Palate and Missives
So what is it about the
German palate ? All you have to do is look at the ratings in Germany's
most 'textbook' of publications and you'll find it right there (Eichelmann
Deutschlands Weine 2007). The German buying public likes their
Rieslings DRY. Trocken,
Trocken, Trocken. The Eichelmann Guide has a 'best of' listing in
the back and there are essentially 2 Categories. 1) Rieslings 2) Sweet
and Sweeter Rieslings.
In category 2 you of course find TBAs, BAs and Auslesen. In Category 1 you find almost no Riesling without a Trocken (Dry) label. Mainly Trocken Spaetlesen. In the US we don't get many of these. We get regular Spaetlesen, Auslesen and Kabinetten. It seems the Germans are all too happy to send us these ! I've had the opportunity to try various Trocken versions of QmP Rieslings and often find them to be more like Pinot Blanc/Gris than Riesling, but that is my palate. If you check Wine Spectator reviews of this same (mainly 2005) vintage you'll find plenty of 90+point Kabinetten and Spaetlesen, quite Trockenless. One other thing you'll find in the Eichelmann guide is that their 100 point scale doesn't see the high side of 90 as often as WS. If you look at the article from Decanter magazine that is in the Wine Guide section of this website, it consists of a comprehensive evaluation of 2005 Spaetlesen without a single Trocken version. Some of these wines rated quite highly by the conservative Decanter (UK) reviewers. You won't find a single one them in the 'Best of' section of Eichelmann. Case in Point ?
2005 Losen-Bockstanz Wittlicher Portnersberg Spaetlese Feinherb
- Decanter - "Pure Fruit, quite typical pure apple and lemon. Sweet Ripe Fruit, lovely balance and fresh acidity. Light and elegant, long lemony finish. Very stylish and pure. 15 years. 17.5/20 Highly Recommended 4 Stars"
- Eichelmann - "Other Wines Tasted - No comment - 80/100"
So numerically there is a difference of 80 vs 88, but culturally the chasm is huge. The non-Feinherb version of this wine received a 5 Star Decanter award - "Fragrant bouquet, Absolutely Classic, all sorts of fruit flavours, concentrated, mineral but light. 20 years" Eichelmann didn't review it OR Losen-Bockstanz didn't think to submit it. Decanter doesn't give 5 stars out willy nilly. Interestingly, Losen-Bockstanz is not available in the UK, and you'd be hard pressed to find it in the USA, however....of all places Trader Joe's had their 2005 Kabinett for $7.00. Well, Losen-Bockstanz has 28 Hectacres, so that is alot of grapes. If there was a diet version of Riesling, this was it. The classic Riesling charateristics were there albeit in watered down form. The ubiquitous Maxmillian Rheingau Kabinett Trader Joe's has for $5ish is as good.
Using the power of generalization, the Germans like their Rieslings Dry or very sweet, whereas the US/UK likes the middle zone, or importers think we do, and I don't contend that they are wrong.
Unless you have a very good wineshop with a good German Wine selection, the closest you'll get to a wine with the Dryness that Germans like will be in a QbA. There are a couple of these in the Eichelmann 'Best of' Section.
QbA vs QmP - So QmP means better quality than QbA ? On paper it does, but in practice not necessarily. You will find that some winemakers sell their QmP wine as a QbA even though it would qualify for QmP quality, only to avoid the restrictions of the higher classification. So yes, you can get a QbA that hasn't been chapatalized, but how can you know ? Email the winegrower......and wait and wait.....or email the importer. They have nothing better to do !