Ansgar Clüsserath, Trittenheimer Apotheke, Riesling Kabinett, 2011
Remember that one perfect meal? That special memory that has been with you for years? A taste or texture you can still recall? Some treasure these memories so much that they do not want to go back to the restaurant in question as they fear it might not live up to the memory and spoil it. Now, I think it is worth taking that risk, but in the few cases when you are let down I do wonder whether the disappointment might come from expectations that are just too high for anyone to meet.
Today's wine is such a case, but luckily I had help judging it.
It's been quite a few years, but I still remember the moment I opened my first Mosel Riesling. I was having friends over for dinner and the recipe was Thai, sweetish but with some heat. My wine knowledge at the time was even more limited than it is now, but through my dad I had picked up a few things - such as that Riesling can be great with spicy Asian food. The Riesling in question had been left after a party by a guest (I suspect my now co-Rambler Julian) and was from a Mosel vineyard called "Apotheke" ("pharmacy") and made by the Clüsserath-Weiler family. I loved the wine, so much so I ordered my first ever case of wine, directly from the producer. While I still have a soft spot for wines from the Apotheke I never again had wine from Clüsserath-Weiler. Maybe because sometimes even this Wine Rambler fears to spoil the memory. Maybe for the straightforward reason that none of my wine merchants have them in their portfolio. However, I do buy the occasional bottle of Apotheke from another branch of the family who make excellent wine too and are always in stock.
After this long introduction let's fast forward a few years to a September evening when fellow wine blogger Paola (SipSwooshSpit) came round for dinner. A mildly spicy seafood dish and warm weather made this the ideal time for an off-dry Mosel Riesling. And from a good vineyard, a good vintage and made by a good producer it should have been a safe bet. That this Apotheke wine was fermented with natural yeasts and had spent a few extra months on lees in large tradition wooden barrels did not sound bad either.
The first nasal impression was good, but not overwhelming. A fresh, floral bouquet spiced with herbs and sweetened by charming fruit flavours; all good, but not quite the precision/excitement I was used to. The fruity, juicy impression continued on the tongue with a sweetish (~40g sugar per litre), quaffable almost grape-juicy expression. Add lime and peach flavours and finish with decent, almost salty minerality and you have got everything to be happy. Apart from that little something - the Apotheke was almost too round and smooth, if that makes sense, lacking edge to make the wine exciting, missing the depth and precision of flavours balanced with the grip of lively, precise acidity.
Disappointing, is what I thought, after all I had specifically picked this wine to let the Mosel Riesling magic shine for a guest who loves wine. Had specifically picked a vineyard I am attached to, a good producer and a branch of a winemaking family whose name means something to me. And this is where the trouble with expectations and unfairly comparing reality with an imagined past comes into play. Luckily, or perhaps rather sadly, Paola also felt the Riesling was lacking something - by all means not bad, but also not the material good memories are made from.