Cellar Direct Winter Wines: Karthäuserhof Riesling

4 01 2020

By Peter Vetsch

[This bottle was provided as a sample for review purposes.]

Happy New Year!  I hope you all had a restful and joyous holiday season.  My post-Advent blog-free recovery time has been punctuated by catching the pernicious chest cold that my kids have had the entire month of December, which seems to be the natural consequence of getting out of fight-or-flight mode for any period of time.  Thankfully, I can still smell and taste just fine, and so even though this write-up had to be assisted by a spit cup (don’t get me started on how agonizing it is to taste and then have to spit amazing Riesling), the show must go on, especially for a bottle and a producer like this.


If you know anything about me from a wine perspective, you likely know that Riesling is my first and most enduring vinous love, particularly the electric, agile, sweet-meets-sour ballet that is Riesling from Germany’s Mosel Valley.  My first “I didn’t know wine could taste like that” moment was born from a Kabinett-level (low to moderate sugar ripeness) sub-10% ABV single-vineyard Mosel Riesling that made time stop and effortlessly balanced my entire mind and heart on the head of a pin — so pure, so chiselled, yet so light and free.  The Mosel is most known for these low-alcohol, off-dry, dainty Rieslings at varying degrees of ripeness, from Kabinett to later-harvested Spätlese and Auslese to dessert-focused and often nobly rotten Beerenauslese and Trockenbeerenauslese (better known as TBA, for obvious reasons).  This specialty in sweetness has in recent years been something of a detriment to the region, at least for PR purposes; while the energetic back-and-forth between acid and sugar is one of my favourite parts of the Riesling experience, many casual drinkers still reeling from a decade or two of flaccid Liebfraumilch continue to view the combination of German wine and residual sugar with disdain.  While other production areas of Germany have increasingly turned their attention to drier pursuits to counteract this lasting stereotype, the Mosel has remained steadfast.  Yet even here there are some quality producers that have always focused on the drier side of the country’s star grape. Read the rest of this entry »

Calgary Wine Life: St. Urbans-Hof Riesling Tasting @ Co-op Crowfoot

25 09 2012

[Cross-posted at www.calgaryisawesome.com]

Consider this less of a blog post and more of a public service announcement.  If you’re going to remember a single message out of everything I’ve ever written about wine, make it this little piece of advice:  DO NOT BE AFRAID OF GERMAN RIESLING.  I wish I could tell you that this was self-evident information, but there remains this persistent and lingering seed of doubt planted deep in the brains of casual wine drinkers in North America irrationally warning them that German wine in general, and German Riesling in particular, is something to be wary of.  Even (or rather, especially) people who haven’t tried it tend to avoid it, looking askance at its tall tapered bottles and Gothic multisyllabic labels, spouting the well-worn syllogism:  “I don’t like sweet wines.  German Riesling is sweet.  Therefore, I don’t like German Riesling.”  Most people who say this probably don’t realize that:

1.  NOT all German Riesling is sweet — in fact, there has been a concerted movement towards drier (“Trocken”) styles of wine in Germany over the past decade or so; and

2.  Even sweeter German Riesling isn’t sweet like other wines are sweet.  To me, the best expressions of Riesling are those where there is a little residual sugar left in the wine after fermentation, because that hint of sweetness is a necessary counterpart to the firestorm of acidity usually present in good German wines.  The delicate razor’s-edge dance between sweet and tart is the very essence of what German Riesling is all about, and to dismiss a key component of that ballet as something akin to what you find in a $6 bottle of insipid white Zinfandel is to do both yourself and these amazing wines a disservice.  Most people who say they don’t like “sweet wines” actually don’t like UNBALANCED sweet wines, wines with a bunch of leftover sugar and nothing else to level it out.  German Riesling is the antithesis of these kinds of bottles, and the best illustration that not all “sweet” wines are created equal.

If you get past the stereotypes and try a bottle of German Riesling for yourself, I predict you will quickly fall in love; to me they are the most individual, remarkable and memorable wines in the world.  And the best part about joining the German Riesling Revolution is that the wines usually offer remarkable levels of quality for a bargain price.  Many top producers make entry-level bottles that are widely available for under $20 CDN, some of the most impressive of which come from the well-known Mosel Valley winery of St. Urbans-Hof, instantly recognizable for its striking black and copper label design (see the bottle pics below).  Last Thursday, a lucky few of us attended at the Crowfoot location of Co-op Wine & Spirits to hear Urbans-Hof owner and winemaker Nik Weis talk about his property and share a half-dozen of his recent wines.

Read the rest of this entry »

Wine Review: 2010 Mission Hill Martin’s Lane Riesling

6 08 2012

[This bottle was provided as a sample for review purposes.]

R is for Riesling.

Time to issue the first official correction in PnP history.  When I reviewed Mission Hill’s Reserve-level Riesling back in June, I stated that the Reserve (the 2nd lowest of 4 quality levels of MH wines) was Mission Hill’s top-level Riesling, and I openly pined for the winery to put together a high-end single-vineyard Riesling that would really showcase what my favourite grape could do in Okanagan soil.  I said that if MH ever decided to release such a wine, I would be lining up to try it.  Shortly after posting, I received an e-mail from a representative at the winery that said something like:  “Well, actually, we already DO have a Riesling exactly like that…”, and a week later, this bottle showed up at my door.  In my defence, this particular Riesling doesn’t show up in the official portfolio of wines on the MH website, but as a devoted Riesling disciple, I still feel bad about not being aware of it, and I feel particularly bad about suggesting that it didn’t exist in front of an online audience.

Sorry Mission Hill — time to set the record straight. Read the rest of this entry »

Calgary Wine Life: Bin 905 German Riesling Extravaganza

20 08 2011

Despite declaring on the header of this site that Pop & Pour is an “Independent Calgary Wine Blog”, I’ve been guilty of not really focusing many of my posts on the wine scene in Calgary.  I want this blog to be of general interest and not overly localized, but at the same time one of my initial goals in starting up PnP was to draw attention to hometown events and shops and help fellow Calgarians make the most of the wine-related opportunities offered in the city.  Today gave me a perfect opportunity to advance this latter goal:  this afternoon, Bin 905 (located on 4th St. and 23rd Ave SW) held a German Riesling Extravaganza (their title, not mine, although I fully endorse it), where anyone could drop in and sample 5 different German Rieslings from top producers, ranging fully dry to fully sweet, valued at $30 to $50 a bottle, at no charge.  Sorry, did you say free German Riesling tasting?  I’m there!  And so I was. Read the rest of this entry »

Wine Review: 2007 Joh. Jos. Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett

5 06 2011

I will always be attached to this wine. Pure heaven.

As I hinted at yesterday, tonight’s wine is special to me.  It’s one of my “eureka” wines, one of those rare bottles that turned my general interest in wine into a huge passion and that continues to drive me to learn, read, taste and write about wine.  If you’re wondering why German Riesling is my favourite kind of wine, this bottle can take a lot of the credit.  The first time I had it was at a casual tasting that some friends and I organized a couple years ago.  I picked the wine as a curiosity, as something new to try en route to the more expensive and exciting big reds waiting at the end of the evening.  Instead, the first sip of this Riesling stopped time and drowned out everything else.  I couldn’t tell you what any of the other wines I had that night tasted like, but I remember this one intensely.  I haven’t had it again until tonight. Read the rest of this entry »

Tips & Tricks: What Wine Pairs With Spicy Food?

31 03 2011

There are a million and a half rules about food and wine pairing.  Some of them are good, common sense (i.e. match the body of the wine with the heaviness of the food); others are simply worn out dogma from times gone by (i.e. red with meat, white with fish).  I think there is a ton of flexibility built into putting the right bottle of wine with the right meal — there are a few clearly wrong choices in most situations (no Pinot Grigio with steak, unless you want the taste experience of drinking $23/bottle water with your T-bone) but multiple different routes to a successful food/wine match…in most cases, anyway.  When it comes to spicy foods, your options get a lot more limited. Read the rest of this entry »

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