Due to my absence (in the land of Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc) I could not lead the ICC tasting this month. So a special guest led the tasting in my stead. This arrangement will probably persist over the next two seasons when I will miss, roughly, every other ICC Tasting.

This month the Tasting could hardly have been in better hands, with Ralph Northwood showing Riesling examples from Austria, New Zealand and Germany.

This report is not founded on my notes of course, but information and notes from those who did attend…

PEGASUS BAY RIESLING 2009 (Pegasus Bay, Waipara, NZ)
This Winery is about 40 miles North of Christchurch in NZ’s S. Island.
They say that “this wine’s bouquet and flavour suggests citrus fruit, especially limes, along with peaches, nectarines, lychees, pineapple and tropical spices. The low crop levels have produced good fruit concentration and weight in the mouth. There is a core of minerality and tangy acidity, which flows through the palate, helping to draw out the wine’s length and balance its off-dry finish. While ready to drink on release, with careful cellaring, it should continue to develop and blossom for a decade or more.”
My spy at the tasting said:  “Greenish,  Lime, floral, diesel… Slight mousse, sweet but good acidity, well-balanced, European style, however went ‘sherbety’ by the end.”

BEL CANTO            WAIPARA VALLEY RIESLING 2009 (Pegasus Bay, Waipara, NZ)
The outcrop of land on which these grapes were grown consists largely of weathered stones. Millions of years ago these were torn off New Zealand’s Southern Alps and deposited in selected valleys. This individual terroir has shaped this wine. The winery claims: “ On release the wine has a beautiful lemon sheen. It exudes ripe citrus expressions intertwined with those of nectarines, peaches and greengages. This Riesling seems to expand in the mouth to become rich, concentrated and unctuous. It retains the poise, elegance and finesse that is typical of this most aristocratic of grape varieties. There is a flow of minerality, derived from the vineyard soils, which course through the wine and draws out its length. With careful cellaring it can be expected to develop additional fascinating nuances.”
But my beautiful assistant says:   “Darker colour.   Rubbery (tyres), herbs… Grapefruit, mousse again, drier but not so well-balanced. I found it duller than the first wine”

TERRASSEN FEDERSPIEL 2012 (Tegernseerhof, Wachau Austria)
The stone terraces of Wachau have a superb influence on Riesling Federspiel ‘Terrassen’ Tegernseerhof, producing a unique, distinctive wine. Delicate white flowers, citrus and stone fruit notes are balanced by a refreshing, crisp acidity and mineral tension. Decanter Magazine selected the 2014 as one of the “top 20 Rieslings to try”
My representative says:  “Lime, herbs, not so fruity….Grapefruit on palate, herbs, delicate. Still young but purer and more complex than NZs, and well-balanced..”

KELLERBERG 2007 (Tegernseerhof, Wachau Austria)
Kellerberg (literally ‘cellar mountain’) is arguably Austria’s most famous wine-growing mountain; and Tegernseerhof vineyards lie in a particularly favoured spot. The wind has brought in volcanic loess, adding fertility to the soils beneath the rocky terrain of the vineyard. Named after the cellar of the wine cooperative, which was dug under the mountain. The Kellerberg exposure is from south to southeast and faces into the so-called Flickathal – a cold area that produces its own microclimate, resulting in a wine with “cool elegance that seduces with aristocratic charm”.
My informant says:  “Diesel but also face powder.  Rosewater, lemon… Good grip, complex, subtle, well-balanced, elegant”

JOHANNISBERGER KLAUS KABINETT 2005 (Prinz von Hessen, Rheingau, Germany)
A note I found for this says: “Riesling with lively pale yellow color and slightly green reflexes, which has a very ripe scent. The aromas are subtly reminiscent of apricot, a touch of peach, some citrus fruit and cavaillon melon. In the background the fine fruit aromas are carried by a gentle character. On the palate, this Riesling convinces with a fresh, well-integrated acidity and a fine-fruited flavor. A wine with a pleasant length…”
My correspondent says:   “Violets, honey, orange, perhaps acacia and a ‘stinkier’ smell, though not unpleasant.  Puckering acidity, violets, orange blossom, refreshing acidity, good grip, well-balanced…”

SCHARZHOFBERGER SPATLESE 2002 (Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt, Saar, Germany)
The Scharzhofberg vineyard lies in a side valley of the Saar River. It is probably the Saar’s most famous and climatically coolest site. It qualifies for the VDP and was also classified by Hugh Johnson and Stuart Pigott as a “Grosse Lage” (top site). With 6.6 ha (16.3 acres), Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt numbers among the largest owners with holdings in the site. Scharzhofberg is a south-facing slope with a grade of 35-60%. Its soil consists of loess, as well as coarse gray and reddish slate (up to 70%). These soils are less prone to weathering than those of the Kaseler Nies’chen in de Ruwer valley.
Wines originating from Scharzhofberg are distinctive for their penetrating, salty mineral tones and refined elegance. Even very mature wines continue to show an astonishing cornucopia of ripe fruit. The aging potential and vitality are the basis of the Scharzhofbergs legendary reputation worldwide.

Wine description on release:
“A brilliant start on the palate with lots of minerality and a pleasant acidity. Very ripe concentrated fruit, such as raisins, apricots, and peach, lends the wine depth and a variable mouthfeel with a wonderful play of sweetness and acidity. A great Spätlese with a tremendous future…”
My conspirator felt:   “Golden colour.  Toffee, caramel, creamy and linseed underneath. Gorgeous!!   Refreshing acidity, rich, caramely, puckering.  Elegant, good grip, subtle, complex – all of it!”

The couple of people I’ve heard from favoured the Europeans, and probably the Germans; and found “NZs compared to European:- much less complex and more ‘blousy’”!!

Many thanks Ralph for providing – as always -such an interesting tasting, and thanks too to those who have commented… feel free to join in….

Until soon!