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    Two Exceptional Values in German Riesling from Nik Weis

    logoRiesling is made around the world, and many excellent varieties can be found from California to Italy and beyond.? It is a signature grape in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York.? The grape can be fermented dry, or sweet, and just about anything in between.? Late harvest, very sweet dessert wines can be fabulous, rivaling the best Tokaji.? It is one of the great fine wine grapes of the world.

    If you had to pick one spot that is THE home of great Riesling, it would be the Mosel Valley in Germany.? Here the grape cultivation goes back 1800 years, or more.? Riesling in this area has traditionally been a wine high in acid, and the best frequently are off dry but still beautifully balanced.? As the growing seasons change with higher temperatures, nowadays the Mosel makes outstanding fully dry Riesling as well.? We’ll be reviewing two wines from this famed region in this article, both from producer Nik Weis and the St. Urbans-Hof winery.

    St. Urbans-Hof winery is the second largest, family owned and run winery in the Mosel.? The vines were planted by Nik’s grandfather back in 1949, and as many of the parcels have never been fully re-planted, some of the vines are 70 years old.? Old vines generally mean less fruit, but more concentrated and complex fruit.? At St. Urbans-Hof it also means deeper roots, which penetrate far into the slate bedrock and bring a fine minerality to the wines.? In Germany, a wine can be designated as coming from ‘Old Vines’ if the vines are at least 25 years old, however most quality producers would consider 40 to be a better number, as that is generally when vines are re-planted, as yields decline or other grapes become more popular.

    We have two Rieslings from Nik Weis to review, one dry (by the letter of Germany’s wine laws), and one off dry.? Let’s see what’s in the bottles:

    2018 Nik Weis St. Urbans-Hof Estate Dry Riesling QbA – from the organically grown vineyards at St. Urbans-Hof, this wine IMG_2652is pressed, then left to clarify naturally for a day before it is put into stainless tanks.? Fermentation happens with natural, ambient yeasts which have been in the winery area for generations.? After fermenting, it is racked and spends 2-3 months on the lees in stainless tanks before bottling.? Our impressions:

    This is a pale straw in color, with hints of green.? The nose is crisp with apple, melon and lemony citrus notes.? On the palate you get a clean, burst of bright fruit, and nice texture and body.? The wine is wonderfully balanced, but certainly not bone dry.? To be designated ‘trocken’, or ‘dry’ by German wine law, the wine must have less than 8 g/l of residual sugar.? This checks in at 6 g/l.? It is almost dry, and it works beautifully.? A superbly made wine.? $18 and an excellent value there.

    2018 Nik Weis St. Urbans-Hof Estate Riesling QbA from Old Vines – here the fruit comes from two different locations, IMG_2648plots directly surrounding the winery building in Leiwen, as well as a parcel in Wiltingen in the neighboring Saar Valley.? The vineyards in Wiltingen are on red slate soils, which pull more smoky and spicy notes from the iron rich slate.? Once again naturally occurring yeasts are used, and the wine spends 2-3 months on the lees prior to bottling.? What did we think?

    This wine has more color, more of a light, pale yellow.? It is quite brilliant.? The big nose features citrus (with lemon prominent), a bit of peach and clementines.? This wine has an edge to it.? On the palate the minerality is evident.? It is clean, filled with bright fruit, long and off dry, as well as perfectly balanced.? Cheri, not an avid white wine drinker, loved this juice.? I did too.? Also $18, and a great value.? This drinks like a much more expensive Riesling.? The QbA designation generally indicates more of an entry level wine, but this is anything but that.? Just delicious.

    If you like Riesling you will like both of these.? They represent excellent value under $20.? The Old Vines wine is pretty spectacular, and makes a case for inclusion in our Top 25 Wines of the Year consideration.? What you clearly get with the wines from Nik Weis is attention to detail, uncompromising quality and a clear commitment to making great wine.? You can’t really ask for much more than that.

    A votre santé!

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