Our evening commenced with the Mistress of Ceremonies, Ms. Wong (aka Melanie Wong)educating the group about German wine laws, the growing regions, producers and styles of German Riesling wines.
In Melanie's opinion, due to the lack of acceptance and appreciation of German wines worldwide, German Rieslings represent some of the highest quality, most complex and affordable white wines in the world.
The wines were presented and tasted in order of their relative cost, quality, and complexity. We were to start with a QbA category wine and work up the ladder of quality and comlexity from Kabinett, Spatlese, Auslese, to a mind boggling Eiswein.
The evening's festivities started with:
1) 1998 C. von Schubert Maximin Grunhauser QbA from the slopes of the Ruwer River. Or as Melanie put it, "more like a creek." This wine we found to be in the lighter style and slightly sweet. An aperitif wine, tart but not too sour. A green apple quality (Granny Smith?) was detected and the consensus was that this was an excellent match to our first dish, the Rainbow Seafood Salad.
2) 1996 Lingenfelder Grosskarlbacher Osterberg Spatlese halbtrocken. Halbtrocken was transled for us as "half dry." With 6 years of age this wine was delicate and very aromatic. The aroma was redolent of peaches and several people noticed tropical fruit undertones like pineapples, on the palate. Comments such as "good food wine" were to be heard as we enjoyed this with the dried scallops in lettuce cups and the dried scallop with egg-white soup. One taster commented, they thought it had a "weird" finish.
3) 2000 Diel Dorscheimer Burgberg "Selection" from the Nahe region. Melanie explained that this producer was among a group of German wine producers slowly moving toward a drier style, and more commercially acceptable style of wines. It was felt to possess a higher alcohol feel and noticeably drier taste. It was loaded with richness and intensity and exhibited more depth than the preceeding wines tasted. It also was said to pair better with the foods slowly but steadly arriving to the table. By now, the Limster Feast had begun in earnest.
4) 1997 Burklin-Wolf Forster Kabinett. By now, one of the night's favorite foods had arrived, the chicken stuffed with sticky rice. Many agreed that this was a great match of wine and food, maybe the best of the evening. The wine showed bright, tropical flavors, a very smooth mouthfeel and a long finish on the palate. It really woke the crowd up.
5) 1997 Prinz Hallgartener Jungfer Kabinett. While we agreed that this wine was "smooth and mellow", it was deemed to be too sweet by some. Noticeably citrusy tasting as well, we questioned why this wine was previously championed as a "perfect" wine by the Big Chowhound Dog. In fact, our group unanimously disagreed on that, but unanimously agreed to "lift our legs" on the Big Dog for his opinion!
6) 1996 J.u.H.A. Strub Niersteiner Hipping Spatlese began our climb up the "richness" scale and most of us liked this wine very much. Comments like "very good" and "nice, long finish" were echoed around the table. Some felt it was a bit on the syrupy side, but we liked the peachy fragrance a lot.
7) 1999 Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt Kaseler Nies'chen Spatlese. This wine probably inspired more conversation about aroma, fragrance, and bouquet than any other we tasted. We deteced lavendar, pine needles, and a certain resiny texture in this wine. Melanie explained about the "turpene" characteristics that normally show as these wines age. Although still relatively young, she said this was a fast maturing vintage and thus this quality was already apparent in this particular 3 year old wine.
8) 1996 Kruger-Rumpf Munsterer Dautenpflanzer Auslese. Immediately apparent was the higher level of richness achieved in this, our first Auslese-level wine of the evening. It had a scent of violets, a good sense of sweetness and was liked for its "fabulous length" of finish. This went especially well with the crab and steamed bass dishes, according to the table. We also noticed an inriguing red berry quality in this particular wine.
9) 1993 J. Lauerberg Bernkastler Bratenhofchen Auslese. Many commented that this wine was "silky" and the most elegant wine of the evening. The tasters at the table felt it to "grow" in the mouth and to possess a high level of complexity. As one person put it, "it cuts a swath of taffeta" across the tongue. It was also the eldest statesman of the wines and at nearly 10 years of age, showing a lovely, mature quality.
10) 2001 Kunstler Hochheimer Holle Eiswein. The baby of the group, an Eiswein, which literally comes from "ice-covered grapes." In the mouth, it felt "oily, syrupy, viscous, and luscious" were some of the comments I heard. Very concentrated flavors and a very clean tasting finish. "Liquid Gold" was one comment and another described it as a "concentrated fruit bomb". Quite a perfect conclusion to a wonderful array of wines and an equally fantastic meal. A bit overmatched to our fortune cookies, but a treat nonetheless.
I hope I was able to characterize everyone's feeling and not mischaracterize many. It was a bit difficult to hear everyone's comments among the dizzying array of wines being poured and dishes of food being served.
Thanks to Melanie and to all for a memorable evening of German Rieslings and Cantonese cuisine.