Monday, May 23, 2011

Honey and Oil

In keeping with the current Spanish wine theme, mark your calendar for June 3rd 5-7pm when Rene Busque of RMB Imports will be here offering his selections of high end Spanish reds. This is a true opportunity for all of us to expand our wine horizons.

Now to the present and the summer heat wave and what we can do to brace ourselves in it. Two exciting new offerings in the store are the 2009 Dr. Pauly Bergwiler Noble House Riesling and the 2010 Woody Nook Kelly's Farewell Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc. Noble House is a German QBA from the Mosel region; Kelly's Farewell is from the Margaret River region of southwestern Australia.

So what makes the German special? Riesling, obviously. This pairing of grape and place is about as perfect as they come. Riesling in fact originated in the Rhine region of Germany with written documentation dating to the 15th century. While the Rhine may be home to the finest Rieslings, the Mosel can claim the most commercial success now. Mosels tend to be softer and rounder than Rhines, while retaining the high acidity that makes the wine so special. The Riesling flavor profile may include apple, peach, gooseberry, grapefruit, honey, and an aromatic floweriness that may include rose blossom. The noble Riesling is usually unblended and always unoaked and may be dry, semi-dry, sweet or sparkling.

Again place and grape type make the Australian special. The Margaret River region, one of the world's ideal wine production locales, is a ridge of gravelly loam near the Indian Ocean that actually requires no irrigation. As such the wines have intense varietal flavors with this one featuring tropical fruit, melon, honey (flavor not sweetness)and grass with the prerequisite long lingering crisp finish. Semillon, like Riesling, has a long history in its Australian environs. In 1800 it made up 90% of the vineyard plantings on the continent and was oddly enough called Riesling. While its popularity is far lower today, the grape continues to lead with its problem-free, disease resistant high yield.

So why the "Honey and Oil" title? With a little aging both Semillon and sweeter Rieslings become oilier and more honeyed than in their youth. The Semillons accentuate the oiliness along with a low acid, honeyed complexity. The dessert Rieslings improve because of their high acidity with oily, balanced fruit composition. Both wines age remarkably well. A fine Australian Semillon table wine may hold thirty years; a great German Dessert Riesling may last a hundred years. Honey and oil, anyone?


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