Cambridge Wine Merchants owner Hal Wilson handed me a bottle of this sweet Mosel Riesling from Johann Peter Reinert that had been opened but not poured, to take home with me.
It had not featured as one of my top wines from the tasting itself, but there's no shame in that as there were some excellent wines on show that evening. With hindsight, it's perhaps also quite a subtly rewarding wine that did not immediately impress as much as some of the other wines.
Moreover, at £15, it is not exactly cheap in absolute terms, even if it is something of a bargain given its age and quality.
It's from the Kanzemer Altenberg (pictured), which means old mountain and according to the winery's website is a "steep site rising directly from the Saar with full southerly exposure. Of this site, the best known of Kanzem and in fact world famous, we took over two parcels in 1999, and we gladly enjoy a superb view onto this renowned slope from our winery".
Bright gold in the glass, it has a slightly waxy, lanolin nose, with just a hint of kerosene and some wet stones.
On the palate it is rich and sensual - mouthfillingly citrussy with some liminess, ripe peach, tropical mango and pineapple.
There are slight, fleeting hints of marmaladey botrytis. It feels rounded and zippy but, as a result of its age, has a touch of mellowness and feels less in-yer-face. The finish is long, elegant and gentle - all linear acidity and balanced sweetness.
It takes me a little while to "get" and appreciate this wine - it's rather different to anything I've had before: only 7.5% alcohol, I find it reveals its charms slowly.
Initial impressions are merely that it is very pleasant, well-crafted and moderately sweet. But sampled over a few days, I gradually perceive and learn to appreciate the finesse, elegance and subtle layers and depths of flavour and complexity.
It's quietly, discreetly more-ish and charming; I find myself falling under its spell just as I finish the bottle, wishing I had another.
Semi-sweet wines are not something I often have so specific food matches are hard to suggest; as a general comment, I would recommend either sipping in the garden on a hot summer's day or with a starter of goose liver pate or some meaty fish, such as salmon or trout.
I asked fellow blogger Wine Rambler, who is the most enthusiastic proponent of German wines that I know for ideas, and he directed me towards this article - here.
The article is well worth reading in full, but in summary, below are the dishes he tried with sweet German Rieslings. All prepared by a professional chef, they may be a little complex for home cooking, but serve to give an idea of key ingredients and styles:
1. Chevice of tuna with samphire and lemon oil
lightly seasoned loin of yellow fin tuna, seared + with samphire blanched for 30 seconds + dressed in lemon olive oil
2. Smoked trout
smoked trout + cucumber pickled in weak solution of white wine vinegar, sugar and star anise + beetroot + garnished with fresh grated horseradish
3. Rosti with scallop and black pudding
seared scallops + potato rosti + black pudding mash + garnished with chervil
4. Squid millefeuille
pan-fried baby squid with garlic and chilli + crispy salami + salad of herbs and mint + honey and lime sauce
5. Pork loin
seared loin of pork + curried celeriac + apple rhubarb compote
6. Époisses crouton
époisses + toasted ciabata + truffled honey
Riesling Auslese 2002 Kanzemer Altenberg ** (Two Star) Weingut Johann Peter Reinert - £15 from Cambridge Wine Merchants.
Cambridge Wine Merchants - http://www.cambridgewine.com/
Weingut Johann Peter Reinert - http://www.weingut-reinert.de/
Wine Rambler article - http://www.winerambler.net/blog/sultans-sweet-learning-about-matching-residual-sugar-mosel-riesling-food