If you are in the mood for fine German wine and food, you should consider the Nahe region of southwestern Germany. You might even find a bargain, and I hope that you'll enjoy yourself on this fact-filled wine education tour in which we review a local Riesling. The Nahe wine region is a relatively small area along the Nahe River, a tributary of the much more famous Rhine River. This region is close to many other German wine regions and is at the other end of Germany from the capital of Berlin. Of the thirteen German wine regions Nahe ranks right in the middle; it is seventh in both vineyard acreage and total wine production. While approximately 90% of its production is white wine, the red percentage is definitely on the upswing.
The three major white grapes are Riesling, Mueller-Thurgau, and Silvaner. Only about 2% of Nahe wine is low quality Landwein. About three quarters of the local wine is medium quality QbA wine that allows winemakers to add sugar to the fermenting mix (chaptalization). The rest is higher quality QmP wine that outlaws this practice.
You may remember from my Launching a Series article that while Spaetlese literally means late-harvest, these wines are in fact made from ripe grapes. Only about 1% of Nahe wines carry this premium designation. In spite of these daunting statistics, the wine that we review below is a Riesling Spaetlese.
Bad Kreuznach is a city of about fifty thousand on the Nahe River. It was probably first settled thousands of years ago. The baths for which the city is named have been known since Roman times. They contain radium, which is said to cure various ailments. Funny, I always thought that radium was a poison. Bad Kreuznach's Gothic Pauluskirche (St.
Paul's Church) has held many weddings over the years. Undoubtedly its most famous bridegroom was Karl Marx who in 1843 took the hand of Jenny von Westphalen. The city center is home to many historic buildings. The nearby town of Bretzenheim is proud of its many historic houses and wine culture center. Before reviewing the Nahe wine and imported cheeses that we were lucky enough to purchase at a local wine store and a local Italian food store, here are a few suggestions of what to eat with indigenous wines when touring this beautiful region.
Start with Grumbeworscht (Potato Sausages). For your second course enjoy Spiersbraten (Onion Marinated Flame-Grilled Steak). As a dessert indulge yourself with Beeren (Berries, perhaps with Dessert Wine). OUR WINE REVIEW POLICY All wines that we taste and review are purchased at the full retail price. Wine Reviewed Hehner-Kiltz Riesling Spätlese 2001 9.0% alcohol about $15 Let's start by quoting the marketing materials.
Peachy keen! This delicious Riesling Spaetlese from the Nahe region exhibits aromas of peach, paraffin and floral notes. It's round with luscious fruit flavours, a seam of balancing acidity and great length. Enjoy with apricot stuffed pork loin. My first pairing was with a somewhat spicy mozzarella and cottage cheese lasagna made with whole-wheat noodles, roasted vegetables, but no meat.
The wine was slightly sweet, but that was OK - a lot more than OK. Its acidity went well with the tomatoes. The Riesling was delicate but strong. Dessert was a high quality, very rich chocolate mousse cake, which made the wine lemony and acidic.
The combination was excellent. When I finished the glass after dinner I definitely tasted peaches, perhaps white peaches. The next meal consisted of prepared chicken thighs with the skin on bathed in an orange, sweet and sour sauce, basmati rice, and a tomato, carrot, onion, and red and green pepper mixture that was runnier than a salsa. The Riesling was round and lightly acidic with the meat and rice and an excellent balance to the sweet and sour sauce. The wine became more acidic and not as sweet to match the "salsa". Talk about a chameleon; don't misunderstand, I'm not complaining.
The final meal was a purchased chicken pot pie with Mexican Jalepeno hot sauce. The wine was sweetly acidic and round but frankly wasted with this meal. By the way, when I tried seconds without any sauce the combination wasn't as good. I was disappointed when strawberries overpowered the Riesling.
Maybe they were too cold. After the meal the wine was richer on its own. I was able to taste this Spaetlese with three imported cheeses. The first cheese was a soft, creamy French Camembert. The wine was very round and lightly acidic.
It was sweet but the sweetness did not cause a conflict. Then I went to a nutty Gruyere from Switzerland. The wine became more acidic and fruity. This combination was quite nice. The third and final cheese was a German Edam; its consistency and taste were softer than the Gruyere.
The wine tasting results were about the same but the wine was a bit shorter with the Edam. Final verdict. No doubt about it, this wine is a winner. I really didn't think that I like sweetish wine to accompany food but I changed my mind, at least for this wine.
The only problem is that we don't get many Nahe wines. And given the fact that only about 1% of Nahe wines are Spaetleses, I may never see this wine again. Unless I visit the Nahe wine region of Germany. Ich bin bereit (I am ready).
Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten computer and Internet books, but between you and me, he prefers fine Italian or other wine, accompanied by the right foods and good company. He loves teaching computer classes at an Ontario French-language community college. His Italian wine website is www.theitalianwineconnection.com and his Italian travel website is www.travelitalytravel.com .