A Tale of Two Rieslings

This is actually a tale of one Riesling, but tasted two different times, and the differences in my tasting notes. In 2007 or 2008 I purchased two bottles of Pierre Sparr’s Altenbourg Riesling 2003 vintage (Alsace, France), and cellared these bottles till I opened one on April 26, 2009 (good thing I have a tasting note book I keep). At that time the wine would have had 6 years of aging. I noted that it was medium lemon/straw in colour. The bouquet and flavours were of oak, apple and honey. I noted that it felt low in acid and quite round in the mouth.

Now forward to June 10, 2010, a little over a year from the last tasting. Has the wine changed much since my April 26, 2009 tasting? There was some change in bouquet and flavour. On the bouquet, I had the honey and oak, but did not detect apple. Instead I wrote aromas of lemon, flowers, honey, and light petrol. On the palate I did not detect the apple flavour, but did get honey, oak, lemon and petrol. I also had the acidity higher and remarked that it was refreshing. So things can change in a bottle quite quickly.

FYI, petrol is an aroma and flavour that comes with the aging of the riesling varietal in the bottle. Sometimes you get it within 2-3 years (I’ve had that with some Australian rieslings), but usually it takes a bit longer. In Australia, I have been told, the preference is not to call the aroma/flavour “petrol” as to them it has a negative connotation. Instead, the preferred term is “hot buttered toast“. Either way it makes the riesling wine more interesting and complex.

I hope you have a note book and write down your wine observations, then check back occasionally as I do to see if you find something interesting to you, and maybe to tell others.