Last weekend I organised a wine tasting of a different type for my colleagues. I had particularly high hopes that one of the wines would shine, a Riesling from Rheingau winemaking wizard Peter Jakob Kühn. In the past, I have had some truly stunning wines from Kühn, and I had heard good things about his work with the difficult 2010 vintage. At the tasting though the biodynamic Riesling was overshadowed - in being controversial by a Franconian Silvaner and in receiving general praise by an Austrian Grüner Veltliner.
Not that the Riesling was bad, mind you, but in its leanness it was a little more quiet than I had hoped for. When we divided up the spoils of the night, I grabbed a half full bottle and took it home with me to inquire further.
Before we come to that, let's quickly revisit what my colleagues had to say about the Kabinett wine on the night:
naughty, sparkly, fizzy, fireworks, cheeky, less aggressive, fruity, essence of vomit, acidic, like a short story that lost its ending
Not bad overall, but there was a certain feeling that the second half of the drinking experience did not quite deliver what the first half promised. Being busy the next evening, I left "Jacobus", Kühn's basic Riesling ("eine Traube" means "one grape", whereas the top wines get three grapes), in the fridge. When I unscrewed the bottle (Kühn went all screwcap a few years ago) on the Sunday night I was greeted with an impressive fizzling sound - still a very lively wine, not doubt.
Interestingly, Jacobus had opened up a lot over the two days. It still presented itself quite cool, with lots of cool citrus and herbal notes (menthol), but had gained more substance. What was cool peach before now smelled riper, the cool herbs were spicier, almost like tobacco, and lovely mineral as well as a vegetable and apple acidity came together quite nicely. On the tongue the experience was similar, with the Riesling showing a little more of everything than two days before. It had lovely fruit, a strong minerality that had almost peppery earthy notes and a lovely dry, almost salty mineral finish with herbal notes.
Two days had transformed a very pleasant but somewhat lightweight wine with what felt like almost too much acidity into a much more characterful wine. Still light, lean and with sharp acidity it became perhaps not the most substantial Riesling that graced my dinner table, but a very enjoyable and refreshing visitor. Needless to say, if you drink it this year I'd strongly recommend a decanter.
Having just come back from a few days of tasting wine in (and around) Rheinhessen, I would also want to add that this is a timely reminder that there are some wines you cannot really do justice in a normal tasting setting. Cheers to those wines!