I love a good Riesling, but actually, I really do not know too much about it. But I know I enjoy most in a Riesling that is subtly sweeten, floral, mineral, crisp, slightly nutty and maybe with touches of oiliness and kerosene. Those difficult-to-remember-and-pronounce-and-impossible-to-spell German words that describe the degree of sweetness are not exactly helpful in getting to know them better. But nonetheless, I try my best to take note. But I often will go by my personal taste and how well it pairs with Chinese and Singapore local cuisine. So when I received an invitation to attend a lunch tasting session of Van Volxem wine paired with Dim Sum, I RSVP’d right away. What an excellent opportunity to get to know Riesling better, and I have soft spot for Dim Sum.
I am normally very good with timing, but this day being a work day, I was so caught up with my to-do list that I left the office later than I anticipated. I walked into the private dining room of the Chinese Restaurant and was greeted by a chest. He stuck out his hand and shook mine, and I looked up. Wow, what a tall man.
May I introduce to you, Mr. Roman Niewodniczanski, one of most passionate and dedicated proprietor and winemaker. A man not afraid to speak his mind, and immensely proud that German Riesling once commanded the price on par if not higher than Chateau Latour, and DRC.
Quickly, I took my seat next to him and the first Van Volxem wine was served. It was a sparkling, 1900 Brut, and I was pleasantly surprised by it’s honey notes laced with lemon tart flavours. The dryness was quite elegant with fine minerality and firm acidity. This bottle is not available in the market anymore. How nice of Roman to hand carried this only bottle for the lunch.
With our palate nicely fizzed, we began the Riesling tasting. Here are the ones that stood out for me.
The Scharzhofberger was really impressive. The general texture was dry, which took me by surprise particularly for wines from the Saar and Mosel region. I was anticipating lots of sweetness, fatness and astringent-like. The 2011 revealed mineral like sweetness, dusty, nutty, flinty framed by aromatic floral notes. The 2012 had more fruit structure but maintained a certain amount of restraint in sweetness that was actually very alluring and elegant. But the 2009 took my breath away with drops of citrus creaminess (and I was thinking of lemon honey curd) that echoed lushness, balance and finesse. This vintage found a way to my wallet.
The Altenberg Alte Reben Riesling’s best asset was its aromas and liveliness. The 2011 had the best aromas by far of honey, slate, mint and, not a bad thing, pork crackling. It took me a while to sip it because I could not stop smelling it. The 2012’s only fault was its youth. It was lively, playfully sweet but cool at the same time. Not quite ready.
All Van Volxem Riesling had the dryness that is elegant and extremely enjoyable. It was even more enjoyable and amusing to hear how Roman compared his wine to 1989 Haut Brion or some of the best Montrachet. Really? Seriously? But Roman is definitely quite a character and luckily, I took notes of some of his interesting comments: “I don’t care about point”, “Our wines are too elegant for pig” (I was not sure what he was referring to.