Josef Rosch, Riesling brut, 2008
Germany, for those of you who did not know it, produces some excellent sparkling wine in a style similar to Champagne. It also produces a unique fizze ("Sekt") from Riesling, called "Rieslingsekt". This is style of sparkling wine that tends to be crisper and fresher than Champagne. Some of the more exciting specimens of this type blend French complexity with vibrant German Riesling freshness and mineral.
I was lucky in that the most recent bottle of German fizz I opened was one of this type.
As is the case with English sparkling wine the best German Sekts are made using the classical method employed in the Champagne - however, for legal reasons neither English nor German sparkling wines can be called Champagne. The English wine trade may bemoan that but at least as far as Rieslingsekt is concerned I would not want it any other way. We are, after all, looking at a distinct product and the Mosel, where today's wine hails from, really should not suffer from an inferiority complex to any wine region in the world. Josef Rosch's Rieslingsekt "brut" is made from Riesling grapes from the Klostergarten vineyard near the Mosel village of Leiwen. Leiwen is well known for its Riesling and the Rosch family own some 7.5ha of vineyards in the area. I have never had one of their wines before, so this a premier both for the family and their sparkling wine.
Even so I doubt the Rieslingsekt had any stage fright, and if it did it certainly did not stop it performing very well indeed. The bouquet is quite intense; it has depth and complexity that, with yeasty, almost brioche like aromas, does remind a little of Champagne. On the other hand there is a dusty minerality with lemon and peach aromas that is much more Riesling. Both come together nicely with apple, flowery aromas, some pear and fruit gum notes.
On the tongue fresh Riesling acidity gives the wine a decidedly dry appearance, although a touch of sweetness comes out with the caramel and mineral finish. The Sekt has complexity to which lemon and especially apple add freshness on the tongue too - the latter with a decidedly green, very fresh apple juice touch, almost bordering on cider. Despite a certain depth this makes the sparkler feel very much alive. There are some elements of a good Champagne but also moments where the Riesling origin shows in a very enjoyable more wine-y character; refreshingly different.