St. Urbans-Hof Rieslings Linger Longer

vishal_importer1.jpgWine Park, this week organised a wine tasting of fine German Rieslings at the Four Seasons Hotel in Mumbai. The young and ambitious Vishal Kadakia of Wine Park, a fast expanding distributor of well-ranked imported wines in India, invited Nikolaus (Nik) Weis, the owner of St.Urbans-Hof, a prestigious winery producing exemplary Rieslings, to present his wines in India, writes Sonal Holland. Right: Vishal Kadakia with Nik Weis.

Nik Weis is the third generation of his family to manage the winery founded by his grandfather in 1947. Nik today manages 35 hectares in the Mosel and Saar valleys, a region known to produce the best Rieslings of Germany.
Nik strikes one as a thoughtful and an intensely passionate winemaker who prides himself for maintaining the 2000-year-old traditional methods of vine growing and winemaking in Germany.
He emphasises quality, which he believes is of prime importance and can be achieved only through wines that are appealing, reflecting their terroir and typicity of origin, and, in the case of the best ones, have the ability to improve with age. The use of organic fertilizers, hand-picking and gentle crushing of grapes, along with natural yeasts and cool fermentation techniques with minimal filtration, are some of the methods practised at his winery to achieve well structured and intense Rieslings.
The wines offered for tasting included:
2007 St. Urbans-Hof Riesling QbA
A refreshingly youthful light bodied wine with citrus and herbaceous aromas laced with crisp acidity and a hint of residual sweetness. A wine that is ready to drink and enjoy.
2007 Ockfener Bockstein Riesling Kabinett
A light and minerally Riesling with hint of smoky flavours coming from the gravelly gray slate soils of Ockfen town, developing aromas of elderflower, lilac, peach and a hint of faint petrol on the nose which is typical of a Riesling. On the palate, the wine has very high acidity with lower expression of fruit, and sweetness on the medium long finish.

2006 Ockfener Bockstein Riesling Spatlese off dry

The word Spatlese means ‘late harvested’ which produces medium sweet wines. This wine had complexity with developing aromas of floral elderflower and lilac and pronounced stone fruit and petrol notes. On the palate, the wine is sweet but balances off well with the lively acidity, a bit more body than the Kabinett with an amazing fruity expression on the palate. A long finish laced with silky minerality. This age although ready to drink would easily keep and also improve if kept in the bottle for 10 years.
2006 Leiwener Laurentiuslay Riesling Spatlese “1.Lage” off dry
This wine comes from an unusual vineyard site whose south-west exposition allows it to receive a lot more sun during the ripening process with a microclimate similar to that of Northern Rhone. As a result, the wines reach high sugar levels and ripen to perfection resulting in a wine with higher alcohol content and relatively drier style.
At 12% abv, this wine is full bodied sweet (it being a Spatlese) with complex notes of stone fruit, citrus lemon, sweet spice, tangerine and a hint of honey. Minerally and long finish, this wine has good balance of all elements.
2006 Piesporter Goldtropfchen Riesling Auslese
Throughout history, Piesport has had the history of being one of the best wine towns on the Mosel. St. Urbans-Hof vineyards are located in one of the oldest and best parts of the Goldtropfchen, enjoying the warmth of the overhead sun as well as through the reflected rays by the river.
A rich and powerful Riesling, this wine has an explosion of fully ripe fruits of dried peach and apricot with marmalade, sweet spice and honey on the palate. It is full bodied almost with an oily structure with great balance, complexity and intensity of flavours. With a length that lasts on the palate well after you’ve left the room, this wine will age beautifully and will develop complexity if kept for another 5 decades.
It is no surprise then that this wine has been rated high consistently and won awards at many wine competitions.
I was delighted to taste on a single occasion, such diverse expressions of the Riesling grape; from the simple and uncomplicated to the very complex and intense. Riesling wines, I believe, are the perfect partner to an Indian meal. The lively acidity of a Riesling helps cut through the oil and spice of an Indian dish and the sweetness of the wine neutralises the spicy flavours. I think that is why they coined the phrase – “sugar and spice and all things nice!”