Tart & Fruity

Tonight’s wine selection: Hermann J. Wiemer Johannesburg Riesling, Semi-Dry, 2003.

This wine is a very faint yellow color when poured, with a sweet grapefruit and pear aroma. It’s reminiscent of many other rieslings I’ve tasted. A mouthful of this wine rolls around the tongue with just a hint of viscosity, probably from the relatively high sugar content. There is a noticeable tingle, but no actual bubbles. There is a sweet, fruity taste that reminds me of Red Delicious apples and grapes (oddly enough), with hints of honeysuckle and nectar as the wine grows warmer in the glass. A surprisingly tart and non-sweet grapefruit finish rounds out the experience. The grapefruit nuances fade away ever so slowly, leaving behind a tantalizing balance of sweet and sour on the tongue.

This is an excellent, excellent white wine with enough body to stand up to bold food flavors. I can see enjoying a glass of this stuff with any sort of spicy, savory dish, or perhaps choosing a milder flavor to focus more on the essence of the wine itself. It should be noted, however, that fans of German rieslings should be prepared for a very different taste. The grape variety may be the same, but I’ve noticed that most American rieslings feature a very fruity taste while the Germans introduce more of a mineral nuance to theirs. One is not necessarily better than the other.

During my senior year at Cornell, I spent a couple of afternoons visiting wineries up and down the Finger Lakes. I’m therefore sentimentally biased towards New York wines, but objectively speaking I’ve not always found them to be so great. Not in this case; I would put this wine right at the top of anyone’s list. I’m not even a big fan of sweet wines, but this one has won me over. Speaking of sweetness, be aware that this is a Semi-Dry, but not a late-harvest. You should expect this wine to be sweet, but not cloyingly so. Wine Spectator apparently liked this $15 bottle enough to give it one of their highest ratings, proving that I’m not so crazy after all.

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