A little known fact about Goldilocks and The Three Bears. The Fairytale has German origins and besides the chairs, porridge and beds, Goldie also went through a wine tasting. Papa bear drank California Chardonnay, which Goldie found to be too strong in taste, too full in body and way too high in alcohol. Mama Bear drank Pinot Grigio, which Goldie also didn't like. It had no taste and was so boring it seemed to be flat. Baby Bear, the biggest connoisseur of the three, drank Riesling. Goldie loved it, she found it to be just right. Just the right balance of flavor, acidity and alcohol. She drank the whole glass and then headed upstairs to find the right bed.

Ah, Riesling. The other white grape. The "often neglected, constantly maligned yet strongly appreciated by those in the know" varietal. Most people think of it as cheap and cloyingly sweet swill in a long blue bottle. What they don't realize is that Riesling comes in all shades of sweetness, from bone sucking dry to a nuanced hint of sweetness to very, very sweet indeed. It is rarely good in its cheapest forms and approaches the sublime as the price tag approaches $100. There are many well known wine makers that make an affordable version of Riesling, ranging from $16 to $20, and this is for me the best way to go. Before, I review our latest pick, the 2006 Jazz label from Von Buhl, let me take a moment to elaborate on the virtues of Riesling:

1. Riesling is refreshing. The mixture of fruit and acidity makes for a lip smacking beverage great for a meal, or just as a glass to drink on a hot sunny day.

2. Riesling is versatile. It is a white that pairs with food that often seems to have no wine match, Asian food. Riesling is great with Thai, Vietnamese and Chinese.

3. Riesling is lower in alcohol. For some this may not be a good thing but Rieslings can be as low as 9% alcohol and average around 11%. Though only a few percentage points down from your normal bottle (13%), this is a difference you can really feel, especially the next day.

4. Riesling looks cool. The bottles tend to have intricate old-school Gothic labels. The bottles themselves are long and slender, a different shape than most bottles.

5. Riesling is hand crafted. They are generally made in small amounts because the vineyards are on cliffs and mountainsides. This means that the grapes must be picked by hand, which makes for better quality wine.

Von Buhl Estate has been around for centuries and is located in the Pfalz region of Germany. They make several different wines on the estate, ranging from entry level, to very small production single vineyard and dessert wines. The Jazz label is their least expensive bottle, running at around $18, which is cheap for good Riesling. It is off-dry, meaning it has just a touch of sugar sweetness. The nose is full of peach and floral notes, while the palate has more grapefruit flavors. The finish has a hint of spice and that lovely lip smacking Riesling acidity. Not a complicated bottle by any means, but a refreshing pour for sure. This is the perfect bottle to pair with this light, whimsical German album. Together they make for the perfect sunny Sunday afternoon.

 

 

VON BUHL "JAZZ LABEL", RIESLING, 2006