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New Year’s Eve Riesling Challenge

January 2, 2012

Every New Year’s Eve, the Cottam Wine Society has a wine challenge. We have done Baco and Syrah, this year it is Riesling.

Riesling is the King of German grapes, yet the best examples are made in Alsace, which is in France. German place names, French speakers, it has been fought over for eons. My great, great whatever grandparents were refugees from the last time the Germans (that time it was the Prussians) invaded. My great Grandfather ended up in Toledo and m Grandmother grew up right by Tony Packo’s hot dogs. The funny thing is that they lived in a German neighbourhood.

The essence of Riesling is acid. Yes to me it have acid or it isn’t good. Add fruit and mineral and life gets even better. When sweetish the acid balances the sugar. This is why warm areas cannot make good Riesling. As the grapes ripen, acid levels fall, and at maturity the acid isn’t there. To make good Riesling, you need cool weather. Thats why California doesn’t do Riesling, but Oregon and Washington State do.

Also the food. Germanic food: look to Bratwurst, pork chops, cabbage, schnitzel…all fatty and/or rich which needs acid to cut through it all. The food dictated the wine. Try Jaeger Schnitzel with Spetzel with a flabby non acidic wine….not good.


So you know where I’m coming from. We chose 10 local Rieslings all VQA Lake Erie North Shore. Sanson (previous winner) was not represented as they haven’t bottled yet and due to logistics, Smith and Wilson was not represented either. All wines represent what is currently available at the winery. There are no barrel samples.

The competitors in the order that the were poured. Note all tasting was blind:


Cooper’s Hawk


Mastronardi Brianje



Pelee Island Tribute

Colio Girls Night Out (this was recommended by Brandan at the winery as there was no CEV available and was surprisingly good)

Erie Shores


Basic notes. The 2010 vintage was not the best for Riesling due to the heat and many were lacking acid. I don’t know why the winemakers did not adjust the wine as it shows.

The results were interesting. 5 wines were scored 1 to 3. 5 never got points. My fav was chosen worst by 2 tasters, though we won’t report who was chosen worst.

tied for 3rd was Crew and Mastronardi

tied for 2nd was Sprucewood and Colio Girls Night out (suprise)

1st was Erie Shores

Interesting results. There were clusters and it seems that the ladies had thier choices while the guys had ours. Its funny as both Gary and I went thru the Master Taster, taught by the same Somellier. May have had some influence.

We had fun and hope next year to do it again with another varietal.





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