Our favorite time of year: Rieslingfeier, a celebration of the noblest white grape whose vines grace the hillside in Piersporter.

Rieslingfeier and a substantial cellar of well-curated Rieslings

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Though February is a cold and cruel month in many ways, let us not forget that love is in the air! And while, yes, Valentine's Day is nearly upon us, our hearts are warmed by our love for the noblest of the white wine grapes, Riesling (apologies to our dear Chenin Blanc). In honor of Riesling, our good friend Stephen Bitterolf has organized a celebration to give the grape the its justly deserved recognition. While the gala dinner is sold out, the Grand Tasting scheduled for February 20th still has slots available. Please check the website for details. http://rieslingfeier.com/events-tickets/

And what sort of celebration would it be without plenty of wine? We were recently offered a substantial cellar comprised exclusively of Riesling. The collector, a long time friend and fantastic chef put together this collection over 12 years with the assistance of a noted wine director and Riesling enthusiast. In this cellar we have benchmark Rieslings from the New World, Alsace, Austria, and of course Germany. The scope of this collection makes us giddy. Of note are several large format bottles, back vintages, auction bottles, and other rarities. For avowed Riesling lovers there are wonderful opportunities to back-fill their cellar with longtime favorites. Many thanks go to our friend for sharing these glorious wines. -John McIlwain

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Boxler 2009 Alsace Grand Cru Riesling Sommerberg

Comparing the grand crus  at Albert Boxler (not even taking into account the lieu-dits/letter designates) has one  grasping for descriptors or analogies. Both are deeply mineral, but Sommerberg is perhaps the prettier, more supple of the two;  Brand is powerful, structured, even a bit angular. Tasting both crus from single vintage is always an interesting (and delicious) exercise. The 2009 Sommerberg is dense, rich, and more subtly mineral that the leaner Brand. Floral on the nose with aromas of apple blossom, honeysuckle, and pear skin. The fruit is more generous, with pretty notes of baked pear, acacia honey, and lemon curd giving way to a dusty stoniness on the supple, textured finish. This is quite lovely, if less punchy than the Brand in 2009. That said, this was delicious with  steamed fish  with ginger and scallions and superlative with lobster chow fun. John McIlwain

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Schloss Gobelsburg 2011 Kamptal Riesling Tradition Reserve

While the 2010 Riesling Tradition remains a personal favorite, the 2011 was remarkably impressive when tasted at the estate in May 2013. The Tradition is culled from Gobelsburg's best and oldest parcels in the Gaisberg vineyard, and this couldn't be more different and intriguing when compared with the lilting Gaisbergs we love from Johannes Hirsch. This is Riesling by way of the herb garden, not the orchard, with notes of dill, fennel, chervil and stony salinity. There's a solid undercurrent of structured, subtle yellow fruit, but this is ultimately a savory wine, and one to be enjoyed with fuller fare. We think this wine is great, but David Schildknecht goes even further, stating "This is far and away the finest-yet of Moosbrugger’s essays in back-to-the-future Riesling....this particular Tradition bottling lets you have it both ways, being forwardly fruity and dazzlingly complex yet probably capable of going the extra mile in bottle, perhaps through 2025...That it should emerge from precisely this vintage is amazing, not to mention intriguing." -jfr

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Hirsch 2007 Kamptal Riesling Gaisberg

Tasted from tank in May 2008, this made a great impression with a really interesting and complex nose showing quince, pear, then intense peach and slate, wet stone, spice (pepper, anise). Equally precise and complex on the palate with great length and beautiful fresh acidity. Geat wine! JW

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Hirsch 2009 Kamptal Riesling Gaisberg

My favorite thing about Hannes Hirsch's wines in 2009 is that even in this warm, powerful vintage, in the south-facing, warm Gaisberg vineyard, the wine comes off as deft, elegant and loaded with minerals. White flowers, citrus, finesse, great length, and that classic mineral crunch on the finish. Like many a great Austrian Riesling, this will develop very well for at least 15 years. -jfr

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Hirtzberger 2011 Wachau Riesling Smaragd Singerriedl

Singerriedl is Hirtzberger's signature vineyard; furthest east in Spitz, and planted to Riesling, it creates the most stunning examples of deep, complex, lush Austrian wines. The wines show their best with age and are becoming increasingly difficult to find on the secondary market, so bury some of these in your cellar for 10 years then revisit them. It will be worth it... -jfr

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Prager 2001 Wachau Riesling Smaragd Klaus

Few pleasures compare to that of aged Prager. The 2001 Klaus is pure magic, and drinking quite, quite well at the moment. Is it at its peak? It very possibly has a few more years to go and a bit more fat to shed, so we happily encourage you to both drink and hold. This beauty isn't going downhill anytime soon, and we plan to still be checking in on this well into the 2020s. Klaus is holy ground for Riesling and is perhaps the greatest site in the Wachau. 2001 is a terrific vintage, the best Austria has seen since 1997, and this wine is absolutely seamless. Broad-shouldered and muscular, yet well-defined and brimming with energy and freshness. -jfr

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Prager 2012 Wachau Smaragd Riesling Klaus

Herbal, peachy and citric, Klaus is arguably Prager's top site for Riesling and the 2012 is one for the ages. Decant for quite some time if enjoying young, or forget about it in the cellar for at least 5 years. You won't regret it. -jfr

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Breuer, Georg 2008 Rheingau Rüdesheimer Berg Schlossberg Riesling

This wine is in the warehouse and will not be available for pick-up or delivery until after Labor Day.

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Ehrhard, Geschwister 1989 Rheingau Rüdesheimer Berg Rottland Ries Aus 500ml

Yes, that's 20+ year Auslese, straight from the cellar and in perfect condition. Incredibly complex aromatically with herbaceous notes of apricot, mint and fresh fennel. Great weight on the palate with creamy texture and phenomenal depth and length. Drink, hold, give as a gift, and just enjoy this chance to drink mature Riesling for a song. -jfr

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Falkenstein, Hofgut 2010 Saar Krettnacher Euchariusberg Riesling Auslese

Auslese for less then $30? Well, Erich Weber is staunchly opposed to "prädikat-inflation," so his Auslese isn't going to be some kind of declassified TBA. This is certainly sweet, but not in a dessert sort of way; it's classic food Riesling, great with mildly sweet or spicy cuisine. Grown on blue slate and eminently drinkable, here the estate's signature bright citrus notes give way to riper apple and grapefruit flavors. Perfectly balanced and drinking exceptionally well now, though it has tremendous capacity to age. Needless to say, the wine's 50 g/l residual sugar are cut with riveting, bracing acidity. -jfr

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Fricke, Eva 2011 Rheingau Lorcher Schlossberg Riesling

The single off-dry wine in Eva’s stable, and perhaps the most striking, regardless of style. The Schlossberg is a rather large vineyard but Eva’s parcels are well-situated vines up to 45 years old. The soil here is a combination of slate and loess but is also distinguished by a high quartzite content relative to Lorch’s other sites. The wine is stately and reserved aromatically at the moment, displaying primarily a profound sense of high-toned stoniness. On the palate, though, it’s as open and bright as can be, showing just a hint of sweetness atop a full and lush frame. The precision and clarity here are extraordinary and it’s one of the most exciting wines to come out of the Rheingau in a long time. No one else strikes a comparable balance of freshness and body, all with a penetrating minerality. –jfr

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Immich-Batterieberg 2010 Mosel Batterieberg Riesling

From the famous dynamite-derived Batterieberg vineyard in Enkirch, this is perhaps the most imposing wine of the vintage. Very tightly-coiled, this needs much time in the decanter or cellar to unwind, but when it does the results are magnificent. According to Dan Melia it is "chiseled, fine, balanced, mineral-driven, and just packed with flavor in a way that only 2010 can achieve." If you are choosing just one dry-styled wine to cellar this vintage, look no further. -jfr

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Immich-Batterieberg 2010 Mosel Ellergrub Riesling

While we're more familiar with Ellergrub from the brilliant wines of Weiser-Kuenstler, Gernot Kollman here brings his unique talents to this noble site and the result is stunning. Slightly gentler and more approachable than the Batterieberg at this point as this has just 20 g/l sugar. It's showing well now but will only improve over the coming years. -jfr

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Lauer, Peter 2010 Saar Ayler Kupp Riesling Fass 15 'Stirn'

'Stirn' is a named parcel within the Ayler Kupp, one which became part of the more famous vineyard in the great (errr...) vineyard consolidation of 1971. Situated at the top of the south/southwest facing hill and planted on mostly gray slate soils. The wine itself is made in a 'feinherb' style and is strikingly complex. The texture alone is remarkable and the aromatics are terrific: classic sponti notes, grapefruit, pear and deep mineral. Palate is rich, off-dry and reminiscent of citrus-infused honey. Just ever so savory from the native yeast fermentation, gorgeous acids, really just stunning balance and depth. -jfr

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Müller, Eugen 2012 Pfalz Forster Kirchenstück Riesling Auslese 500ml

The Forster Kirchenstück is arguably the greatest vineyard site in all of the Pfalz; some claim even in Germany and there's evidence that plenty of people agree: per square meter, it's the most expensive vineyard in the entire country. Don't expect too many new producers coming along very often making Kirchenstück. The Müllers have a piece, and insane how little we have to pay to get to taste what they're able to do with this historic site. We recently tasted a 2002 of this wine that came from a private collector and had one of those great "Riesling Experiences": there were two Chambers Street staff memebers drinking the bottle and it was gone in probably less than 15 minutes. The 2012 is seamless Auslese and in 10 years will be even more delicious than that 2002 was. Great richness, great density yet potent minerality, terrific acidity and still a sense of delicacy and refinement. -jfr

 

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Schmitt-Wagner, Carl 2003 Mosel Longuicher Maximiner Herrenberg Riesling Auslese

10-year old Auslese for under $20? Yes, it is indeed possible, but only beacuse 2003 is everyone's favorite punching-bag vintage (us included). Don't fear 2003, though! First, because Bruno Schmitt never, ever made big, ponderous wines; he has a light touch and his Rieslings are always among the most delicate and pretty of any vintage. Underneath that elegance is unexpected, complex depth, though, as the vines in the Lounguicher Maximiner Herrenberg are ungrafted, untouched by phylloxera and planted back in the 1890s. As an '03 it may not be one to hold onto for the next 3 decades, but if you're looking for mature Riesling that's drinking beautifully now at an unbeatable price, you should dive in. JFR

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Spreitzer 2010 Rheingau Oestricher Lenchen Spatlese "303"

From iron-rich loess and Loam in Oestrich, this is one of Andreas and Bernd Spreitzer's best wines to date. Savory and herbaceous without the over-wrought, monolithic character that mars so many "aristocratic" wines from the Rheingau. -jfr

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Wagner-Stempel 2011 Rheinhessen Siefersheimer Riesling Trocken Vom Porphyr

Daniel Wagner calls this Riesling his estate's "Business Card." In his eyes, even more so than the Estate Trocken, this shows the potential of Siefersheim's unique volcanic terroir. It's a blend of fruit from the estate's two top sites, Heerkretz and Höllberg. It's a treatise on Rheinhessen fruit intermingling with pungent, flinty, smoky and stony notes. Crisp, bright acid cuts through darker peach, apricot and cassis notes, combining to form a wonderfully complex and invigorating dry Riesling. Very long and persistent on the finish. "Baby GG," if you will, for those interested in the VDP's recent hierarchical upheavals. -jfr

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