The Time and Date: Thursday July 17, 2008 9AM to 4PM
The Event: The 2008 Riesling Experience, an international celebration of style, structure and purity.
The Venue: Brock University . The Target Audience: Ontario winemakers, the wine media.
The Availability/Catalogue: we had rare wines in a seminar plus a tasting after lunch of VQA wines.
The Wines: Angelo Pavan from Cave Spring Cellars and Chair of the Riesling Experience moderated the panel.
The keynote speaker was Olivier Humbrecht from Domaine Zind Humbrecht in Alsace.

It was good to see Olivier Humbrecht, here in Alsace giving info about Clos Haüserer at Hengst

Olivier reported on his and the Alsatian approach to Riesling, with comments on his 2005 vintage Riesling wines (we tasted four of them). He noted the impact of global warming, which can be a serious issue (pick earlier? accelerate ripening?) along with soil compaction.

There was a panel with Ulrich Fischer from Germany who pointed out that 61% of Riesling worldwide comes from Germany and 10% comes from Alsace. He clearly showed that sensory charts of terroirs illuminate the similarities in the Riesling aromatics of apple, rhubarb, lemon, peach, tropical fruit, honey, green bean, and bitter.

David Peterson from Swedish Hill in New York told us what New York was doing. Most Riesling has only been planted since 1980, and mostly on lakeside slopes. Clone 239 produces peach and tropical aromatics, while clones 90 and 198 have minerals and citric tones.

Jim Willwerth from Brock covered both consistency and diversity, concentrating on Niagara sub-appellation characteristics. The Lakeshore (cooler, more drainage, low water) produces astringency of citric and minerals, while the Bench (low yields, high water) have more floral and fruit and honey character. The Plains, with poor drainage, have traces of peaches and petrol. Chacun son goût !

**** Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
– Domaine Zind Humbrecht — Riesling Turckheim 2005 – long depth, some botrytis
– Domaine Zind Humbrecht — Riesling Clos Haüserer 2005 – single vineyard, 32 year old vines.
– Domaine Zind Humbrecht — Rangen de Thann Clos-Saint-Urbain 2005 – bone dry, 43 year old vines.
– Henry of Pelham Reserve — Riesling 1999 – higher acid levels and body allow for longer cellaring and improvement.

***1/2 Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
– Domaine Zind Humbrecht — Riesling Gueberschwihr 2005 – basic village level, 31 year old vines.
– Lucashof Pfalz — Riesling QbA 2006
– Angels Gate — Riesling Sussreserve 2007
– Chateau des Charmes — Estate Bottled Riesling 2006
– Featherstone Estate Old Vines — Riesling 2007
– Featherstone Estate Black Sheep — Riesling 2007
– Foreign Affairs Appasimento — Riesling 2007
– Trius — Riesling 2007
– Jackson-Triggs Proprietor’s Grand Reserve — Riesling 2006 Niagara

*** Three Stars (85 – 87 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
– St. Urbans-HOF — Mosel Riesling QbA 2007
– Swedish Hill — Dry Riesling 2006
– Swedish Hill — Dry Riesling 2007
– Angels Gate — Riesling 2006
– Cave Spring — Riesling CSV 2004
– Creekside Close Plant Reserve — Riesling 2007
– Fielding — Riesling 2007
– Henry of Pelham Speck Family Reserve — Riesling 2004
– Inniskillin Montague Vineyard — Riesling 2006
– Thirty Bench — Riesling 2007
– Thirteenth Street June’s Vineyard — Riesling 2006
– Vineland Estates Elevation — Riesling 2007

The Food: lunch was created by Chef Jason Parsons of Peller Estates Winery restaurant.

« At the heart of our winery, lies the Peller Estates Winery Restaurant. »

The centerpiece on each table was a bunch of Riesling grapes. With the foie gras terrine we had a « Henry of Pelham Proprietor’s Reserve » — Riesling 1991, which had aged remarkably well. It was a treat. A roasted scallop, barely cooked, came with a OWA Gold Medal Cattail Creek Riesling Reserve 2006 (sold out). With the icewine suckling pig there was a semi-dry « Cave Spring Cellars CSV » — Riesling 2003 which cut through the richness. One of the highlights was the “Peller Estates Blue Ice” (remember their adverts from the 1950s when you could not advertise alcohol? Nudge nudge, wink wink). It was a wheel of Blue Benedictine cheese from PQ drenched with two bottles of « Peller Riesling Icewine » 2006. Dessert was a series of coco nib icewine marshmallows, which even my sugar-addicted granddaughter thought was too sweet.

The Downside: it was a long day, and the lunch (which started on time) dragged on between courses. This cut into our VQA Riesling trade show tasting time by an hour.
The Upside: it was good to see Olivier Humbrecht, whom I had talked with before several times.
The Contact Person:
The Effectiveness (numerical grade): 96.


Dean Tudor
Ryerson University Journalism Professor Emeritus
Look it up and you’ll remember it; screw it up and you’ll never forget it.