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Riesling – One of the Great White Wines: Some Examples from Dr. H. Thanisch

Riesling is clearly among the great white wine grapes in the world, capable of producing refreshing whites, complex and profound whites, and long lasting, age worthy whites.  They can range from dry to very sweet.  Some can bring significant body and complexity.  It is a broad canvas.

Mosel River Hillside Vineyards

Mosel River Hillside Vineyards

Traditionally, the home of great Riesling has been Germany, although the grape is now grown around the world.  Usually there is a telltale aroma of petroleum in a classic German Riesling, along with lots of fruit.  Riesling has always been one of my favorite wines, and I like all the different styles.  If I had to pick a favorite it would be an off dry version, because they can be incredibly versatile as well as delicious.  Generally Riesling is grown in cooler climates, which helps

Dr. H. Thanisch Winery

Dr. H. Thanisch Winery

maintain the acid levels.  These offset the sugars and can result in a wine with amazing freshness, even if it does have noticeable sweetness.

Right now it is hovering near zero here in the Northeast, but I still open a Riesling without hesitation.  They are great any time of year.

As an example of all of this, let’s look at a traditional German Riesling producer, one which has been making wine for hundreds of years from some

of the best vineyards in the Mosel Valley.  The Thanisch family starting making wine in the 1600s, at least as far as records go.  Perhaps it was even earlier.  Their wines gained fame for their unmatched quality.  It was near the end of the 18th century that the family purchased the Berncasteler Doctor vineyard, in the middle of the best winelands Germany has to offer.  The name

Doctor's Vineyard

Doctor’s Vineyard

actually originates from an old story, in which a Prince was purportedly cured of his illness by drinking wine from this vineyard.  Now that’s a therapy regimen I can support.

The Doctor’s Vineyard is one of the most valuable and revered vineyards in Germany, and the Thanisch Estate today covers over 40 acres of prime vineyard land in the Mosel Valley.  It is now in

the hands of Barbara Rundquist-Müller, a niece of one of the granddaughters of Dr. Hugo Thanisch.  It was Hugo who had pushed the winery into international fame back in the mid-19th century, a status they have always since maintained.  These days there is a focus on sustainable farming and virtually all the work is done by hand.

We have two wines from the Dr. H. Thanisch to review:

2016 Bernkasteler Badstube Riesling Kabinett – This wine comes from the Badstube Vineyards on the steep IMG_1202Bernkasteler hillsides of the Mosel Valley.  The area is known for its minerality, racy but stable acidity and excellent aging potential.  Our thoughts:

This has the classic nose of a traditional German Riesling, with just a touch of petrol, bright fruit and some spicy undertones.  On the palate it is clean and crisp, showing a bit more sweetness than you would normally expect from a Kabinett level wine.  The acidity keeps it beautifully balanced, with the expected minerality keeping it on edge.  Nice fruit the whole way through as well.  This is a beautiful wine, and a good value at $22.

2016 Feinherb Riesling QBA – the QbA designates a quality level in the German system, in this case Qualitätswein bestimmter Anbaugebiete, which is the second highest level.  The German system can be a bit confusing.  This wine is IMG_1201sourced from grapes grown in the middle area of the Mosel, from an area which you would expect to bring a flinty minerality.  They were picked early, at a ripeness equivalent with a Kabinett level sweetness in the finished wine.  Our impression:

The wine is a light gold in color.  The nose brings peaches and apple.  On the palate the fruit is clean, and the pear and apple are accentuated with lemon notes.  The classic touch of petrol is there as well.  This has 23 grams per liter of sugar, but comes across a bit drier than you would expect.  It is off dry, complex, clean and pretty wonderful.  Also a great value at $14.

Both of the wines above are a great way to experience the wonderful world of German Riesling.  At these prices you can’t go wrong.  Don’t forget the breadth of what Riesling can offer as well.  You can spend years exploring what might become a lifelong addiction.

A votre santé!

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