A spring riesling release blossoms at Vintages on Saturday, May 13, with an impressive international array of good value wines. This grape is finally breaking through so if you haven’t made it a fair weather friend yet, please examine your prejudices. There are genuine values from long established Niagara riesling producers like Cave Spring 2004 Riesling Reserve **** ($16.95 Vintages Essential) and Chateau des Charmes 2004 Estate Riesling (Black Label) ***1/2 ($15.95, Vintages May 13).
The best Germans are the quality show stealers, however—what compaction, tension and finesse! Three are thrilling: the gorgeous Selbach-Oster 2004 Bernkastel Badstube Riesling Auslese, Mosel ***** ($28.95 Vintages May 13), the vibrant Toni Jost 2004 Bacharacher Hahn Riesling Kabinett, Mittelrhein **** ($21.95 Vintages May 13), and the seductive Geil 2004 Becheimer Geyserberg Riesling Spatlese, Rheinhessen **** ($15.95, Vintages May 13). I’m not a fan of the new Kendermann Terroir wines themed in this release, although it is good to see the blenders of EU Black Tower stepping into the realm of more specific appellation wines.
For other great German rieslings go beyond Vintages and head to Halpern’s (416-593-2662) huge consignment portfolio—the largest in Ontario—for the Kunstler rieslings of the Rheingau. Founded in 1965 (no, not 1665), modernist Gunter Kunstler has won three consecutive titles as best winemaker of Germany at London’s International Wine Competition thanks to a pristine, precise yet generous style. Don’t hesitate to buy the elegant Kunstler 2004 Old Vine Stielweg ****1/2 ($24.20), or the vibrant Kunstler 2004 Hocheimer Holle Riesling Kabinett **** ($20.87). The real surprise is a terrific New World style hot vintage (slightly hot finishing) pinot noir unlike anything I’ve yet tasted from Germany, the Kunstler 2003 Pinot Noir R **** ($34.06).
Until the next pour…