Baron von Bernau Piesporter Goldtropfchen Riesling Spatlese 2012

baron-von-bernau-piesporter-goldtropfchen-riesling-spatlese-2012The PAVC crew was excited to see this new Chairman’s Selection touch down in local stores just after New Year’s. After all, it’s not unheard of for laudable and low-priced Rieslings to pass this way.

First, let’s break down the information on the label of the Baron von Bernau Piesporter Goldtropfchen Riesling to get a better sense of potential. The wine’s grapes were grown near the village of Piesport, in central-western Germany on the banks of the Mosel River. More precisely, they come from the steep, slate-filled slopes of the Goldtropfchen vineyard, a highly-regarded growing site in a location commonly affiliated with Germany’s best quality Rieslings. Goldtropfchen translates as “droplets of gold.” Promising, ja?

This selection is a Spatlese, as defined by the uber-important scale of German Rieslings, which determines a wine’s quality based on level of ripeness when the grapes are picked. Spatlese-quality grapes are harvested later in the season – after Kabinett grapes, for instance – which typically yields full, rich, resonant characteristics. The levels of sweetness or dryness of a Spatlese are determined by the winemaking process – specifically the fermentation.

That’s the textbook.

Now, alas, the bottom line: Even the greatest vineyards generate toss-off fruit that doesn’t make it into choice bottlings. My hunch, based on a taste test, is that this is a case of cut-rate grapes bought in bulk.

Released into the glass, the light-bodied wine gives off strong pear aromas, which are matched on the palate during initial sips. Immediately, its presentation is flat and rather simple. Most challenging is the limited acidity, though there is a lasting finish. It left me wanting additional bite, mineral fortitude or backbone – something to hang onto.

I can also say it doesn’t stand up to spice. It’s more of a sipper or a partner to more forgiving seafood or maybe popcorn.

While not an entirely offensive pour, the Baron von Bernau is not on level with the merits of its birthplace. It lacks distinction, a beacon to call out. You’re better off mining for gold elsewhere.

Not-so-sweet relief!
There are more rewarding alternatives for your Mosel Riesling dollar, including the Dr. Loosen Red Slate Dry Riesling 2011. A revolutionary figure in the German wine trade, Loosen brings us this pungent, peach-accented lovely with outsized personality, especially considering the $13.99 price point. With wonderful acidity and mineral qualities, a terrific representative of the region’s hallowed ground.

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