Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Winey Tasting Notes: Sipping German on a New Jersey Patio (Fritz Windisch Niersteiner Spiegelberg Riesling Kabinet)

Once again, my quest to try wines of different regions (internationally as well as nationally) took me to: my mother's patio in New Jersey. Just wait, there is an international hook here.

You may remember my mother from some other articles I have written. If you don't, let me sum it up for you: the woman loves her White Zinfandel. And only White Zinfandel. I have tried to slip some lovely dry rosés to her, only to be thwarted by her sneaky ways - Winey Tasting Notes: The Crusher Rose of Pinot Noir (or: how my own mother punked me).  But on a recent visit, I found that she had discovered the joy of German Rieslings. Now, I'm not saying that this has changed her tastes totally, and that she has now moved onto big, oakey Chardonnays. That would be asking WAY too much. But, as I see it, this is one of the first wines that she has willingly sipped that was not pink. And I had just done some reading on German Rieslings, so I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised.

This visit coincided with the Fourth of July and a major heat wave. I mean major heat wave. The Winey Daughter and I headed out to the beach one day and proceeded to spend nearly the entire time in the water - forget trying to read or lay out or grab a sand nap - the air was positively dripping on us. And it was no different on my mother's patio, where we gamefully attempted take our wine and sip outside before sunset. (Not that sunset was helping much.) On a night like this, I couldn't even face a red wine (seriously, it was that hot), so when I saw the bottle of Fritz Windisch Niersteiner Spiegelberg Riesling Kabinett (2009, Rheinhessen, Germany, 10.5%), I snagged it from the fridge. 

How do you like all those names on the label? Here's a quick little translation for you: Fritz Windisch is the producer of the wine. Niersteiner Spiegelberg is the name of the vineyard. Riesling is the varietal. Kabinett (part of Germany's classification system) is one of the six levels in the Prädikatswein category, which is made up of most high quality German wines. The Kabinett wines are made from fully ripened grapes, and have the lowest sugar content of Prädikat designation. The wines are usually light, semi-sweet with crisp acidity. So, since I was born in New Jersey, my German Prädikatswein wine name would be: 1963 Winey Family Livingston Riesling Kabinett (I don't consider myself sugary, so I gave myself the Kabinett designation). Now you know how Germans name their wines and how old I am. Aren't you glad?

On to the wine now. This was a pale gold in color. I kept sniffing and sniffing, but it was hard to find much of an aroma (could have been the heat, or the fact that my mother and her significant other were watching me and laughing). It did have a lovely taste though! There were flowers and apple blossoms with a little honey around the edges. I felt as if I were sipping a springtime orchard. It was much sweeter than I expected a Kabinett Riesling to be, and as for the expected acidity, I really didn't catch it. Again, maybe the heat (no wine could stay properly chilled outside that night). But: it was oh so good on that sultry New Jersey evening.

My mother has declared this her new favorite. I am proud of her for moving on, although I'd like to see her try some less sweet German Rieslings, which tend toward the amazing category. But to start out on a whole new varietal is a major sipping step for her. I would call this the perfect patio wine as well as the perfect transitional step into getting someone away from the pink. It's also one of the less expensive German wines, so if need be, you can stock up!


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