By Henry Beylin, Gjelina Group’s Wine + Beverage Director
Württemberg Riesling. Narcotically delicious?
Well, yes. At least from this dude.
Württemberg is officially linked to the Baden wine region, making Baden-Württemberg in Germany's southwest. But they are not alike. So why are they linked together? I don't know. Much of German wine law, categorized nomenclature and official hierarchy is fascinating but overwrought. Like Ulysses by James Joyce. I respect it but can't seem to get through it all. And that's a shame, as Riesling, which reaches its apogee in Germany, is the prettiest grape and by far the most dynamic. It should be popular. It should be loved. But it is shunned instead. I've heard it said by people I admire that Riesling is too elevated, high-bred and intellectual for most people to grasp and admire, but I don't agree. The problem is it's hard to understand what's in the damn bottle unless you're a complete wine nerd. And when it comes to Alsace, well, even those are shooting in the dark. So I guess we talk about one bottle at a time - which is the point of this journal (gjournal) anyway, right? But I can't talk about Riesling without mentioning some of the above. ‘Cause it bothers me, and it would bother you, too, if you were me.
Württemberg, an area known more for red wine and co-ops, produces this most compelling Riesling that's terroir driven, focused, serious and open-hearted, a quality that's impossible to quantify, but easy to notice, and I notice it in Rieslings more than any other grape by far. This wine, like all really good and interesting wines, blends disparate elements. It is CORRECTLY bone-dry but not abrasive - unlike many Rieslings from various areas in Germany that elevate dryness over flavor, full of ripe fruit but not exoticaly uneven, sturdy but never heavy and over extracted, hello Alsace, Wachau, Rheinhessen. It seems to levitate, and even though it's full flavored with shoulders and back-bone, it is vertical and full of energy. To get into describing specific flavors here is beside the point. Oh, you have the usual blend of stone fruit, exotic, savory, floral and deeply mineral collusion. What's important is they all like each other and play well together. It's total.
The greatest compliment you can pay a grape is that it's made correctly with respect to its natural attributes and site specific reality. Then there's honesty, and honesty is conspicuous. And it tastes good.