There is nothing unusual with me drinking Mosel Riesling from the village of Piesport. Quite the opposite in fact - it would not be far off to call this my favourite tipple. This time it was unusual though as I tasted the Kabinett from the Goldtröpfchen vineyard blind, against a much cheaper Mosel wine produced for the export market.
Why would I do that? It is a long-ish story, but if you care you can read it in my open letter to Waitrose. For the moment let's just say I needed to demonstrate what a good wine from the Mosel village of Piesport tastes like.
Following Julian's recent debacle with a Württemberg Riesling I felt our shocked and terrified readership is in need of comfort and reassurance. Will the Wine Rambler now drink Liebfraumilch only? Has German Riesling failed? Will Modern Talking re-unite? The world may indeed be doomed, I won't dare speculate what Dieter Bohlen might do, but I can assure you that German Riesling has not gone bad.
And to give us some comfort after the shocking events of last episode, here is a classic: Riesling Auslese from the Mosel.
Of all the longer and shorter wine tours and winery visits I have undertaken the 2008 trip to the Mosel is the one I have the fondest memories of. Not only was it part of a longer holiday and involved the full Wine Rambler committee, I also had the chance to meet some of my favourite winemakers and cycle along the fantastic Mosel cycle paths. And it was asparagus season - easy access to white asparagus is probably where London is weakest on the food supply front.
Among the wineries we visited was Reuscher-Haart, one of several branches of the Haart family living in the famous wine village Piesport. The last wine left from that visit is (or was) this 2006 late harvest Riesling.
Even Wine Ramblers do have a birthday. Just recently, it was the birthday of THE Wine Rambler and also of my co-Rambler Julian. My birthday is already a few months past, but there is still something to report on: When I met our Munich branch as part of my birthday celebrations, I found myself presented with a special gift.
Co-Rambler Julian likes to hunt for aged wines on eBay (great if you are in Germany, imppossile in the UK because of legal restrictions), and for my birthday he managed to find a bottle of a suitably aged Riesling from a Mosel winery that has my personal seal of approval.
Piesport is a lovely village in the German Mosel Valley. Because of the peculiarities of the German wine law, the name can show up on the labels of very cheap wines from somewhere in the area (Piesporter Michelsberg), or it can be on first class Riesling from some of the Mosel's best vineyards. After having recently indulged myself in the delights of the supermarket wine version, it is now time to revisit the outstanding Goldtröpfchen vineyard version.
"Goldtröpfchen" means little drop of gold, and the Rieslings made by Theo Haart and family in Piesport can indeed be described as such. Today's Haart Riesling even comes with a gold capsule ("Goldkapsel"), indicating that the Haarts were particularly pleased with the quality of what went into this bottle.
Over the past few years I have reviewed quite a few Haart Rieslings, and for this reason I had considered scaling down for a while (with the writing, not the drinking of course) in order not to bore you. It's good I did not make it into a New Year's resolution though, as the latest Haart I opened was so stunning I honestly cannot remember having had a young Mosel late harvest Riesling of this quality.
Cool mineral, herbs and peach - whenever I hear these words I have to think of the bouquet of the Rieslings Theo Haart produces from grapes grown in the famous Goldtröpfchen vineyard at the Mosel. This wine is no exception, it just adds tropical fruit and a hint of citrus to the mix, plus aromas of rubber balls and a faint hint of vegetable, identified as broccoli by my friend Bethan. For a wine of Auslese quality it is still relatively young, so maybe give it some decanter love to allow it to develop properly.
For over 700 years the Haart family has been making wine in the Mosel valley village of Piesport. While I have no idea what wine they may have grown in the middle ages, these days it is exclusively Riesling - and most of it is sweet or off-dry. A small percentage of the wines are dry though, and this Great Growth (GG) is the top dry wine from the famous Goldtröpfchen (=little drop of gold) vineyard.
The colour is a clear, strawish yellow, more on the gold-dark side perhaps. The nose features cool mineral, herbs (more on the sage-mint side) and a hint of petrol (that almost disappeared on the second day).
Recently, I found myself drinking with friends who were discussing which type of vegetable they would like to be. When I asked them how they would rate me, Charlotte suggested I could be a squash. Unfortunately I never really found out why she classified me in this way, partly because she went on to say she would quite like to be a courgette. Today's wine, luckily, is not like a vegetable. Instead it is very easy to describe in terms of fruit: take the most deliciously juicy peach you can imagine, add passion fruit, and caramelise it with lots of sugar and some gold, sprinkle finely with herbs and serve in a stony cup with a dash of menthol, spice and lemon juice. As you can see this description really does not work in relation to vegetables, but I can tell you that if this wine were a human being it would have to be the young Liv Tyler - just in blond.
On a glorious, sunny day (or, in this case, quite a few hours after the sun went down after such a day), not much beats a glorious, sunny Riesling, in particular if it is so very quaffable and yet elegant as this one. Yes, I am again drinking one of the fruity Rieslings made by Theo Haart, this time a lighter wine in 'Kabinett' style.
If you ask me to name a winemaker who has really impressed me with consistently, year for year letting the quality (let's avoid the word terroir here, shall we) of an outstanding vineyard shine, well, then I would probably name Theo Haart. Sure, there are others, but I have now tasted his late harvest Rieslings from the famous Piesporter Goldtröpfchen for the vintages 1999 and 2001-2008 (the 05 though is still sitting here, waiting for its day), and not only are they all first class wines, they are also very distinct and consistent in style. The '08 is no exception and, boring as it may sound when I write about Haart late harvest Riesling, just a lovely wine.
It has been a while, way too long, actually, since I reported on a wine made by the lovely people from the Haart winery. The winery is based in the village of Piesport, a name that is infamous in the UK for cheap wine, but famous among wine lovers for the Goldtröpfchen (little drop of gold) vineyard, one of the best at the Mosel. The Haart family has been making wine since the 14th century and the sweet Rieslings of Theo Haart, who runs the family estate with his wife and son, have an excellent reputation. For me they are also the embodiment of what I love about the Mosel style of winemaking.
Three bottles. I managed to get my greedy hands on three bottles of this wine last year - regular readers of the Wine Rambler will know that I am a big fan of the lovely wines Theo Haart creates at the Haart family estate overlooking the Mosel river. Most of the wines are sweet, but every year there are a few bottles of dry wines. 'Großes Gewächs' is German for 'great growth' and indicates that you are drinking a dry wine from a top vineyard as certified by the German Association of Premier Winemakers (VdP). Basically, think of it as a dry Spätlese (late harvest) or Auslese. So three bottles. One went down the drain last weekend because it was corked - it tasted of burnt smoke and vinegar. This means I am now down to two. [read the full post...]
If you like aged Riesling, if you want a perfectly balanced, well rounded wine, if you crave the sensation of a wine that makes your palate feel smooth and peachy - go for this gem from the Mosel. Followers of the Wine Rambler will have noticed that we do tend to like the fruity Rieslings Theo Haart makes and this one is no exception. It is, in fact, the oldest Haart we have tasted for the Rambler and it demonstrates the potential of these wines. [read the full post...]
Is there anything better than a nicely aged, excellent Riesling? I am not sure, but drinking this late harvest from winemaker Haart makes me think there may not be many things that would be better.
The colour is just beautiful, shiny gold with a hint of green. The nose is sophisticated, juicy peach with light herbal notes, cool, buttery mineral and the slightest hint of petrol. [read the full post...]
Not many things in life beat a late harvest Riesling from the Mosel - sweet, yes, but usually well balanced with acidity and mineral that combine to a perfect sensation that is way too elegant and vibrant to be simply considered a sweet dessert wine. On top of that many of these wines are low on alcohol too. One of my favourite producers of sweet Riesling is Reinhold Haart, a small family owned estate overlooking the Mosel river in the old winemaking village of Piesport. [read the full post...]
Looks quite fizzy, lots of small bubbles, greenish colour. Fresh in the nose. Everything about this wine is very fruity at first, almost like an exotic fruit explosion. Also, it seemed to me somewhat unbalanced at first, going through various stages in a short time, sometimes emphasizing fresh lemony acidity, a little mineral, then suddenly grapefruit.
However, after two hours or so, everything settles down, the mineral gets stronger, the rest of the flavours order themselves around it and a nice and orderly German fashion.
Still very young, but quite nice after two+ hours with air. Especially for the price!
If to me some of the recent 2006 wines were like an acid handgranade, this Riesling here is the 80mm shell. Dry, edgy, green apple with a hint of nut. And a clearly defined core of steely acidity with just enough fruit flavours decorated around it to give you a proper punch. [read the full post...]