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Germany widely claims to produce the best Rieslings in the world and many of us love those amazing and undervalued wines. Being a proud Austrian, my friend Roland said he felt compelled to challange that claim! With another German Riesling lovers, he opted for the ultimate test, which is a 6-round Riesling knock out competition AUSTRIA vs GERMANY.

Each of us has collected the best Rieslings that we were able to find for this challange, with varying style and vintages. In each round we will let 2 wines compete against each other. The country with most rounds won will be the true "King of Riesling" The tasting was followed by a home cooked German/Austrian dinner. We had some Austrian chocolates and cheese as well.

That was an interesting tasting with a dinner.

Round 1

2011 Riesling Fass 18 'Kupp 56', Weingut Peter Lauer, ABV 14%

Ripe, polished, pure and generous. Lemons, slate rocks and honey. on the nose. Masses of spices, minerals, and salts slowly unfolding over the 60 seconds finish. I was told this wine will be labeled Grosses Gewachs 2012. Kupp 56 refers to a special plot of land planted by the owners’s grandfather in 1956.

2001 Fx Pichler, Durrensteiner Kellerberg, ABV 12.5 %

Lemony, hint of honey with layers of mandarin zest. It is lighter and spicy with along grip of minerality. Obviously easier for the lighter alcohol.

Round 2

2011 Weingut Alexander Laible “Tausend Sterne”, ABV 14.5%

Passion fruit and ripe pineapple, dried apricots. Supressed in rosewood in the nose. On the palate, it exhales a great tension, making me nervous. Linear acidity.

1993 Josef Loimer, Langenloiser Riesling, ABV 13%

Extremely floral and spicy. Not much to write about, probably this wine is not easy to describe. A memorable wine.

Round 3

2011 Burg Ravensburger Husarenkappe, ABV 13%

Much riper. Almost like tropical, this VDP estate will become a GG. Very tasty.

1978 Osberger Riesling, ABV 12.5%

Maderized style. Fruit is still lurking. Creamy long mineral finish. Very special. A food wine by now, matching exactly mushrommy dishes, omelette and most Chinese stewed dishes.

Round 4

2010 Weingut Donnhoff Norheimer Dellchen GG, ABV 13.5%

A Riesling that shows the mirrored quality of the soil - a pure stony freshness in aroma and on the palate, with structure, firm citrus and stone fruit notes. A lot to go.

Prager, Steinriegl Riesling Federspiel 2011, ABV 12.5

A wonderful wine, whose appeal is accentuated by the spritzig. A sting of acidity, mineral and stone offset by a fine edge of sweetness and quinine like bitterness. In retrospect everything is to be found on the nose. . . blossom and lime, flint, metal and powder. The opening attack is searing and exaggerated, a mouth full of pebbles dipped in acid. . . it's lean and hard, tight and straight. . . later a tonic water, citrus pith bitterness which only serves to underline the chiseled, slightly distant beauty. 12.5%. A WS 93-94.

Round 5

2007 Weingut Shafer Froehlich Felsenberg(Bockenau, Nahe), ABV 13.5%

Noticeably reductive nose, prominent yeasty, cool vegetal and herbaceous notes, restrained peach and citrus fruit, some leeks, tart mineral notes, light lactic and volatile notes. Full-bodied and quite juicy on the palate, prominent yeasty notes, herbaceous notes and some leeks, light lactic and volatile notes again, fairly prominent acidity, mature tannins, persistent, lemony and earthy notes, light waxy notes, has some substance, fairly persistent, good grip, still very restless, sweetish notes, good bite and contours on a very good finish, but still with uncertain predictions as to its development.

1992 Domaine Wachau 1000 Eimerberg, ABV 12.5%

Very limy, schewepps like. And is very very good.

Round 6

2005 Weingut Klau Peter Keller G-Max, Rheinhessen, ABV 13.5%

these are statuesque wines, forceful and dense with a polished fruit yet, above all else, they flaunt their minerality and dance across the palate. Top Cuvee, probably the most expensive Riesling in the world. In my view, this probably one of the best German Rieslings I had ever tasted.

2009 SALOMON UNDHOF Kremstal DAC Riesling Kögl, ABV 12.5%

Rich, ripe, broad, almost tropical. Spicy and mineral finish.

Dinner Wines

Dinner wines start with the dual flight of Dveri Pax Riesling 2011 and Dveri Pax Riesling M(single vineyard)2009. Then followed by 1990 Weiggut Peter Lauer Sket Reserva, 2009 Weingut Burg Ravesburg Lemberger Dicker Franz, 2007 Arachon F. FX T., and finally 2005 Weingut Loersch Eifel TBA Riesling.

Conclusion

German Riesling won most of the time. I thought on 2 counts Austrians were Germans and obviously I was very wrong: Austrians gave nice surprises. The ringer Slovenian Riesling Dveri Pax M Riesling(Single vineyard) was considered very good. A very nice tasting/dinner.

#austrianrieslings #germanrieslings


Girl Running by the Sea

Eyeballing wine, swirling and sniffing and swishing ... it may look complicated or even snobbish, but the traditional wine-tasting technique is actually based on common sense. It's simply a way to pause for a moment, to stop and think, and to pay attention to the ways that wine impacts on all your senses, from sight and scent to taste, aftertaste, and the overall impression that the wine leaves behind after you've finished.

Don’t get me wrong. Traditional wine teaching text-book and benchmarking tasting exercise are still valid. And using an easy to use tasting format and use it by heart to form opinions about the wines through a regimented procedural is probably a must for the beginning of our journey to at least a ‘pseudo science’ of tasting to happen. Embracing the fact that tasting is always subjective may not be taken so easily by serious students, but it is this rigorous, regimented manner with an open attitude that quality our objectivity.

In the beginning, one does not have to read a lot of books at this stage of time. Stick to one simple and quality book and get stuck to it as the foundation of your the substantive knowledge. Real wine knowledge forms only when one consistently interrogates onerself with from the learnings of procedural and substantive parts.

Taste with like-minded friends. Take snap shots on your tasting. Write notes and compare your notes. Co-relates characters(quality profiles) and length; correlates also wine structure of various wines of the same genre and pattern them on X-Y co-ordinates give life to the learning of tasting. Understand them and read your pattern. Ask the right persons to add wisdoms to your observations. Use your tasting frame in regimented manner. Once you are getting familiar with the tasting framework, use your intuition and ignited senses, go beyond the so-called tasting framework.

Be honest and be true to your tasting. Wine descriptors are not adequate-you have to form reasoned opinions about quality. Attaching scores to these qualities bench markers are helpful.

If you thought you have some real knowledge, try not to be another ‘Barbarian’ at the gate.

Instead of following a rundown of the left bank communes and how much gravel they possess and other such crusty information, get a of wines and sharing them with like-minded people(and keep calm and) a red Bordeaux with a similar blend from the New World. And then compare a Pauillac with a Pomerol, and an inexpensive white Bordeaux with a Sauvignon de Touraine, followed by a taste-off of Sauternes versus Jurançon is probably one valid technique. Read your books and find the meaning. Re-taste if you still have the time; clear any post learning doubts.

Ensure you may wish to invest in leveled programme Like Wine Studies 1 and 2, or Levels 1, 2 and 3. Look for lively topics like ‘All you need to know about wine before you graduate’, if the content is solid.

Do we need formal wine education? Yes, most wine educators would say so. But the message does not need to be educate first. For the benefit of the industry, the best return on investment for the learning about wine is not to “educate” wine drinkers about the features and benefits of the wines, the come from of the taste, the stylistics elements, but to make wine in general a more relevant part of their lives.

I believe the world of self-directed problem-based learning is the new way to wine teaching, whose success relies your motivation. But when there is no destination, only a journey, surely this is the only valid technique.

#howtotastewines #kevinktang #kevintang #winemuseums #learningstrategies #Selflearningstrategies #selflearning


與友人Fabian Schwarz談天說酒

去年我在羅馬與Fabian Swartz坐開篷巴士暢遊古城,一路上雖然手中無酒,然而笑談中盡是意大利佳釀的點點滴滴,使我對他的葡萄酒有更深入的認識。其實言歡不一定要把酒,齋講好酒亦可令人陶醉不已。

Fabian畢業於享負盛名San Michele all’Adige Institute,他的家族來自Alto Adige,於1979年購入La Magia。該酒莊位於Monte Amiata的死火山之下,鄰近Sant’ Antimo的古羅馬式寺院,Val d’Orcia的秀麗景致盡收眼底。

我問Fabian意大利的釀酒業王者是誰,他說:⎾其中一個表表者是DE VESCOVI ULZBACH (Trentino Alto Adige),老闆Giulio是我的同學,最初在白酒區釀製紅酒,現時出產最上乘的Teroldego Rotaliano。⏌他堅持用本土葡萄,這道路人跡罕至,讓我想起Robert Frost的詩《The Road Not Taken》:

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference”

當談到心目中的偶像,Fabian表示作爲一個釀酒人,在意大利要找一個絕頂專業的釀酒大師並不容易。⎾畢業後我曾經仰慕幾位業界精英,但自己一路走來,覺得最出色的釀酒師必須透徹了解腳下那片土地的特質,而且敢於冒險。⏌言談間我感受到Fabian對傳統Tuscan風格的鍾愛,心想他釀製的葡萄酒會擁有幾分傳統特色。

至於競爭對手,Fabian敬仰Brunello di Montalcino 的Biondi Santi、Poggio di Sotto、Salvioni和Soldera,而現時最喜愛的是Uccelliera、, Poggio Antico和Pacenti。而我的解讀是Fabian一方面鍾情於傳統Tuscan風格,另一方面亦喜愛更成熟、更柔順的滋味。他是否已由古典轉化為新浪潮的擁護者?

至於其他國家的出品,Fabian對布根地的pinot noir和阿根廷的Achaval Ferrer情有獨鍾。Fabian心胸廣闊,看來銳意衝出意大利向國際進軍。

我問他對2007年份的看法,他説2007年份的Burnello di Montalcino 是品種和地域的美妙演繹,充分體現嚴格的釀酒標準,而又凸顯南Tuscany紅酒的時尚風格,散發強烈的可樂/甘草的薄荷、乾薑、風肉和白胡椒味道,意大利人稱這等特質為note balsamiche,而且是Sangiovese獨一無二的誘人香氣。在單一年份有如此和諧而一致風格實屬難能可貴。

那麽2006與2007之間如何取捨?Fabian毫不猶豫地選擇了2007。

⎾我們的夏天異常乾燥,雨水不多,天氣溫暖適中,這種環境造就了美麗的balsamiche芬芳香氣,2007年份尤其明顯,而且口感圓潤而豐盈,結構緊致。Sangiovese Grosso 的酸度渾然天成,使2007年分均衡有致,清新可人。2006年份則的酸度較高,具陳年潛質。⏌

意大利之行以羅馬為終站,與Fabian一聚雖手中無酒,但心中滿載意國佳釀。

數月後我收到一瓶La Magia 2007 Brunello di Montalcino Normale,舉杯細嘗後,以筆墨記下個中滋味:⎾充滿陽剛氣色,散發煙草和雪茄盒香氣,加上乾果、黑莓乾、黑加侖子和西梅味道。蘊含若干新世界元素。濃度切到好處,充滿個性。陳年潛質極佳。⏌

品嘗過後不禁對La Magia另眼相看。包裹内仲有多張證書:

  • 意大利酒評Duemilavini 就 Brunello 2007、2006、2005、2004、2003、2002、2001、2000和1999評鋻為四串葡萄.

  • 意大利葡萄酒指南Veronelli-Guide就Brunello 2005 評爲3金星,就Brunello 2007, 2006, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000評為3星。

此外還有WE94的得分,似乎不太差!起碼是傳統派別對新一代的認同和嘉許。雖說求學不是求分數,但成績出衆始終令人鼓舞。

有時無須入口,酒在心中更令人心往神馳,而細意品嘗則可進一步分享心得。畢竟得分和得獎不能得個講字。

#fabianschwarz #lamagia

This is a consolidation of the tasting and papers

written from 2006 to 2013. These write-ups had been with the orginal site Wine and Beyond, Yahoo, until the service stopped by Yahoo in September 2013.

 

For years I have been working with wines, either buying it, selling it to wine companies, lecturing and writing about it, and, not unimportantly, enjoying it with friends. If any of the articles on this site are worth reading it is due to my teachers, my mentors, my peers and friends, my students, and in particularly my editors who ignite in me a desire to communicate in wines.

 

Clinging to the trellis of wine, I started to get more and more involved with estates and winemakers, by supporting them with consultancy in communication and marketing. The more I spend my time outside Hong Kong, the more I sense a desire to be part of the international wine family.

 

Writing about wine represents a moment of reflection, curiosity, atitudes and a desire to analyse often hidden structures and history, in an effort to make the wealth of wine accessible to a targetted, and hopefully larger audience.

 

I am not sure if I can wine proivde more accessible to all through this blog. But I am sure to write in wine means being involved in wine and  to remain as impartial and objective as possible.

 

Kevin Tang.

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