Ladies and Gentlemen,
I love Riesling. I love German wines. My grasp, however, of the laws and vineyards of Germany suck. I am the first to admit it, and was reminded of it today during the TopSomm competition. Asked to pair a number of dishes with German wines with a GG (Grosses Gewachs) designation, I couldn’t state more than 3 to save my life (trust me, there are a crapload more than 3). We think of Germany as the home, the holy grail of Riesling, but this land is certainly more than its’ parts. And, as a wine dude, I get giddy like a schoolgirl when tasting these wines. Why can’t I speak intelligently about them?
I think it has to do with the sheer number of vineyards, along with the language. German wine law is easier to understand than in years past, but is still an exercise more suited for engineers and rocket scientists. I say in jest; you cannot escape the anal retentive strict personality of the German wine code, regardless of how much alcohol consumed. In addition, the lack of these wines on most restaurant programs make it difficult to gain access to them. And, quite frankly, I ain’t been there. I am reminded of certain guys in the business who can rattle these storied einzellagen (the German term for individual vineyard sites) off as second nature. These folk know where the umlauts go, the great producers in every wine growing region. Geisenheim gets them off. They have an intimacy that I can only hope to attain.
And Germany, with the advent of high-quality Spatburgunder (Pinot Noir), Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc), and Grauburgunder (Pinot Gris), the opportunities are endless. The cyclical nature of global warming has made the marginal climates of Germany more attractive to the palate for red wines, and richer, more expressive whites. Sylvaner, relegated to a novelty of sorts, is capable of world-class vino in the right hands. Chardonnay is on the move, with more vineyards dedicated to this variety, and early results are promising, if still a ways off from rivaling Burgundy…
Thinking a trip to the Mosel may be in my future…