A highly recommended, reasonably priced Riesling with Art Nouveau/Jugendstil label and named after the world's most famous intelligence agency - I pressed "add to shopping cart" before my brain had even processed this properly. You may not know this, but I am intrigued by the world of espionage, I like cheap puns and I have the marvellous ability to misread pretty much everything to make me giggle. So it took my brain another second after I had added the wine to my latest delivery to realise that (while the label really does feature angels with a Riesling gun!) there is no German humour reference to the CIA here.
Instead we are looking at the estate Riesling of one of the world's oldest wineries, and CAI stands for Carl August Immich. Please don't be disappointed, after all we are speaking about a man who blew up a mountain in order to make good Riesling.
Admittedly my spy thriller infested brain may still be looking for a bit of James Bond action while I write this, but it is true that CAI had a go at the Batterieberg with a good amount of dynamite when looking for a nice Riesling vineyard in the 1840s. It took him a good five years to create the ideal Riesling site and wine has been grown there since. The history of the winery goes back much further though, either to the tenth century or to the year 1425 and the arrival of the Immich family, depending on how you look at it. Over the last few years especially the Batterieberg Rieslings have received lots of praise, so I have been wanting to get my hands on a bottle for a while.
The 2010 C.A.I. especially has been praised by wine writers, to the extent that one blogger called the wine the "new prototype of Mosel Kabinett". That's a lot of praise to live up to, if you consider the high regard wine lovers all over the world have for Mosel Kabinetts.
There was no spy movie to keep me company when I opened the C.A.I., but I had a copy of "Smiley's People" and that is even better as far as I am concerned. The wine I enjoyed with John le Carré's fine writing had a fresh bouquet of hay, citrus fruit, yeast, yellow fruit, touch of peach, grapefruit and a good dosage of slate - a bouquet of medium intensity and a promising start.
Be warned though, the nose does not prepare you for the onslaught that follows: the C.A.I. is not a wine for feeble drinkers as it has enough acidity to even give the Alien Queen a run for her money - 11g per litre. This creates a vibrant and alive wine that makes you feel like alien acid blood is pumping through your system (especially the stomach). It is fresh; it is sharp; it has citrus galore - and slatey mineral. Technically, the Riesling is off-dry with about 20g sugar per litre, but the acidity swallows that sweetness whole, giving you a wine that feels almost dry, but with a nice sweet-sour dynamic and a medium fruit intensity that also features apple. The decent finish has an afterburner of lemon acidity.
The C.A.I. is a razor-sharp wine that I would expect to develop in interesting ways over the next few years. You have to like acidity to appreciate it - even an old acid hound like myself had to adjust, so it may not (yet?) be the wine for everyone or every moment. Right now I would want a little more balance before I would to go as far as to call it a prototype for Mosel Kabinett, but it is no doubt a refreshing, crisp and somewhat radical, intriguing wine.