When I first started to enjoy German Riesling a few years ago, I quickly discovered that I really didn’t care for trockens. I stopped buying them early on, but during that brief period of experimentation, I didn’t find a single one that seemed balanced. I get that some people don’t like sweet wine, but pulling sugar out of a natural, balanced Riesling is like plucking the extraneous notes out of a Mozart concerto.
Am I being unfair? Did I not give trockens a fair chance? Are there any in particular I should try?
Melissa – I adore trockens, but would suggest that you first start with halbtrockens. Some years ago, that designation meant slightly sweet, but as used by most major producers today, it means dry-tasting, but rounder than trocken. If you like those, then maybe you will want to move on to the full bore trockens, maybe not. No harm.
Feinherb is now the designation of choice for wine with a little bit of sweetness in it.
It took me some time to find Trocken wines that I really liked. The two I have had most recently that I can recommend are Von Othegraven’s 08 Estate Trocken and the Karthauserhof 2007 Spatlese Trocken.
Dry riesling, like Trimbach, are too austere for me. I need some sugar or fruitiness to make it enjoyable.
It’s interesting that the 1998 Nigl Riesling Senftenberger Hochäcker is too dry for me to enjoy but the 1999 just squeezes over the edge with enough fruit/RS that I enjoy it considerably.
A large number of trockens certainly validate that view. But there are exceptions. Ratzenberger, Adam, Keller, Schafer-Frohlich, Peter Lauer, Muller-Catoir, Steinmetz, and Knebel all come to mind as producers that make dry rieslings that don’t leave you craving more sugar.
Ive had a hard time enjoying trokens. Like you I often find them unbalanced. The ones Ive really liked (i.e. have some fruit) often are pretty expensive. Someday I’ll make an effort to really explore though.
Never really liked trockens until I participated in a 2007 Grosses Gewach / Erstes Lage tasting (equivalent to their first growths). I was quite stunned. I realised that most of the trockens I had been drinking were probably equivalent to regional Bourgogne or minor village whites in Burgundy, not really a fair representation of what dry German Riesling can be. At the Grand Cru level, some of them are stunning.
I love them and agree with Claude, start with Halbtrocken and ease your way into trocken. There are severe trockens out there that I would not serve my worst enemy, but there are also lovely ones that deserve a place at the dinner table.
My short list of halbtrocken/feinherb guys.
Fritz Haag (the estate riesling)
Karthauserhof (not for everybody)
That is just off the top of my head.
GG is a whole different animal but are great when they are great and not when they are not.
My short list of great ones
Von Buhl (vineyard is important)
thanks for the list. Do you have any experience with Selbach- Oster Feinherb? I like the producer and when I grabbed a bunch of 07’s, a bottle of this made it into my cart, and I have never found much info on it.
Thanks for all of the suggestions. One of my local stores has the '07 Karthauserhof Feinherb-- I’ll give it a try and report back. Karthauserhof is one of my favorite Riesling producers, so it seems like a good place to start.
What sort of food pairings would make a dry Riesling shine?
What regions have your Trockens been from? The dry wines from the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer (including Karthauserhof) are much more of an acquired taste because the climate is cooler and the acid levels are higher. I’d say start with wines from the Pfalz or Baden and see if those are to your tastes, then the Nahe and Rheingau.
How do you feel about dry Alsatian and Austrian rieslings?
If you don’t like any of those, then I’d say you just don’t like dry riesling.
Smoked fish is a great match for rieslings from Trocken through moderately sweet levels. But, as Nathan says, the dry ones are extremely versatile.
For dry Riesling I tend to go to Austria and Alsace. Trimbach’s Cuvee Frederic Emile and Clos St Hune are fantastic wines. Zind Humbrecht’s Clos St Urbain is meant to be pretty good but I haven’t had it. I must remedy that. I’m also a fan of Weinbach and Ostertag for Riesling and Pinot Gris both. In Austria the best I’ve had have been the Nigl Privat and the Brundlmeyer Heiligenstein… both excellent. But there are a lot I haven’t had in Austria and I’m sure that others can add to the list better than I.