Wine tastings are always interesting, but the organisers of a one-off event devoted to the riesling grape next month have outdone themselves.
The Riesling Revolution at Ballymaloe House in Co Cork is a tutored tasting which, uniquely, brings together winemakers from the three regions most famous for growing that peerless white grape.
Of the three, it is the German winery, Carl Ehrhard’s family holding in the Rheingau, that is probably most frequently mentioned in this column. Imported by Karwig’s and also available in wine shops such as Curious Wines, Ehrhard’s range spans the highly approachable entry-level Orange Label (below) through to sublime dessert wines, all of which are very good value.
Tim Adams, who produces top-class wines in Australia’s Clare Valley, is a regular visitor to Ireland: wine fans here have enjoyed some memorable tutored tastings he has run at Fallon & Byrne in Dublin and Blackrock Castle, Cork.
The other outstanding traditional home of riesling is Alsace in France, and Séverine Schlumberger is the head of the famous winemaking domain that bears her name.
Book tickets €25 with Ballymaloe House on firstname.lastname@example.org and 021 4652531 and for more information, Colm@Ballymaloe.ie or Ireland@wineaustralia.com. Today’s highlights (below) include four top-class rieslings inspired by this event.
* The Zenato winery in Italy’s Veneto region is another name you may be familiar with from these pages — not least for their popular, rich Amarone and Ripasso reds. Alberto Zenato is hosting a tasting of wider range of nine reds and whites in Dublin and Kilkenny as follows.
On Sun, Apr 15, from 5pm to 7pm he’s at the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel on Golden Lane, Dublin. Tickets (€20) from premierwinetraining.com. On Tue, Apr 17, at 8pm, Alberto will present his wines at The Wine Centre, John Street, Kilkenny. Tickets (€10) on 056 7722907, thewinecentre.ie.
Nebla Verdejo Rueda DO 2010, Dunnes Stores, €7 until Tuesday
The verdejo grape’s chief virtue, simplicity, is often its downfall: it can be desperately boring. Not this one from Bodegas Vicente Gandia though. All zesty acidity contrasted by flashes of plump tropical fruit, it’s but one of many exclusives at Dunnes (such as Laurent Miquel Bardou St Chinian, €12, and Cecchi Chianti Classico, €10) which are well worth seeking out in their current sale.
Wyndham Estate Shiraz Bin 555 2009, Widely available at €12; €9 at Dunnes until Tuesday
Dunnes’ sale also includes some well-known brands such as Campo Viejo and this rich red: A stablemate of the Jacob’s Creek Riesling (below) it’s made from fruit selected from throughout the South Australia super-region to deliver a delightfully crisp and rich shiraz stuffed with dark red fruit.
Jacob’s Creek Riesling Reserve 2007, €8 at Tesco until today; normally around €13
With a scent like someone’s just peeled a lime in the middle of a flower shop, this (or, better again, its upmarket stablemate, the Steingarten single-vineyard riesling) is a great one to pour unannounced for any of your pals who scoff at the notion of big brands making terrific wine. Delicious.
Tim Adams Riesling 2007 Clare Valley, Around €13 at Tesco and independent off-licences
With riesling, less is more: It’s hardly ever blended or wooded, allowing its subtlety to shine. So put some Philip Glass or Kraftwerk on the sound system and enjoy the minimalism in this: lean and firm, it showcases fabulous layers of floral and citrus fruit aromas. And don’t take my word for it. It was named best in class at the International Wine and Spirits Competition.
Carl Ehrhard Orange Label Trocken Riesling 2009 Rheingau, Imported by Karwig’s Carrigaline; around €12.50
Confession time. At dinners and parties I love pouring wines unannounced just to see what people really think of a wine style they profess to dislike. Fragrant with green apples and limes, this beautiful, accessible white was one of the hits at a birthday do in a colleague’s gaff — even among the folks who declared they didn’t like riesling nor any wine from Germany.
Carl Ehrhard Green Label Spätlese Trocken Riesling 2008/2009 Rheingau, Imported by karwigwines.ie; around €16.50 to €19
It’s worth getting to grips with the language of German wine: In this case, Spätlese means the grapes were harvested late, and so bursting with sugar, but fermented Trocken (dry). That is, a different approach to the same end as the Orange Label above. It’s bursting with floral and citrus aromas, fruit and crisp acidity. Enjoy. And see my guide to deciphering German labels on my recently-revived blog at blakecreedon.wordpress.com.
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