If the name of this event sounds like a Catalina Wine Mixer, then we take it as no coincidence. There was a besuited & besotted four piece band, an overenthusiastic announcer, pre-programmed colored lights and tiaras on pillars of taffeta.
The Mosel Grand Prix 2012 was a regional Mosel blind tasting of six rounds. The night began with two trocken or dry rounds, two halbtrocken or half dry rounds from 9 to 18 grams of residual sugar per liter, and finished with two rounds of feinherb, which was defined for this competition as 19 to 28 grams of residual sugar per liter.
The evening began with announcements, which we didn’t understand, and voting cards, which we didn’t understand. You see, we had been seated separately from our friends, Phillip and Frank, who had promised to act as our translators for the evening, and confined to the far media table. However, luck was a lady that night, and also a bonafide wine queen, who leaned over and asked, “Can I help you?”
As she explained the Grand Prix, a small army of waitstaff filled our four positions for the first round. The wine glasses were large volume with angled shoulders and a swirl design that created texture both inside & outside the glass. They didn’t miss the notice of anyone at our table. Then, the light sequencer fired to signify the beginning of the first round, leaving us to taste our wines in relative color blindness & wondering who among us wanted to be a millionaire.
The first round of trocken was dull, but the third position stood out. Where I had noted a vague generality of ‘salty citrus’ on the palate, Luke nailed the flavor as Crystal Light. (This had, of course, followed a Juicy Fruit nose.) Later, this wine, Weingut Schmitges Erdener Trepchen Spätlese, tied for second place in the trocken category. The other second place wine came from this round, and while it did not score as highly with us, its noticeably floral nose made it memorable. It was Breva of Breva Wein und Weg Qualitatswein.
With a flourish of Rainbow Brite lights, the four glasses were emptied and refilled with trocken round two. As the lights swirled around again signifying the start of tasting, the desire to yell, “Let’s get ready to Riesliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing,” was almost oppressive. However, we restrained ourselves and focused on the task at hand. Riesling is a very versatile grape, and this round found us with two sweet-scented noses, dry on the palate, that cracked the whip with acid in the back end. The Weingut Lönartz-Thielmann Valwigerr Herrenberg Spätlese later won first place, while the other, Weingut Michael Hank Mehringer Zellerberg Spätlese, did not medal.
Dizzy with anticipation, or perhaps it was just the lights, we moved on to the halbtrocken contenders. By now, it had been noticed by the locals that there was a large group of people speaking English: ourselves, our Kiwi friend Jacqui and our friends Phillip and Frank who had since abandoned their table and joined us. The announcer made a special point of switching over to English and polling our origins while throwing in some friendly heckling. Afterward, a local photographer stopped by to take a picture of us with the Wine Queen for the Zell newspaper. Anyway, we digress! The first place in the Halbtrocken round went to a clear winner. Although the wine had a tight nose in the beginning with scents of brown beer, it blossomed into delicate stone fruits in the glass. On the palate, it was rounded with orange blossom and zest characters with a touch of almond. This wine was the Merler Adler Kabinett of Weingut Albert Kallfelz. In his winner’s speech, he celebrated his young winemakers and made an appeal to the audience to embrace young people in winemaking and politics.
The runners-up in the halbtrocken round were not as enjoyed by us, but notable. We thought the nose on the second place, Weingut Göbel Schleyer Erben Cochemer Goldbäumchen Spätlese, was a little odd, giving off light fragrances of fresh oyster mushroom. On the palate, it had more character, of chrysanthemum tea and conventional apples. We actually preferred third place, Weingut Leo Fuchs Pommerner Zeisel Hochgewächs, with a dilute floral character noted as ‘honeysuckle homeopathy’ followed by a more vegetal palate of sweetgrass and ‘candied bamboo.’ (This was wine 16 and the spittoons were far, so please bear with us.)
In a blaze of sequenced glory, glasses were emptied and refilled to fuel the beginning of the feinherb rounds. Jacqui found raspberry notes in the nose of the winner, Weingut Trossen Finesse Trabener Würzgarten Spätlese, while I also found a hint of nettle. Luke, perhaps channeling more brands from the States after being abroad for a year, noted Frosted Mini Wheats. All these were followed by a pleasant flavor of honeyed snapdragons. By the time the second round of Feinherb had rolled around, Luke had lost interest in the tasting stating that no wine stood out from the others so our notes for second place are sparse. Nor are they flattering. The lengthily-named Weingut Caspari-Kappel Gaispfad 100, Selektion aus 100 Jahre alte Reben Spätlese was also the most expensive bottle at the tasting priced at 21€. Third place had a complex nose of citrus, lemon meringue, and spice, white pepper, and savory, camembert. In the glass, the Weingut Riedel Fankeler Rosenberg ‘Hellekaul’ Spätlese played light & sweet on the palate. It ranked first in its round among us.
Strangely, after the awards ceremony, the bottles were not brought out uncovered and no papers were given out listing all of them. At the then open Riesling bar, we did some sleuthing and found a laminated cheat sheet for the staff which we photographed for perpetuity. All wined out, we left the event for a nearby bar while the guests began to dance and the band played on.
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