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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The 2008 Riesling Experience, Brock University, July 17, 2008

The Time and Date: Thursday July 17, 2008  9AM to 4PM
The Event: The 2008 Riesling Experience, an international celebration
of style, structure and purity.
The Venue: Brock University
The Target Audience: Ontario winemakers, the wine media.
The Availability/Catalogue: we had rare wines in a seminar plus a
tasting after lunch of VQA wines (older releases, new releases)
The Quote: "
The Wines: Angelo Pavan from Cave Spring Cellars and Chair of the
Riesling Experience moderated the panel. The keynote speaker was
Olivier Humbrecht from Domaine Zind Humbrecht in Alsace. He reported on
his and the Alsatian approach to Riesling, with comments on his 2005
vintage Riesling wines (we tasted four of them). He noted the impact of
global warming, which can be a serious issue (pick earlier? accelerate
ripening?) along with soil compaction. There was a panel with Ulrich
Fischer from Germany who pointed out that 61% of Riesling worldwide
comes from Germany and 10% comes from Alsace. He clearly showed that
sensory charts of terroirs illuminate the similarities in the Riesling
aromatics of apple, rhubarb, lemon, peach, tropical fruit, honey, green
bean, and bitter. David Peterson from Swedish Hill in New York told us
what New York was doing. Most Riesling has only been planted since
1980, and mostly on lakeside slopes. Clone 239 produces peach and
tropical aromatics, while clones 90 and 198 have minerals and citric
tones. Jim Willwerth from Brock covered both consistency and diversity,
concentrating on Niagara sub-appellation characteristics. The Lakeshore
(cooler, more drainage, low water) produces astringency of citric and
minerals, while the Bench (low yields, high water) have more floral and
fruit and honey character. The Plains, with poor drainage, have traces
of peaches and petrol. Chacun a son gout…The trade show comprised the
wines NOT chosen for the lunch food-wine pairings. Full tasting notes
were given out for all wines. Because of the time element, I passed on
the opportunity to try the Icewines.
**** Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Domaine Zind Humbrecht Riesling Turckheim 2005 – long depth, some
-Domaine Zind Humbrecht Riesling Clos Hauserer 2005 – single vineyard,
32 year old vines.
-Domaine Zind Humbrecht Rangen de Thann Clos-Saint-Urbain 2005 – bone
dry, 43 year old vines.
-Henry of Pelham Reserve Riesling 1999 – higher acid levels and body
allow for longer cellaring and improvement.
***1/2 Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Domaine Zind Humbrecht Riesling Gueberschwihr 2005 – basic village
level, 31 year old vines.
-Lucashof Pfalz Riesling QbA 2006
-Angels Gate Riesling Sussreserve 2007
-Chateau des Charmes Estate Bottled Riesling 2006
-Featherstone Estate Old Vines Riesling 2007
-Featherstone Estate Black Sheep Riesling 2007
-Foreign Affairs Appasimento Riesling 2007
-Trius Riesling 2007
-Jackson-Triggs Proprietor's Grand Reserve Riesling 2006 Niagara
*** Three Stars (85 – 87 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-St. Urbans-HOF Mosel Riesling QbA 2007
-Swedish Hill Dry Riesling 2006
-Swedish Hill Dry Riesling 2007
-Angels Gate Riesling 2006
-Cave Spring Riesling CSV 2004
-Creekside Close Plant Reserve Riesling 2007
-Fielding Riesling 2007
-Henry of Pelham Speck Family Reserve Riesling 2004
-Inniskillin Montague Vineyard Riesling 2006
-Thirty Bench Riesling 2007
-Thirteenth Street June's Vineyard Riesling 2006
-Vineland Estates Elevation Riesling 2007
The Food: lunch was created by Chef Jason Parsons of Peller Estates
Winery restaurant. The centerpiece on each table was a bunch of
Riesling grapes. With the foie gras terrine we had a Henry of Pelham
Proprietor's Reserve Riesling 1991, which had aged remarkably well. It
was a treat. A roasted scallop, barely cooked, came with a OWA Gold
Medal Cattail Creek Riesling Reserve 2006 (sold out). With the icewine
suckling pig there was a semi-dry Cave Spring Cellars CSV Riesling 2003
which cut through the richness. One of the highlights was the "Peller
Estates Blue Ice" (remember their adverts from the 1950s when you could
not advertise alcohol? Nudge nudge, wink wink). It was a wheel of Blue
Benedictine cheese from PQ drenched with two bottles of Peller Riesling
Icewine 2006. Dessert was a series of coco nib icewine marshmallows,
which even my sugar-addicted granddaughter thought was too sweet.
The Downside: it was a long day, and the lunch (which started on time)
dragged on between courses. This cut into our VQA Riesling trade show
tasting time by an hour.
The Upside: it was good to see Olivier, whom I had talked with before
several times.
The Contact Person:
The Effectiveness (numerical grade): 96.
Dean Tudor, Ryerson University Journalism Professor Emeritus
Look it up and you'll remember it; screw it up and you'll never forget it.

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