September 11, 2013

Wine: A perfect specimen, yet an endangered species


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Still, I do not care, directly at least, whether you end up liking and buying the slightly sweet wines that I adore. I really don't. You are not my problem, and you can do whatever you like. In fact, Rieslings made in the steep-slope regions of the Mosel, Nahe and Mittelrhein are so dramatically undervalued right now, untenably so given the quality and age of the vines and the absurdly difficult labor conditions (60-degree slopes!), that I hope you persist in ignoring these wines so I can greedily continue to buy them at these prices, which many Germans have told me won't stay low for much longer.

No, the only reason I'm even talking about German Riesling-with-residual-sugar is that I need for it to remain in the world. For all those wine-growers in Germany who might be producing dry wines to satisfy a deluded international market, I want the "fruity style" (as the Germans themselves call it) to be something they can continue to produce. A scarcity of Riesling Kabinett (the lightest category of off-dry Riesling, usually from the earliest-picked grapes) would be akin to a species of dolphin or leopard going on the endangered species list: sad, because the species is beautiful; tragic, because it is necessary to the health of other species.

Actually, the deeper reason I'm worried has less to do with wine, and more to do with a certain temperament, a way of seeing the world that has more to do with delicacy, softness, grace and charm than with aggression, superfluity, "power." Maybe grace will remain in the world longer than off-dry Riesling will, but I doubt my own capacity to expand in grace, graciousness and gratitude without off-dry Riesling.

There is a barely decent number of German Rieslings currently available in Maine. You ask someone in the business about it, and they all say the same thing: "Oh, I know, we should have more, but it's so hard to sell." This is accurate, if frustrating. Even for those U.S. importers with the greatest German wines (Rudi Wiest, Terry Theise, Frederick Wildman, Domaine Select, among a few others), their Maine distributors offer only a limited selection. This is your fault, but it's mine too, and I hope to atone by focusing in the majority of my next several columns on the excellent Rieslings that are as close to you as your favorite wine shop or restaurant.

Meanwhile, you can avail yourself of a terrific opportunity to taste a few great Mosel Rieslings this very week, for free. I swear I would be pushing this even harder if I didn't work there, but on Friday, Rosemont Market in Yarmouth will host a wonderful ambassador for German wine: Thomas Haehn of Von Schleinitz. (I've written previously about Von Schleinitz in this paper, whose searchable archives are available online.) It's from 4 to 6:30 this Friday afternoon, and it's the only public event scheduled with Mr. Haehn. I'd appreciate your attending, just so we have something to talk about next week. Thanks.

Joe Appel works at Rosemont Market, but not all the wines mentioned in this column are necessarily sold there. His blog is, and he can be reached at:


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