I like white wines. I know I write a lot about red wines and I normally prefer a full-bodied red wine rather than a white one, but mostly because the typical Spanish whites are not too appealing to me. Of course I’m talking in general, as there are a few great Spanish white wines I love. I have also talked about them here, but normally they are produced with foreign varieties: The Viogner of Vallegarcía in Toledo or the Gewürztraminer of Luna Beberide in El Bierzo. I also like the Albillo Real of Orly Lumbreras and the Sauvignon Blanc of Daniel Ramos, both produced in Gredos, Ávila.
But one white variety I really love is the Riesling. I have enjoyed many bottles of wine produced with this grape. One or two from Spain, but mostly, from Alsace in France and especially, Rheingau, Pfalz and Mosel in Germany. Many years ago I discovered my first Riesling wine produced by a small winery in the banks of the Mosel River. Since then I have been taken by this grape and these wines. Weinhaus Barzen is the winery I found and Alexander Barzen is the owner and winemaker. With his help we will explore about the Riesling variety talking about the wines he produces.
The Riesling variety gives a lot of possibilities when it comes to winemaking. You can make a bone-dry wine or an extremely sweet one. Alexander produces all of them. DOC Riesling in Germany is divided into two main categories based on quality. The basic wines are called Qualitätswein. They are light-bodied wines, dry, fruity and refreshing. The other category is Prädikatswein. Depending on the level of density of the must before being processed, from low to high, they are called Kabinett (Trocken), Spätlese, Auslese, Beerenauslese and Trockenbeerenauslese. These last two wines are sweet wines made with grapes that have been attacked by the noble rot (botrytis cinerea). The Auslese can also be produced with grapes affected by botrytis. Then we have the Eiswein, a wine produced harvesting the grapes when they are still frozen so the water is not used, thus the grapes retain more flavors.
In the Mosel river area, the Riesling produces light wines with notes of green apple and tree fruit. The alcohol content is not as high as in other areas like Rheingau. It is also to note that normally Riesling bottles in Mosel are green while in the Rheingau are brown.
The family-owned Weinhaus Barzen has a tradition of over 500 years in the Mosel River Valley, an area known for the great quality of its wines. The family owns a special vineyard that was planted back in 1886. Alexander produces a wide array of wines using the Riesling grape:
The Riesling Quality Dry (Qualitätswein trocken). Vineyard with slate soils, these wines are from the most recent vintage. The lightest and most delicate wine.
The Riesling Dry Vintages (Spätlese trocken) and the Riesling Dry of “old vines” (Alte Reben trocken). Elegant mineral wines with delicate and crisp acidity.
The refinedly dry Riesling Vintage “Spätlese feinherb” is an intense and flavourful wine.
The Noble-Sweet Rieslings are:
- The Riesling Auslese which means selected from the harvest. Overripe, late harvested grapes, selected cluster by cluster, often fermented in the fruity style with residual sweetness.
- The Riesling Beerenauslese (berry selection) even topping the “Auslese”, the berries are extremely overripe, selected one at a time.
- The Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese (dry berry selection).
Then Barzen elaborates two more Riesling wines. The Riesling Eiswein (Ice Wine). A rare dessert wine, made from overripe grapes that have frozen on the vine and are being pressed while still frozen thus only extracting concentrated grape juice, the water still frozen stays in the press. A very concentrated wine given its nobility with racy acidity.
The Riesling Sekt Brut, a sparkling wine made of 100% Riesling, produced following the Champenoise method.
Outside the Riesling wines, Alexander also produces a Gewürztraminer wine and a Grappa (Trester) matured in barrels, from the village distillery.
This is definitely a producer worth knowing his wines and we will speak with him about them and about why is this area of Germany so special for Riesling wines.