OMGD South Africa Tasting
Knysna, December 2, 2017
20 international Rieslings came under scrutiny

Once again a group of wine enthusiasts met in the intimate surroundings of the cellar at the home of George Parkes, Échanson Honoraire. This year’s theme was “Riesling”.

A varietal originating in the Rhine region of Germany, Riesling’s character is greatly influenced by the wine’s place of origin. It is well suited for slate and sandy clay soil. In Germany, the variety is particularly widely planted. There are also significant plantings in France (Alsace), Australia, New Zealand and South Africa to name but four countries.

Besides George, present were: Ilse van Staden (Vice-Conseiller Gastronomique), Dr Paul Kruger (Chevalier), Annalie Kruger (Dame de la Chaîne), Jan Johnson (Bailli Honoraire), Denise Lindley (Vice-Conseiller Culinaire), Niel Els (Bailli Honoraire), Peter Bishop (Vice-Chargé de Presse).

George trimmed a queue of 43 Rieslings to just 20 which were presented in five flights of four wines.

Up first were four Alsace Rieslings:
- Hugel ‘Jubilee’ Riesling 2004
- Domaine Paul Blanck Riesling Rosenberg 2004
- Trimbach Riesling 1988
- Trimbach ‘Cuvée Frédéric Émile 1985

We certainly had the benefit of age with these, a sine quo non for Riesling. However despite their prestigious origins, “interesting” rather than compelling was the general conclusion.

The second flight comprised dry German Rieslings out of which a Wegeler Deinhard Winkeler Hasensprung ‘Oestrich” Auslese 1989 from the Rheingau was truly magnificent!

Moving on, flight three showed New World drier styles. All were screwcap bottles. The wines had substance and exuded quality.
- Jordan Riesling 2009 (Stellenbosch, Cape) was magnificent as it opened out in the glass
- Wild Earth 2008 (Central Otago, New Zealand) had lovely luscious lime flavours offset by a touch of sweetness
- Neudorf Brightwater Riesling 2006 (Nelson, New Zealand) showed classic varietal characteristics with good “grip” and length
- Leeuwen Estate Art Series 2005 (Margaret River, Australia) was also classic. Lean and lively too.

“Special Late Harvest / Beerenauslese style” was the common denominator for the fourth flight. The acidity of each wine was high making them ideal for maturation and for partnering food. The group was beginning to appreciate these attributes that hallmark great Rieslings.

A lovely sweet range, obviously with higher sugar and lower alcohol but wonderful sustaining acids, comprised:
- Paul Cluver ‘Close Encounter’ Riesling 2016 (Elgin), from the South African “King of Riesling”
- Fromm Riesling Spätlese 2006, Marlborough
- Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Spätlese 2003, Weingut Reinhold Haart (Mosel, Germany) Saar Ruwer)
- Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese 1997, Joh. Jos. Prüm (Mosel, Germany) - Intense!

With flight five we arrived at the ultimate “Noble Late Harvest” style made from berries which have been affected by botrytis cinerea (Noble Rot):
- Delheim Edelspatz Riesling Noble Late Harvest (Stellenbosch, South Africa)
- Paul Cluver Weisser Riesling Noble Late Harvest 2007 (Elgin, South Africa)
- Hartenberg Riesling Noble Late Harvest 2010 (Stellenbosch, South Africa)
- Deidersheimer Herrgottsacker Riesling Beerenauslese 2007, Weingut Dr Deinhard (Pfalz, Germany)

Unfortunately all were on the side of being tired so the general conclusion was a subdued “interesting” rather than euphoria.

This comparative tasting of Riesling emerged as interesting if not astounding. Riesling demands that one enters the fray without prejudice, without pre-conceived ideas. On the day the “New World” flight three was clearly favoured by those present. In fact it was such a memorable selection that they remained on the table to accompany the dishes prepared by Frans Ferreira and Denise Lindley, namely: fishcakes with dahl; chicken curry, vegetable curry, cheeses and biscuits.

Prepared from the extensive tasting notes coordinated by George Parkes and edited by Peter Bishop