Algarve Wine Society tastes German Riesling wines

MEMBERS OF the Algarve Wine Society gathered at the Pestana Levante Hotel in Armação de Pêra recently to taste six Riesling wines, from the private cellar of the society’s new managing director, Erla Walther.

After tasting and comparing five dry Rieslings, from the Kloster Eberbach 2004 vintage, members were given the opportunity to taste a late harvested 2001 Riesling Auslese Trocken, similar to an Alsatian Grand Cru Riesling. Most members were left in no doubt that the noble Riesling is one of the most versatile of the world’s grape varieties and perfect for refreshing drinking during the spring and early summer months.

Wine expert and writer Rosalind Cooper, on a recent visit to the Algarve, said: “A generation ago, Hock and Moselle were bywords for everyday drinking. They were the Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay of that era. The sad result of this change in taste and marketing techniques has been the eclipse of the wonderful, complex and fascinating Riesling grape.” Robert Parker, famous American wine expert, said: “Riesling accounts for only 20 per cent of the vineyards in Germany, but it produces about 95 per cent of that country’s finest wines. Riesling produces some of the world’s most complex whites and it achieves its greatest pinnacles of success in Germany.”

Erla explained the quality classification of German wines, which is very different from the system used by Portuguese and French producers. She also explained that German wine labels are very informative. While many other countries will list only the producer, vintage, region and country, German labels will state the quality level of the wine, the grape and the vineyard, and will give a style or taste indication.

Future Algarve Wine Society events include the AGM and gala black-tie dinner on February 25, a tasting of the northern Alentejo’s best reds on March 15 and a gourmet dinner at Jardim do Vale in Almancil on April 7.

For more information about the Algarve Wine Society, or to apply for membership, contact Secretary Larry Hampton, at address Quinta da Mesquita, Cerro da Mesquita C.P. 310-A, 8150-025 São Brás de Alportel, Portugal, or via e-mail at [email protected]