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European Riesling Feast

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There’s a feast for European riesling lovers in my latest lot of tasting notes. From my recent trip to the Mosel Valley and Alsace, there are more than 75 wines from Schloss Lieser (tastings), Fritz Haag (tastings), Joh Jos Prüm (tastings), Dr Loosen (tastings) and Albert Mann (tastings) now in the system.

Most of the wines are riesling – and many are from the 2013 vintage (tastings) which is just starting to come onto the market in Australia – but there are also four outstanding Alsace pinot noirs from Albert Mann from 2012 vintage (see the separate news item). The tastings include a smattering of older vintages which show just how superbly these wines age. Witness the 1985 Fritz Haag Juffer Sonnenuhr Spatlese (tasting), a gem of a wine. Several producers showed me 2003s, which they obviously enjoy doing just to impress visitors who are perhaps not expecting these wines, from the hottest summer on record, to be aging so beautifully. Just over 10 years down the track, they are real eye-openers.

The 2013 vintage on the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer was a reduced yield but very high-quality harvest, with very intense flavours and high acidities. There was also a lot of botrytis around, so most estates made a full range of sweeter styles, although the top end (Beerenauslesen and Trockenbeerenauslesen) won’t be seen for a while yet. But the dry wines, or trockens, and the lighter ‘fruity’ styles (kabinetts, spatlesen and auslesen) are already approachable and lovely. Some estates such as J.J. Prüm made little or no dry wine, because the season was so good for sweeter styles and with the yields so low, every grape counts. Yields were reduced by between one-third and one-half. Other estates made a smaller range of sweet wines than they would usually, because they consolidated some parcels of wine – again the result of the small harvest.

These are superb wines which are well worth buying to cellar as well as drink young. 

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