Today we’re going to check out one of my favorite GCV wines every vintage, our brand new 2020 Texas Riesling. Of our four “off-dry” wines, our Riesling is the least sweet, with the ‘20 having a residual sugar of 1.1% (11 grams/liter), which is exactly the same as the lovely 2019. Our ‘20 Cab Blanc (our sweetest) is, by contrast, 4.1% RS.
Along with Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling is one of the world’s three great “noble” white grape varieties. It is by far my favorite, in part due to its incredible versatility.
Sure, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc can be either oak or stainless-aged, and show different characteristics in warm or cold climates, but they are pretty much always very dry. Riesling, on the other hand, can be bone dry (.5% RS or less) or incredibly sweet. German Eiswein’s average, for example, is around 22% RS, and can go as high as 32%.
Before we get to our new Riesling, however, let’s talk a little about how our palates perceive sweetness. Later this evening Kathy and I will be sitting on our porch enjoying some wine.
I’ll be having our new Riesling, and Kath probably the ‘19 Viognier. She’ll try my Riesling and like it, but comment on how really sweet it is, but to me it just has a touch of sweetness with really crisp acidity. What’s going on? The 1.1% RS is a constant, it’s the same for everyone that tastes the wine, but to some it tastes much sweeter. Let’s try a little experiment.
Imagine Kath and I with a six-ounce glass of water in front of each of us. We dissolve exactly 1/2 teaspoon of sugar in each, taste it, and neither of us taste any perceptible sweetness. We start over with fresh glasses of water and this time add a teaspoon of sugar to each, and Kathy perceives some sweetness and I don’t.
We do this two more times before I taste the sugar, and by now it seems really sweet to her. So, Kathy’s palate perceives sugar at a much lower concentration than mine, making her palate more acute, but the point is we all begin to perceive sugar at different levels of concentrations. What’s barely sweet to one person can appear really sweet to another.
Finally, on to our 2020 Riesling. A brilliant, pale yellow/green in color, our 2020 Texas Riesling shows flirtatious aromas of Mandarin orange, Granny Smith apple, apricot, and honeydew melon backed by floral notes of jasmine, honeysuckle, and white carnation. The ABV is a porch-friendly 10.3%.
With just a kiss of sweetness, the palate is elegant and refined with a beguiling hint of minerality. Fruit and acid are in perfect harmony and skate to a clean, crisp finish. The taste of this wine reminds me of a song I loved as a kid, written by Pete Seeger and the Weavers called “Kisses Sweeter than Wine”.
Let’s serve this enticing beauty at about 45* with some spring rolls and a spicy nuoc cham sauce, which is the classic Vietnamese fish sauce (nuoc nam) with added red pepper flakes and spices.
We’ll see you on the flip side…