Riesling can get a bad rap, especially those from Germany. They aren’t all sweet though, and those that are can use that sweetness to balance out the incredibly high acidity.
Let’s step into the world of German Riesling! The Rheinhessen in particular. This is an area of Germany that lays East and slightly south of the Nahe region, and just north of Pfalz. Here, the wines are fuller and riper due to the warmer climate. Dornfelder, Portuguiser and Spatburgunder (Pinot Noir), all grow well here as well!
In the Rheinhessen it’s cold. As in most other areas of Germany, the best sites are on steep hillsides with south facing exposures on stony soils. Even better if the vineyards are near a river. Why does all that matter? First, the river will reflect sunlight, thereby providing double the warmth, and aiding the ripening process in this cool climate. Additionally, the southern facing exposures provide maximum sunlight (in Northern Hemisphere locations), allowing the grapes to ripen.
If grapes are facing the south east (like Georg Albrecht Schneider’s vineyards do) they get the first rays of sun in the morning and early afternoon. If vines face the south west, they get the hotter (sometimes overly so) rays of the late morning and hot afternoons. In some areas, the south east vineyards will create more elegant and refined reds (like Pinot Noirs from Burgundy) while the south west facing vineyards will be more rustic and robust. A steep slope will also provide good drainage during rainy seasons, as well as maximize sunlight exposure to all the grapes.
The stony soils are important because, especially in cool climates, they reflect heat. The red slate as found in Nierstein (where Georg Albrecht vineyards are, within Rheinhessen), absorbs heat during the day and will radiate it towards the grapes even into the night! In such a cool climate, this is important because the grapes will ripen slowly, but fully, due to these combined factors. This can aid Riesling with ripening in these cool climates.
Because of these factors Nierstein has some of the fullest bodied Rieslings in all of Germany!
If you want to learn a bit more on how climate affects wine flavor, check out this brief help doc!
The Vineyards of Georg Albrecht Schneider
See photo below of the Schneider vineyards — Notice the river! Reflecting heat/sunlight, aiding ripening!
So let’s get on to the fabulous wine! This wine is a Kabinett. Which means that yes, there is some residual sweetness. This is not an overtly sweet wine though. There’s tons of acidity to back this guy up and balance that residual sugar.
If you want to learn more about residual sugar in wines check out this help doc!
This wine is a Kabinett – which means that the grapes are picked when they are ripe. Auslese and Spatlese are two other levels of ripeness (that are higher, or grapes must be left on the vine longer to attain more ripeness). Remember, the riper the grape the higher the body and the more sugar in the grapes. This can mean that the wine is fermented dry with a higher alcohol content, or fermentation is stopped resulting in a lower alcohol but sweet style wine. So that’s how you know what you’re getting – 8-9% ABV Kabinett will likely be sweet, a 10-11% ABV Kabinett will likely be dry.
Georg Albrecht Schneider Riesling Kabinett, from Niersteiner Paterberg
Nose: This wine is youthful, with medium plus intensity. This wine has notes of lychee, lime, lemon, honeysuckle, wet rocks, and pears.
Palate: This wine is dry, with medium plus intensity. This wine has high acidity, medium body, moderate alcohol, and a medium plus finish. This wine has notes of green apple, pear, lemon pith, lime zest, wet stones, lychee, and petrol.
Assessment of Quality: This is a very good wine, suitable to drink now and capable of further aging.
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