2005 vintage German wines

The other night I brought home a lovely German wine for my wife, Tess.

We have been happily married for over 30 years and it seems that, just recently, she has acquired a love of German wines. This seems to me to be an amazing fact. I have brought many different wines home from the Wine Cellar over these three decades and nothing has made as much of an impression on her as German wines, especially the 2005 vintage which is being hailed as the best vintage since the great 1971 and 1976 vintages. This is quite a statement about vintages because wine folks are still speaking of the '71 and '76 vintages with quiet reverence. In fact, I remember retailing these wines in the late 1970s and in 1980 in Ashland when the wines stood at a staggering seven dollars a bottle! Let's look at German wines and the great 2005 vintage.

German wines are marvelous creatures. I think that most wine lovers will tell you that German wines are the quintessential white wines for their inherently delicate properties, hint of nuance and, when well made, perfect balance of fruit, sugars and acids. The Riesling grape is never a powerhouse white wine grape. Unlike the Chardonnay that can have massive amounts of oak, drippy butter and heavy mouth feel, well made German Riesling has a lightness and ethereal feel on the palate regardless of the residual sugars in the wine. This lightness comes from the superb natural acids found in the grape grown on the Mosel or Rhine rivers. This natural acidity is the backbone of many German Riesling and forms what I can only call a cult following for this marvelous wine. Naturally cleansing acids are a requirement for the thirst quenching beauty of wine which allows the wine to go so well with so many cuisine offerings. I think this acidity and crisp fruit sugars are what attract Tess to German Rieslings as well as the fact that these wines, except for deep red meat dishes, will do well with such a vast variety of dishes.

The other, and very important greatness to German wines, are the low alcohol levels seen in almost all German Rieslings. This is another major difference between German wine and other white wines. Where 13 and 14 percent alcohol levels are becoming routine in Chardonnay, Rieslings sit well under 12 percent alcohol, many at less than 9 percent. This eliminates the "alcohol burn" associated with the massive and ponderous white wines which we are seeing on the shelves. This lower alcohol level gives a refreshing character to these German offerings and allows for sipping throughout the dinner without a "full" feeling or getting too much "punch" in the system.

Lastly, German wines have a superb, long finish that seem to go on forever. The combination of tropical fruit sensations, crispness and palate cleansing are just the thing for warm summer nights and light cuisine, especially salads, light meats and fruit dishes. If you have not tried German wines in a while, pick up a bottle of the 2005 vintage and give the wine a whirl. Chill lightly and sit back and purr. These wines are truly sensational! See you next week!

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