Dutch wine - I bet you didn't see that one coming. To be fair, neither did we. And yet here it is, and it is not just any Nederlandse Wijn, it is a wine made from Riesling grapes grown near the Dutch city of Maastricht. The existence of Dutch Riesling is the latest and perhaps most groundbreaking in a range of shocking revelations uncovered by the Wine Rambler's uncompromising investigative journalism. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it is true. There is world class German red wine. There is English still wine and it is even drinkable. And yes, there is Dutch wine too.
Is it drinkable though? The Wine Rambler dares another, potentially fatal self-experiment.
And as you do with any experiment you bring along a scientific expert to guide and supervise you (and ideally re-animate you if things go seriously wrong). In this mission I was ably assisted by my friend Mike, known to Wine Rambler regulars as our expert in aged beer. Mike was much more than a simple assistant. He was, in fact, the instigator as it was him who suggested this experiment and who hunted down the sample.
Luckily, he did not have to go far as Mike had moved to the Netherlands a while ago. Even there Dutch wine is a rare find, and so I was extremely happy when during my recent visit I was presented with the Apostelhoeve Riesling. Apostelhoeve is the name of a historic farmstead at the Louwberg, southwest of Maastricht. Modern winegrowing in this area dates back to the 1970s, but the Romans have been at it much earlier. This cannot be much of a surprise though as the Romans grew wine wherever they went, and now I wonder whether the maximum expansion of the Roman Empire was maybe determined more by wine growing regions than the Empire's logistical and military capabilities. However, with regards to the Louwberg the Romans, and much later the Hulst family, chose the location wisely as the vineyard lies relatively well protected and is warmer than the surrounding area. Warm and hilly enough to make good Riesling in a country known to be flat and not blessed with the most exciting weather?
The colour of the Apostelhoeve does not exactly promise depth and substance, but despite being very light the soft hay colour is also not unpleasant to look at. Light is also what I would call the bouquet, but not in a boring way. It is floral and features much fresh citrus and some stone fruit, plus a touch of sharp herbs. And light and fresh is also how I would characterise the wine on the tongue - not particularly deep but crisp, refreshing and with a good dosage of grapefruit, especially in the finish that reminded us of the finish of an actual grapefruit, just more balanced and wine-like.
If you want a light, fresh and refreshing Riesling you can do much worse than the Apostelhoeve Lowberg.