Terry Theise & Riesling
At a Society of Wine Educators conference in 2010, a group of us had the privilege of doing a three-hour Riesling tasting with Terry Theise. Some readers of this blog know Terry Theise has long served as the definitive voice in the U.S. regarding German Rieslings. But other readers may not have experienced the joy of dry German Rieslings, imagining instead that all Rieslings are simple, sweet wines like Blue Nun.
Brief tasting notes for just a few of the wines we tasted appear below. The wines may be difficult to find now, but Terry's lively, opinionated book is still available: Reading Between the Wines. It is not all about Riesling by any means, but rather about a man's search for what intrigues us about wine; about what makes wine matter.
Meanwhile, for those not familiar with classic, dry Rieslings, perhaps these tasting notes will prompt a desire to find one! Rieslings are especially pleasant during the warm months. Their characteristic acidity makes them wonderfully refreshing and easy to pair with light meals. In the examples below, producer names are in bold type because sorting out the wine name, producer, and where it was produced can be challenging at first):
2007 Goldloch "Grosses Gewächs," Schossgut Diel; Nahe, Germany. Gorgeous. Subtle woodiness. Refined texture and creaminess on the palate, without oily viscosity.
2007 Heiligenstein "Lyra," Bründlmayer; Kamptal, Austria. Great vineyard; complex soil, reflected in the wine. Incredible texture and luxurious mouthfeel. Terry's description: "exotic, sexy."
2009 Forster Freundstuck Spätlese, Eugen Müller; Pfalz, Germany. Minerality, with bracing acidity! Late harvest (spätlese), but impression of total dryness. Lovely lavender overtones. In terms of price, this was the bargain of the day.
2008 "Tradition," Schoss Gobelsburg; Kamptal, Austria. Breathtaking! Gentle but complex; melting but solid. From an old monastic estate, this is old-style Riesling; the product of making wine intuitively.
2008 Heerkretz Grosses Gewächs," Wagner-Stempel; Rheinhessen, Germany. Mozart-like in vitality. The wine was almost neon in the mouth; hyper-vivid. Warmer, it became sensuous.
1999 "Steinriesler," Nikolaihof; Wachua, Austria. Fermented in wood and left in the cask for ten years (without sulphur) on the lees all that time. Rich, lightly honeyed; parchment-paper on the nose. Mature, balanced, incredible.