I love the festive atmosphere of a German celebration. I embraced the people and their party ways ever since my first visit to Munich and their colossal annual Oktoberfest, to raise the steins for the many beers of Germany. Some 13 tents, each what seems like the size of a football field, roaring bands and local beer attract more than 1 million visitors annually.
Later in life I would go on to produce 10 Oktoberfests in Encinitas until I discovered wine.
Which leads me to a proposal to Germany and the wine world: the same festive celebration should happen for riesling!
I know, when the novice riesling wine drinker looks at a label from Germany, shock sets in as this consonant-laden bottle dares you to figure it out. But, this slightly sweet, fruit-rich expression of great white wine, is the most delightful, refreshing drink on the planet on those hot summer days.
Riesling originated in the Rhine Valley of Germany and went upscale in the nearby Mosel region. The steep, slate hillsides impart steely minerality. In most of Europe, terroir means everything and in nowhere else but the Mosel, will you find this low alcohol, captivating flavor.
Vineyard to vineyard the flavor profile has its own characteristics of sweetness and acidity, making it versatile with food, such as fish, pork, soft cheeses, even Indian, Chinese and Thai.
Every style of wine should have its living celebrity and riesling is no exception. He is Dr. Ernst Loosen (pronounced loh-zen). He makes very intense flavored world-class riesling from the Mosel River District. To gain such greatness, Loosen reduced crop size dramatically, stopped all chemical fertilization and switched to organic. Cellar practices were minimized, letting the wine develop to its own potential. “When I drink a riesling, I want to smell the blue slate soil that nourishes the fruit,” he says. “I want to taste the depth of the old vines and experience the character of the vintage. I want authenticity. Without it, a wine is simply a beverage.”
Riesling has aging capability, deepening the peach, pear and apricot aroma and taste. The alcohol level could range from a low of 7 percent to about 11 percent, the higher number being drier.
Chateau Ste. Michelle in Washington is the best-known American riesling producer, for more than 40 years. “Taste of Wine” has rated both the budget nonvintage riesling ($8) and the premium Eroica ($19) as the best examples of new world rieslings. I would give the nod to the Eroica. This wine is a partnership with Chateau St. Michelle and Dr. Loosen.
RELM Wine Bar & Bistro opens in San Elijo
After a successful couple of years in downtown Carlsbad, owner Rene Fleming made the leap to a second location in the ultimate bedroom community of San Elijo Hills, a collection of new homes with lots of first-time buyers in their 30s and 40s with stretched-out budgets. RELM means “relax, enjoy, laugh more” and that’s exactly what I experienced at the new location. Even the wines and menu items, all new and boutique style, are small wineries and small bites. On a given night, you could start off with a sauvignon blanc, then move into a pinot grigio, tempranillo, then into the muscle wines like malbec and syrah.
The love of my life the night I visited was the RELM Pear, Walnut and Goat Cheese Salad, with the sauvignon blanc. Happy hour weekdays are 3 to 6 p.m.
Learn more at thewinerelm.com.
San Diego Wine Company pours chardonnay and pinot noir at their weekly tasting from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 16. Cost is $10 per person. Call (858) 586-WINE for details.
3rd Corner Wine Bistro in Encinitas brings in winemaker Robert Mondavi Jr. for a wine dinner June 20. Cost is $65. RSVP at (760) 942-2104.
A benefit Wine & Food Pairing is being held at Altipiano Winery in Escondido from 2 to 6 p.m. June 23. There will be live music. Call (760) 787-1102 for details.
Gondola Rides with Wine Tasting come back again to Loews Resort on Coronado Island. Cruise for more than an hour and taste six wines on Wednesdays June 13, June 20, June 27; July 11, July 18 and July 25; and Aug. 1, Aug. 8, Aug. 15 and Aug. 22. Cost is $45 per person. Call for an RSVP at (619) 429-6317.
Frank Mangio is a renowned wine connoisseur certified by Wine Spectator. His library can be viewed at www.tasteofwinetv.com. (Average Google certified 900 visits per day) He is one of the top five wine commentators on the Web. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.