Of all the many Paulee-like events that seem to be springing up these days (in which wine collectors pay money to bring their own rare wines to a festive dinner, an odd structure but an increasingly popular one), I have a soft spot for Rieslingfeier in New York. Maybe that’s because amid the wash of well-heeled Burgundy and Bordeaux collectors, Riesling lovers are…a little bit kookier. Or geekier. There’s very little broad social cred for being a Riesling fanatic, after all—the only people who really care are other Riesling fanatics.
In any case, at Rieslingfeier this year (February 20, in NYC; tickets went on sale this week), there’s the usual wine-soaked bacchanalia dinner, a mega-BYOB shindig with hundreds of bottles of great Riesling floating around. But more useful for the less obsessed among us (and more affordable) is the first ever “Gränd Tasting," which, for $29, offers people a chance to taste Rieslings from 16 top-flight producers. Both the current vintage, 2014, and older wines will be poured.
That’s an incredible deal. But, if you can’t make it to NYC, here are a few great Rieslings to track down in your own town:
2014 Leitz Rheingau QbA Riesling ($13) Leitz’s entry-level Feinherb Riesling (lightly off-dry, essentially) has an aroma of wet stones and citrus peel, with juicy nectarine flavors lifted by vivid acidity; it ends much drier than you’d initially guess it might.
2014 Weiser Kunstler Riesling Feinherb ($20) Importer Stephen Bitterolf (also the brains behind Rieslingfeier) notes that this tiny estate farms “what are on average probably the oldest vines in the Mosel.” Their most affordable wine is this impressive Feinherb: Floral on the nose, with a nice saline minerality, it actually has about 17 grams of residual sugar but tastes almost bone-dry.
2013 Louis Guntrum Oppenheim Sackträger Riesling Spätlese Trocken ($25) A terrific dry (trocken) Riesling from the Rheinhessen, this laser-focused white with its long, stony finish comes from a vineyard first planted some 500 years ago.
2014 Schloss Johannesberg Riesling Gelback ($30) Grapevines have been grown at this legendary estate in the Rheingau for over 1,200 years (Riesling has been the only variety cultivated here for three centuries of that). The wines show that long experience; this graceful off-dry bottling has white flower and Meyer lemon notes.
2014 Peter Lauer Unterstenberg ($35) Flinty, smoky aromas lead into rich lime candy and peach notes in this dense, luscious, off-dry Saar Riesling. It comes from a subparcel at the bottom of the famed Ayler Kupp vineyard.