A tasting with Terry Theise

One of my biggest wine epiphanies in the last few years was discovering a love of German riesling.  A lot of the rieslings that made me see the light were imported by Terry Theise, whose catalogs included

Wine philosopher and importer extraordinaire Terry Theise

manifestos and all sorts of cool musings about wine.  He’s now collected a lot of those wisdoms into a book called Reading Between the Wines, and last week I attended a tasting/ book signing at Union Square Wines, one of my standby stores in New York city.  Theise’s portfolio extends beyond German rieslings to include terrific champagnes, Austrian wines including rieslings and gruner veltliner, and other varieties of a similar ilk like scheurebe.  Fortunately for me, the tasting was filled with wines from producers whose wines I’ve liked in the past, including Vilmart, Nikolaihof, J.J. Christoffel and perhaps my two favorite riesling producers, A.J. Adam and Donnhoff.

I’ll probably try to do a review of Terry’s book at some point, but I haven’t had a chance to dig into it much yet.  But tidbits like the following make me pretty sure I’m gonna love it.  I’ve advocated before in this blog for a greater appreciation of lightness and prettiness in wines as opposed to power and concentration, and Terry seems to have eloquently summed up a lot of what I was trying to say as follows, on the issue of yields and wine:

“The prevailing assumption is that you must have low yields in order to have any claim to quality.  Ostensibly, it makes sense; the less fruit per acre, the more flavor in each bunch of grapes. But more flavor doesn’t always equal better flavor. Our obtuse insistence that low yields will always give better wines has given rise to a community of clumsy, opaque, and joyless wines, overconcentrated, overendowed, just plain overdone.”

I couldn’t agree more, and can’t wait to read the rest of the book.  Below are my notes on the wines from the tasting.  -Alan

  • 2006 Alzinger Riesling Smaragd Hollerin – Austria, Niederösterreich, Wachau (10/10/2010)
    Fantastic nose, a lot of petrol with a stonier sense than a German riesling – more slate than fruit. Very pleasing in a dry style on the palate – chalky, mineral with enough fruit to give it some zing. Livelier than the gruners tasted before it. 91-93, depending on how much of a fan of the stony style of riesling you are. (92 pts.)
  • 2008 Dönnhoff Schloßböckelheimer Kupfergrube Riesling Spätlese – Germany, Nahe (10/10/2010)
    Gorgeous riesling, with both a creamy sweetness but also enough restraint to show nuance. Served from decanter. My favorite of the day. 92+ (92 pts.)
  • 2008 Schloss Gobelsburg Grüner Veltliner Kammerner Lamm – Austria, Niederösterreich, Kamptal, Langenlois (10/10/2010)
    A beautiful nose, and shows deeper and richer fruit than the basic Nikolaihof tasted before it; this character carries through on the palate as well, where it shows a lot of complexity. You have to be a real gruner fan to justify the price tag, though. 92 (92 pts.)
  • 2009 A.J. Adam Dhroner Hofberger Riesling Kabinett – Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer (10/10/2010)
    One of my go-to wines year in and year out, and this wine delivers as it has in the past few vintages. Sweetish for a kabinett, in a very pleasing style that delivers attractive, fully-formed Continue reading