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Side by Side Rieslings, With Friends

I’ve mentioned in prior posts that I’m a member of a great tasting group full of fellow wine geeks with whom I blind taste wines. Most of us are studying for the next level of a certification, while others are well-educated wine lovers looking to expand their palates.  This past week one of our flights was so remarkable that it deserves mention in my blog!

This particular flight was two white wines; one golden in color and the other so clear it could have almost passed as water by sight alone.

The golden colored wine had aromas of honey, over-ripe tangerine, baked pineapple and petrol. (Hmmm.  Could this be Riesling?) On the palate were honey and pineapple upside down cake!

The very pale colored wine had a nose of grapefruit, apricot, lemon rind, slate and petrol. (Hmmmmm.  Riesling again???) The palate was pleasantly sweet with great acidity to balance the residual sugar, and tasted of the lemon and some tangerine.

The reveal of the wines was great fun! The golden colored was, not surprisingly, much older than the pale colored wine.  It was a 2005 St. Urbans-Hof Leiwener Laurentiuslay Riesling Spätlese Feinherb from the German region of Mosel.

The almost clear colored wine was a 2013 St. Urbans-Hof Bockstein Ockfen Riesling Spätlese, also from Mosel.

The wines are obviously from the same producer using the same varietal, but are from different vineyards and from vintages years apart.

Also, the word Feinherb is used to indicate a wine that tastes dry or nearly dry but isn’t legally Trocken, which indicates dry. Therefore, on the palate the ’13 was much sweeter than the ‘ 05.

The region of Mosel-Saar-Ruwer is considered by many to be the greatest wine region of Germany. Weingut St. Urbans-Hof is a family estate, which owns parcels in some of the finest Grand Crus of the Mosel and Saar Valley. They are known for making wines that bring out the authentic character of their site and their region.

Tasting groups are such a fun way to have the opportunity to taste many different wines, and to taste some side by side. If you have a group of wine loving friends, get a group together. All you need is some fun wines disguised in a paper bag, some wine glasses, some water for hydration, and a group of cool, like minded people who enjoy wine as much as you do!

Riesling, A Full Circle Wine!

Things often seem to come around full circle. It happens in many aspects of our lives, including wine!

Riesling is one of those wines. It is often the varietal people start drinking when they’re first getting into wine, and eventually ends up being a favorite, especially with experienced wine drinkers. A glass of Riesling is easy to drink and keeps us wanting more. “Keep filling up the glass,” we say! The often sweet or off-dry wines are attractive and easy to drink!

The more we drink and learn about wine, many of us often decide that if it’s not bone dry, big, red, and full of tannin it’s not good. And yet many wine professionals believe Riesling to be the world’s greatest varietal!  Hmmmm.  How does this work?

The high acidity of the Riesling grape keeps it all together.  It balances out any residual sugar to make these wines very drinkable and fabulous accompaniments to a wide range of foods.  AND, not all Riesling has an abundance of sweetness.

Last night I opened a bottle of the 2012 Dönnhoff Riesling Trocken from the Nahe region of Germany.  This pale yellow wine has a lovely, aromatic nose with lime zest, lemon peel and white flowers. Some of the slate and petrol that is so typical in Riesling is there as well. “Trocken” means dry.   This wine isn’t sweet, but it has wonderful fruitiness that livens the palate with a crisp, prickly effervescence on the palate.  Peach, apricot, pear and great acidity round out the palate.

And the price is great too!!!  At about $20 a bottle this is one of my “go to” Rieslings for fun gatherings, sipping on my deck after a long day of work, and will be a great addition to my Thanksgiving dinner this year.

You can get more information here:


Gäubodenvolksfest, Bavarian Beer Festival Extraordinaire!

It’s that time of the year!  Oktoberfest celebrations are happening all over the U.S. and the world.  Of course, the most famous of all beer celebrations occurs in Munich, Germany.  Every year more than 6 million people from all over the world attend this Bavarian fair.

Second only to Oktoberfest is Gäubodenvolksfest, a beer and folk festival held every year in the Bavarian city of Straubing, located about an hour and a half northeast of Munich.  The locals and critics alike claim this festival to be more authentically Bavarian and much friendlier than the famous Oktoberfest.  Much of the reasoning behind this is that the festival in Straubing is full of locals, not the hordes of tourists from around the world who descend on Munich each year.  And that’s exactly what my husband and I, along with a friend, discovered while visiting Germany this summer.

Maximilian I Joseph, the King of Bavaria, founded Gäubodenvolksfest in 1812 as an agricultural festival.  Today it is held every year in mid-August and lasts 11 days. The festival has upheld it’s traditional character beautifully.  Only beers from Straubing and the district Straubing-Bogen are allowed to be served.  Several huge beer tents are packed to the brim with people wearing the traditional Bavarian garb.  Men and boys wear Lederhosen, the leather trousers with suspenders.  The women and girls are seen in the Dirndl dresses, with the wide, long skirts and a corsage, along with a puffy white blouse and a colorful apron.  We were thankful that there are some locals who attend in contemporary apparel, as we had no Lederhosen or Dirndl for ourselves!

There are six different tents, each sponsored by a different beer, which is served in that respective tent.  We started early in the afternoon, grabbing a beer and some food.  I had a big, traditional Bavarian pretzel, and my fellow travelers enjoyed their bratwurst and sauerkraut.  Here we enjoyed a very traditional Polka band.  It was early in the day, but people were drinking and dancing and having the time of their lives.  The servers were carrying huge amounts of food on long trays, or a fistful of gargantuan mugs of beer!

We kept moving from tent to tent, drinking the beer, toasting our fellow partiers, and listening to great bands.  They even had an all girl polka band called Hexen!  My husband and our friend especially enjoyed them!

As the beer flowed, our fellow partiers were delightfully friendly to us and included us in on the fun as we stood on our benches and exclaimed “Prost” as we clinked our humongous one liter glass steins with theirs and looked them in the eyes, as is custom in these parts!

Of course, I had to try one of the offered wines.  Well, I should say that I had to try the one offered wine!  It was a 2010 Müller-Thurgau from Franken.  This wine region is at the edge of northern Bavaria and is not known for elegant and complex wines, as are other parts of Germany.  The weather is habitually severe and this region often suffers from spring frosts.  The amount of fruit is frequently very limited from year to year.  Their wine is well loved by the Bavarians, though, and little gets to the United States.

One thing that Franken DOES have that no other wine region has is the bocksbeutel.  This is the squat, plump vessel in which Franken wine is bottled.  Literally translated, “bocksbeutel” is a goat scrotum!

I finished my wine and went back to beer!  We drank.  We clinked and shouted Prost!  We danced with new friends!  And then we walked back to our hotel!

If you’d like to visit the “real deal” Bavarian fair and beer festival next year, check them out at:

And remember; book your room early so you won’t need to drive!

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