What do you get when three of the biggest names and characters in the Riesling world get together? either a total madhouse or in this case a revolution.
Recently Ernie Loosen from Dr Loosen, Germany, Etienne Hugel from Hugel et Fils, Alsace and Peter Barry from Jim Barry, Australia visited Macau to promote the wonderful grape that is known as Riesling as an unity. We had the pleasure to taste this wonderful grape from three different and distinct style, regions, terroir and climate. Known as the wine critic’s and sommeliers favourite white wine grape but still to convince the general public or consumer of it’s many attributes. These three legends of the wine industry hope to change that perception.
Ernie Loosen shows how a good archaeologist could become one of the best white wine makers in the world. Known as the “Indiana Jones of the wine world” his vision and uncompromising pursuit of quality are not only reflected by his wines, but also by Decanter Magazine that named him ‘Man of the Year’ in 2005. Decanter magazine described Ernie as “The Riesling King” but I describe him as a workaholic genius who is one of the world’s great wine characters.
The Dr. Loosen estate has been in the same family for over 200 years with vines averaging fifty years old in the top-rated vineyards of the middle Mosel. The best type of soil is with blue slate, the wines from the famous Wehlener Sonnenuhr (sundial from Wehlen) has virtually no topsoil, only broken and weathered shards of the purest blue slate in the Mosel valley. This purity is reflected in the wines, giving much longer life and better balance because of the minerality. Ernie owns vines that are well over 120 years old and all are on original rootstock. Ernie adds “Old vines results in higher concentration of richness that adds to the complexity of the wines and should be treasured”.
Founded in 1639, Hugel & Fils is one of the most famous names in Alsace wine. Outside of Alsace, as the ambassador of the region, Hugel & Fils has established Alsace wines as some of the finest in the world. Inside Alsace, it has lead the region not only in terms of quality, but also in how Alsace wine is made. Hugel pioneered the making of Vendange Tardive (late harvest) wines in Alsace, also wrote the legislation for the category. Hugel & Fils is a member of the elite international “Primum Familiae Vini” (First Family of Wine) Group.
At the helm is a man in love Etienne Hugel and he told me that he preferred to call his white wine “Gold Wine”, in my mind that was not just because most of Etienne wines show a bright and shining gold colour but also because of his unrivalled remarkable knowledge and contribution to Alsace winemaking that is indeed pure gold.
Alsace is a special region in France. As the driest wine region in the country, it’s microclimate caused by the distance, which separates it from maritime influence, and also by the protection of mountains Vosges. This climate enables the Riesling grapes to ripen slowly to full maturity, giving the wine great finesse of aroma and unequalled intensity.
In 1959, Jim Barry and his wife Nancy purchased their first property on the northern outskirts of the Clare Valley in South Australia with a long term view to build a successful wine business. “Today our business is international – but one thing won’t change, the quality of our wines. At the end of the day, the wines are what matters”.
Sadly, Jim passed away in 2004. “Sometimes it takes longer than a lifetime to do a lifetime’s work – it’s now up to my children.” The legacy has been passed to his second son Peter, who took over as the Managing Director and is at the forefront and nurturing this legendary wine estate.
“Tell everyone you love Riesling and they’ll know you’re very clever” mentions Peter casually. A man who is lively and passionate and tells you exactly how it is, a date with Peter Barry is never a dull moment.
Clare Valley is one of the Australia’s most prestigious premium wine regions and famous for Riesling. Located 40 miles north of the Barossa Valley, a series of sub valley’s ranging from 250 – 480m above sea level with many micro climates and ideal winter rainfall and a Mediterranean climate. With all these conditions, the famous vineyards of Jim Barry wines have the potential to develop the wide range of fruit flavours possible in the Riesling grapes.
Dr Loosen “Wehlener Sonnenuhr” Riesling Kabinett 2012
This wine comes from the Mosel valley’s famous “Sundial” vineyard with vibrant, late-picked Riesling from the steep, slate-covered slopes. 2012 vintage is purity and very well balance with only 7.5 % Alc. The ideal weather during harvesting gives wine enormous fruit aroma and rich texture such as stone fruit, peach and apricot. Blue slate soil was expressed in this wine with complexity and depth of minerality.
Hugel et Fils Tradition Riesling 2008
The principal quality of this Riesling is its freshness still, highlighted by a bright and brilliant colour with predominant pale green hints. For this Riesling Tradition, it has floral aromas of citrus fruit like lime or grapefruit, which are frank and direct, with an overall attractive freshness. This wine is refreshingly and easy to enjoy, as its lively, ripe acidity awakens both the taste buds and the appetite.
Jim Barry The Forita Riesling 2013
A benchmark dry Clare Valley Riesling with steely, mineral notes which are distinctive to the area. A very impressive dry Riesling which has a pristine clarity, line and length with augmented intense flavour of passion-fruit, lemon, lime, with background nuances of guava and hints of petrol. This wine is imminently slurpable upon release but also having the pedigree to last into the next ten years.