the line of fire.  New Zealand, hit me with your best shot.  (like I went from violent warfare references to cheesy eighties tunes right there? Didja?)

Overall, there was quite a bit of what I expected, but there were a few shining gems that definitely turned my head. The Framingham Classic Riesling, Marlborough, 2011 was one of the first wines I tasted and it held my attention for most of the night.  I started with the Sauvignon Blanc, 2013, and was about to walk away but figured I'd give it's vineyard neighbor a chance, even though this first wine was textbook in all that didn't appeal to me in a Sauv Blanc. I'm glad I gave it a whirl; this Riesling had intruiging notes of charcoal up front with mineral and flint tones immediately following. Fresh peach and lemon took the edge off and although this was technically a dry wine, there was a tingle of residual sugar on the palate.  

 

 

Framingham Classic Riesling, 2011.  Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine

Framingham Classic Riesling, 2011.  Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine

Waimea Estates presented a noteworthy Gruner Veltliner, 2012. This producer is located in the Nelson region, which has very few wineries, especially in comparison to the vineyard-heavy Marlborough.  However, this wine proves branching out from the popular crowd can lead to something unique. There was nice balance between fruit, body and acidity in this accessible white. 

Waimea Gruner Veltiner, photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks WIne

Waimea Gruner Veltiner, photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks WIne

Astrolabe, who's Sauvignon Blanc I've written about in the past, did not disappoint with the latest vintage, but there were a couple other wines that showed this producer's skill. The Province Pinot Gris, Marlborough, 2013, presented a bouquet of honeysuckle, freesia and other flowery aromatics on the nose.  Apricots also came to light when drinking through this crisp wine.

Their Province Pinot Noir, Marlborough, 2011, was another wine worth considering.  Very New World in style, it was rather fruit forward but still characteristically light bodied, yet had a dusty violet essence that what somewhat reminscent of a Burgundy. 

 

 

Astrolabe Wines, photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine

Astrolabe Wines, photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine

Finally, there was VIlla Maria.  One of the most well-regarded wineries in the Marlborough Region, their lineup included delectable whites and reds. Their Cellar Selection Riesling, 2010, was one of the few Rieslings I encountered, besides the Framingham, that had a Germanic tilt to it. Acid? Yep. Citrus and stone fruits? Check.  But it also had a smoky charcoal essence that moved it away from its fruit-driven New World counterparts.  The Reserve Pinot Noir, 2008 and Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot Gimlett Gravels, Hawkes Bay, 2008, were two of the best reds tasted all night.  Both in balance, both delicious.

 

logo via villamaria.co.nz

logo via villamaria.co.nz

Keep tasting, friends….

Southern Charm

 

With the increasing public service announcements about the dangers of smoking along with the numerous smoking bans in cities around the country, the tobacco industry has taken a nosedive.  Tobacco farmers had a plethora of land but their current crops are undesirable.  What to do? That's right, plant vines and make wine.

It seems like a crazy concept, but North Carolina has started to produce some interesting varietals as the terroir lends itself to creating some decent wine.  On a recent trip down there, I had a Shelton Vineyards dry Riesling.  It was reminiscent of a Finger Lakes Riesling.  Slightly viscous, lush orchard fruits along with some citrus fruits filled the glass.  High in acid, it was a zingy surprise. 

I'm not too sure what their shipping and distribution regulations are, but keep your eyes out for them - definitely worth a try. 

Keep tasting, friends...

 

Shelton Vineyards Riesling, photo by Shana Sokol of Shana Speaks Wine

Shelton Vineyards Riesling, photo by Shana Sokol of Shana Speaks Wine