Not-so-sweet riesling still tasty

While German vintners have much to celebrate with the 2009 vintage, the marketplace is flooded with wines from 2007, which was also superb. German wines are often lumped together, but there is a lot of diversity — even among riesling, Germany’s most popular and important grape.

Let’s start with a little German Riesling 101, as this can be a confusing topic — particularly because of the informative, though difficult-to-decipher, labels. People still seem to think of German wines, and riesling in general, as sweet.

This is often the case, but not always — as dry rieslings are incredibly popular in Germany.

The word for “dry” in German is “trocken,” while “halbtrocken” means “semi-dry.” Trocken wines must have no more than 9 grams of residual sugar per liter and halbtrocken are limited to 18 grams per liter.

If a German wine has one of these labels, it must be at least a Qualitatswein bestimmten Anbaugebietes level — the second-highest designation for German wine — and many are Qualitatswein mit Pradikat (QmP), which is reserved for the best wines in the country. The degree of grape ripeness is indicated in QmP wines from earliest to latest: kabinett, spatlese, auslese, beerenauslese, trockenbeerenauslese and eiswein.

I have found that wine drinkers are often pleasantly surprised when they try a riesling that is not sweet. There are those die-hard German riesling fanatics who prefer wines that have some residual sugar, but most riesling fans are open to drier wines. I actually like a lot of the halbtrockens — especially those from the 2007 vintage, as they have a perfect balance of sugar, acid and alcohol.

Here are three of my favorites:

Graf von Schonborn, Schloss Schonborn Estate Riesling, Halbtrocken, 2007 (Rheingau, Germany): This historic estate has vineyards throughout the Rheingau (not to mention property in Franconia and Portugal), but the grapes for this wine come from the main estate, located in the town of Hattenheim. Light-bodied and crisp with Golden Delicious apple and mineral notes, this wine will tickle your senses. Suggested retail: $17

Weingut Wegeler Riesling Medium Dry, Pure, 2007 (Rheingau, Germany): Wegeler has holdings in both the Mosel and the Rheingau regions, but the original land, which was acquired by Julius Wegeler in 1882, is in the Rheingau. Pristine green apple and star fruit flavors laced with bright mineral tones, make it easy to see why it was named Pure. Suggested retail: $20

Weingut Heribert Boch Riesling Kabinett Halbtrocken, Trittenheimer Apotheke, 2007 (Mosel, Germany): This small estate is run by Michael Boch, who took over from his father, Heribert, in 1989. Positioned on a steep slope, the Apotheke vineyard contains vines that are more than 100 years old. Exuding the slate mineral content of the Mosel, it has a host of floral component aromas, Granny Smith apples and an undercurrent of almonds. Suggested retail: $21

Pamela S. Busch is the wine director and proprietor of CAV Wine Bar & Kitchen in San Francisco.

artsentertainmentOther Artsrwine

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

California Gov. Gavin Newsom is expected to announced changes to statewide COVID-19 restrictions Monday. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images/TNS)
Gov. Newsom expected to cancel California’s regional coronavirus stay-at-home orders

Change in rules could allow outdoor dining to resume in San Francisco

A statue of Florence Nightingale outside the Laguna Honda Hospital is one of only two statues of women in The City. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
S.F. still falling short of goal to represent women in public art

City has few streets or public facilities not named after men

Methamphetamines (Sophia Valdes/SF Weekly)
New search launched for meth sobering center site

Pandemic put project on pause but gave health officials time to plan a better facility

Hasti Jafari Jozani quarantines at her brother's San Francisco home after obtaining several clearances to study at San Francisco State University. (Photo courtesy Siavash Jafari Jozani)
Sanctions, visas, and the pandemic: One Iranian student’s bumpy path to SF State

Changing immigration rules and travel restrictions leave some overseas students in limbo

Woody LaBounty, left, and David Gallagher started the Western Neighborhoods Project which has a Balboa Street office housing historical items and comprehensive website dedicated to the history of The City’s West side. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Outside Lands podcast delves into West side’s quirky past

History buffs Woody LaBounty and David Gallagher have been sharing fun stories about the Richmond and Sunset since 1998

Most Read