Mineralstein Riesling 2010 review (Sunday quickie)

… will zap you with spiced fruit

The simple, minimal label of Marks & Spencer's Mineralstein Riesling: blue text on a white backgroundAnyone up for a Sunday quickie? Excellent. So let’s crack open a bottle of Mineralstein from Marks & Spencer, shall we?

Well. That is a boshing hell of a waft, right there. A fruity (grapefruity) zap, sprinkled with spice.

Then, in your mouth, it’s lively, nimble, with the softest fizz of bubbles on your tongue. Fruit and flowers. Off-dry, this one, but not cloying like that horrible Majestic number from a few weeks back. That’s thanks to a good strong lacing of sharp acidity — and also to a pleasant savoury quality. Olive? Yes. Biting into a ripe, sweet green olive.

What I’d say is that you want to chill this bad boy down good. It’s absolutely up to being slugged on its own — or, I’d’ve thought, alongside lightish fodder (simple, clean flavours, methinks).

Well done, M&S, good work here.

Rating ★★★ (3 stars)
ABV 12%
Price £8.39

Darting Estate Muskateller Eiswein 2008 review

… is eyebrow-flappingly, toad-paralysingly sweet. Suicide-bombingly sweet. Sweet enough to make the sweetest goddamn kitten photo ON THE WHOLE OF THE INTERNETS seem only mildly touching

A half-bottle of Darting Estate Eiswein. Simple label with crest and traditional typography

Your first clue that you’re in for something out of the ordinary is the fact that this wine is a deep, deep amber.

And it is eyebrow-flappingly, toad-paralysingly sweet. Suicide-bombingly sweet. Sweet enough to make the sweetest goddamn kitten photo ON THE WHOLE OF THE INTERNETS seem only mildly touching.

It’s also very acidic — which is just as well, as it’d otherwise be utterly unmanageable. Because the bite of the acid helps retain a bit of balance.

But when it’s there in your gob, and as you swallow, it’s so damn sweet. I’m going to be straight with you: too sweet. It has that little catch in the back of the throat that you get drinking orange squash with too much concentrate. The colder you can get it, the better this becomes — but even chilled right down in the Dedicated Parn Drinks Fridge, it’s still too throat-cloying, too syrupy.

What’s more, the sweetness makes it hard to discern the rest of the flavours. Which are lovely, deciduous, autumnal, fleshy, ripe: grapes and peaches and sugar, oh my!

This is a crying, weeping, howling great shame.

Verdict

I’m sorry to say that, at £16 for a half-bottle, I can’t recommend this wine. And, oh boy, believe me: I love Eiswein. When I snaffled this from the shelves of M&S, I really thought I was in for a treat.

But, sorry, it’s not a treat.

The worst thing is that, behind the sweetness, there’s a stunning wine, I’m sure of it. Tragically, though, I’m stunned in the wrong kind of way.

Rating ★ (1 star)
ABV 6.5%
Price £16 from Marks & Spencer

Piesporter Michelsberg Riesling 2009, Zimmermann Graeff

… is cloying, over-sugared, facile — with that kind of stagnant sweetness that leaves a residue of post-boiled-sweet-overdose gank in your mouth for about an hour afterwards

The label of this (unpleasant) bottle of Riesling, featuring some funkyish blue graphics

You know how German wines are unfairly shunned on account of a reputation for sickliness garnered by the years of Hock, Liebfraumilch and Blue Nun? You know how getting some people to try a glass of German Riesling is like persuading Fidel Castro to front a Gilette ad campaign?

Well, let a doubter taste this Piesporter Michelsberg and you’ll set back the cause a decade or two. Because it’s cloying, over-sugared, facile. That kind of stagnant sweetness that leaves a residue of post-boiled-sweet-overdose gank in your mouth for about an hour afterwards.

Okay, so it’s not an expensive Riesling. But, hey, I’ve drunk plenty of great Rieslings at this price. I hoped we’d left this kind of thing behind.

So leave off persuading your friends to pick up a bottle of Zimmermann Graeff’s Michelsberg. You’d be better off pitching Castro that ad idea of yours.

Rating ☆ (0 stars)
ABV 9.5%
Price £5.99 from Majestic Wine

Prinz von Hessen Riesling Kabinett 2008

… has (alas) had much of it winning subtlety beaten out of it — leaving it cowed and wretched, cringing in the corner like a maltreated animal

Closeup of the label of Prinz von Hessen Riesling, including a golden coat of arms

Opening a bottle of wine is a time of almost intemperate joy for me. A time pregnant with possibility. My mind conjures the potential delights ensconced within those glassy walls. My focus sharpens. The world narrows to this: the loosing of the cork; the exquisite slow prise of the corkscrew (waiter’s style only, please); the first snatched whiff at the neck of the freshly denuded bottle.

(Before you ask, no, my palms are not sweating.)

What I mean is, there’s a hell of a lot of hope invested in those meagre 750 millilitres of liquid.

And that’s with any halfway respectable wine I open.

With a German Riesling, well, let’s just say that (in terms of relative expectation levels) Obama had it easy.

Because it was Riesling that started me off on all this. This wine business. Riesling that first fascinated me; Riesling that first beguiled me. Riesling that first made me realise how people got so damn into the whole malarkey.

Which is why I opened this bottle of Riesling Kabinett — snaffled in the Wine Society’s January sale — with even greater eagerness than usual.

ALACK, dear reader.

I was disappointed.

For a German Riesling, it’s fairly closed-down aromatically. Some fruit, some lavender and suchlike. But it’s hardly leaping out at you like a mad axe-murderer in a dark alley.

The lavender’s there in the mouth, too — but here’s where the axe-murderer does jump out. And hits you with a swingeing blow of winey buy generic cialis online bosh. It’s overwhelming. Not in a hedonistic pleasures kind of way; in a Blitzkrieg kind of way.

There’s a nice, unexpected hint of toffee to its finish, but unfortunately one that’s ultimately overridden by acid. So kind of like chewing a toffee that’s been soaked in vinegar, then. Which curtails the pleasure somewhat. Once that’s cleared, though, you’re left with some lovely delicate floral, peachy perfumes lingering. This is hands-down the nicest part of the whole experience. And the thing that keeps you going back to your glass, wondering if you got it all wrong.

But you didn’t.

Verdict

This actually reminds me of some of the New World attempts at Riesling that founder because of a climate or style of viticulture that’s unsuited to the strengths of the grape. If I was blind-tasting this, I’d say it was a Riesling from a too-hot part of Australia.

Because it tastes like much of the winning subtlety of the grape has been beaten out of it. Not completely removed, you understand; just cowed and wretched, cringing in the corner like a maltreated animal.

Which makes me sad.

The wine isn’t bad, I should add. But this is a not-inexpensive German Riesling, for Christ’s sake: it could be magical. It should be magical.

Which, given my lofty expectations is all bit of a shame.

You reading this, Obama?

Rating ?
ABV 11.5%
Price £11.95 from The Wine Society (no longer available); £87.32 for six from Bibendum;