Riesling is My New Cabernet

Riesling

Well, maybe.

If you ask me what my favorite wine is, I’ll always answer Napa Valley Cabernet. Give it to me big, full and juicy and I’m a happy camper. Some argue that there are better wines in the world, and I’m not about to disagree, but everyone’s palate is different. I’m still exploring and figuring mine out, and if I’m in a pinch and just want some good wine, I’m usually not steered wrong with one of my favorite Napa fruit bombs.

That being said, since my real goal is to always experience different wines,[1] I’ve encountered a fair number of Rieslings in the last year that have been impeccable. They work as stand-alone drinkers, and pair exceptionally well with food as well[2]. Now, I’m not going for the super fruity sweet Rieslings that were popular with all my friends in college, but rather the more subdued, not so sugary varieties that have real body and character.

A few weeks ago[3] our Sommelier Wine Friend[4] brought over a bottle of 2012 Joh. Jos. Prüm Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett.

Riesling
2012 Joh. Jos. Prüm Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett

The sparkle hits you right away. Petrol and peach on the nose; amazingly silky mouthfeel with notes of peach, pineapple and green grass. Simply gorgeous. We served this as an appetizer, sans food, before Husband’s incredible dinner of braised short ribs[5] and duck fat potatoes[6].

Riesling
Riesling and Gourds … the perfect combination

So even though I’m still a huge fruit bomb fan, I’m seriously open to exploring more and more Rieslings, and this one was a winner. It retails throughout the country for around $26-30, and let me tell you, it’s well worth it.

J.J. Prüm is a seriously well-respected wine house. In 1911, Johann Josef Prüm began the estate and his son Sebastian joined him in 1920 when the first bottlings were released. JJ and Sebastian’s ancestors continue at the helm today; it is currently run by Sebastian’s son Dr. Manfred Prüm, and his granddaughter, Dr. Katharina Prüm. With an exclusive focus on Riesling, their 33.5 acres of vineyards produce some of Germany’s finest, and they have a long history of aging well. Their harvest tends to be late which gives the wine the ability to stand the test of time.

The wines are grown in Wehlen, a tiny village of about 1,300 residents in the heart of Mosel, one of Germany’s 13 wine regions, and perhaps its most prestigious. The Prüm vineyards are nestled along the Middle Mosselle, the central section of the Moselle River which runs through France, Luxembourg, and Germany.

Riesling Wine Cork
Cork Shot #forthewin

The sundial on the Prüm labels is a nod to the real life sundial which graces the face of their Sonnenuhr vineyard.

JJ's Sundial. Photo (c) courtesy of pop & pour
JJ’s Sundial. Photo (c) courtesy of pop & pour

New, crisp and interesting Rieslings will always be a hit, so this would be the perfect thing to bring to an intimate dinner party as an apertif or give as a gift. After all, #tistheseason.

Until the next glass, Cheers!

Lawyer Footnotes

[1] We are, after all, here for a limited period of time, and the wine selection possibilities are endless.
[2] See, i.e., Riesling is a Viable OptionHey, Can We BYOB?, and Indian & Riesling: Wining & Dining 101.
[3] Jeeze, time flies, huh?
[4] If you don’t have one of these wine friends, I’d highly recommend finding one. #WineFriendsForTheWin
[5] Which we paired with a big Napa fruit bomb. Obviously.
[6] #DietStartsMonday

Wistfully Remembering Sauvignon Blanc Weather

We’ve officially transitioned to fall in the Northeast. The cold weather is coming. As this new reality sets in, I find myself wanting bottles of rich red wine, not white[1]. Looking back, I realized that this summer was full of new white wine experiences, and what a summer it was! I received a few bottles from Nimble Vineyards earlier this year and had the opportunity to crack open a bottle of their 2014 Sauvignon Blanc just before the chill in the air appeared.

Sauvignon Blanc White Wine
Summer Sipping

The last of the warm weather lends itself to a refreshing pick-me-up and I know that when the cold sets in, I’ll find myself wanting heavier reds[2]. So today, with the temps pushing 86, even with a breeze, I’m glistening just a bit, and the chilled 2014 Nimble Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc was just what the doctor ordered.

Though the nose isn’t overly fragrant, there’s a bouquet of fresh wild flowers lingering in the back, the kind you’d pick from your garden[3]. Perfectly light and crisp, with pleasant touches of acidity and minerality. When I take I sip I spy some pineapple juice with a long grapefruit finish. The acidic grapefruit cuts any sweetness that the pineapple flavor hinted at, making this a delightful aperitif wine to get you salivating[4]. We paired it with some apple slices and cheddar cheese, but mostly just sipped it on its own.

Sauvignon Blanc White Wine
Keepin’ it Chilled

Nimble Vineyards has been growing grapes for more than 15 years, but at first only sold what they made to wine makers. As I learn more about winemakers and vineyards, selling grapes to other producers appears to be a very common practice throughout the world, something the general public may not realize. It also seems like more and more, these vintners are deciding to keep at least a portion of their crop to make their own wine. Nimble recently began having a go at winemaking themselves, and it seems to have worked out very well.

At 70 cases made of this Sauvignon Blanc, you’ll be lucky if you can find a bottle[5], but if you can, grab all that you see. It’s an excellent example of a perfectly balanced wine. And it’s a good drinker for warm sunny days. What more can you ask for?

Sauvignon Blanc White Wine
The rear end of the Nimble hog …

Their wine labels feature the rear end of a wild hog, inspired by the wild hogs roaming their vineyards, enjoying their grapes. This is apparently a problem in Sonoma County, so much so that the state authorizes unlimited hunting of them, and several businesses have sprung up that will organize a hunting party for you and your closest meat-eating friends[6].

The Sauvignon Blanc varietal originated in the Bordeaux region of France, though I think popular culture now tends to associate it with New Zealand. It turns out that California is producing some amazing wine out of Sauvignon Blanc grapes as well, so don’t be afraid to give them a try!

Until the next glass, Cheers!

White Wine Sauvignon Blanc
Cheers!

Lawyer Footnotes
[1] Maybe I’m being a bit melodramatic, we’re only in the second week of chilly weather, which I love. But I am going to miss my summer of #whitewineallthetime!
[2] How insightful of me, and it’s coming true already.
[3] That is, if you had a garden with wild flowers that survived the elements.
[4] Husband made homemade sauce so we’re waiting for that to finish up. I’m guessing we’ll be going with a red for that…
[5] No distribution yet and no online sales. Give them a call to arrange a visit at 707.433.9844, OR shoot an email to hello@nimblevineyards.com and they can ship you some!
[6] I can see it now: Bachelorette Party Gon’ Wild! First you taste the wine, then you hunt the hogs….Just kidding! #liabilityproblems #lawyerlife

Knock It Off

Wine and Sunset

As a trademark attorney[1], one of my primary job functions is to tell my clients whether their trademark is confusingly similar to other marks in the marketplace for their particular goods and services. For example, if they’re trying to break out with a new brand of dark, sugary cola and they want to name it Poke, or Sepsi, then I’m gonna tell them they need to start the creative process again[2]. If they’re looking to call it Wowza, however, then they may be good to go[3].

When I came across[4] Replica Wines, I found it ironic that the wine brand’s foundation is based on duplication. At first it seemed antithetical to my trademark lawyer background, but once I read more, I found I liked it. There is, after all, no prohibition against reverse engineering, and that it precisely what Replica does. They take an exceptional wine and recreate the flavor profile. And when a high quality product is sold for a good price, everybody wins.

Replica Wine
(c) Replica Wine

I decided to do some blind taste testing to determine if I could figure out which wine was the “knockoff” and which was the “real thing”[5]. I took a bottle of $35+ Chardonnay[6] and my bottle of Knockoff, which retails for less than $12 throughout the country, and put them to the test. Robing each bottle in my fancy shmancy wine tasting party bags, Husband and I took sips of each to see what we thought.

Blind Wine Tasting
Oh, you fancy, huh?!

To be honest, I really couldn’t tell which was the knockoff because they were both excellent wines. I figured I’d be able to taste something “cheap” with the Replica bottle, but to the contrary, I actually preferred the taste of it to the Big Money Chard.

Bottle One was the color of pale straw; it didn’t have much of a nose, but it had a great silky full mouthfeel[7]. Really a luxurious coating of the mouth. Some green apple on the slightly tart finish and a hint of pineapple as well. Nothing oaky about this Chardonnay; with it’s touch of acidity, I could see it pairing extremely well with some scallops or oysters.

Bottle Two was more of a bright golden hue. It had quite a big nose, more pineapple with a touch more sweetness, almost like a jolly rancher. Sweeter than the first, this had a much longer finish and it was extremely well balanced; full of flavor from start to finish. Unlike your typical Chard, I didn’t get any oak on this one either. This one would be excellent with a light cheese pasta or some simple crudité. A really lovely wine.

Like I said, both wines were excellent, I simply got more enjoyment out of Bottle Two, which turned out to be Replica’s Knockoff. I’d never have known it was a $12 bottle! Definitely a keeper.

Wine and Sunset
Wine and Sunset #ForTheWin

Blind tasting is fun, and it’s even better when all the wines you try are delicious! Give it a try at your next cocktail party and let me know how it goes!

Until the next glass, cheers!

Lawyer Footnotes
[1] Yes, I do still moonlight as a lawyer. #lawyerlife
[2] Because, hello, those are confusingly similar to Coke® and Pepsi®.
[3] Note: A trademark search for WOWZA in association for cola beverages has not been conducted. This blog post does not constitute legal advice.

Processed with Snapseed.
Processed with Snapseed.

[4] Full Disclosure: I received two bottles of wine from Replica Wine. The opinions contained herein are my own. This blog is not a paid or sponsored post.
[5] I’m using quotations because I appreciate the fact that a great deal of effort went in to the creation of both bottles; it’s not like it was fake wine!
[6] We’ll call this one “Big Money Chard.”
[7] It probably could have benefited from some time to open up, but ain’t nobody got time for dat!

How Do You Say Gewürztraminer?

I don’t know about you, but this is one of those wines I gloss over on the wine list, walk past at the wine shop, and avoid saying out loud at all costs. At #WBC16[1], I was lucky enough to cure the problem, and let me tell you, it’s about damn time!File Aug 20, 9 25 43 AM

Pronounced, Geh-VIRTZ-trah-MEE-ner[2], the grape originally hails from Italy’s Alto Adige region[3], an ancient wine growing community in the Dolomites[4] bordering Austria and Switzerland. Italy’s smallest wine growing region makes around 40 million bottles of wine on a yearly basis[5] and is the oldest German speaking[6] winemaking area in the world; they’ve been honing their craft for the last 3,000 years[7].

Wine Tasting AlsaceThe bottle of Gewürztraminer I sampled was an absolute gem. Breakout sessions were scattered throughout the conference, and I had the foresight to attend May Matta-Aliah’s session on the Wines of Alsace. We sampled three typical Alsatian varieties, a Riesling, a Pinot Gris, and finally, the Gewürztraminer. The Riesling and Pinot Gris were both lovely; soft, light and elegant. The Gewürztraminer was a slam dunk. My tasting notes started off with “Wow” and “Incredible”[8]. It was one of those tastes where spitting would be a crime…so I didn’t.

Alsace Wine

As we were sipping, my new wine friend Laura explained how the word is broken down: Gewürz translates roughly to aromatic or seasoning, Tramin refers to Tramin an der Weinstraße, often abbreviated to Tramin or Termeno, the specific location where the grape comes from, and er means “of”. So, Gewürztraminer pretty much means “aromatic seasoning of Tramin”[9].

Tasting Notes on the Zind-Humbrecht Gewürztraminer Grand Cru Hengst 2013

A high residual sugar content (45 grams per liter[10]) made this one a bit on the sweeter side. Not something you’d want to drink with dinner, but after dinner, before dinner, with dessert, without dessert, would all work just fine. I got a bright, full mouthful of pineapple and a slight minerality on the extra-long finish. The wine kept going and going; I didn’t want to let it go. It was almost moist, a great, lush mouthfeel; very reminiscent of my Sauternes tasting experience in Bordeaux[11]. This Gewürztraminer has characteristics similar to the Sauternes I tasted, being a sweet wine with great depth and body. I’ll have to try some more of these Alsatian Gewürztraminer beauties and let you know if they’re all as amazing. In the meantime, grab one of these if you can find it.

File Aug 20, 9 23 26 AM

Maybe not a wine to throw back with your beer-guzzling neighbor, as it will set you back at least $70 if you can find it, but it is certainly something to be shared with loved ones[12]. A highly acclaimed vintage, Wine Enthusiast rated the Zind-Humbrecht 2013 a 94 and Decanter bestowed a 97. Not too shabby.

Grapes for this bottle were grown in the Zind-Humbrecht Hengst Grand Cru vineyards in Wintzenheim, Alsace. The Zind and Humbrecht families joined forces in 1959; their ancestors have been growing grapes in Alsace since 1620.

Is there a wine you’re scared to pronounce[13]? Get on the Google and don’t let it stop you! You could be missing out on an amazing wine!

Until the next glass, Cheers!

Lawyer Footnotes
[1] You can read my first recap of the conference here.
[2] Practice it in the privacy of your home and you’ll be good to go. #thatsnotweird
[3] The Wine Folly has a great overview of Alto Adagio and the grapes grown there. Check it out.
[4] The Dolomites have been on my travel bucket list forever, but I had no idea there was wine! Another addition to the Wine Bucket List!

© Consortium of Alto Adige Wine
Castles, towers and vineyards, oh my! © Consortium of Alto Adige Wine

[5] To put that number in perspective, in 2015, the State of California produced 229 million cases. I don’t understand how this could be possible because that is two billion seven hundred forty-eight million BOTTLES. But, I found it on the internets, so it must be true.
[6] Wait, but I thought this was Italy? Given that it’s been making wine for 3,000 years, you can imagine that a lot has happened in the area over the past few millennia. A power struggle between Italy and Austria has been going on, pretty much forever, and tensions still run high. Also this.
[7] America was born in 1776, or 240 years ago. To put that in perspective, this small area of Italy has been producing wine for 2,760 years longer than America has been around. WOW.
[8] I’m super good at tasting notes.
[9] #bilingual
[10] Residual sugar generally refers to the sugar content remaining in the wine after fermentation stops or is stopped.
[11] Ahhhh #FancyinFrancey. That was fun.
[12] Like your good friend Wine Esquire here.
[13] Viognier is Vee-own-YAY. Blaufränkisch is Blahw-FRAHN-keesh. And here’s a link to more pronunciations. You’re welcome.

Gewürztraminer