Dry Riesling blind tasting – April 2013

As part of the festival that is the annual grape harvest, the Auburn crew sat down to a blind tasting of dry Rieslings from around the world.  The aim of this tasting was to evaluate, compare and contrast a variety of dry riesling styles.  The only information the tasting group had was that the wines would meet the definition of “dry” in regions where there was one, and woudl be generally accepted as dry otherwise.  Wines were served in pairs to keep the logistics of glassware decanters realistic, and was useful managing tasters attention spans.

Tasting held on 13 April 2013.  Bottle shots courtesy of Stephanie Moseley.

Notes below are mine, as taken on the night, with a couple of postscript notes added.

Wine 1

Some reduction, passionfruit petrol.  Lime rind, fennel, spice Waxy notes and lingering warmish finish of dried apricot – some botrytis here?  Ripe and some coiled power here, some residual sugar helping the texture too.  Many tasters questioned how this met the definition of “dry’.  Mosel?  Spatlese trocken?  Somewhere around 09?

’11 Van Volxem Scharzhofberger (Mosel, Germany).

Wine 2

White flower and lemon nose.  Drier than wine 1, minerally slatiness, and lime pith hints on the back palate.  Taut and acid-carried onto the finish.  Less ripe fruit and more an elegant style.  ’11?  Kiwi?

’11 Verus (Slovenia).

Wine 3

Lemon curd nose.  Palate seems quite developed.  Texturally unusual in a watery, wetting way.  Some petroleum character over a limey base, with that warming botrytis suggestion also present, perhaps suggesting alcohol.  White flower and herbal elements and saline components here too.

’10 Tantalus Old Vine Riesling (Okanagan Valley, Canada)

Wine 4

Lemon pith nose, and grapefruit front palate. A bitter front of tongue note leading to a warm, even hot palate, with unusual bitter but spicy notes.  Juicy texturally.  Pink grapefruit notes here.  Attractive but the bitterness is a bit off-putting.

’11 Petaluma Hanlin Hill (Clare Valley, Australia)

Wine 5

Bath salts and talc nose – lovely.  Palate is similarly white flower lemon lime at first, lovely texture, touched with stonefruit and perhaps a touch of apricotty botrytis.  Rich and texturally syrupy.  Like the style – very Crawford River on the front end with the textural back palate.  Closes down on the finish a little.

’11 Lemelson (Oregon, USA).

Wine 6

Madierised and sherry like nose.  Red apple and grapefruit, tastes like raw bruised apple juice.  Aromatics are wrong but the palate is OK.  Postscript: 24 hours later, the nose had cleaned up considerably, and the palate continued to reflect bruised green apple, and tasted a lot like some of the 2013 raw juice samples we had seen on the previous two days.

’12 Sato (Central Otago, New Zealand)

Wine 7

Musky honeycomb nose, Auslese trocken palate!  Ripe, apricotty, textural, phenolic.  Oxidatively handled?  There is a cooked fruit character here.  This is sooo Zind Humbrecht in style.  Could it be?  No…

’10 Franz Pratner Falkenstein (Alto Adige, Italy)

photo2Wine 8

Bush honey nose, palate is good-watery here too, and the bright zippy acids appear early as a spritz like thing.  Warming and persistent – is this Alsace as well?  Finish is more of the same ripe stonefruit style, but not at the same over the top level of wine 7.

’10 Pegasus Bay Bel Canto (Waipara, new Zealand)

Photo1Wine 9

Honeycomb like nose.  Palate starts the same, with honeycomb, and perhaps a touch of old wood maturation rounding the palate out.  A tingle in the palate which seems to be fresh acids, and showing some oxidative character which may be early signs of bottle age.  Fairly quiet finish, with honey showing through again. Nice finish length, some pithy, good quality bittersweet things happening.  Quite like the phenolics on this.

08 Clemens Busch Marienberg GG (Mosel, Germany)

Wine 10

Similar to wine 1 in some ways.  Fresher but made in the same vein with the limey notes and waxy development showing, and acid fresh on the finish.  Most likely an Australian bone dry style though, from the mid 2000s. Postscript: A pleasant surprise to see how well this is ageing and how fresh it looked in much younger company.

01 Grossett Polish Hill (Clare Valley, Australia)


At the end of all that we were each asked to give our top 3.  Mine were:

Wine 9: Clemens Busch

Wine 10: Grossett

Wine 1: Van Volxem

With honorable mentions: Tantalus and Verus


Grossett and Clemens Busch were in most people’s top 3, but the third wine was more spread around, with the Verus, Tantalus and Lemelson all getting mentions.

A very instructive tasting where the objective was well met – we certainly got a look at a wide variety of ways to make dry Riesling.



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