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German Wine Tasting and Reviews

Wine Tasting
Peter Mertes Spatlese Riesling

Winery: Peter Mertes
Brand/Type: Spatlese Riesling
Vintage: N/A
Country: Germany
Region: Mosel-Saar-Ruwer
Alcohol content: 9%
Closure: Synthetic
Appearance: Pale straw
Aroma/Bouquet: Pears, peaches, apricot

This being a non-vintage bottling with the label boasting the distinction of being “privatekellerei” or private cellar seemed a bit odd. This combined with a very low price; we didn’t hold many positive expectations. Sometimes Germany floods the market with cheap, poor quality Rieslings that give both the grape and Germany a black eye with many wine drinkers. This however is not one of those…

Happily this wine was quite a pleasant surprise; expecting a cheap, syrupy sweet wine with little if any character, instead we found it to be a nicely complex, off dry, that paired well with seafood, salads, and even Thai! It also lends itself to drinking it alone without a meal just as well.

Peter Mertes has produced a very good, low priced wine. Despite being a later harvest, this Spatlese isn’t overly sweet like many Spatlese’s tend to be. It has a perfectly punctuated sweet note, but only a very short one on the initial taste. After that first impression you discover the pear flavors that dissolve into a light lemon finish that was bright and clean. The acidity and mineral is nearly perfect in balance.

We suspect that Peter Mertes doesn’t indicate a vintage and uses the private cellar distinction to represent a wine made from grapes sourced throughout the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer region. It’s certainly understated and the wine is truly great. Highly recommended.

Wine Tasting:
2005 Ironstone Riesling

Winery: Ironstone Vineyards
Brand/Type: Riesling
Vintage: 2005
Country: Germany/California
Region: Pfalz
Alcohol content: 11%
Closure: Screw cap
Appearance: Pale straw
Aroma/Bouquet: Rubbing alcohol and Pine-sol

Tastes very tart at first then leaves a bitter lemony aftertaste. No real flavors other than lemon. Nothing that to remind you of a Riesling what so ever. This tastes more like solvent than wine.

The Ironstone Vineyards website doesn’t list this wine at all. I have to assume it is because they are ashamed to have ever put their label on such crap, their site doesn’t list any Rieslings what so ever. So what gives? Was this some cheap excuse to import some rotgut and throw your label on it, make a quick buck, and charge a far more that reasonable amount for something that should have been turned into compost?

Ironstone owes everyone who ever was assaulted by this crap a refund and an apology.

Wine Tasting:
Fünf German Riesling

Winery: Schmitt Sohne
Brand/Type: Riesling
Vintage: N/A
Country: Germany
Region: N/A
Alcohol content: 9%
Closure: Screw cap
Appearance: Pale straw
Aroma/Bouquet: Green Apple, solvent

I love a good Riesling. In fact I would have to say that Riesling is my favorite type of wine. Good Rieslings can be had fairly cheap (really good ones cost a bit more). The 2005 harvest has recently hit the US market and my favorite wine store has cases of new wine stacked in the aisles and many of them are bargain priced. In the midst of these new offerings was something named Funf. “German Riesling” the label states. Isn’t that almost redundant? Like French Champagne? I bought it despite a little German accented voice in my head warning me otherwise.

From the Schmitt Sonne press release:

Fünf, a light and easy to drink German Riesling, will sell at price points from $5.99 to $6.99 (750 ml) at retailers nationwide. The name, which translated from German means “five”, is designed to promote Fünf as the perfect drink when the “fun begins at 5.” The frosted white bottle features cobalt blue accents, a large numeral 5 behind the logo, and a German umlaut over the U in the name, which is a subtle representation of a smiling face.

Well I had obtained my bottle before I read the press release. Had I read it first I would have listened to my gut instinct and left it on the shelf. I’m of Swiss-German descent. My grandfather Weinzapf was a Swiss immigrant who came from a 2000 year old tradition of wine making, selling and of course drinking.

My grandmother however was 100% German. She was a gentle and kind lady who sipped her share of wine. I do however think that after tasting Funf that she would spit it out and declare it to be “scheisse!” Grandpa would not be pleased with Funf either.

The bottle does look a bit like a cheap version of an Arbor Mist offering. Not that Arbor Mist is exactly a fine wine either but when you share the looks of a distinctly low-end wine you probably share more than looks alone.

The obvious “corporate speak” marketing pitch on the bottle doesn’t bode well either;

“After work, during dinner, on the town. With a special someone or lots of friends. Open a bottle and add a little FunF to your life.”

Don’t do this to friends or someone special. Not unless “someone special” is someone you hate and want to inflict pain upon.

So by now you must be asking, “How does it taste?” I’ll elaborate on the speculated opinion of my Grandmother: It has a green apple and honeydew flavor that only slightly teases you with those samples of flavor. It quickly turns to a sickly sweet and grapefruit-ish palate. It then descends to a bitter-sour finish. It has a syrupy consistency that I’ve heard some people complain about when they say they don’t like Rieslings. There is no mineral, no acidity, nothing to balance any of the sweet and syrupy taste. I did find the bitter element somewhat disturbing. Disturbing like an East German propaganda film. Even Leni Riefenstahl films had nicer endings than this did.

This is one wine to avoid. If you are new to wine and have never tried a Riesling, do not try this one. Funf is not something I would recommend to anyone.

Wine Tasting:
2004 Hans von Wilhelm Riesling

Winery: Hans von Wilhelm
Brand/Type: Spätlese Riesling
Vintage: 2004
Country: Germany
Region: Mosel – Saar – Rüwer (Piesporter Michelsberg)
Alcohol content: 8.5%
Closure: Natural Cork
Appearance: Pale dishwater blonde
Aroma/Bouquet: Green Apple

Very nice, bold and fruity, sweet-tart flavors of green apple. Not the most complex but far from simple. This is a very affordable German import that is typical of most Spätlese Rieslings. Enjoy it with a meal (goes well with Thanksgiving turkey) or as an apertif.

Wine Tasting:
Franz Reh & Son 2002 Pinot Grigio

Winery: Franz Reh & Son
Brand/Type: Pinot Grigio
Vintage: 2002
Country: Germany
Region: Pfalz
Alcohol content: 12.5%
Closure: Synthetic Cork
Appearance: Pale gold
Aroma/Bouquet: Lemon, pine

Dry, slight bit of oak, strong sharp finish with a hint of pear at the end.

An affordable wine that is very respectable. This is a fairly simple wine without much complexity but you can do far worse with other high priced pinot grigios. If you find this buy it. You’ll do no harm to your palate or pocketbook.

Wine Tasting:
2001 Schloss Schönborn Kabinett Riesling

Winery: Schloss Schönborn
Brand/Type: Kabinett Riesling
Vintage: 2001
Country: Germany
Region: Rheingau Hattenheimer Pfaffenberg
Alcohol content: 9.5%
Closure: Natural Cork
Appearance: Light blonde
Aroma/Bouquet: Peach, pear, hint of vanilla

Coming from a very old and respected winery, we had high expectations of this wine. We were not disapointed!

It’s a very crisp Kabinett that is wonderfully complex and balanced. It’s a dry Riesling (as you would expect from a Kabinett) and is indeed one Riesling that can stand on its own or be paired with a multitude of fine foods. Fish and fowl and even pork go well with this wine. It is also a wonderful wine to drink by itself on a warm summer night.

As expected of Kabinetts, it is a dry Riesling with just a tiny hint of sweetness. While it has a mostly pear and peach taste it also has a tangerine/citrus element that adds a degree of tartness and balance. While it has these delicate fruit tastes it still maintains itself as dry wine.

Schloss Schönborn is one of Germany’s oldest producers of wine and their experience is proven in this offering.

Wine Review:
2004 Leonard Kreusch Riesling

Winery: Leonard Kreusch
Brand/Type: Riesling
Vintage: 2004
Country: Germany
Region: Mosel – Saar – Ruwer
Alcohol content: 9.5%
Closure: Synthetic Cork
Appearance: Light blonde
Aroma/Bouquet: Peach, orange, and apricot

This a middle of the road Riesling that seems geared toward neither impressing nor offending your palate or pocketbook. No classification is declared on the stereotypical blue bottle so we assume it is a blended wine using whatever combination picking that the vineyard(s?) offered at the time. If pressed, an Auslese would be my classification of this bottle. It’s a semi-sweet wine with the usual fruity Riesling attributes, somewhat mineral, orange, and apricot.

Wine Review:
2004 Wilhelm Bergmann Riesling Kabinett

Winery: Wilhelm Bergmann
Brand/Type: Bernakasteler Kurfürstlay Riesling Kabinett
Vintage: 2004
Country: Germany
Region: Mosel Saar Ruwer
Alcohol content: 9.5%
Closure: Natural Cork
Appearance: Pale blonde
Aroma/Bouquet: Light floral, citrus and pear

This is a classic German Kabinett that starts off lightly sweet and transforms to a rewarding complex finish that is full of fruity flavors. Has a slightly tart (citrus) element that fends off any undue sweetness. This wine has an Auslese like initial taste with a solid and genuine Kabinett body.

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