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Merkelbach, ‘Erdener Treppchen’ Riesling Auslese, 2006er

July 15, 2008

~$22US, 100% Riesling, Erdener Treppchen Vineyard, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Germany

I don’t know why, but I’ve been a little afraid of the ‘A’ word when it comes to German Rieslings. ‘A’ as in Auslese or Selected Harvest – typically meaning selected ripe berries. The lightbulb went off in my head after the recent fantastic Donnhoff Spatlese, where I realized that these labels (Kabinett, Spatlese, Auslese, etc) are quality markers, not necessarily universal sweetness indicators. No doubt, Riesling can be high in residual sugars, especially Auslesen, but there is a lot more going on than just ‘sweet’.

Riesling’s core minerality and acidity affords it’s flexibility and interpretive diversity. For instance – the longer hang-times of Spatlesen or Auslesen concentrate flavors (including sugars and acidity). Of course the weather, climate, and place affect exactly how and how well this happens, but the results (in the hands of able growers) can be strikingly balanced, proportionate and concentrated wines, from dry to dessert styles. 

The Merkelbach poured a pale hay, almost clear. Honeysuckle and pears on the nose. The palate moved from ripe apples and pears to a powerful mineral-driven midpalate – like a hitting a gravel speedbump while dragging your tongue on a smooth nectary road. The lemon/lime acidity charged back with some nice lift, but lacked a little oomph to really take it all the way home. 

Another very versatile wine, easy to enjoy with aged cheeses, by itself, or with all kinds of food (richer pork and grilled chicken dishes especially). A delicious example, not one to overthink – but I’m not afraid of Auslesen anymore. 


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