Rheingau


Here’s a delightful sparkling wine from Germany’s Rheingau region, produced by the Barth family in the traditional Champagne method of barth-sektkollektion-riesling-brutsecond fermentation in the bottle. The enterprise, established in 1948, makes a full range of still and sparkling wines, the latter of which are all estate-grown and produced. The Barth Brut Riesling Sekt, non-vintage, is 100 percent varietal and spent two years in the bottle resting on the lees of spent yeast cells. The color is medium gold, highlighted by a steady upward stream of tiny golden bubbles. The bouquet, well, the bouquet smells like a melange of everything we love about apples — fresh-cut Granny Smiths, spiced and baked apples, apple cider and a touch of slightly astringent red apple skin, all abetted by notes of pears and peaches, heather and honeysuckle. This sparkler is lively and effervescent on the palate, and though there’s something a bit honeyed about its richness, like candied quince and crystallized ginger, it’s quite dry and enters the finish with an element of fleet spareness. Not your usual sparkling wine. 12 percent alcohol. Excellent. About $28.

Imported by Truly Fine Wines Inc., San Diego, Calif. A sample for review.

Many German wines have names that are a real mouthful of terms and umlauts, so here goes. Our schlossjohannisberg_rieslinggrunlack_labelfront_loreswine today is the Fürst von Metterich Schloss Johannisberg Grünlack Spätlese Riesling 2012, from the Rheingau region.

Schloss Johannisberg is an ancient estate that occupies a magnificent site on a broad hill that slopes in a southerly direction down to the Rhine. Grapes have been grown there apparently since the 12th Century, during monastic days. It has been an all-riesling property since 1720 and was one of the first, if not the first, in Germany to make a late harvest sweet wine from grapes affected by botrytis cinerea, the “noble rot.” In 1816, Schloss Johannisberg was given to Prince von Metternich by the Austrian Franz I for services at the Congress of Vienna — which redrew the map of Europe after Napoleon’s final defeat at Waterloo — and while the Metternich name still appears on the estate’s labels, it was acquired in 1974 by the giant conglomerate Dr. August Oetker KG, manufacturer of baking soda, dessert mixes, frozen pizzas and yogurt and owner of breweries, sparkling wine facilities, hotels and so on.

The color is shimmering pale straw-gold; aromas of peaches and pears, lime peel, jasmine and honeysuckle are highlighted by notes of cloves and a snap of gunflint. It’s almost needless to say that this is very attractive, even seductive stuff. Made 70 percent in stainless steel and 30 percent in oak, the wine is clean and bright, with a subtle graphite influence in the depths and a fine vibrant line of acidity for animation. This is, yes, a fairly sweet version of the Spätlese category, with flavors of ripe and slightly honeyed peaches and apricots, but it’s also beautifully balanced and even a bit dry around the circumference and through the golden finish. 7.5 percent alcohol. A lovely wine for pairing with moderately spicy Thai or Vietnamese fare, with, say, a pork roast cooked with apples, or with simple desserts. Winemaker was Christian Witte. Excellent. About $30.

MW Imports, White Plains, N.Y. A sample for review.

In some ways, it’s more fun to compile the “25 Great Wine Bargains” than it is to fret over the “50 Great Wines.” This present list of wines priced at $20 and under offers more geographical and varietal diversity, as well as appealing to people — most of the wine-drinkers on the face of the earth — would would rather pay $15 for a bottle of excellent wine than $150 for a bottle of exceptional wine. What’s particularly pleasing about today’s roster is that of the 25 wines included, all but two rate Excellent. The truth is that wines don’t have to be high-priced to be thoughtfully and precisely made or to embody all the characteristics of a terrific drink. An excellent sauvignon blanc for $11? Who would pass that up? These 25 Great Wine Bargains are cause for celebration, so have at it. Remember, though, that not all wines are available in every market. For bottles that can’t be found in your local retail stores, a search on the Internet may be helpful. Enjoy!

All of these selections were samples for review or were tasted at wholesaler trade events.
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kerner
Abbazia di Novacella Kerner 2013, Valle Isarco, Alto Adige, Italy. Kerner is a white hybrid grape created as recently as 1969. It is found primarily in Germany but certainly performed well in this section of Alto Adige. Excellent. About $19.
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baur
Francois Baur Brut Réserve nv, Crémant d’Alsace, France. Pinot blanc, riesling, chardonnay, pinot gris. Excellent. About $18.
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cattin riesling
Joseph Cattin Riesling 2013, Alsace, France. Excellent. About $14.
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chevalier_muscadet_2010_hi_res
Eric Chevalier Clos de la Butte 2013, Muscadet Côtes de Grand Lieu sur Lie 2013, Loire Valley, France. Excellent. About $16.
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arneis_le_madri_btl_535px
Michele Chiarlo Le Madri Roero Arneis 2014, Piedmont, Italy. 100 percent arneis grapes. Excellent. About $18.
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2014_Sauvignon_Blanc_label_rgb1
Dry Creek Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2014, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County. Excellent. About $18.
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Eguia_Rosado_FT
Viña Eguía Rosado 2014, Rioja, Spain. 80 percent tempranillo, 20 percent garnacha. Very Good+. About $12.
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cava
Isaac Fernandez Seleccíon Biutiful Cava Rosé nv, Penedes, Spain. Excellent. About $15.
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schloss-gobelsburg-gobelsburger-riesling-kamptal-austria-10224971
Schloss Gobelsburg “Gobelsburger” Riesling 2013, Kamptal, Austria. Excellent. About $18.
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Hidalgo_Fino
Emilio Hildago Fino Jerez Seco nv, Jerez, Spain. Excellent. About $14 (500 milliliter bottle).
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leitz
Leitz Rudesheimer Berg Schlossberg Riesling Trocken 2013, Rheingau, Germany. Excellent. About $20.
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martini-cab
Louis M. Martini Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Sonoma County. Excellent. About $20.
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masi
Masi Campofiorin 2011, Rosso del Veronese IGT, Italy. Corvino, rondinella and molinara grapes. Excellent. About $18.
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mud-house-sauvignon-blanc-marlborough-new-zealand-10126095
Mud House Sauvignon Blanc 2014, Marlborough, New Zealand. Excellent. About $17.
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pazo
Pazo San Mauro Albariño 2014, Rías Baixas, Spain. Excellent. About $19.
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ped sb
Pedroncelli East Side Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2014, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County. Excellent. About $15.
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2012_domaine_perraud_macon_villages_vieilles_vignes
Domaine Perraud Vielles Vignes Mâcon-Villages 2013, Mâconnais, France. 100 percent chardonnay. Excellent. About $20.
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Amauta-Absoluto-Torrontes
El Porvenir de Cafayate Amauta Absoluto Torrontés 2012, Salta, Argentina. Excellent. About $16.
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prodigo
Prodigo Sauvignon Blanc 2014, Friuli Grave, Italy. Excellent. About $11.
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scaia-garganega
Tenuta Sant’Antonio Scaia Bianca 2014, delle Venezia IGT, Italy. The label asserts 55 percent garganega, 45 percent chardonnay grapes. Press materials and website say 50 percent garganega, 30 percent chardonnay, 20 percent trebbiano Soave. Whatever. Excellent. About $11.
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segries
Château de Ségriès Côtes-du-Rhône 2013, Rhone Valley, France. 50 percent grenache, 30 percent syrah, 10 percent each cinsault and carignane. Excellent. About $15.
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charles_thomas_cotes_du_rhone_rouge_hq_label
Charles Thomas Côtes-du-Rhône 2013, Rhone Valley, France. (Maison Jean-Baptiste Bejot) 50 percent syrah, 40 percent grenache, 10 percent mourvedre. Very Good+. About $12.
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valentina
La Valentina 2014, Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo, Italy. Rosé of montepulciano d’Abruzzo. Very Good+. About $12.
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VR_Label_14_WHITE4_Front
Vina Robles “White 4” 2014, Paso Robles, Santa Barbara County. 54 percent viognier, 22 percent vermentino, 15 verdelho, 9 sauvignon blanc. Excellent. About $16.
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Zemmer-Pinot_Bianco_Square
Peter Zemmer Punggl Pinot Blanc 2013, Alto Adige, Italy. Excellent. About $18.
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As with so many estates in European wine regions, Weingut Leitz has an interesting story. Though official records place the Leitz family in the winemaking industry of the Rheingau as far back as 1744, it wasn’t until the early 1960s that Josef Leitz rebuilt a leitzwinery damaged by Allied bombing near the end of World War II. His grandson, Johannes Leitz, took over the estate in 1985, turning the family’s interests primarily to the reisling grape. Starting with the 2.9 hectares the family owned — 7.16 acres — Johannes expanded the Leitz holdings to 43 hectares — about 106 acres — in 2014. Of that quantity, spread over a dozen individual vineyards, the area that produced the wine under review today, the Leitz Rudesheimer Berg Schlossberg Riesling Trocken 2013, Rheingau, measures exactly 1.17 hectares. The slope of Berg Schlossberg is 58 degrees, meaning that tending the vines and harvesting grapes can be extremely taxing, if not downright hazardous. The soil that supports (if that’s the word) this vineyard is a very hard and rocky red slate clay with quartzite mixed in, meaning that the vines have to struggle to root downward and find water and nutrients. The stress causes the vines to reduce the size and number of grapes, but those grapes exhibit great aromas, body and character. The Leitz Rudesheimer Berg Schlossberg Riesling Trocken 2013 offers a very pale gold hue and enticing scents of lemon balm, lime peel and peach that open to notes of quince and crystallized ginger; touches of cloves and talc add to the perfume. You must prepare yourself for what happens next, because this is a wine of palate-shattering acidity and scintillating chalk and limestone minerality; the words lively and crisp scarcely begin to describe the shimmering vibrancy that animates this exceptionally dry riesling. If that were all there was to it, we could take our puckery mouths and go elsewhere, but fortunately the wine also embodies touches of stone-fruit flavors, hints of baking spice and slightly candied flowers and an almost subliminal breeze of fresh seacoast salinity. The alcohol content is an eminently manageable 12.5 percent. Drink now through 2020 to 2025. We had this wine with swordfish seared in a cast-iron skillet in a coffee rub with urfa and maresh peppers. Excellent. About $20, an Amazing Value.

Imported by Schatzi Wines, Milan, N.Y. A sample for review.