Monday, May 19, 2008

The Kabinetts of Dr. Riesling

I went to the Wines of Germany 2008 tasting last week ("Riesling & Co. World Tour 2008"!) This event never seems to include the stars of Deutschland, aside from the wonderful, dependable Dr. H. Thanisch. Just lesser-known strivers, mainly. (One of my favorites from last year, Balthasar Ress of Rheingau, was missing this time around.)

But the gathering serves as a decent yardstick of what to expect from the coming vintage. Everyone I questioned seemed happy with the 2007 vintage, saying the weather had been good all through. The man monitoring the Leitz table said that many of the Spatlese and Auslese grapes had in 2007 been declassified and were fed into the vintage's Kabinetts, making them fuller and richer and, according to him, more representative of the Kabinett style of Riesling. He also said this was done in part to counter of glut of Ausleses and Spatleses on the market.

Indeed, the Leitz Kabinetts did seem to have more to offer than I am used to in these wines. The stars of the wines I tasted, however, was the entire line-up at Marcus Moliter, a Mosel winery that is unique in Germany in that it goes for natural fermentation. Only naturally occurring yeasts are used. The wine is filtered, but not fined. The grapes are picked late and left on the lees for months.

The results are hard to argue with. The 2007 Bernkasteler Backstude Kabinett was refreshingly tart and metallic. The 2007 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Kabinett, from slate soil, spoke distinctly of apricot and honey, and the 2006 Auslese from the Zeltinger Sonnenuhr was simply beautiful.

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