Friday, December 04, 2009

Riesling, in the hands of Steffen Christmann

Yesterday Daniel Hubbard brought me some wine to taste, and in the process, gave me a great lesson on terroir in the Pfalz. We tasted four current releases from Steffen Christmann (current winegrower of A. Christmann). The wines:

Riesling '08, Pfalz. Read "Bourgogne Blanc" where you see "Pfalz" and you get the idea behind the labeling here. tasting notes: ripe pit fruit/mineral smells and barely sweet, sizzling, absurdly concentrated flavors - this is the "basic" wine?! At 11.5%, this is substantial and made me wonder how much better the following wines could be. I needn't have worried.

Riesling '08 , Gimmeldingen. Consider this one the "village" wine in the group. From the first whiff, it is obviously quite different from the "basic" wine. tasting notes: more mineral, then blossoms, then stoney sort of crystalline fruit - wow - sizzling. This wine, like the next two, is 13% alcohol.

Riesling '08 SC, Deidesheimer Paradiesgarten. The "1er cru." tasting notes: saline/mineral/blossom/lime/pit fruit smells and crackling, sizzling flavors - imagine riesling grown on the ocean! Daniel insists the salinity is typical of the Pfalz. The "SC" stands for Steffen Christmann.

IDIG '07 GG, Pfalz. The "GG" stands for Gross Gewachs, the VDP equivalent of "grand cru." Indeed, it is why Steffen left "riesling" off the front label. Calling IDIG "riesling" is like calling MONTRACHET "chardonnay." tasting notes: ceverything - minerality/ripe blossomy fruit/ginger - sizzling acidity - incredibly rich texture with an electric current running through it. Great wine - I wrote this in today's email:

Sometimes I taste a wine that defies description. Written notes simply fail to adequately capture the experience of of tasting something that offers different facets of flavor with every sip. Imagine taking a still picture of a beautiful bird in flight; the photo can't possibly capture the experience of seeing the actual flight.


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