2008 Minges Riesling Sekt
Even though it’s after New Year’s, the time is always right to drink sparkling wine. There is no other wine category that is so useful across the board. They make great aperitifs, wonderful food wines that can match up to almost anything that a still wine wouldn’t and can bring a festive atmosphere to the dreariest of days.
Champagne, been there, done that. American sparklers, ditto. How about Prosecco? It’s starting to get some traction along with French Cremants, now that Spanish Cavas have also become ubiquitous. What’s left for you or an uber wine geek to do? A quick answer to that question is, German Sekt. And not that industrial swill that you might mistakenly suffered through on a Lufthansa international flight. One would be better off with some good old Cook’s from the USA.
What I’m talking about here is a hand crafted Sekt using the greatest of all white grapes, Riesling! We all know of the bad rap that Riesling sometimes gets, “It’s too sweet!”, and no matter how dry it really is. This perception is hard to break. 2008 Minges Riesling Sekt turns this perception on its head. This wine was made by the small, artisanal wine producer, Theo Minges of Germany’s Southern Pfalz. The Pfalz is the German growing region whose weather most closely aligns with France’s Champagne region. For Germany, the Pfalz is fairly warm, while Champagne is France’s coolest region. Still they are roughly on the same latitude and can usually ripen grapes reliably without too many problems with over ripeness.
The soils in Minges’ portion of the Southern Pfalz generally feature a preponderance of limestone with small outcroppings of chalk. While not the same as the chalk found in Champagne, limestone is a relative and imparts a similar yet harder mineral imprint on a sparkling wine much as you’d find in Champagne. The 2008 vintage of Minges’ Riesling Sekt is Theo’s first bubbly foray into the American market, being up to now known strictly for his still wines utilizing many different grape varieties besides Riesling. Made in the Method Traditional(fermented in the bottle, this for 4+ years), this bubbly’s flavors are imbued with a racy character informed by bright acidity that is a hallmark of the 2008 vintage throughout Germany. Acidity should always play a major part in laying a solid foundation for any sparkling wine. It helps add focus to the bubbles, which already have an acidic nature of their own. The natural grape acids act as a compliment to the CO2. Flavors of apple and pear skin on the front palate lead to stony apple and caramel notes that seem almost crunchy due to the pronounced minerality. The caramel notes, along with a touch of spice, come to the fore as the wine warms and takes on air. The finish is long and graceful.
Calling all rock heads, this should be on your short list of new finds for the New Year. With a suggested retail price of $33.99 Minges Riesling Sekt might not be Champagne but for this price the quality is certainly there and it’s pretty darn close.