Tasting Reviews

German and Austrian Riesling and Terroir, with Andrew Hedley

Thoughtful winegrowers and consumers are very aware of how soils and terroir affect the taste of wine. How these tastes are manifest can be a personal and subjective experience, but generally similar terms and descriptions emanate from discussion. It was this theme that was explored at a tasting held at my former place of work, Regional Wines & Spirits, where tastings co-ordinator John Shearlock invited Andrew Hedley to show a selection of German and Austrian wines from his ‘Oh So Pretty’ imported wine portfolio. Andrew is better known as the winemaker at Framingham in Marlborough, where he makes arguably the best Rieslings in New Zealand. I’m sure that Andrew’s familiarity with Riesling in a global sense enables him to make such outstanding expressions of the variety at Framingham. The tastings at Regional Wines have always featured fascinating themes, so this was a tasting I would have not missed. www.regionalwines.co.nz

Andrew Hedley - Oh So Pretty & Framingham Wines

The Tasting
Ten wines were presented in pairs to demonstrate what differences soil may make to the taste of a wine. The pairs of Riesling wines were each from the same producer, made in the trocken style, assuming that vinification was pretty much identical. The wines were not necessarily the most ‘expressive’ from each producer, but more introductory in hierarchy. Even at this level, there were apparent differences, not only in aroma and taste, but also in texture, this latter attribute, according to Andrew, possibly not focussed on as much by drinkers. Attendees were implored to include texture as part of the comparison process.

There were three pairs of German Riesling wines and one Austrian Riesling pair presented, followed by a pair of German Pinot Noirs, these more for interest. The German producers were Clemens Busch from the Mosel, Wittmann from the Rheinhessen, Rebholz from the Pfalz. The Austrian wines were from Brundlmayer in the Kamptal region. Following are my notes:

The Mosel Wines
Here, the grey slate wine has fine and delicate textures, with purity and finesse of expression, whereas the red slate wine is rich with some warmer features and grainier phenolics.

Clemens Busch ‘Vom Grauen Schiefer’ Riesling 2015
Bright, pale straw colour with yellow at the core. The nose is very fresh and steely with mineral, lime and floral aromas, tightly bound and mouthwatering. Dry to taste, the palate has limes, florals and mineral elements forming a steely line. This is brisk with acidity and follows a very fine, textural line, finishing with classical Mosel citrussy crispness. This has lovely purity and zestiness. From younger vines in company owned vineyards on grey slate. 11.0% alc. 18.0+/20 Mar 2017 RRP $38.00

Clemens Busch ‘Vom Roten Schiefer’ Riesling 2015
Very pale straw-yellow colour with some depth. The nose is soft with gently ripe yellow floral aromas, with some honied notes, showing good presence. Dry to taste, the palate is elegant, but has weight, soft richness and some underlying alcohol drive. The palate has a little textural grip, and soft acidity, enhancing the palate presence and body. This has richness and plush feel, but retains freshness. From younger vines in the ‘Rothenpfad’ vineyard on red slate. 11.5% alc. 18.0+/20 Mar 2017 RRP $38.00

The Rheinhessen Wines
Overall, both Rheinhessen wines are softer than the Mosel wines. The limestone soiled wine with linearity, whereas the red sandstone soiled wine has a very even, but more exotic nature.

Wittmann Westhofener Riesling Trocken 2015
Straw-yellow colour with slight golden hues. This is soft and delicate on the nose with citrus and slate aromas, showing honey and mineral notes, the aromatics lifted and quite harmonious, and integrated. Dry to taste, the fruit is rich and lends weight to the palate, and flows with fine extract and grip. This has a concentrated core, with fresh acidity lending linearity, leading to a long finish, combining honey and minerals. This has intensity, concentration and drive. From soils of clay and marl interspersed with limestone. 13.0% alc. 18.0+/20 Mar 2017 RRP $46.80

Wittmann Niersteiner Riesling Trocken 2015 
Deepish straw-yellow colour with slight golden hues. The nose is soft, broad and harmoniously integrated, very even in expression, showing yellow florals and honey with some exoticism. Dry to taste and very elegant, this has a fine, tight core and line, the wine flowing with finesse and lusciousness. This has delicacy, refined acidity and a lifted floral finish. From ‘Rotliegend’ soil, a red-coloured mixture of slate and sandstone. 13.5% alc. 18.0/20 Mar 2017 RRP $46.80

The Rheinpfalz Wines
The wines of the Pfalz have traditionally been richer, softer, broader and with more exotic and warm fruit character, as well as weightier than say the Mosel,, Nahe, Rheingau and Rheinhessen, reflecting the climate from the southerly location and the soils. Interestingly the Rehbolz wines retain freshness, elegance and minerality.

Okonomierat Rebholz ‘Vom Buntsndstein’ Riesling Trocken 2015 
Bright straw-yellow colour. The nose is refined and very elegant with classic proportions, showing apples, lime fruit and florals, the fragrances growing in the glass. Rich and soft, but elegant and lively, this has gentle and fine textures, good linearity, a smooth flow and subtle acidity. Lovely finesse, revealing flowery and herbal notes on the finish. From coloured sandstone soil. 12.5% alc. 18.0+/20 Mar 2017 RRP $50.40

Okonomierat Rebholz ‘Vom Muschelkalk’ Riesling Trocken 2015 
Straw-yellow colour with light golden hues and some depth. The nose is tight and firm with fresh, mouthwatering drive and intensity. Florals and mineral notes. On palate this has power and depth, with crisp acid cut. Driven linearity and a slight phenolic grip, quite positive as fruit extract. Lovely minerals and saline characters. Great sense of earth and terroir here. From shell bearing limestone soil. 12.5% alc. 18.5/20 Mar 2017 RRP $50.40

The Austrian Wines
There are of course similarities with German Trocken Riesling, but the Austrian Rieslings are individual in their purity and drive. These Brundlmayers show sheer beauty and elegance, the Kamptal character of elegance combined with fine ripeness and textures.

Brundlmayer ‘Steinmassel’ 1OTW Riesling 2015
Very pale coloured, with straw hues. The nose is refined and delicate with soft florals. This has subtlety, finesse and detail. Very fresh, bright, vibrant and tightly bound, the palate has linear flow and drive, with delicate floral and mineral detail, unfolding nuances of herbs. There is tautness and crisp acidity. A sense of linearity here. Younger vines from soil with primary rock with mica schist. 12.5% alc. 18.0/20 Mar 2017 RRP $45.70

Brundlmayer ‘Heiligenstein’ 1OTW Riesling 2015 
Light straw-yellow colour. This has a firm and tightly bound nose, with depth and penetration, real density, and underlying power to the aromatics. Noticeably dry, with some grip and fruit extract textures, good body and the wine growing in breadth. Limes, citrus fruits and florals, along with minerals. The fruit is lush, but balanced by razor acidity. Great energy and tension. A more complete, zesty and driven wine. The Zobinger ‘Heiligenstein’ vineyard is on 270 million y.o. Perm desert sandstone soil. 12.5% alc. 18.5-/20 Mar 2017 RRP $51.80

The Pinot Noir Wines
Certainly European expressions with less sweet fruit, and more textures. Interesting to compare with our N.Z. wines, ours with greater complexities and inputs, and arguably better and ahead. Both from calcareous soils, the Rehbolz from the Pfalz, and Wittmann from the Rheinhessen.

Okonomierat Rebholz ‘Tradition’ Spatburgunder 2013
Even red colour with slight garnet hues. The red cherry fruit is tightly bound, but smothered by a spicy oak layering. Medium-bodied, the palate features a deep, rounded core of straightforward red berry fruits, with oak spices very prevalent. The fruit is underlined by fine, grainy tannin grip, and the acidity crisp and refreshing. The phenolic line carries the wine to a firm finish with good length. Destemmed and aged 2 years in French and German wood. From Muschelkalk soils. 13.0% alc. 17.5-/20 Mar 2017 RRP $48.80

Wittmann Westhofener Spatburgunder Trocken 2014
Even ruby-red colour with slight purple hues. The nose is soft and harmonious with good concentration of red liquorice and red berry fruits along with herbal elements and oak spicing, unfolding fragrant florals. Smooth and even on palate, quite softly interwoven red cherry and berry flavours, along with spicy oak. The palate has balanced tannin extraction and smooth velvety flow. The balance is very good, and the palate flows smoothly to a long soft cored finish Quite harmonious.. Soils of marl interspersed with limestone. 12.5% alc. 17.5/20 Mar 2017 RRP $51.10


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