March 02, 2008

Selbach-Oster Tasting

Yesterday I stopped by Liner & Elsen in NW Portland for a free tasting of Selbach-Oster rieslings. Johannes Selbach was scheduled to be there but apparently wasn't well and had to return to Germany. Local German wine guy Ewald Moseler -- the last name sort of gives away where he's from -- filled in and poured six wines.

The first few were fine enough but nothing special. Noteably, the 2006 Selbach-Oster Estate Kabinett and Spatlese Riesling both showed the gushing ripeness of the vintage. I prefer a bit less sweetness and lushness in these lower pradikat levels, but these aren't bad wines at all. I didn't note the other initial wine, but it was equally fine if a bit too sweet and fat.

A few people commented on how well the 2006 Selbach-Oster Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Riesling Spatlese showed. Again, it's nice wine, but the ripeness of the vintage seems to overwhelm any other element in the wine at this point. I enjoyed it and would recommend it if sweet fruit is what you're looking for.

As a nice contract, the last two wines showed more acid structure. The 2005 Selbach-Oster Zeltinger Himmelreich Riesling Auslese was hardly sweeter than the other wines. But it showed a spectacular aroma of red and yellow fruit and lots of slatey mineral notes. The taste was piercing, nicely sweet with zingy acid. I don't usually buy $34 wines, but this is one to buy if you're looking for something special. Wow.

Finally, the 2004 Selbach-Oster Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese was a bit more tight, without the incredible aroma and more coiled in the mouth. This isn't tart wine, but coming after some fat examples of riesling, this seemed almost austere. Very good but I think you might hold this one for a while to see its best.

All in all, a couple very impressive wines and the rest, if made in Oregon, would be revelations. Maybe German rieslings, even sweeter than I prefer, are still so good and pure that really I'm just jaded.

1 comment:

Marshall Manning said...

Jaded? No. The simple fact is that OR can't make Riesling anywhere near as good as the better German examples.

I agree that the '06s are a bit on the sweet, soft, side, but that's the general character of the vintage.