Apologies for the long delay between reviews — I was fully planning on writing a new post on Wednesday, but those good intentions were interrupted when a tornado hit my neighbourhood in western Calgary…yes, it takes an act of God to tear me away from PnP. Thankfully, aside from a children’s playset that was thrown from our backyard halfway over our neighbour’s fence and is now teetering on the brink of “structurally unsound”, we didn’t suffer any damage, and nobody in the area was hurt. I think “I was in a tornado” is probably the ultimate “dog ate my homework” excuse for not doing something on time, so I will shamelessly rely on it here.
Believe it or not, this is the 50th wine review that I’ve posted on Pop & Pour! Not sure if that indicates anything other than that I drink a lot of wine, but it’s definitely milestone-y, so in honour of the occasion I was planning on pulling out a really nice bottle from my “good fridge” downstairs. However, then I realized that I was having Chinese food for supper. Between the spice, the sweetness and the deep-fried nature of most Chinese takeout menu items, it pretty much eliminates red wine from your pairing arsenal and cries out for an off-dry (i.e. slightly sweet, to handle the sweeter sauces and offset the spice), highly acidic (to cut through the frying fat) white…wait, what’s that? Did German Riesling just go with ANOTHER type of food? Amusingly, the Riesling that I had on hand that best fit the bill for Chinese might also be the cheapest bottle in my whole cellar: the 2009 “Dr. L” Riesling, available basically anywhere booze is sold, which I got at the Superstore liquor store for $13.
“Dr. L” is short for Dr. Loosen, one of Germany’s top Riesling producers renowned for high-quality, single-vineyard wines from the country’s most famous region, the Mosel. Loosen Bros./”Dr. L” is Dr. Loosen’s value-driven second label, geared towards producing solid quality Mosel Riesling in larger quantities and at (much) lower prices. Those of you who have read my riveting discourse on deciphering German wine labels might notice that there is no ripeness designation (Kabinett, Spatlese, etc.) anywhere on the label of this wine; this is because those designations only show up on the highest quality level of German wines (now called “Pradikatswein”, formerly called “Qualitatswein mit Pradikat” — “quality wine with special attributes”), whereas the Dr. L is one quality level lower (stated on the label as “Qualitatswein”, formerly “Qualitatswein bestimmter Anbaugebiete” — “quality wine from a specified region”). Dr. L has actually made a prior appearance on PnP, albeit in a cameo role: when I was reviewing the 2010 Kung Fu Girl Riesling from Washington State, I declared that the KFG was the best inexpensive Riesling I’d ever had…other than the Dr. L. We’ll see if that holds up.
Like most young Rieslings, this one was a very pale, thin straw colour; however, unlike most young Rieslings, it wasn’t overly aromatic. There was a noticeable nose of Granny Smith apple, bath salts, rocks and rubber, but it didn’t catapult out of the glass like some pricier renditions of the grape. Even so, the pedigree of the producer became evident on the palate, where the whole taste impression of the wine was a seesaw battle between sweet and sour. There is a fair bit of residual sugar in the Dr. L, and if you take a sip specifically looking for it then you’ll definitely find it, but if you don’t focus in on sweetness you probably won’t notice it that much because of the screaming acidity that balances it out. The power and precision of the acid levels in this wine are remarkably impressive for a sub-$15 bottle. It’s exactly what you’d expect out of German Riesling, with predominant green apple and lemon-lime flavours supported by tons of minerality and leading up to a fresh, river-rocks sort of finish. It may not be overly complex, but it’s crisp and sharp and very true to type, grape and region. For $13.
I quite like this wine, but now that I have the benefit of recent experience, I think it may fall slightly below the Kung Fu Girl in the top value Riesling category (though it is like 20% cheaper) just because it has a little less going on both on the nose and palate than its Washington counterpart. However, it remains the ideal German Riesling primer: if you’re not sure what German Riesling is supposed to taste like, or if you think all German Riesling tastes a certain way, you owe it to yourself, to me and to Germany to drop $13 on a bottle of Dr. L and advance your Riesling education. If you like it, you will LOVE the more expensive, higher-end German bottlings. If you don’t like it, I will disavow ever having known you. No pressure!
$10 to $15 CDN