Posted by: tomciocco | May 16, 2012


The (grape) name Riesling (REEZ-ling) inevitably evokes two other words, one a proper noun, the other an adjective: Germany and sweet. These two words do indeed properly accompany Riesling in so many cases. From Mittelrhine down to Baden there are half a bazillion sweet wines made from the noble Riesling, and the quality and expression of these wines can range from stunningly sublime nectar to insipid, treacly headache juice. And in among these many wines of varying sweetness, there are a few truly bone dry ones too (most of them in the southerly Pfalz and Baden regions).

The preponderance of the production of sweet wines is not so much a matter of choice, but necessity. Most of Germany’s steep vineyards are oriented to capture the most sun, but most of Germany’s growing season is neither long or hot enough overall to reliably bring even most white grapes (forget about reds!) to full physiological maturity which is a necessity to make balanced dry wines.

But Germany’s co-linguists and neighbor to the southeast, Austria has a very different story to tell. Riesling is almost as much a part of the wine scene here as it is in Germany, but because of Austria’s various wine regions’ higher elevations, hotter days, and longer Autumn growing season, most of Austria’s Rieslings reach 12% alcohol or higher and are vinified completely dry. This 100% Riesling from the Traisental region a few dozen clicks west of Vienna, is perhaps best known for the production of Austria’s signature white grape Gruner Veltliner, but it has also shown a real talent for yielding chunky, direct, and bold Rieslings too.

Dinner was a pretty classic Austrian board of fare: a home-made batch of goat cheese Liptauer (a soft cheese mixed with pickles, capers, carraway seeds, cumin, paprika, etc.) spread on toasts, and then chicken schnitzel with a sour cream, lemon, chive and marjoram sauce with a side of whole braised Brussels sprouts dressed with a bit of vinegar and pumpkin seed oil.










Huber Riesling Engelreich Traisental (Austria) 2010 

Bright, slightly coppery straw gold color. Broad and punchy nose of lemon custard, candied ginger, pine, apricot, buttered corn, and crushed clam shells. In the mouth the wine is quite big, dense, intense, and fat but with a super clean razor-sharp acidity, with intense, fresh, and powerful flavors of green apple, lime, minerals, and fresh cut grass. Long, tart, high-toned, bitterish finish.


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