Reinhold Haart, Piesporter Spätlese, Riesling, 2003

Reinhold Haart, Piesporter Spätlese, Riesling, 2003

New York City is hipster territory - or at least that is the message it is trying very hard to project during my current visit. Interestingly, most things German do seem to be considered hip, especially German beer culture. The Lower East Side for instance welcomed me with German brass music, schnitzel and beer served by busty wenches dressed in pseudo Bavarian outfits. German Riesling, it turns out, is also very popular among the cool wine kids here, so it was quite fitting I brought one over to share with my host: a late harvest Riesling made by one of my favourite producers at the Mosel, Theo Haart. Usually, I would have opted for a Haart Riesling from one of the famous vineyards such as Piesporter Goldtröpfchen, but a few years ago I came across this late harvest from several vineyards around Piesport, which to me seemed almost more interesting than some of the wines from the top sites. Did it hold up as well as Haart's premier wines though, I wondered, or were we in for a disappointment?

The shiny golden colour made for a very promising start. The nose, however, was a little closed at first, profiting immensely from half an hour of air and especially some warming up (don't serve this one too cold). Over time, a delicious bouquet of white peach, honey(suckle) and smoky, slatey minerality developed, enhanced by green notes of herbs and freshly cut grass and a savoury component. We could not quite agree how to describe the latter, but it was somewhere between nougat with one or two chilli flakes and/or the top layer of a good crumble.

On the palate the Haart Riesling was riper than on the tongue, especially with regards to the lovely peach, stone fruit and soft pineapple flavours. The fruit gave the body juicy substance, but it was still quite light on the tongue - all due to a fantastic balance between the wine's great acidity and its sweetness. Drinking the Haart was a rather multi-layered experience, with different sensations coming through at different stages. Following the initial yumminess, for instance, Sarah identified a somewhat lighter element of soda mid-palate, whereas the long finish brought out the great minerality again, enhanced by juiciness and freshly ground white pepper.

If you haven't guessed it already, we loved this wine. Personally; I think it is better than the 2003 Piesporter Goldtröpfchen, the Riesling from Haart's most famous vineyard, and it has potential for years to come. Just wait until it really starts to develop those petrol notes. If you can still find this wine, buy it; especially at that price!

Hip enough for NYC? I'd like to think so!


Submitted by Alex Wednesday, 06/10/2010

Nice one! Did you check the hip wine bars? I have a feeling Riesling gets a bit weaker in the US these days while Natural wines from the Loire pick up or other smaller French appelations.. Cheers

Submitted by torsten Saturday, 09/10/2010

In reply to by Alex

Thanks, Alex. My NYC wine friends tell me that Riesling does indeed seem to have reached a peak in popularity there. I could not speculate whether it will remain as popular. There was certainly a lot of interest in Loire and natural wine making. The wine bars are fun, but also really noisy - you often have to shout to be understood...