A fascinating taste-off between two 2005 Rieslings, the first from local producer Nederburg and the second from Willi Schaefer, one of the top growers with vineyards near the village of Graach in Germany’s Mosel.
The Nederburg wine carried the broadest possible classification regarding its origin, namely “Western Cape” which implies the producer never wanted us to worry too much about its provenance; the 2006 edition of Platter’s meanwhile advises that the wine contains 15% Gewürztraminer as well as rating it 4 Stars. It appeared relatively full bodied and quite advanced, with overt but not unpleasant petrol character on the nose. Alcohol by volume 12% and apparently off-dry.
The Spätlese is a wine of much greater pedigree, Schaefer, of course, widely considered the finest grower in Graach. 2005 was characterised by warm weather in the lead-up to harvest which brought grapes to very high ripeness levels but with good acidities. It proved much more primary, only the vaguest hint of petrol on the nose, lots of lime and pineapple on the palate, noticeable sweetness and somewhat soft acidity. An alcohol by volume of 8% made it very gluggable but when it came to pairing the two wines with food (chicken in curried coriander and yoghurt sauce) it was the Nederburg with its all-round extra grunt which worked better.
How much petrol character should Riesling have? Check out this debate on Decanter.com which raged earlier in the year: Petrol smell in Riesling ‘a mistake’: Chapoutier