GGs, terroir and RS

After drinking a few young dry Grosses Gewachs, I have been wondering if RS in Riesling can help smooth out and buffer a rustic finish caused by the intense minerality. I had never encountered “too much terroir” before (and maybe I still haven’t) but I was tempted to conclude that such a thing might exist after drinking some GGs. I would guess that RS’s primary role is to balance acidity, but is minerality also part of the equation?

I don’t think so, Kevin. If the wine’s rough, the culprit is imbalance, not minerality. Somehow there’s too little pH or too much acidity or too much phenolic material or other astringency, or not enough glycerine or mid-palate extract - or in quite a few cases, too much damn alcohol.

Minerality is something there can’t be too much of. It can’t scorch. It’s just a swell of flavor that’s endlessly interesting.

You are absolutely right, though, when you intuit how helpful the RIGHT amount of RS would be in edging those wines into balance. However, this kind of pragmatic sensual thinking is out of tune with the Zeitgeist in Germany, where far too many Rieslings are made to fit a concept or formula already established, regardless of whether it happens to suit them.

And what about the contrary: I’m with those who think that minerality (in the sense of the saltiness, not aromatically) permit to give a better balance in the wines, especially for the RS but also for acidity and alcool. Do you agree?


Hmmm…I sort of agree. I think that dry extract acts as a buffer both to sweetness and acidity, and gives that nice swollen mid-palate. But this is different from what I think you mean by saltiness. A lot of the '03s were dramatically salty when young, but these wines had low extract. Martin Nigl’s wines are often salty but also sleek. So I don’t really see a correlation.

Minerality is desirable for its own sake, because it’s an attractive flavor and also an inexplicable one. Fruits and flowers are ultimately identified by the taster, but minerality drives you to keep thinking, wondering, asking. It’s like an injection of curiosity. But I’m not sure whether it’s a basic agent of balance.