Saturday, March 17, 2012


"Kabinett" is top quality (Predikat) German wine that is drier in style and, by definition, unsugared. Recently I tasted the 2008 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett from the Mosel concern, Hauth-Kerpen. The wine, to my surprise, was much sweeter and lower in acidity than I expected, so I asked my host, "What gives?". My host then reminded me that the German wine law, based on the sugar content (must weight) of the grapes, restricts the overproduction of Auslese and other Predikat wines, so excess Auslesen is de-classified down to Kabinett. Upon further consultation with Master Sommeliere Michael McNeil, I was informed that global warming is actually severely curtailing Kabinett production in general with grapes ripening much too early and forcing harvests that are already overly ripe.

"Veraison" is a French wine term for the onset of grape ripening or the transition from grape growth (cell division) to grape ripening and the changing of the color of the grapes from green (chlorophyll) to red or something else(phenollic compounds). Post-veraison, acidity gradually yields as sugars build with the viticulturalist increasingly monitoring the sugar content of the grapes as harvest time nears. The most crucial decision to be made in winemaking is the time of the harvest and the type of wine being made determines when that should be. Typically sugars displace water in grapes to assume about 25% of the grape interior but in overly ripe grapes dehydration occurs increasing the glucose/fructose levels.

Heat and sunlight, of course, speed up ripening and heat waves close to harvest time cause sugars to jump and acidity to flag and I suspect something like that must have happened with my 2008 Hauth-Kerpen Wehlener Sonnenuhr Kabinett. Ripeness (or overripeness)is the popular style of the day though, and it can mean more extracted flavors and a more expressive wine. The retail of Wehlener Sonnenuhr is $16.99 and by mentioning this article it can be purchased here at the store before Friday with a 20% discount.

Namaste Riesling from Oregon is one of the truly charming white wines I have tasted in recent years and Thursday evening, March 22nd, from 5-7pm, Gail Avera with Allgood Wines will be here offering Namaste and others to taste in preparation for Easter. We ask for a ten dollar charge for the tasting which can be applied to a thirty dollar minimum purchase. Please join us.

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