German wines, even the red spätburgunders (pinot noirs), provide a freshness and liveliness that is perfect for ushering in the new year.
One reliable producer and importer whose products are widely available is P.J. Valckenberg, which selects a varied portfolio to sell in the United States, many at entry-level prices. In addition to rieslings and pinot noirs, there are also a pinot blanc, a gewürztraminer and a lemberger.
So here we go with the first of our 2015 wine reviews:
P. J. Valckenberg Rheinhessen pinot blanc 2013 ($13)
Very nice green fruit, mainly juicy gooseberries, a little soft in the middle but with a crisp finish.
P. J. Valckenberg Pfalz gewürztraimer 2013 ($14)
Good, spicy aromas and flavors of peach and tangerine, pleasantly plump and a tad sweet — a natural with mildly spicy Asian foods.
P. J. Valckenberg “Undone” Rheinhessen dry riesling 2013 ($11)
The tart, crisp side of riesling, with a tin-can minerality in the finish. Not complex, but pleasant everyday drinking.
Prinz zu Salm “Two Princes” Rheinhessen riesling 2013 ($17)
A seductive entry-level wine with lightly sweet, floral flavors upfront and a citrusy finish.
Liebfrauenstift Rheinhessen riesling 2013 ($17)
Another take on the sweet-citrusy profile, with notes of peach, orange, and grapefruit — sweet up front, citrusy in the finish. Enjoyable.
Quite nice — big and rich, yet well-structured with long flavors of peaches and oranges and even a touch of tannins. Like many spätlese wines, it’s low in alcohol — only 8 percent — so you can drink more of it.
Schloss Saarstein Serriger Schloss Saarsteiner riesling spätlese 2013 ($42)
Juicy and rich with pear/woody notes, flavors of stone fruits and citrus and savory touches. Lively and fresh — almost spritzy — yet full-bodied. Alcohol — 8.5 percent.
Karl Schaefer Wachenstein “Sonnentröpfchen” medium dry riesling 2013 ($29)
Its tart peach intensity more than balances its sweetness. Lots of tin-can minerality. Very nice wine from the Nahe.
Pflüger Dürkheimer spätburgunder trocken 2012 ($27)
Lovely spicy-berry nose with dark cherry flavors with spicy, savory undertones. More of a food-pairing pinot than a sipping one.
Castell Casteller Reitsteig spätburgunder 2012 ($54)
Lovely, light pinot from Franken region with floral cherry flavors but savory bitters in the end.
Grafen Neipperg Württemberg lemberger trocken 2012 ($25)
A grape and wine seldom seem outside of Germany, this lemberger has neutral red fruit with lots of savory bitters around the edges. Think carafe wine.