Opinion: War of the Riesling

Drinks: Drinks
Other: Opinion

I was at a thoroughly enjoyable tasting last week with Nik Weis, the große käse at Mosel winery, St Urbans-Hof. It was a great snapshot of Rieslings from three of their vineyards from the impressive 2011 vintage. And as a Brucie Bonus, we got to try a sneaky flight of 2001s as well, which proved just how beautifully top class German Riesling can age.

All in all, I guess it was slightly preaching to the converted – the assorted sommeliers, hacks and wine buyers who turned up were all committed Ries-o-philes – but it was still a worthwhile event for all that.

Nik was passionate about his wines, and a fine ambassador for the region as a whole, but one thing he said really saddened me.

When asked about the country’s overall strategy (as opposed to that of St Urbans-Hof) for getting more people to drink the stuff, he seemed almost resigned to it being an uphill slog with little reward.

‘We just have to sit it out and sooner or later it will pick up,’ he sighed.

For someone who is clearly a can-do kind of person, such pessimism is, I’m sure, a reflection of the fact that his various tastings and events for consumers and trade aren’t being mirrored by anyone else.

I can’t think of any other German producers who have put together a concerted campaign in the UK over the last few years, and there doesn’t seem to be a helluva lot of generic action either.

It’s possible that Wines of Germany is focusing more of its attention on the States, where Riesling is a good deal more fashionable than it is here. But still, the apparent neglect of the UK is depressing.

Particularly since the trend at the moment among consumers is for fresh styles of wine – and (increasingly) for lower levels of alcohol, too.

Practically alone in the wine world, Germany ticks both these boxes, so you could argue that far from ‘sitting it out’ and hoping for a miracle, now is the perfect time for both producers and the generic body to give the UK a bit of a push.

It’s the only way, I’d suggest, to turn around what looks like a slow, inevitable decline.

Or perhaps they’re just hoping for Kim Kardashian to be papped slugging from a bottle of Ockfener Bockstein outside Chinawhite…

About Author

Chris Losh

After five years working on My Weekly magazine (during which time he learned how to write horoscopes and make things out of mince) in 1995 Chris Losh entered the world of drinks writing and, despite all advice from his doctor – and the wishes of most South African winemakers – has stayed there ever since. He began on Wine and Spirit International, editing it for several years before moving on to edit Wine Magazine. Both publications have since gone the way of the Dodo, but he claims to have nothing to do with their demise, and his alibi appears solid, since he was freelance writing for anyone who would pay him at the time. In 2007, he helped to set up both Imbibe magazine and the Sommelier Wine Awards, and has spent much of the last three years eating, drinking, and listening to French sommeliers talk about minerality. In 2009 he was shortlisted for the Louis Roederer Feature Writer of the Year, but didn’t win. Perhaps he should have stuck to horoscopes. And mince.

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