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Classy Rheinhessen

Will Motley

Never mind what you think about sweet Riesling. I don't mean to sound like a jerk, but it's probably based on a lot of bad assumptions and even worse marketing tricks. Sweet doesn't have to mean cloying — no, sweet shouldn't mean cloying. Not with these wines. Think about biting into an apple. You're not looking to dip it in caramel sauce, but sometimes you want a granny smith and sometimes you want a pink lady. Depends on the day.

Riesling is like that. Germain whites in general are like that.

This weekend we're going to take a look at what that means by taking in a single region of Germany: the Rheinhessen.

To explicate the Rheinhessen we've chosen two wineries, two grapes and two styles. These are not wines that march toward you with banners blazing, they're wines that stroll down the sidewalk with an easy gait. They make you feel like, just for the moment, life really is that simple. Smile, take a breath, walk slow.

The Rheinhessen plain lies just west of Frankfurt. It's warmer than some of the other regions of Germany, and less steep. The soils are typically a mix of limestone and clay. Compared to Mosel, where vines have to dig for yards through slate to find moisture, the vines here have it easy, the fruit develops a full figure, and the wine moves with easy, carefree gestures from dry to sweet and back again.

Weingut Geil
Geil makes basic Rieslings in both the trocken (dry) and slightly sweet style. Slightly, meaning just perceptibly, meaning the wine is not about being sweet, it just wears a little sweetness the way sunshine lingers in a head of hair. These are wines that capture the essential aspects of the place, the grape and the style without frills. Easy to know, fun to talk with. They also make a slightly sweet style of another grape, Scheurebe (SHOY-ray-bay). This has more planty, savory, salty type flavors than the Riesling, like it has an affinity with certain Meditteranean wines.

Gysler lies in the southern part of the region. They make some seriously good country wines that we've often carried in liter bottles. Perfect wines for porch sitting, for outdoor eating. This round we're showing off something new: a Scheurebe trocken. It's dry, herbaceous, a little lemony. Tasting it contrast to the slightly sweet, kabinett Scheurebe from Geil should give you a way to see how the two styles differ, not in the abstract, not as ideas, but in reality, for your tongue and your judgment.

Saturday June 13
@ WWM 3pm-5pm

Geil Trocken
Bechtheim, Germany

Geil Kabinett
Bechtheim, Germany

Geil Scheurebe Kabinett
Bechtheim, Germany

Gysler Scheurebe Trocken
Weinheim, Germany