When I woke up this morning to the news of Barack Obama being re-elected I immediately realised how I had to write tonight's Riesling review. It would have to be about expectation management. This is something the 44th President of the United States would have a lot to say about as the disappointment some Democrats seem to feel towards him originated from perhaps unrealistically high expectations in his first presidency. Expectation management goes beyond politics of course and I suspect all of us will have been disappointed in something or someone when actually their only "failure" was not to have fulfilled our expectations.
Film is an area where I suffer from this effect occasionally, despite struggling not to be infected by the most recent hype. It also happens with regards to wine, but to me as a Wine Rambler it poses a more serious issue. How can we ensure not to be negatively influenced by our expectations? And this is how the poor, innocent Rheingau Riesling gets dragged into this malarkey.
Now, when I say "negatively" this obviously goes both ways. You can praise a wine too much because it turned out much better than you had hoped. This would be unfair against the reader who after a rave review expects something mind-blowing and "just" ends up with a good wine. If on the other hand you criticise a wine because it happens not to be what you expected it would also be unfair against the winemaker (and the wine, for those of you who care about discriminating against liquids). What's the solution, you may ask? Well, either to be so very professional that this will never happen to you. Or just be frank about it and let the reader draw their own conclusions. Knowing my limitations I prefer the latter approach.
I had been looking forward to writing this review for quite a while. After all this would be the first wine made by Johannes Leitz to be reviewed on the Wine Rambler, and to me that was both about closing a gap and looking forward to something exciting. Johannes Leitz is a third generation winemaker from the Rheingau who over the last 25 years has grown a tiny 2ha family vineyard to almost 40ha and much national and international acclaim. He is one of the few top German winemakers whose wines you will occasionally find in UK supermarkets and large wine retailers, and I particular applaud his marketing. One of his export wines for instance is called "Eins, Zwei, Dry" and I remember reading bad puns of the style I really like on Leitz labels ("unscrew the cap and turn on the Leitz" (a pun that works better for those who can pronounce his second name correctly so that it sounds almost like "lights")).
To cut an even longer story short, I was really looking forward to an exciting wine, especially from the interesting 2010 vintage, but what I found was "just" a good, very drinkable Riesling. The bouquet felt calm, in the sense that nothing much stood out or drew my attention; just a pleasant if at first a little closed mix of lime-citrus tingle, yellow fruit, apricot and pear plus a hint of vegetable. Nice, good in fact but also not exactly remarkable. On the tongue the Riesling started with juicy, sweeter fruity moments, soon brought out menthol herb freshness and then turned more decidedly dry in a finish of lime and a touch of salty with light mineral. Fresh out of my very cold fridge (a squid was awaiting its fate in there) the Riesling overall felt a little closed and even after an hour or so it could have done with more punch and precision of the fruit. Initially this made me hope it would really open up on the second day (part of my best practice guide for wine tasters would be to taste wine over at least two days to give the more complex ones a better chance) but there was not much change.
Overall we are still looking at a very decent wine that many will enjoy, although I think in the price range there are clearly more exciting wines available. This is probably as objective as I can be, but what I really want to say is that from Leitz I had hoped for more. We will see how I will fare with future Leitz wines, and of course how Barack Obama will handle the expectations on his second term.