Edition Maximilian Rheingau Pinot Noir

Maker: Hans Lang, Eltville, Hesse, Germany.Ed Max Pinot 2009

Vintage: 2009

ABV: 11.5%

Purchased for: Around $7

Appearance: Light burgindy, like red raspberry juice.

Nose: Light and fruity. Strawberry, raspberry jam.

On the palate: Also light and fruity but with some complexity and not a lot of sweetness. Strawberry juice, underripe plum, cherry preserves, a dash of white pepper.

Finish: Pleasant but quick-fading. Some fruity sweetness followed by gentle oak.

Parting words: This is another favorite of mine from Trader Joe’s. The U.S. gets a very limited selection of fine German white wines. Good German reds are even harder to find. The German name for the grape is Spätburgunder but many German producers have been astutely using the more familiar French name on labels intended for sale in the U.S.

Rheingau is one of Germany’s historically great wine-producing regions. It lies on the north bank of the Rhine in the vicinity of Wiesbaden where the river takes a westward turn between where it is joined by the Main and where it turns back north. As one might expect Riesling is the mostly widely planted vine, but a significant proportion of Pinot Noir is also grown.

At any rate, I like this wine a lot for what it is. It lacks noticeable flaws, though it also lacks depth and complexity. It does very well with all types of cuisine and is very easy drinking. At $7 there’s nothing not to like. Edition Maximilian Rheingau 2009 Pinot Noir is recommended.

Karl Heinz Piesporter Michelsberg Riesling Auslese

Maker: Karl Heinz, Guntersblum, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany

Grape: Riesling

Region: Piesporter Michelsberg, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Germany

Ripeness: Auslese

Vintage: 2003

ABV: 8.5%

Appearance: Old gold

Nose: Barlett pear, Meyer lemon

On the palate: Soft mouthfeel. Delicate and citric. Honeysuckle, lemon thyme, coriander seed, lemongrass, limestone, a hint of green cardamom.

Finish: Like the final seconds of a lemonhead. Sweet with a tingly tartness slowly fading away.

Parting words: This was another corner store find. While walking with the kid in the stroller, we stopped into the local party store to grab some beer. I saw this bottle on the shelf. I was reluctant to get it. Sure it says Auslese, so by the book it should age well, but who knows how well it had been treated over the nine years of its life? And is Karl Heinz really that good? And it’s Piesporter Michelsberg, not Goldtröpfchen. But it is Riesling and only $10. In the end I got it, obviously.

I don’t regret my purchase at the least. This is a delicate, sophisticated wine that has aged gracefully. It’s sweet and complex, but not thick and syrupy. It’s the perfect choice for an afternoon or afterwork sip on the porch. Heinz Piesporter Michelsberg Riesling Auslese 2003 is highly recommended.

Heinz Eifel Eiswein

Maker: Römerhof, Trittenheim, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany

Grape: Silvaner?

Region: Rheinhessen, Germany

Vintage: 2009

Style: Ice wine

Appearance: Bright gold.

Nose: Mild, lemon tangerine, Bartlett pear, ,

On the palate: Thick and full-bodied. Pear, lemonheads, orange gummies, orange blossom honey.

Finish: Sweet and slightly tart. Orange sherbet, long and sweet.

Parting words: Eifel Eiswine is a refreshing, tasty dessert wine. It’s probably better in the summertime, but it’s very enjoyable in February, if a little one dimensional. That and, for an ice wine, it’s very cheap. Heinz-Eifel Rheinhessen Eiswein is recommended.

Two Princes Riesling

Maker: Schloss Wallhausen, Wallhausen, Germany

Grape: Riesling

Region: Nahe, Germany

Vintage: 2009 (2008 vintage pictured)

ABV: 10.5%

Appearance: Translucent gold with big thick legs

Nose: Peach, Tangerine, pear, crisp yellow apple

On the palate: Medium-bodied. Semi-dry with a bit of tart apple and ripe peach.

Finish: Fairly quick. Tangy and then lightly sweet

Parting words: This wine was purchased in a continuing effort to give myself a crash course in German Riesling. Frankly, I was a bit disappointed. It wasn’t bad, not at all, it was just a little dull. It didn’t start to take on much of a nose until the bottle had been open for 36 hours and the wine had warmed to close to room temperature. Nahe is known for having young, creative growers who are pushing to escape the region’s Liebfraumilch heritage and make wines on par with Rheinhessen and other finer German wine regions. Two Princes is a solid effort in this direction, if unexciting. Mildly recommended.

Review: 2000 Rödelseer Küchenmeister Scheurebe

Region: Franken, Germany

Vineyard: Rödelseer Küchenmeister

Ripeness: Spätlese

Maker: GebietsWinzergenossenschaft Franken eG (GWF Co-op), Kitzingen, Germany

Grape: Scheurbe a.k.a Sämling 88 (Riesling x an unknown, probably wild, vine)

Vintage: 2000

ABV: 12%

Color: light amber

Nose: relatively dry, slightly musty, but fruity

Palate: mildly fruity, ripe Bosc pears, ripe golden delicious apples.  The strong grapefruit flavor in mentioned by some reviewers, typical of underripe Scheurebe was completely absent here.  This is a delicious, elegant, complex, Riesling-esque wine.

Finish: light and sweet, but not cloying, a lingering taste of pear in the cheeks.

Parting Words: This bottle was my first taste of Franken or of Scheurbe.  Scheurbe is not widely grown in Franken, and much of the Franken in this (fairly low) price range is made from the almost always dull Müller-Thurgau grape,not the Silvaner, Kerner or other grapes that comprise the finer Frankens.  At under $10 in my neck of the woods, this wine is a great option for German wine dilettantes like myself who are looking to mix it up once in a while.