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As the story goes, Riesling originated in Germany, and now serves as the country’s most produced, and well-known variety. As also discussed in regards to Chardonnay, Riesling is a grape considered to reflect the flavors of its terroir and climate growing conditions, and to adapt to various production styles as well. In Germany the grape is generally treated as a straight varietal, without blending alongside other grapes, and is produced without oak influence. German tradition also has it that Riesling is the preferred grape for the best quality German Sparkling wine, known as Sekt.
Furst von Metternich produces Riesling Sekt in three cuvees–trocken, or dry; extra trocken; and the brut vintage, which is bottle fermented in the methode traditionelle. The trocken, and extra trocken are made instead in methode charmat. As previously discussed, methode traditionelle includes a secondary fermentation in bottle. Methode charmat, on the other hand, places the secondary fermentation in large stainless steel vats with bottling occurring under high pressure after the bubble-making process is complete.
This particular Metternich cuvee offers a subtle nose of white flowers, and fruit, with scents of spiced apple compote, and hints of golden grass and wood. The flavors in the mouth are fuller with the fruit and floral bouquet continuing with layers of white grapefruit, and peach blended through. The acidity on this sparkling wine is low, leaving a soft fruit body, and only light yeast elements. This wine is certainly trocken (dry) but the reduced acids gives the sense of more fruit elements than in a wine with higher acidity, which in turn offer a sense of sweet flavors. In other words, I do agree with the dry rating, and acknowledge too that there are a number of elements here that give a sense of a sweeter flavor, without actually carrying more residual sugars.
This Metternich is an affordable alternative to more expensive sparkling wines. It’s softer body reflects a difference sometimes found in the charmat process–it demands less acidity in the original juice than fermentation in the bottle, allowing for a stronger sense of fruit to the glass. As mentioned in relation to the cava reviewed earlier this week, if you’re determined to drink bubbles regularly and want a slightly less expensive option, you can find one here.
I will enjoy this particular sparkling wine on occasion for just such reasons. I’ll admit the sense of wood (not oak, just wood) mixed in with the fruit, and it showing lighter structure (less acid) means I am not always in the mood for these particular bubbles. Still, this wine offers an interesting insight into the possibilities of German riesling.
Wines of the Rheingau are generally considered to have excellent structure, and power. This particular rendition shows less acidity than is typical for still wine examples of the region, and a softer body than might otherwise be expected.
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