Americans are scared of riesling.

It often comes in strange bottles with long Teutonic words on it, and the most common reaction I get from civilians when I suggest it is a wrinkled nose and the comment "I don't like sweet wines."

Well, in the first place they ain't all sweet (try one from Alsace or Austria, or look for 'Trocken' on the label of Germans), and even if there is some sweetness in German riesling, the wines can be exquisitely balanced with crisp acidity and deep richness of flavor that makes them a perfect match for many dishes.

A brief sketchy note on those confusing German terms: the top level of German rieslings (called QmP or 'Qualitatswein mit Pradikat') are organized in terms of the ripeness level of the grapes--with ripeness usually coming across as sweetness--going from Kabinett (least ripe) to Spätlese (riper) to Auslese (riper still) and finally Beerenauslese and Trockenbeerenauslese, dessert-wine sweet and that plus botrytis-affected, respectively.

Sometimes American wineries call riesling Johannisberg riesling. Don't ask.

A.J. Adam Riesling Dhronhofberger Tholey 2002 (Bury My Heart at 360 Van Brunt): This smells sulfurous too, are we in trouble again? No, it blows off fairly quickly, leaving some shy lemon-vinyl aromatics, not much going on, aromatically speaking. It does, however, have more presence in the piehole--quiet at first, but bright-tasting whitefloral fruit wells up in the midpalate in a rather viscous, moderately sweet wave, finishing whispery-quiet once more. The last impression is an almost ethereal flickering-out that has me going back to start the ride over again. Very interesting, a lot of mouthswoop in this wine, perhaps the evening's zenith of mouthswoopery. (1/05)

Babich Riesling Marlborough 2002(Oddball Grapes): Pale. Smells light and a little unusual, white floral hints laced with celery seed and white pepper. Tastes more conventionally rieslingesque, dry and delicate, a whispery-flowery little wine that is small and innocuous but also rather cheerful and distinct, just being itself and not trying to Bruce L. WOW me. Nice, quiet sipper. (7/27/03)

Domaine Barmès Buecher Riesling Leimenthal 1998 (Viva Mexico!): Medium to medium-dark straw color, light honeysuckle-sweet smells, white honey and traces of beanbag chair. Bit of an oiliness to the mouthfeel, it's rather round and ponderous but nevertheless quite amiable and eager to please. Kind of fun, kind of happy, kind of inconsequential. (3/01)

Domaine Barmès Beucher Riesling Rosenberg 1997 ($20)(Jason Takes Manhattan): Pale tan color; slightly cheesy-funky on the nose, with lemon-stoniness under the odd dairy note. Weighty in the mouth, a bit heavy in fact, with lemon-limey and green-apple tart fruit swimming up through a rather ponderous mouthfeel and coming to a lemon-tangy finish. (5/00)

Weingut Geheimer Rat Dr. von Basserman-Jordan Riesling Deidesheimer Paradiesgarten Kabinett 2000 ($15) (Winterfest 2003): My god, what a long name. Anyway, smells light and airy, white honey and vinyl hints over a rainwatery minerality. Crisp and bright, flavorful without being dense, zippy acidity, more mineral-driven than overtly fruited--maybe some tart green Granny Smith appliness. Slighty angular, with just the tiniest hint of sweetness to cushion the stoniness. Nice. In a small way. Good, bright little riesling. Tangy-tart, almost puckery finish. (2/03)

Friedrich Baumann Riesling Oppenheimer Sacktrager Beerenauslese 1985 ($30/.375)(Farewell My Lovely): Warm ripe mangoes in a stone bowl, hints of orange rind, very fruity, no overt gasoline. Jen is relieved, as she usually isn't a big fan of typical gasoliney rieslings. "Fruuuuuuiiit..." she sighs. Tastes yellow-brown, light caramel, medium-plus sweetness, plenty of spine, rich and glyceriney and nicely developed. Tasty stuff. (6/01)

Bedell Cellars Riesling North Fork of Long Island Late Harvest 2000(NEVER Say 'Spit'): Quite fragrant, baked apple pie spice, golden raisin and a touch of lemon zest. A sip, and it's weighty and sweet, almost goopy. The acidity is there, but after the first couple of sips it's just too thick for me, albeit quite flavorful and expressive. Others like it more, but others aren't writing this, are they? (4/03)

Belle Pente Winery Riesling Willamette Valley 2002 ($15) (Oregon): Lightly floral aromatics, gardenia and white peach, wet rocks. Just a hint of sweetness, a light wine, bright and crisp. Not a lot of strength, but fine purity and delicacy. "Charming" comes to mind, and "lacy." (5/04)

Belle Pente Winery Riesling Willamette Valley Vendange Tardive 2002 ($18/.375 ml) (Oregon): From thirty-five year old vines. Bright and tropical smelling, pineapple and white grapefruit, whiteflowers and lime zest. Sweet, crisp and juicy-fruity, relatively lightweight but very flavorful. Not a wine with great depth, but happily fresh and flickery-complex enough to keep me sipping happily away. There's apparently a good dose of botrytis, but it's not really manifesting itself in a way that I can sense. (5/04)

Belle Pente Winery Riesling Willamette Valley Vendange Tardive 2002 ($18/.375 ml) (Memorial Day): A breath of cool mountain air after the sticky-brown Dal Forno. Pale and light, smelling of peaches and rainwater, with a hint of lime zest. This comes off a little more citric than the last few bottles, lemon and grapefruit notes surfacing in the middle and lingering on the finish, but it's the same lightly sweet, lacy wine. Fresh and crystalline stuff, a little diffuse and lightweight but quite charming. (5/31/04)

Belle Pente Winery Riesling Willamette Valley Vendange Tardive 2002 ($18/.375 ml) (Liberation Celebration): Yikes, this has aged with the rapidity of... um, something that ages fairly rapidly. Honeyed orange with a touch of vinyl where a year ago it was pineapple-whiteflowery. With age has come a bit more substance, it seems less ethereal, although conversely more earthbound. Medium-sweet, still has nice balance, drink up like we did. (11/6/05)

Dr. Paully Shore Bergweiler Riesling Spätlese 1996 (Kane Manor): Pale straw with hints of amber; mild nose, soft and fresh, notes of rainwater & very light lemon/breadiness. Not as sweet as the Grunhauser, nor as tangy, but equally balanced, if on a narrower range of flavors. Nice finish; soft mineral/citrus notes hang out for a little while and chat. A good effort--after Encino Man and Jury Duty I'm surprised at Dr. Paully's deft touch here. (7/24/99)

Bedell Cellars Riesling North Fork of Long Island Late Harvest 2000 (NEVER Say 'Spit'): Quite fragrant, baked apple pie spice, golden raisin and a touch of lemon zest. A sip, and it's weighty and sweet, almost goopy. The acidity is there, but after the first couple of sips it's just too thick for me, albeit quite flavorful and expressive. Others like it more, but others aren't writing this, are they? (4/03)

Beringer Late Harvest Johannisberg Riesling California 1993 : Dark gold-amber; orange-rind and honey on the nose; Yow, this is just sweet as hell and gloppy as pancake syrup. Man. No discernable acidity to swim against the tide of all that gooey sweetness. Phew. Tiring. (9/17/99)

Beringer Late Harvest Johannisberg Riesling California 1993 (VS Eats at Joe's): Deep brown-orange color spritzy apricot-honey nose. Sweet as all hell, viscous and goopy, but, unlike the last time I had this, this bottle seems to have some small amount of acidity. Still not enough, mind, you, but last time I had this I thought it was like drinking pancake syrup. Victor, tasting some of this and having to listen to everyone bitch about it, scolds the assembled geeks for being too picky and is met only with plaintive 'would you scold a fish for being too wet?' looks. (11/7/99)

Berncasteler Doctor H. Thanisch Riesling Spätlese 1998 (No Hook): Pale straw color. Smells of lemon and beanbag chair, textbook riesling right off. Tastes lightly sweet with good structure and integration, a solid young German riesling of some kind, very pleasant but workmanlike. I dunno. Some young German riesling, okay? (6/7/03)

Leon Beyer Riesling Alsace 1996 ($9.99): Light, grassy, limey nose, hint of aluminum. Crisp & tart & light. Not a lot of character, but zingy & pleasant. Unripe green apple taste lingers awhile on the finish. (1/99)

Weingut Joseph Biffar Riesling Deidesheimer Herrgottsacker Spätlese Nontrocken 1998 (Adlers): Smells of ripe yellow apples, lemon and beanbag chair. Tastes pretty sweet, plump baked-apple fruit with a lemony zing, rounded mouthfeel. A pleasantly Rubenesque little riesling. Kane is having his usual "This wine has PLENTY of acidity!" argument, this time with Greg. Greg is right--it has enough, barely. (9/2/02)

Bonny Doon Vineyard Pacific Rim Dry Riesling 2002 ($10) (Boatloads I): Pale straw-lemon color. Lightly aromatic, vinyl and gardenia over yellow apple. Decent heft, tastes slick and shiny, a little bit plasticky on the finish, but nice crispness with spry acidity and decent balance. Not a stunner, but you could do a lot worse for ten bucks. SCREWCAP! [Buy again? Maybe.] (8/04)

Georg Breuer Rüdesheim Riesling Rheingau Estate 1995(Heat): Light vinyl and honey on the nose, tastes lean and tart and thin, all structure, no fruit. Not much going on. (6/16/01)

Doctor Bürklin-Wölf Riesling Forster Kabinett 1998 ($12)(Wasted Hours): Pale straw color, with a slight greenish cast. Smells rich and white-grapefruity with a hint of honeydew. Quite ripe and marginally sweeter than your average Kab, there's more grapefruit when it hits the tongue, quite rich, tangily fruity but middle-of-the-road acidity. This one isn't terribly layered, but it's rich and decent and flavorful. (7/15/00)

Dr. Bürklin-Wölf Riesling Wächënhëimër Spatlësë 1998 (A.P.#36-27-35)(Iron Winegeeks): Herr Doktor says open wide and say ahhh... Pale lemon-yellow color; light nose, honey & white flowers with a touch of beanbag chair, soft and quietly aromatic. More vivid in the mouth, with nice tart green-apple & lemon-honey flavors, slightly round, slightly unctuous, with a good balance of crispness and sugar. Pleasant and tangy, not terribly distinctive but very decent and well-crafted. (2/19/00)

J.J. Christoffel Erben Riesling Erdener Treppchen Kabinett 1998 ($17)(A Discreet Jeebus): This is riesling done right, with an airy lime-mineral nose; when you sip this one you know you've tasted something--the crisp acidity dives right under your tongue and squeezes your glands, followed by a pleasantly light hint of sweetness and finishing with a lemon-limey hum. Racy, strong and light, this J.J. is Dy-No-Mite. (11/20/00)

J.J. Christoffel Riesling Erdener Trepchen Auslese 2001 (Axis Wines): Greenfruity nose, starfruit and lime rind, a lean and zingy citrus smellage. Lightly fizzy, with only a hint of sweetness, the wine has decent acidity but the fruit has some puppyfat and comes off a little pleasingly plump, soft at the edges and light. Unusual, a Kabinett-style Auslese Petillant. vandergriff keeps putting his thumb into the neck of this bottle, shaking it fiercely, then popping it. I'm not sure why, but he's certainly enjoying himself. (11/3/02)

J.J. Christoffel Riesling Urzinger Würzgarten Kabinett 2000 ($18) (New Value Region): makes the rounds, smelling lightly of minerals and white flowers. Nice at first, but the usual zip isn't there, the central acidity has gone missing. There is something vague and lazy going on in this wine halfway through, but just as I am about to accuse it of sloth it rallies with a tangy white-coral finish. I'm a little miffed nonetheless, as I suspect this is a slacker at heart. (12/22/01)

J.J. Christoffel Riesling Urzinger Würzgarten Spätlese 2000 ($22) (Casus Bello): Airy lime rind and mineral nose, light flavors of pine and peach bubble up in the midpalate along with just a hair too much sweetness and just a hair too little acidity. A young, slightly out of balance wine with good stuffing, it probably doesn't help that it comes after the more focused Donnhoff. (3/02)

Columbia Crest Riesling Columbia Valley 'Two Vines' 2004 ($7) (Boatloads VI): Why only two? Which two? Hm. At any rate, it smells a bit like riesling in a West Coast way, light pineapple, vinyl and lemon-peach hints, shy breezy aromatics. Tastes lightly sweet, gentle little riesling without a lot of anything (focus, character), but amiable and kind of happy-tasting. A wee apertif kind of wine, gently sweet and likeable in a plain-Jane way. Doesn't have a lot going on, but it's cheap, it has some varietal character, and it goes down smooth. FAKE CORK! [Buy again? Yeah, I think so.] (12/05)

Kurt Darting Rieslaner Pfalz Dürkheimer Nonnengarten Auslese 2001 (Axis Wines): More robust fruit here, very ripe Bartlett pear and yellow apple fruit laced with a lipstick-vinyl undertone. The mouthfeel is rather weighty, there is a little too much sweetness. Not bad, but simple and sweet. (11/3/02)

Kurt Darting Riesling Pfalz Dürkheimer Michelsberg Kabinett 2000 ($12) (Winterfest 2003): Pale gold color. Smells fun, hints of honey, yellow apple, mandarin orange and tangerine. Lightly sweet first impression, then zing! sour lemondrop acidity dives under my tongue and makes me pucker up and clench. Rich and tight, laserlike focus and a slick laminated mouthfeel. (2/03)

Kurt Darting Riesling Pfalz Dürkheimer Michelsberg Kabinett 2001 ($13) (Axis Wines): Airy, minerally nose, green apples and rainwater. Tastes lean and crisp, almost sharp. Bright and tangy, with racy tart fruit cushioned by a light sweetness. A taut, wiry wine without a trace of babyfat that slices through the late-evening torpor and zaps my tastebuds back to life. Fine stuff, maintaining the standards of the past few years. (11/3/02)

Kurt Darting Riesling Pfalz Dürkheimer Michelsberg Kabinett 2001 ($13) (Drunken Hawaiian Holidays): Pale straw color. Smells of tart yellow apple, minerals and lemon. Tastes bright and robust, big and sweet and quite tart. A tightly-wrapped wine of some heft that needs time to loosen up. (5/03)

Kurt Darting Riesling Pfalz Dürkheimer Michelsberg Kabinett 2004 ($14) (Boatloads VI): Vinyl, peach blossom hints over crisp yellow apple. Broad-beamed for a Kabinett in the usual Darting manner, a good dose of sugar and the usual gland-grabbing acidity, perhaps a bit more mellow than in some years. Smooth, glossy-shiny mouthfeel. The finish turns very limeskinny, the bright appliness fading before the pleasantly sour citricity. Not a lot of subtlety or finesse, but plenty of flavor and character. SCREWCAP! [Buy again? Yup.] (12/05)

Kurt Darting Riesling Pfalz Ungsteiner Bettelhaus Kabinett 2001 ($13) (Drunken Hawaiian Holidays): Pale straw color. Smells of tart yellow apple, minerals and lemon. Tastes bright and robust, big and sweet and quite tart. A tightly-wrapped wine of some heft that needs time to loosen up. (5/03)

Kurt Darting Riesling Pfalz Ungsteiner Bettelhaus Kabinett 2003 ($14) (Boatloads V): Jeez, this is Kabinett? I'm relieved I didn't pick up the spŠtlese. Ripe semitropical aromatics, pineapple, touch of guava, lemon and lilikoi, wow. Tastes a bit lighter than it smells, Darting's usual acidity helps out here, but this may be the most overbearing 9% alcohol wine I've ever had. Light sweetness, smooth mouthfeel but not quite the acidity you'd want, it's a small, broad wine that needs more grapple and cut. I'm rather ambivalent, because there's a lot of flavor here and I kind of like the tropicality, but it's just so kinda freaky-deaky. SCREWCAP! [Buy again? Er, I suppose.] (10/05)

Kurt Darting Riesling Pfalz Ungsteiner Herrenberg Spätlese 1996 ($18)(Yo-ho for Pinot): Pale straw color. Bright, light nose, chalky lemon hints, yellow apple, fresh and spry-smelling. Tastes like it smells, bright, light and nimble in the mouth, lightly sweet with plenty of acidity, closing with a soft lemon-apple finish. Not a deep or profound wine by any means, but very happy and smooth and another QPR success for this house, which has begun to take up more and more room in my cellar recently. (3/19/00)

Deiss Riesling Altenberg de Bergheim VT 1995 (Manuel and Josie): Pale tan color. A lamp-oil slick on a fast-running stream with a gravel bed; racy, stony, hints of white flowers and a trace of lemon rind. Lean, slightly tangy fruit with a Moëlleux-like level of sweetness (BA-minus? Spätlese-plus?) and plenty of fast-moving acidity. Very nice, with a long stony-tangy finish. (4/23/00)

Dirler Riesling Alsace Spiegel 1998 (Lies, Damned Lies, and Tail Meat): Smells shy, vinyl and more vinyl, lemon rind and rocks underneath it all. Comes at you rather squishily, seems puppyish right up front, with a touch of sugar plumping out the stony yellowfruit. But in the middle the structure shows up--better late than never--and the lemoncitric buzz it brings is what lingers longest at the end. Nice wine, a little two-ring circus in my mouth. (7/06)

Dönnhoff Riesling Niedesheimer Hermanshohle Auslese 2001 ($35/.375) (Island Jeeb): Mmmm, smells lusciously tropical, an island fruit salad of mango, guava and lilikoi with an underlying minerality. A sip, and it's quietly stony and tight in the piehole at first, but blossoms in the middle, the rich fruit and medium-light sweetness opening up just enough to let you see the potential here. A smooth, harmonious wine of great character with a sense of fun. Fine, fine stuff. (3/23/03)

Dönnhoff Riesling Niedesheimer Hermanshohle Spätlese 2001 (Axis Wines): Pretty, happy nose--lime rind, white honey, white peach and a crystalline minerality, with quartz and flecks of gardenia orbiting the aromatic core. A sip, and it's crisp and compact at the center but expands flavorfully outwards and turns slightly wacky-floral at the edges. The first impression is of lightness, the strength and flavor sneaks up on me quickly and stealthily and leaves me shaking my head wonderingly. Very, very impressive, a strikingly complete wine that has all its parts melded into a beautiful whole, on a par with the extraordinary 1998. A Bruce L. WOW (not affiliated with Bruce L. WOW, Inc., a Netherlands Antilles Corporation). (11/3/02)

Dönnhoff Riesling Norheimer Dellchen Kabinett 2000 (Casus Bello): After the vague Soucherie this is a pleasure. Bright, rocky nose, crystalline quartz and sweet gardenia. An initial green apple-mineral rush flows into a nimbly focused middle, nervy and crisp. Young, tight and primary but prettily cohesive, a fine package. (3/02)

Dönnhoff Riesling Oberhäuser Brücke Spätlese 1998 (Jason Takes Manhattan): I take a sniff, and concerns of the world melt away: it's a pale, pale wine and smells of wet gravel in a stream bed, bright and stony-rainwatery. I can't resist a quick gulp, and it's pretty and oh so gulpable on a hot Manhattan night, lightly sweet, insouciantly acidic and racily nimble and tight. Not a weighty wine, this one cuts through the dust of the day effortlessly and lightly but gives the impression of wiry, lean strength as it goes down. (5/00)

Dönnhoff Riesling Oberhäuser Brücke Auslese 1995 (Axis Wines): Medium gold color. Smells lightly of gasoline (what our British friends would call "petrolly"), along with streaks of ripe mango and dried apricot. Tangy and sweet but strangely hollow in the middle with a sense of dilution and of being old before its time. I don't really know this wine--it's either aging too fast or this is a damaged bottle. (11/3/02)

Dönnhoff Riesling Oberhäuser Brücke Auslese 1998 (Prodigal Hawaiians): Beautiful. A mountain stream running over the rocks, with two flowers decorating the scene. (1/12/00)

Dönnhoff Riesling Oberhäuser Brücke Spätlese 2000 (Eve of Chenin/Day of Satan): Quiet-smelling, soft and whispery yellowfruit, ginger and white coral. Elegant in the piehole, lightly creamy-sweet and softly expressive, a shy little stoneflowery wine. Jay bought this at some auction where they put a cute little birdy sticker on the bottle. I'm not sure why he feels compelled to point this out, but at any rate it's a cute sticker. Small, lightly sweet and utterly charming, a shy little riesling that's winningly subtle. (12/31/03)

Dönnhoff Riesling Oberhauser Brücke Spätlese 2000 ($25) (Memorial Day): Quiet and bright smelling, yellow apple and white flowers, traces of vinyl and coral chips. Rather vague tasting, small and feathery-sweet: pleasant, charming and indistinct. (5/31/04)

Dönnhoff Riesling Oberhauser Brücke Spätlese 2000 (Memorial Day): This bottle comes equipped with the little white Chiquita-style sticker that apparently signifies it's extra-expensive or extra-pointy or something extra. At first it smells and tastes pretty much exactly like the last one, but with some overexamining there's a bit more definition here, a little more weight and sweetness, more vinyl: it's still a shy, understated wine, but a slightly more robust one. I think I like the other one better, but this is nice too. (5/31/04)

Dönnhoff Riesling Oberhauser Leistenberg Kabinett 1999 ($22) (Foodies 2): Mmm, airy-minerally smellies, flickers of honeysuckle, lemon and chalk. Tastes loose and lightly creamy, spreading slowly across my tongue. I could quibble about the diffuse quality, the lack of focus, but I'm enjoying it too much to bother. A pretty, easygoing wine that just begs to be sipped and savored. (2/03)

Dönnhoff Riesling Oberhauser Leistenberg Kabinett 1999 ($22) (Misplaced Weekend I): Light and flowery smelling: yellow apples, lemon and gardenia, sweet and quiet in my nostrils. Equally light and flowery tasting: creamy lemon-apple, small and loose with just a hint of sweetness, a very pretty little wine with more charm than substance. A fine match with the salt-free vegetarian ham hock soup. (5/2/04)

Dönnhoff Riesling Oberhauser Leisterberg Auslese 2001 (Axis Wines): Lacks the laserlike focus and completeness of the Spätlese, although the aromatic and flavor profile is the same--lime and rocks, hints of white flowers. It's just a bit looser and more diffuse, perhaps a touch sweeter. Still a very nice wine with some tangy lipsmacking citrusity in the middle, but suffers from coming right after the NH. (11/3/02)

Dönnhoff Riesling Schlössböckelheimer Fëlsënberg Spätlese 2002 (Bastard): Oh. Oh my. Smells of lemon-peach perfume, underpinned with white rocks and glacier water. Smooth and supple, with plush edges around a tight core. Lovely mouthgrab, just whispers sweet nothings to my tongue, then finishes sweet and fruity and long and long and long again. Glorious young riesling, fascinatingly light and lithe yet with a deep inner purity, a worldbeater. At about eight percent alcohol I could drink two bottles of this at a sitting. I scan the table and look under Brad's bed, but sadly don't see a second bottle. Curses. A wonderful match with Kane's pumpkin risotto; frankly, it would be a wonderful match with a bowl of damp hay. (11/23/03)

Dönnhöff Riesling Schlössböckelheimer Küpfergrübe Spätlese 1998 ($30) (Bordeaux Bash): Seeing this label the French bottles in the vicinity immediately throw down their arms, but I find it pleasant and nonaggressive, mellower than I expected. It has good density and rich fruit, but isn't terribly grabby in the mouth. Lightly sweet, with lemony veins in a stony-vinyl base, and a sustained lemony gulpfollow. Very nice, if a bit on the soft, easygoing side. (12/11/00)

Dönnhoff Riesling Schossböckelheimer Kupfergrube Spätlese 1999 ($30) (Scheduling): Crystalline, rainwatery nose--ginger, yellow apple and white rocks. A sip, and there's a warm blunt wash of easygoing lemon-applefruit, hints of mango and honey, all very loose and smooth and backed by light sweetness and light acidity. Fills out in the middle, gaining weight and turning creamy while retaining a loose supple feel, then finishes with a lemon-citrus hum. Somewhat diffuse, could use a bit more mouthgrab, but it's very flavorful and easy to sip. (12/8/02)

Ehrhardt & Fils Riesling Alsace Steingrubler 1995 (Blind Whites): Light yellow with a hint of green, nose of stones/rainwater and lemon-lime. In the mouth bright, tangy & slightly sweet. Spätlese? Citrusy mouth-pucker tangyness, but bright and cheerful. Nice. (7/8/99)

Robert Eymael Riesling Mönchhof Urziger Würzgarten Spätlese 2002 (Steamed Steaks): "Hey, this tastes like bubble gum," says Marty, and indeed it does, almost muscattish, quite sweet and rather bloppy and spineless, with lots of fat candy-spicy yellowfruit; there's an amiable quality to the loose glossy babyfat, but this is one fat baby. Serve frosty-cold if you must serve it at all. (10/2/04)

Joachim Flick Riesling Wickerer Mönchsgewann Rheingau Spätlese 1999(Oddball Grapes): Ripe, spicy aromatics, honey and baked yellow apple. Tastes big, sweet and glossy, with enough acidity, but just barely. A bit much, but undeniably silly and fun despite its simplicity. This is borderline desserty-sweet; these wacky Germans really have to straighten out this label stuff if they expect to emerge from obscurity. (7/27/03)

Weingut Forstheister Geltz Erben Zilliken Saarburger Rausch Auslese 1983 (I Get the Shakes) We thought this was a riesling at first, but the bottle says nothing of the kind, and we all pass it around, trying to figure out what the grape is. No one can (although someone suggests it might be räuschling), and after fifteen minutes we stop worrying about it. Damn confusing German labels. Anyway, it's a medium gold color, well-developed nose, light gasoline-ripe mango hints, a dark greenness, honey. Interesting, if not really desserty, light- to medium-sweet and nicely crisp, with a marmaladey kind of thing emerging on the finish. (6/6/00)

Fox Run Riesling Finger Lakes 1998 ($9) (A Discreet Jeebus): Almost clear color, light hints of beanbag chair and white honey, the nose is soft and quiet. Tastes light, slightly tangy and smooth, a quaffable wine that's a bit soft and not very complex but goes down easily and has some insubstantial tangy fruit. Edgeless, drinkable. (11/20/00)

Dr. Konstantin Frank New York Johannisberg Riesling 1998 ($10) (Geekfest '99): Pale, pale, slight almost greenish tint; light apple-juicy, 'rainwater'/limey nose. Medium-crisp, touch of sweetness, honeyed taste, pleasant apple-cobbler tastes. A dispute broke out among the tasters as to whether or not this wine was actually sweet, with a certain Mr. Kane of New York holding forth in the face of open hoots of disparagement that the sweetness was an illusion caused by the floral, honeyed fruitiness. Brave lad! (6/5/99)

Dr. Konstantin Frank Johannisberg Riesling Finger Lakes Dry 1999 ($10) (August): A pale, almost colorless wine, and actually smells quite like riesling, light green apple and pine needle hints with a bright citric acidity that is firm but not aggressive. There is a hint of minerally rainwater deep down, and the wine finishes on a limey gin and tonic note that simpers briefly, then rallies, then returns as a shade of its former self for a moment or two. Interesting, decent and well realized if uncomplex riesling. (8/7/01)

Pierre Frick Riesling Alsace 1998 ($9) (Return of the Jeebi): Light nose, small yellow apple and vinyl beanbag-chair hints. Light tasting as well, easy, smooth, unaggressive. It's a bit dilute in the midpalate, but rallies into a pleasant appley finish. Decent enough lightweight riesling, if somewhat unremarkable. (10/7/00)

Pierre Frick Riesling Alsace Cuvée Precieuse 1999 (Party House): Almost aroma-free, an extremely reticent nose--light vinyl, talc and traces of lemon, more mineral than fruit. More robust in the piehole, crisp enough for tax purposes but on the mellow side. Again, more mineral and structure than fruit, a touch of sweetness, a nice, middleweight riesling whose salient characteristic is easygoing smoothness and seamless integration. (1/5/02)

Weingut Rudolf Fürst Riesling Franken Centgrafenberg Kabinett Trocken 2002 (Beaucoin Revisited): Smells like a mountain stream, mineral water. A sip, and it's all acidity and stones, lean, thin and hard, without any flesh to speak of. It tastes like, well, like not much of anything. Jay looks puzzled: "This riesling needs... needs..." he murmurs, searching for the right word, "...flavor." Yes, that would be a interesting addition to the wine's profile. Without it, all you have is hard acidity and lean minerality, not much to hang your hat on. (3/7/04)

M. Grunhäuser Riesling Herrenberg Kabinett 1995 (Beaucoin Revisited): Medium-pale straw color. Light hints of vinyl and green apple, flecks of pine and minerals. Tastes zippy-crisp, a bright, happy wine with a touch of sugar and great lightness of foot. Puckery-tart, there's a velvety apple-stony skin to clothe the acidity and couch the light sweetness. Very cohesive and friendly, a joyously nervy little wine that goes down very smoothly and very easily. (3/7/04)

M. Grunhäuser Riësling Hërrënbërg Spatlësë 1998 (Robin in the Big City): Very pale, almost colorless; tight nose, some green-appley hints, swirl, swirl, it's not giving much up, hints of honey and white flowers. Hmmm. A taste, and hello, some zingy tongue-yanking acidity kicks in, causing an involuntary puckering. Lightly sweet (not as sweet as the Kabinett above), racy and aggressive lemon-lime flavors ride the wave of acidity into a bright puckery lip-smacking finish. (2/7/00)

M. Grunhäuser Riesling Mosel-Saar-Ruwer Spätlese 1988 (Blind Whites): Nose of light butter & lemon--chardonnay? No wait, in the mouth completely different--round, low acidity in the main body of the wine, but with a bit of a citric tarty tang as well, just a touch of sweetness, tarty, sweet, tangy sweetart. Big nose/mouth discontinuity. Riesling too? (7/8/99)

M. Grunhäuser Riesling Mosel-Saar-Ruwer Spätlese 1995 (Kane Manor): Pale straw color; interesting nose, spritzy lemon/lime & a gunpowdery note over a base of wet stones. Nicely sweet & crisp in the mouth, tangy & lightly sweet, well balanced, a fun, spritzy wine that turns a bit limey on the finish. A very good sipper for a hot day. Following a chorus of "get the A.P. number!" for those of you scoring at home: A.P. # 3 536 014 8-96. I like this one far more than the '88. (7/24/99)

M. Grunhäuser Riesling Mosel-Saar-Ruwer Spätlese 2001 ($21) (Oceans of Overpriced Swill 2): Light tart yellow apple & peach aromatics, pleasant to smell but slightly ethereal. A sip, and here's some chiffonish flesh draped on shy lemony acidity and light sweetness. Pleasant but fleeting and inconsequential, a meringue of a riesling. (3/06)

Fritz Haag Riesling Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr Auslese 1989 (Stupid Fizzies): Doesn't smell like much of anything, touch of mineral, hint of lemon. Tastes quite dry for an auslese, and almost fruitless. Very little character: vague, pallid and disappointing. (9/14/03)

Fritz Haag Riesling Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr Auslese 1992 (No Hook): Medium straw color, golding in the center. Lots of kerosene here, yellow apple base, pine needles above and light minerals below. Medium sweet and lacking in focus, rather vague in the middle, but smooth, easygoing and layered, a pleasantly complex little sipper. (6/7/03)

Fritz Haag Riesling Brauneburger Juffer Sonnenuhr Spätlese 2001 (Misplaced Weekend II): Very sulfurous, matchsticky. I know this is going to hit Dressner's sore spot, and it does. He has to excuse himself to take a sulfur break. Underneath the sulfur there's a pure, shiny-minerally wine, the glossy fruit compact and taut. Light sweetness, firm spine, velvety flesh, lots of potential. It's very young, very primary, but full of everything you'd want in a fresh young riesling. Give it a decade or two, it'll come around, and I bet it'll be great. (5/9/04)

Fritz Haag Riesling Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr Spätlese 2002 (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner): Smells like a beanbag chair warehouse, vinyl and more vinyl, lightly laced with lemon zest and a light sweetness. Very taut, very primary, very very young and basically impenetrable, a wine chiseled from marble. Check back in thirty years. (5/05)

Willi Haag Riesling Brauneberger Juffer Kabinett 2001(Oddball Grapes): Pale straw color. Smells very shy, light vinyl, pine needles, lemon and yellow apple. Tastes intense, crisp and tight with a sheen of light sweetness, a tangy monolith of a wine in sore need of time to loosen up. This is a kabinett? (7/27/03)

Heron Hill Dry Riesling Finger Lakes 1997 (Finger Lakin' Good): H20-colored. Nose is a bit edgier, less fruity than the Lakewood, wet stones and gardenia. In the mouth it's got some nice steeliness to it, crisp acidity and restrained fruit, a very smooth package. Blind, I might guess Alsace. Not terribly complex at this point, but there's some potential here, and I'd be curious to check back with this one a few years down the road. (12/8/99)

Hiedler Riesling Kamptal Steinhaus 2002 (Pigfest): Smells brightly vinyl/lemonstony, touch of white grapefruit. Gently sweet, brisk and vivid, with a long pure crystalline finish. Very nice wine, great balance, great vim. (1/06)

Franz Hirtzberger Riesling Singerriedel Smaragd 1990 (Chateauneuf-du-Joe): . Wow, lots going on here, nosally speaking: lamp oil and beeswax mingle with quiet pineapple-pear yellowfruitiness, touch of gardenia whiteflorality up high. Tastes imposing, tart and weighty, with some fleshiness around the edges, but a solid rocky core. Very nice, very substantial riesling that muscles its way down my throat and plants a flag somewhere near my spleen. (11/06)

Weingut Franz Hirtzberger Riesling Spitzer Singerriedel Smaragd 1999 (Trilateral Offline): Good whiff of sulfur from this one right off the bat. Wait a bit... still there... fading... okay, underneath there's a bright stony-appley-lemon-hay nose with a hint of vinyl (sheet metal?) in the mix. Very crisp, very tart, a big wine that's got a lot going on but is very very young and aggressive and a little overwhelming. Puzzling. (3/14/00)

Weingut Franz Hirtzberger Riesling Spitzer Steinterrassen Federspiel 1997 (Island Life): Vinyl-citric aromatics, lemondrops on a beanbag chair, maybe a hint of underripe pineapple. Quite crisp and a little stern, hard acidity and if there's any sugar it's just at the edge of perception. Solid wine, but a bit fruitless in the middle, LemonHeady structure without much cushion, more an intellectual pleasure than a sensory one. (5/06)

Weingut Franz Hirtzberger Riesling Wachau Singerriedel Smaragd 2001 (Oddball Grapes): Light straw-lemon color. Florid, Maldenesque nose, baked pineapple and pear, honey-lemon and hay. Rich and intense, quite dry but muscular rather than abrasive, a big, sinewy wine that blossoms with yellow flowers and yellow fruit in the midpalate, then turns spicy and stony on the finish. Phew. An exciting ride that leaves me feeling a little ruffled. Kane draws his entire evening's quota of blank stares in one fell swoop by declaring this wine to be "Just like that guy in Tango & Cash's jaw." (7/27/03)

Jacob's Creek Riesling Reserve South Australia 2003 ($14) (Boatloads IV): Lots of vinyl and lemon hints here, smells like a beanbag chair wiped down with Lemon PledgeŞ. With air a bit more of a tart yellow appleskin character comes out. Tastes basically dry, perhaps a hint of sugar to soften the minerally edges. Mostly vinyl and wet rocks, quiet lemon-whiteflower hints lurk in the background. Nice middleweight riesling, focused at the core but loosening out at the edges to a stonyfloral softness. Actually pretty decent--restrained, focused and flavorful, opening with air. if it were cheaper I'd call it a good deal on a medium-complex riesling. As it is, it's just a bit too expensive. The next day it's holding together nicely; I want to like it and I almost want to give it a thumb's-up, but it just doesn't quite make it at that price. SCREWCAP! [Buy again? A semireluctant nope.] (6/05)

Jasper Hill Riesling Heathcote Georgia's Paddock 1997 ($24) (Blind Whites): Spritzy nose, bright and fresh, more rainwater/mineral, some generic citrus (maybe leaning towards lemon on second nosing), slight slippery/glyceriney feel in the mouth. Smooth & crisp. Perhaps this makes up for the wretched failure of the La Jota? The tasting group consensus was that this was from Alsace. (7/8/99)

Jordan & Jordan Riesling Scharzhofberger Spätlese 1993 (Lucid Jeebusing): Nosally speaking it's got some vinyl beanbag-chair character, flecks of lemon, not a whole lot going on, rather flat-smelling. A sip, and there's some light sweetness and a flattened-out, oxidative mouthfeel. A pleasant lime-rind streak emerges in the midpalate to mingle with some leftover minerality, but the wine seems mostly faded and on the downslope. (2/02)

Weingut Karlsmühle Riesling Kaseler Nies'chen Spätlese 1999 (NEVER Say 'Spit'): Hey, nothing but matchsticky sulfurousness at first. Quickly blows off, leaves behind light vinyl and pine hints over lemon-laced yellow apple fruit. Softer and squishier than the Willi, a bit too sweet for the acidity it's carrying. Decent enough, unremarkable. (4/03)

Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt Scharzhofberger Riesling Spätlese 1997(Foodies): Classic kerosene-beanbag hints hovering over pale yellow lemon-appleness, a pleasure to smell. Lightly sweet, bracingly crisp, racy and tangy, with flashes of slatiness at the core. A happily aromatic wine that is bright and young and vivid, wrapped snugly around itself but smiling sweetly nonetheless. (10/14/01)

Kloster Eberbach Riesling Rauenthaler Baiken Spätlese 1995 (Misplaced Weekend I): Smells of yellow pear, apples and beanbag chair, whiff of sulfur. Rather broad and blunt, a sweet ripe thing with glyceriney roundness everywhere and a good hit of sugar. Medium acidity, decent cohesion. This wine is a little bit of a showboat, but an amiable one. (5/2/04)

Kloster Machern Wehlener Abtei Riesling Eiswein 1989 (Ferality): Sweet stony-honey nose; on first sip--sweet fancy Moses, this just dives right under my tongue and squeezes--minerals, apricot, honey and gland-pinching acidity. Medium-thick and smoothly fruity, but just too shrill. I keep tasting and tasting this one, not sure if I like it or not. It has a lot of character, but I just can't take the acidity. My tongue is cringing even now as I type, just thinking about it. (9/99)

Weingut Knoll Riesling Loibner Ried Loibenberg Smaragd Trocken 2001 (Bury My Heart at 360 Van Brunt): come around. Smells charming, shy pineapple-grapefruit tropicality, light kerosene hints. Ooh, it seems very hard at first, then suddenly sneaks up on my tongue, turning long and vivid and finishing with an electric buzz. Deceptively impressive, a wine with a deft headfake and legs that won't stop churning. (1/05)

Weingut Freihern zu Knyphausen Rheingau Erzaugerabfüllung Riesling 1994 ($17.99): Pale yellow; light spritzy nose of lemon & sheet metal, with a whiff of bready yeastiness. Crisp, tangy & lean, bordering on tart, but minerally, lemony notes fill out the texture. Needs food. Actually went well with shake-'n-bake chicken & potatoes; the sharpness cut through the hearty food nicely. (4/99)

Baron Knyphausen Riesling Rheingau 2001 ($9) (Boatloads I): Bit of vinyl, bit of lemon, bit of yellow apple. Touch of sugar, zippy-crisp acidity, a little dilute in the middle but tart and decent. Nice cheap generic German riesling. [Buy again? I guess, sure, why not.] (8/04)

Koehler-Ruprecht Riesling Kallstadter Saumagen Spätlese Trocken 1990 ($30) (Geyservillainy): Smells of lamp oil and yellow apples, a little faded, yellow-brown aromatics. Tastes much like it smells, gasoline and last week's golden delicious, squeaky-dry and on the hard side. Not bad, but seems tired. (2/17/02)

Konzelmann Riesling Late Harvest Niagara Peninsula 1995 (Sitting Jeebis): is a pleasant surprise. Smells lightly grapefruity-limey, tastes easy and smooth, spätlese-sweet, with plenty of simple, friendly flavor. There's good balance, no perceptible minerality in the background, more of a forward-bright style of riesling, but I like it as much as I've liked any Canadian semi-dry riesling from the difficult 1995 vintage. (3/31/01)

Krebs-Grode Riesling Odensomething Somethinggottensomething Auslese Trocken 1998(Nine Characters): Yup, it's an Auslese Trocken. Fragrant smellies, honeyed guava-peach, yellow apple and a whiff of botrytis, along with a streak of kerosene. Not as interesting in the piehole as it is up the nose, tastes somewhat diffuse, good weight and flavor but lacking focus. The fruit spreads out and has no center and the medium acidity doesn't add much zip; the wine seems chunky and somewhat inert. Quite nice to smell, but too broad in the beam for home use. Does not give the lie to the old 'Beware of wines in heavy, overdesigned bottles' theorem. (11/02)

Weinkellerei Leonard Kreusch Johannisberg Riesling Bereich Rheingau 2002 ($6) (Boatloads II): Light straw-gold color. Touch of vinyl in the nose, yellow apple, hint of pine needles. Crisp green-apple acidity, tart lemon-mineral flavors, just a hint of sweetness, a sense of vagueness in the middle, watery finish. Less than the sum of its parts, this is a boring, decently-built riesling that hits a few good notes but has no cohesion or sense of purpose. I like the balance, but there's not much else there to hang your hat on. FAKE CORK! [Buy again? No.] (11/04)

Lakewood Vineyards Dry Riesling Finger Lakes 1998 (Finger Lakin' Good): Pale, pale straw color; very distinctive peachy notes drift up from the glass, hints of honey underneath. A sip, ahhh, here we go, back in business. Medium-crisp, with nice peachy/honeysuckle-tinged tangy fruit. After the chards, this is a blessing. Very pleasant, and did I mention peachy? A friendly, fairly effusive young riesling. (12/8/99)

Leitz Rudesheimer Berg Schlossberg Spätlese (MartyParty): Pale, almost colorless, perhaps a light green cast. Smells of green apples and rainwater, fresh but not terribly distinctive. A sip, and the neutrality continues, touch of sweetness and more green apple and minerals. Bit dilute in the middle, but friendlly enough and well balanced. Still, I'm not sure what to make of it. I always get nervous with German wines when I can't find the word 'riesling' anywhere on the label, as I start to suspect I'm drinking something quasi-sleazy. Is this some albalonga-sylvaner blend?! (2/28/04)

Lindeman's Riesling South Eastern Australia Bin 75 2002 ($6) (Boatloads I): Very pale straw color. Light, easy nose, bit of vinyl, bit of lemon, bit of yellow apple. Tastes similarly light and easygoing, touch of sweetness, medium acidity, slippery-glossy mouthfeel, stop-dead finish. Vague and short, but also light and rather refreshing, with at least a vague sense of varietal character. I find myself enjoying it more than I expected or wanted to. Look, I didn't come into this expecting this kind of thing--it just... happened. You won't tell the other geeks, will you? [Buy more? Shhh, yes, yes.] (8/04)

Lingenfelder Freinsheimer Goldberg Riesling Auslese 1998 (St. Andrew): Medium straw color; I smell it, and it's like I'm back in the islands--tropical-fruit, pineapple, mango and especially guava emerge to shake hands with my nose. A lightly sweet Auslese, it's very clean and crisp in the mouth, if a bit thinner and less expressive than the lushly fruity nose would have suggested. Pretty nice. (1/15/00)

Weingut Benedict Loosen Riesling Erben Urziger Würzgarten Spätlese 1981 (A Jeff Connell Selection) (Misplaced Weekend I): Medium lemon-gold color. Lots of smellies here, vinyl and ginger candy over a base of quiet yellow apple, beguiling flashes of cinnamon. There's just a hint of sweetness, as well as an interesting combination of hard acidic core with some rather fleshy-soft yellow fruit wrapped around it. The two aren't quite on the same page anymore, but at least they're still amicable, and they do have stories to tell. (5/2/04)

Dr. Loosen Riesling Ürziger Würzgarten Auslese 1992 (Peach Tree Vines): Medium straw-gold color. Smells of lamp oil, mango and apicot-lemon. Medium sweet, with an interesting coppery quality emerging in the middle to mingle with the mango-apricot-kerosene. Good crispness, nice cohesion, in a content

Dr. Loosen Riesling Ürziger Würzgarten Auslese 1994 (Winterfest 2003): Pale gold color. Smells lightly vinylish, hints of ripe mango and apricot. A sip, and it's lightly petillant and there's only a light sweetness, dry for an Auslese. Maybe just a bit too puckery-crisp, this has the beginnings of complexity, turns honeyed on the subtle finish. Quite pleasant, if a little sharp. (2/03)

Dr. Loosen Riesling Wehlener Sonnenuhr 1998 (Asylum): Now here's riesling done right, a pale wine that smells lightly peachy and honeydewed, with equally light vinyl beanbag chair hints and evanescent flecks of lime rind. A sip, and there's lovely balance, brisk and bright without being hard, some silky melony green-appley fruit. Not a deep wine, but a very well built and pleasant one. (9/8/00)

Lorentz Riesling Altenberg de Bergheim 1983 (Heat): Keroseney nose, hints of cooked lemon rind and beanbag chair. Dry, slightly tired, fruit seems to have faded into brownness and left the stage to the stern structure. More petroleum products on the finish. Over the hill, move on. (6/16/01)

A. Mann Riesling Schlossberg 1990 (Kane Manor): Light amber; stony/light honey nose; in the mouth surprisingly non-brisk; round, flat & a little lifeless. Appley flavors, some small stony notes, round mouthfeel, not too much here. (7/24/99)

McWilliams Hanwood Estate Riesling South Eastern Australia 2004 ($7) (Boatloads VI): Simple, plain aromatics; lime and honeysuckle with a hint of vinyl. Medium acidity, seems unmarred by any weirdness. Actually, quite decent and with a quiet dose of varietal typicity, if framed rather inoffensively wan. You could do worse. SCREWCAP! [Buy again? No, not really.] (12/05)

Mittnacht-Klack Riesling Muhlforst 1989 SGN (Trilateral Offline): Pale straw; light kerosene, lemon, green apple, but wait, there's a very odd industrial solvent aroma lurking in the nose of this wine that isn't terribly noticeable at first, but soon dominates and makes smelling it rather unpleasant. Tastes okay, though, lightly sweet, slightly round in the mouth. I dunno, it's hard to get past the solventlike smell. (3/14/00)

Chateau Montelena Johannisberg Riesling Potter Valley 1997 ($15) (Chateau Joe): Light yellow-tan; Soft, ethereal nose--limestone, honey-lemon; a taste, and after the sharp Cour-Cheverny this seems very round and mellower than it might have otherwise, I suspect. Pleasantly stonefruity, mellow, pleasant, with decent crispness. I have no idea what it is. (8/99)

Chateau Morrisette 'Our Dog Blue' White Table Wine N.V. Virginia (Joao/Kansas): Pale straw color. Light gardenia & honey hints on the nose, sweet-smelling and simple. Bit of sweetness in the mouth too, a bit like a simple, slightly underripe spätlese, sweet and lightly quaffable, not a particularly jagged little wine. There is no designation on the bottle of any kind of alcohol level, so Dressler immediately gets on his cellphone to try and track down the vigneron, but can only reach a voice mail. I can only think that the alcohol level is something you you you oughta know. I learn later it's apparently mostly riesling. (3/2/00)

Egon Muller Riesling Wiltingen Brane Kupp Auslese 1976 (15 Fox Place): Medium gold color. Smells of light honey, whiff of kerosene, yellow apple. Tastes very relaxed, sweet and calm and soothing, with medium-low but still sprightly acidity. The taste of honey blooms with the lemony sweetness in the middle and lingers luxuriantly on the finish. A pretty wine, langorous and whispery-decadent, that just keeps unfolding, taking its sweet time. (3/22/04)

Rudolf Müller Riesling Spätlese Mosel-Saar-Ruwer 2002 ($9) (Boatloads II): Light vinyl, light lemon, light yellow apple. Light-tasting and lightly sweet, actually rather plain and pleasant kabinett-style riesling. Simple not very crisp, not very much of anything, but oddly drinkable. Who know vagueness could be an asset? [Buy again? Yes.] (11/04)

Müller-Catoir Riesling Haardter Burgergarten Spätlese 1998(Oddball Grapes): Pale lemon-straw color. Touch of kerosene hovers over stony lemon-apple fruit, lightly yellowfloral, smells promising but shy. A sip, and it's more assertive in the piehole, light sweetness filling out the increasingly rich yellow fruit and gaining momentum in the midpalate with a surge of assertive acidity. Comes down the home stretch and really blooms, swirling layers of white peach and lemon and hints of hay over a crystalline minerality. Finishes with a stonyfruity-peachy flourish, a real asskicker of a wine that retains a good sense of composure, a pleasure to drink. (7/27/03)

Müller-Catoir Riesling Haardter Burgergarten Spätlese Trocken 1998 (Adlers): Hard at first, takes some getting used to, but eventually achieves a pleasing level of Muscadetishness with my softshell crab. Minor oenopiphany: I think I've been approaching these wines in the wrong way. Instead of expecting them to be riesling, if I think of them as sort of a second-tier Muscadet and accept the hardness for what it is then we can get along and I don't have to reach for the sugar packets. A decent enough stand-in if there is no real Muscadet to be had. (9/2/02)

Müller-Catoir Riesling Haardter Burgergarten Spätlese Trocken 1999(Foodies): It takes a little encouragement to get this one to come out of its shell, but some swirling does bring out a restrained nose, vinyl and white peach hints, turning towards lime rind with more air. Dry and tight, the crisp acidity clamps down hard on my tongue without any cushion of sweetness, but it fills out well in the midpalate and rallies further with a long tropical-limey finish. Very young, a well-structured wine that needs time to loosen up. (10/14/01)

Müller-Catoir Riesling Musbacher Eselhaut Spätlese Trocken 1993(Oddball Grapes): Medium straw-lemon color. Quiet nose, hints of vinyl, lemon and honey. Tastes quite tangy, almost severely so, hard fruit without much cushion, finishing with a borderline bitter lemon-metallic tang. Not bad, but hard to like. (7/27/03)

Müller-Catoir Riesling Musbacher Eselhaut Eiswein 1998 (Beaucoin Revisited): Dancingly tropical aromatics, pineapple-mango, apricot and rainwater. Quite lush and sweet, but balanced by a bracing supporting acidity. Young and primary, but delightfully fruity and rich. Brilliant, fine and purely tropical, a beauty. (3/7/04)

Müller-Catoir Riesling Musbacher Eselhaut Eiswein 1998 (Football Fever!): Whoa, ripe pineapple, guava and vinyl, so richly aromatic, smells like I'm eating a tropical fruit salad while lounging in a beanbag chair. Very sweet, viscous and brightly crisp, superb balance for such an extravagant wine. Extraordinary stuff, just wonderful. Astonishingly good match with Jay's lilikoi soufflŽ. Were I the type to do so I'd say "Bravo!" Happily I'm not, so I'll have to be content with "THIS SHIT ROCKS!" (1/05)

Muré Clos St. Landelin Riesling Vorbourg 1997 ($18)(Cape May Geeks): Nicely focused. It's got a similar profile, yellow apple, light honey & minerals on the nose along with a hint of snap-pea greenness, but it's got a hint of sweetness and plenty of saucy acidity to wake up our tired taste buds. Good, strong, crisp stuff with a lot of flavor; young, but quite approachable and bright. (6/3/00)

Navarro Vineyards White Riesling Anderson Valley Late Harvest 1998. Whoo, ripe pineapple-vinyl-mango-lilikoi aromatics, tropical fruit salad city. Quite sweet but not at all goopy, there's middling acidity, not as much as I'd like, but the wine is far from flabby. Actually, it tastes rather restrained compared to the boisterous aromatics, and it's pretty smooth and drinkable, if rather diffuse. Not bad at all, really. I could drink this, it's kind of fun. A pleasant pairing with apricot tart. (10/04)

Weingut K. Neckerauer Riesling Pfalz Weisenheimer Hasenzeile Beerenauslese 1994 (Fear and Braising in New Jersey): Oh, a weisenheimer, eh? Nyuck nyuck nyuck. Medium gold-amber color. Caramelized sugar on the nose, touch of botrytis, apricot, marmalade. Tastes quite crisp, medium-sweet or maybe just a shade sweeter than medium, medium-plus. Tartly acidic and gently decayed, pleasantly developed but not terribly complex. Kane complains that it's not more botrytisy and I argue with him for form's sake, but he's got a point, something that would be overlooked if there were more going on. (10/04)

Nigl Riesling Senftenberger Piri Privat 1998 ($25) (Motor Oil): Very pale straw color. Whoo, this is a doozy, smelling like a tropical dichotomy, stern minerality and lush tropical hints coexisting in my nose and banging into each other like tornado-inducing air masses. Rich, pale honey-pineapple-honeysuckle and slatey rocks slug it out for supremacy. I taste, and am startled from my Banyuls-induced torpor by a wall of stern acidity and dense white flavors. Tight and a bit puckery, a big, dense wine that pulls me by the nose and challenges me to a duel. I decline, and slink back to my complaisant Banyuls, nose a bit sore but better for the experience. (6/29/00)

Nigl Riesling Senftenberg Piri Privat 1999 (Fridge): seems a good choice. Bright, stony nose, white honey and yellow apple scents with a beguiling chlorophyll-clover streak. Almost completely dry, medium-crisp, tangy yellow rocky fruit, striking cohesiveness and balance, a marvellously focused ballerina with enough flesh on her bones to keep you coming back for more. Beautiful, a fine accompaniment with Jay's delightful onion tart. (5/12/02)

Nigl Riesling Senftenberg Piri Privat 2001 (Misplaced Weekend I): Medium straw color. Lightly tropical aromatics, pineapple, ripe pear, white pepper and celery seed. A sip, and it's a colossus of a wine, a broad-shouldered Austrian Paul Bünyan. There's a bit of heat on the finish, but it's well composed for such a bruiser, and I come back to it more than once despite the sensation of having my tongue pummeled. (5/2/04)

Nigl Urgesteins-Riesling Kremser Ried Kremsleiten 1997 ($25) (Robin in the Big City): A sniff, and there's a limestony-floral nose, vivid and bright & exciting. Crisp mineral-tinged flavors, light hints of gardenia. Stern, very lightly sweet, a racy wine that turns limey on the finish. Didn't think this had much chance after the palate-bombing sweeties, but it cut right through the deadness in my mouth. Very nice. Vivid. (2/7/00)

Nigl Riesling Beerenauslese 1998 ($60) (MoJoe): A blizzard of tartrate crystals in the bottle, looks like a snow globe has been poured into the riesling. A sniff, and ye gods, a festival of botrytis and borderline-wacky tropical fruit aromas begins a conga line in my nose. Spicy hay, mango, pineapple, lemon, all bound up in light vinyl siding. A sip, and it's Yellow Submarine in my mouth, vivid colors and bright shapes, crazily dense and botrytised, Mr. Coad's wild ride. A moment later I'm deposited back in my chair, but I immediately get in line for another ride. Quite breathtaking in an over-the-top way, very sweet but still crisp and light on its feet, a beautiful match with Laura's plum tart. Exciting wine. Two crystal Prongs swathed in bolts of canvas, one of which is covered with signed drawings of Ralph Steadman and one of which has some kind of a Mondrian knockoff on it, the whole arrangement set on a wide hardwood base that has been rubbed down with ambergris and myrrh, then baked in a brick oven until it bursts into all-consuming flames. (9/23/02)

Nikolaihof Riesling Wachau Im Weingebirge Jungfernwein 1999 ($27.50)(Horrifying the Newbies): A quick sniff is devastatingly enticing: this is a luscious wine to smell, aromatically bright and floral-fruity, with pretty lilikoi, limeskin, beanbag chair and peach hints flickering about jewellike in my glass. As open and expressive a Jungfernwein as any I've had from this vintage. A sip, and a light sweetness hits my tongue at the same time as a silky wave of polished minerally-floral fruit. The first thing that strikes me is the impeccable balancing act, juggling sweetness, acidity, open floral and fruit notes and minerally undertones into a seamless, velvety whole. Smooth, velvety and just a bit of a flashy show-off, this is a delightful young riesling, drinking wonderfully, and even the printed approval of the Demeter Society doesn't keep us from draining the bottle posthaste. (3/3/01)

Nikolaihof Riesling Wachau Im Weingebirge Jungfernwein 1999 ($27.50) (Thoresa): Pretty and friendly in my nasal passages, lightly tropical and floral. With each increasingly happy snuffle different colors emerge, swirls of passion fruit, beanbag chair, lime and peach over a quiet, background minerality. I taste it, and am immediately struck by the balance and friendliness--the light sweetness, the acidity that isn't assertive but is calmly supportive, just there doing its job. The chameleonlike fruity-florality and the underlying base of white rocks all blend smoothly into a wine that might be called sublime if it didn't have a certain peacockery about it, a nudge and a wink that says 'pretty nifty, ain't I?' (10/7/01)

Nikolaihof Riesling Wachau Im Weingebirge Jungfernwein 1999 ($27.50) (Doghead All Grown Up): This has calmed down considerably in the last few years--the light vinyl is there, but the tropical lilikoi-lime-peachiness has quieted down, the acidity that had seemed sufficient now seems a little shy. Maybe it's time to drink these up, as the vivacity has come down a notch; it's not quite as girlishly compelling as it was a few years ago. But then again, who among us is? Still, there's noticeable sugar here, so Brad de la Kane begins the inevitable WINE OF THE NIGHT jabber that he launches into whenever he happens across a table wine with palpable sugar. This matches nicely with the spicy subcontinental fare and is really quite delicate and pure, but I miss the just-blooming peacockery of its youth. Or peahenery, I suppose, in this case. (11/04)

Nikolaihof Riesling Wachau Im Weingeberge Smaragd 2001 (Sedate Evening): Medium gold color, noticeably darker than the '86. Crowingly aromatic--pineapple and botrytis, vinyl and hay, citric Earl Grey tea notes. A sip, and jeez, a massive, blustery young riesling. There's a touch of sugar, vivid acidity, broad shoulders, it seems to get even bigger with ai--the aromatics turning more tropical, lilikoi and guava notes. Despite the heft, there's impressive focus and a sense of command. Damn, an impressive baby beast. (6/05)

Nikolaihof Riesling Wachau Im Weingeberge Spätlese Trocken 1986 (Sedate Evening): Medium lemon-gold color. Smells of hay and kerosene, baked lemon and Earl Grey tea. Tastes crisp but quite developed, the flavors spreading out from the taut core towards citric amber-honeyness. Not quite holding up as well as the '86 gruner we had last year. A little bit tired and past peak, but with a lot of good stuff going on nonetheless. (6/05)

Nikolaihof Reisling Steiner Hund Spätlese 1997 ($35) (Joao/Kansas): Pale gold; very tropicalfruity & spritzy, is there botrytis, or is my nose playing tricks on me? Very tangy & tart, stern white & yellow fruit with a green-apple tartness to the taste. Smells very lush, tastes stern and tightly-wrapped. (3/2/00)

Nikolaihof Riesling Steiner Hund Spätlese 1999 ($41.50)(Horrifying the Newbies): If the Jungfernwein was a bit flashy, this one is a dense, steel-scaled dragon, powerfully focused and intense, smelling more stony-vinyl and less fruity-floral. Not much sugar here; tightly coiled and puckery-crisp, this starts out a bit quietly, then wells up with a rich vein of white flower edged minerally fruit in the midpalate, finishing with a tangy flourish. Racy and pure, a stern, breathtaking wine with its feet in the present but its eyes focused on the far future; almost overwhelming. (3/3/01)

Nikolaihof Riesling Kremstal Steiner Hund 2000 ($45) (Peach Tree Vines): Rich aromatics, sweetly floral high notes, yellow and white flowers over crushed white coral, hint of lemon rind. There's more yellow to the flavor profile than the white-rocky '99, although not so much as the tropical '97. Not as tight as I'd expected, there's a roundness and a limpidity to the middle--plenty of acidity, but a certain loose-knit quality that makes me think this one is better drunk while you're waiting for the '99 to come around. This is an awfully impressive wine, falls short of some past years but still fondles serious ass. (4/03)

Nikolaihof Riesling Kremstal Steiner Hund Reserve 2002 ($60) (Chrid Coad Appreciation Week): Pale straw color. Very aromatic, lemon-pineapple and chalk, rainwater and a hint of chamomile. Despite the lithe form this tastes menhirlike, deep, long and imposing, that sustained chord at the end of 'A Day In the Life.' Oh so pure, not as seizure-inducing as the '99, but a beautiful baby in need of many years' sleep. (11/04)

Nikolaihof Riesling Vom Stein Wachau 2000 ($20) (Nine Characters): The smallest and most delicate of the 2000 Nikolaihofs, tonight this is smelling rather more vinyled than I remember, white beanbag chair, white flowers and wet quartz sprinkled with lemon drop dust. Quiet in the piehole, shy and crisp and cleanly crystalline, seems reticent and tight after the blowsier Germans. Good wine, small package. (11/02)

Nikolaihof Riesling Wachau 'Vinothek' 1990 ($90) (Rioja Redux): The wine that spent thirteen years in foudre. Or fuder, or whatever the Austrians call them. Medium-pale lemon-straw color. Oook, lusciously complex aromatics, warm lemon-honey, vinyl and apple-pie spiciness tickle the inside of my nostrils. A sip, and it's a medium-bodied wine, rather rounded at the edges but with a firm, resolute core. The sensation of a plush, yielding entry evolving slowly into a strangely steadfast evanescence is striking; oenology recapitulating phylogeny in my mouth. I am entranced, and only reluctantly drift back to the here and now. Far out. A wine of great elegance and power, subtle and light-seeming at first, ever more deceptively deep and rich. (10/04)

Nikolaihof Riesling Wachau 'Vinothek' 1990 ($90) (The Return of Marty & Jill): Mm, smells delightully coy, just hinting at secret aromas--lemonhoney and lampoil, spiced ginger-apple, minerals. A sip, and it still has the chameleon thing going; seems light and inconsequential, "pretty" at first sippage, slowly gains depth and focus as it moves into the midpalate, then turns coy again, flipping its locks at me as it turns quietly back in on itself. There's a narcissistic quality to this wine, but you can't resist it. And by 'you,' of course, I mean me. (2/06)

Pegasus Bay Riesling Waipara 2001 ($18) (Island Jeeb): Very vinyly nose, lots of beanbag chair overtones here, underneath that there's flirty yellow apple and whiteflower notes. Lightly off-dry, it's an ethereal wine, soft and whispery, the only assertiveness being a light lemony streak that surfaces briefly in the middle, then fades apologetically. Quite pleasant in its quiet, girly way, an easygoing and honest young riesling. (3/23/03)

Petaluma Botrytis Riesling Essence 1985 (Cab Franc Blowout+): Dark amber, bordering on brown-orange; orange marmalade is the first thing that strikes you on the nose, then mineral/wet stone notes with a slight metallic edge. On the palate sweet as all hell (45% residual sugar!), very dense & viscous--like syrup. Lovely tastes of caramel & vanilla & orange rind & that sort of boysenberry botrytis taste that I haven't pegged properly; there's enough acidity to make it not cloy, but just barely. (3/7/99)

F.X. Pichler Riesling Diersteiner Kellerberg Smaragd 1992 (Chateauneuf-du-Joe): . Another big-smelling wine, broadly tropical, lemon and ripe pineapple wrapped in vinyl, pressed flower hints, yum. Tastes similarly large, tart and crisp but round and mouthfilling, broad-shouldered riesling with just a whisper of sweetness and a hint of a burn on the finish. Lovely stuff that just keeps getting better and better as the night goes by. At ten o'clock I really like it, at eleven I'm infatuated, by midnight I'm in love, by one I'm pleading with it to run away with me to Brazil. Plus, it's totally the wine to drink with the Kurabati pig. (11/06)

F.X. Pichler Riesling Diersteiner Kellerberg Smaragd 1998 (Impostors): The burst of exuberant tropical fruit that leaps out at me is quite unexpected. Guava, mango, that vaguely turpentiney smell that mangoes get when they're almost overripe, pineapple, boy, it's like I'm back home in the islands. I sip carefully and meet a gentle giant, a dense, muscular young riesling, tangy yellow fruit, a touch, just a touch of sweetness clothing a steel-spring structure, dense and flexible as it goes down, flowing with a heady rush towards a long tropical finish. Great wine, exciting wine, perhaps somewhat unsubtle, but truly some special FX. Wine like this makes you want to go find a bar brawl and watch it from a good safe distance. (11/4/00)

F.X. Pichler Riesling Reserve 'M' 2001 (Peach Tree Vines): Mmmmm, smells righteous, brother. Yellow apple, lemon, apricot, hay, a quiet, assertive nose. A sip, and a wave of yellowfloral fruit sweeps relentlessly across my tongue and plants its flag somewhere near my uvula. Rich, weighty and focused, an athletic wine with a dancer's grace. Difficult to parse the individual elements because the completeness is striking: nothing out of place, nothing sticking out, wonderfully seamless and crazily long. Is there a touch of sugar? Perhaps, but if so it shows as a slight cushioning and plumping up of the rich fruit, not as tangible sweetness. Whew. A striking blend of size and precision, strength and flexibility, lushness and focus. Maybe this'll age, but I have a hard time imagining it getting much better than it is tonight. Irresistible. Paging Dr. vandergrift, we've got a god wine sighting. (4/03)

Pikes Riesling Clare Valley 1998 ($20): Pale straw color; soft, stony, spritzy nose, light honey & green apple notes. Medium-crisp, a little flat on the palate, nonspecific citrus--doesn't have much zing. Crisp enough, but a bit watery in the middle. Part of the problem may be that this is too warm. Guesses range from Lisa's Kabinett to O's Alsace riesling, someone posits sauvignon blanc, but Oleg's friend Misha sums the wine up best when he says "Well, this wine doesn't do much for me." Me neither. (9/23/99)

Prager Riesling Weissenkirch Federspiel Steinrieg 2000 (Foodies 3): Taut aromatics, touch of vinyl over green pineapple, light flintiness. A sip, and wow, this is tight, puckery-tart and hard. A crisp, coiled wine that's hard to figure, marginally more giving aromatically than in the mouth. Hold 'em. (2/26/05)

J.J. Prüm Riesling Bernkastler Badstube Spätlese 1983 (Canadians Invade): Pale straw color; mmmm, lovely nose of a riesling in its prime--mess o'gasoline, honey, gardenia and minerals--my notes say 'freshly-scrubbed Valdez rocks'--lively-smelling and kind of exciting. Rich, lightly sweet & beautifully balanced wine that just bursts with flavor in my mouth, slightly oily feel but wonderfully acidic as well. A beauty, and the only empty bottle by the time we leave. Tom brought this one down from the Great White North and Karen the Hummingbird begins to live up to her nickname. (8/27/99)

J. J. Prüm Riesling Wehlener Sonnenuhr Spätlese 1967 (Cab Franc Blowout+): Amber yellow; sweet honey & stone nose, light gardenia sweetness; light and very soft, with decent acidity but not much overt fruit. Stony, honey, touch round, touch sweet. (6/8/99)

J.J. Prum Riesling Wehlehner Sonnenuhr Beerenauslese 1976 (Rejeebus): Medium gold color. Light hints of very ripe mango, turpentine, orange marmalade and butterscotch. A sip, and it's densely flavored, quite sweet and a little bit fizzy. Brisk but not sharp acidity, layers of flavors, lots going on. Actually, the slight fizz helps add to the sense that the wine is light on its feet. After the Choufleur this is a model of cohesion. Very nice, and a thumb in the eye of those who say there's no point aging riesling. (7/21/02)

J. J. Prüm Riesling Zeltinger Schlossberg Spätlese 1959 (Impostors): It's a young-looking wine, pale straw-gold in color. People are concentrating on this one, swirling and sniffing with fixed expressions. There's a lot going on in the nose, a limestoney-honey background with a saddlesoapy streak that takes some committed parsing to eke out. Lightly sweet, brown-edged yellow fruit, turning towards a lemon-earthiness in the midpalate, flattening out and losing a bit of definition towards the finish, but rallying sweetly and earthily at the last, a soldier who has come a long way but still has a bit of fight left. This wine, with its earthy streak, light sweetness and layers of yellow-brown flavor, blooms when consumed with the luscious uni-scallop risotto, a risotto to figuratively die for. (11/4/00)

Ratzenberger Riesling Steeger St. Jost Auslese 1993 (Pigfest): makes an appearance. Quiet pineapple/yellow apple aromatics, glazed with lamp oil. Tastes gentle and medium-sweet at most, with a mellow minerality rising briefly in the middle, then sinking under whispery yellowfruit on the prefinish. Yeah, it's pretty decent, if a bit undereverythinged. (1/06)

Red Newt Riesling Finger Lakes 2000 ($13) (McNetta 2002): Pale, pale straw color. Smells of green apples, hints of pine, with slatey undercurrents. Just off-dry, crisp, not quite laserlike focus, but well knit and cohesive. Not complex, but not simple either, a small, pleasantly zippy wine that turns tartly lemony on the finish. One of the better Finger Lakes rieslings I've tasted, and a good match with maple syrup--the acidity cuts through the syrup's sweetness with aplomb. (6/02)

Château Ste. Michelle Johannisberg Riesling Columbia Valley 2001 ($9) (Winterfest 2003): Pale gold color. Lightly sweet honey-ginger and vinyl aromatics, white flowers. Tastes loosey-goosey and light, a little bit of sweetness, an easygoing mellow riesling that is lemony and light and a bit fat, without much structure but with amiable flavorality. Riesling Lite but still recognizable as riesling, it's an unchallengingly soft take on the grape. Lightly honeyed finish. Industrial feel, but all in all quite decent, you know, considering. (2/03)

Château Ste. Michelle/Dr. Loosen Riesling Columbia Valley 'Eroica' 2004 ($15) (Boatloads V): White flowers, lemon and a hint of vinyl, pleasant light aromatics. Tastes bright and pure, green apples with a slight hint of sugar, vivid supporting acidity with a crisp malic bite. Quite surprisingly pretty young riesling, pure and impressively focused--not wire-taut, but bright and slightly glossy-friendly. Surprisingly tasty new world riesling with an old world frame--who knew they made good spŠtlese on the west coast? Damn. [Buy again? Sure.] (10/05)

Weingut Salomon Undhof Riesling Library Reserve 1991 (Pigfest): There's a persistent flinty vein in the vinyled yellow apple fruit, the aromatics are muted but kind of interesting. Rather diffuse in the middle and shortish on the finish, this wine seems tired. It's quite stony but rather blandly so, without much oomph. Decent enough, but that's about it. (1/06)

Weingut Schafer-Fröhlich Riesling Nahe Bockenauer-Schnockenauer Felseneck Spätlese 1999(Rejeebus): At any rate, it's got a bright stonyfloral nose, honeysuckle and green apples over white coral chips. On the sweet side, plenty of crispness, an unflappable midpalate with considerable composure. Lemonlime flavors well up in the middle, flow into a brief workmanlike finish. A quiet and cohesive little wine, unsubtle but quite genuine and solidly built. A lovely match with Jay's watermelon, tomato & celery root salad. Yes, you heard right. (7/21/02)

Willi Schaefer Riesling Graacher Himmelreich Kabinett 2001 ($20) (Nine Characters): Quite similar to the WS, on a slightly larger scale--a skosh weightier, a jot sweeter, a drab deeper, an iota more lemony. The schnozz has lemon and minerals, the taste follows, throwing a yellow apple streak in for good measure. Pleasant, tangy, balanced, straighforward. Shrug+ (11/02)

Willi Schaefer Riesling Graacher Domprobst Spätlese 1997 (NEVER Say 'Spit'): Yes, here's the stuff. Beanbag chair hints over yellow apple, rich and robust in my nose. With air the vinyl turns towards kerosene, what our friends from the U.K. might, in their quaint English way, call "petrol." A sip, and there's a zippy-tart wave of yellow, almost startlingly crisp. Plenty of brawny fruit, hearty dose of sweetness, a large-scale riesling that comes on strong, then softens over the course of an hour. Nicely cohesive, a raffishly solid youngster that's easy to like. (4/03)

Willi Schaefer Riesling Wehlener Sonnenuhr Kabinett 1998 ($16) (Bradcave): Very pale, almost colorless, with a light greenish cast; hints of light honey, (finally) green apple and white flowers on the nose. A rich, slightly oily mouthfeel gives a low-acid impression upon first sip, but in the midpalate some tangy lemon-edged acidity kicks in and dives neatly under the tongue to grab you. Just a hint of sweetness, a nice young Kabinett, crisp and rich. (12/1999)

Willi Schaefer Riesling Wehlener Sonnenuhr Kabinett 2001 ($20) (Nine Characters): Pale, almost colorless. Rainwatery lemon nose with a bit of a sulfurous hint. Lightly sweet, lightly fizzy, crisp but not stern acidity, lemon-limey yellow apple fruit, rather light bodied. A decent, undemanding glass of riesling that is well made but not particularly compelling. Shrug. (11/02)

Michel Schneider Bereich Bernkastel Riesling Qualitatswein 2003 ($6) (Boatloads III): Smells quiet but noticably rieslingish--lightl vinyl, lemon, green apple. Tastes small and unadorned, light and lightly sweet and bracingly crisp. Not much substance, a little watery, but simplicity and bright acidity give it some presence. Not bad, a bit bland but not bad. [Buy again? Yes, but just barely.] (2/05)

Garage Scott-Clark Riesling Finger Lakes 2002 (Summer Mishmash): Mmm, smells like grapefruit, white grapefruit laced with plaster of Paris. A sip, and there's just a hint of sweetness, as well as a touch of fizziness. Bright, light and citric, an easy summer sipper, but comes across mostly as riesling disguised as sauvignon blanc. With air the strong grapefruitiness fades to the back, and more yellow apple-white flower notes emerge, so maybe it just needs some air and time to assert its varietal character. After all, it's only a few days old. (4/03)

Stephanus Freiherr von Schorlemer-Liefer Riesling Brannebergerjuffer Sonnenuhr Auslese 1976 (...of Ulm)(Cape May Geeks): Medium-gold color, with a good whiff of gasoline on the nose ("It's linseed oil" cries Andrew happily), but underneath there's some dark brown honey and yellow apple/apricot fruity notes. Fragrant, and well-developed, a nice snootful of Teutonic complexity. Tastes a bit faded, but still interesting, only lightly sweet and feathering into yellow-brownness at the edges. Good stuff, but drink 'em if you got 'em. If you don't got 'em, hold 'em. (6/3/00)

Allan Munro Scott Riesling Marlborough 1999 ($17)(Return to Kane Manor): Pale straw color, with a bright note of lemon oil on the nose, followed by some lime-rind hints, very citric aromas with some plaster notes behind them. Tastes tart and green-appley, light, slightly soft and pleasant, with a gin and tonic limey finish. Nice balance, good structure, not terribly deep, but refreshing. (6/10/00)

Allan Munro Scott Riesling Marlborough 2000 ($20)(Horrifying the Newbies): A light tangy wine with some decent varietal character. There are light grassy and citric notes, it is certainly nicely balanced, crisply simple and drinkable, but is just so out-everythinged by the Nikolaihoffs that comparison hardly seems decent. (3/3/01)

Scott-Clark Cellars Riesling Finger Lakes "Unnamed" 2002 (barrel sample) (Recluse Convention): The first foray into the Finger Lakes by this iconoclastic producer. I believe this is wine made from purchased grapes while the winery waits for their first usable crop, although the details were a little fuzzy due to the hour and the evening's consumption. Cloudy white color. Smells intensely grapefruity, almost like fresh grapefruit juice. Tastes lemony, like fresh lemon juice in water. Tart, bright and very tangy. Still a little fizzed, almost wine. Andrew complains that it's volatile. Kane complains that it's too oaky. I would've bet the farm that this was sauvignon, but I would've been wrong. One of the strangest young almost-rieslings that I've ever tasted. (11/22/02)

Seebrich Riesling Niersteiner Olberg Kabinett 2001(Oddball Grapes): Pale straw color. Smells of lemon and spiced yellow apple. Tastes bright and crisp, nice weight and good supporting acidity, but turns watery in the middle and loses the initial focus. Still, friendly and young and decent. (7/27/03)

Bert Simon Riesling Serrig Herrenberg Auslese 1989 (Summer Mishmash): Pale straw-lemon, looks quite young. Smells of lemon and kerosene, tastes lean, lemony and straightforward. A bright wine that's strikingly young and tight, with just a bit of lamp-oil aroma to give its age away. Good, crisp riesling, not quite medium-sweet, refreshing and well-built, but without a great deal of complexity. (4/03)

Selbach Riesling Mosel Saar Ruwer Qualitatswein DRY 2002 ($11) (Boatloads II): Hmm. Says "DRY" in big letters, but it tastes like there's a touch of sugar to me. Soft, flavorful, but rather limp. Where's the acidity? This is like starter riesling for fearful Americans, with a bright, overdesigned label and a Bordeaux-shaped bottle, all traces of Teutonic quirkiness erased. Actually, though it's soft and squishy, the wine is decent enough, appley-pineappley, with a touch of vinyl, but utterly in the end bland and inoffensive. Better than cheap chardonnay, but that's about as far as I'll go. [Buy again? Nuh-uh.] (11/04)

Selbach-Oster Riesling Bernkasteler Badstube Kabinett 2001 ($16) (Winterfest 2003): Lemony-crisp, with some nice weight, but quite tight and monolithic now. A bit sweeter and denser than your usual Kabinett, there's nevertheless a focus and a purity that give the wine a happy sense of buoyancy. Very nice, compact and well-built, needs time. (2/03)

Selbach-Oster Riesling Bernkasteler Badstube 2001 ($16) (Island Jeeb): Damn fine, an assertive, grab-you-by-the-balls kind of wine, with high highs and low lows, as well as a full, muscular middle. Finishes lemony-tart. Good stuff, needs time. (3/23/03)

Silver Thread Dry Riesling Finger Lakes 2001 ($13) (Winterfest 2003): Cloudy pale lemon-straw color. Smells of grapefruit, lemon and cotton candy. What? Cotton candy? I go back for a second sniff. Yup, that's what's there all right, an odd strawberry spun-sugar note that doesn't mix at all well with the predominantly citric aromatics. Tastes light, diffuse and just odd, hard to evaluate. What to make of a wine that smells like grapefruit wrapped in cotton candy? I don't know, and the fact that it's also rather fizzy doesn't help clarify things for me. Pass. (2/03)

Louis Sipp Riesling Kirchberg de Ribeauville 1995 (Cape May Geeks): It's pale straw-gold, with a very light nose, honey, some vinyly proto-gasoline hints. In the gob it's all yellow apple and rainwatery minerals, quite flavorful, but it's a bit diffuse and unfocused, not quite enough of the spine that I like. It's dry and quite pleasant and easy-drinking, but it doesn't make a strong impression. (6/3/00)

Standing Stone Vineyards Finger Lakes Riesling 1994 (Elegant Americans): Another Finger Lakes riesling, a similar reaction--soft, lightly crisp nose, lime, honey, kerosene; slightly fat in the mouth, with some acidity, but not quite enough. Not bad, though. Inoffensive. (9/99)

Strub Niersteiner Riesling Paterberg Spätlese 1994 (Cape May Geeks): Medium-pale gold color, light gasoline & honey aromas along with a hint of tropicality. This has an interestingly creamy mouthfeel, with pleasant yellow apple and honey flavors, seems quite ready to drink, a fairly mellow style of riesling, lightly sweet and a bit round. There is also a hint of vanilla in the nose that keeps making its presence known, and we ponder its origins. (6/3/00)

Dr. Thanisch Bernkasteler Doctor Riesling Auslese 1994 (Kaneturbury Tales): Another light nose, but honey and green apple this time, while the wine in the mouth is velvety and smooth, with medium-light sweetness and medium-light acidity, smooth and quaffable. (9/20/00)

Thirty Bench Riesling Icewine Niagara Peninsula 1995 (Canadians Invade): Gold-amber color; vivid, rich apricot-mango (or is that the mango in my hard-won fruit tart?) nose, with a hint of what? acetone? that makes Tom worry that this is a slightly off bottle. No matter, it's awfully tasty. Very sweet--no, make that supersweet, with loads of zingy acidity to keep the viscous mouthfeel from cloying. A rich mouthful that turns into another empty bottle in record time. (8/27/99)

Trimbach Riesling Alsace Clos St. Hune 1986 (Bradcave): Lovely nose of light gasoline (Kane calls it 'diesel,' but it seems more refined to me), lemon, yellow apples and hints of pine needles, just a pleasure to smell. A sip, and there's a nice attack of tart yellow fruit, but it fades quickly, leaving behind a flinty tartness that isn't entirely pleasant. The fruit in the midpalate seems a bit faded to me, but the wine sure smells great. .Sasha swears that the apples in the nose are of the Granny Smith variety; I'd go with Golden Delicious, but who am I to argue with someone who can sniff a First Growth in each nostril in unison? (12/19/99)

Trimbach Riesling Alsace Clos St. Hune 1988 (A New Low): Pale straw-tan color. Smells beguiling: light vinyl, white flowers and white peach, wonderfully subtle up my nose. Tastes creamy and lithe, plenty crisp but with the impression of tongue-stroking softness, a feathery glide up and down that just asks to be savored. Marvellous with Joe's signature scallop-olestra dish. (7/14/03)

Trimbach Riesling Alsace Clos St. Hune VT 1989 (Cellar Gems): Mmmm, nose is very lush, velvety & tropical-fruity, with green-appley hints over a rainwatery-stony background. Sweet, but lightly spätlese-sweet, very nicely balanced in the mouth, a real nice package. Light honey-lemon-apple notes flit around the midpalate and melt into a long minerally finish. Super, and my favorite among the whites. (10/14/99)

Trimbach Riesling Alsace Cuvée Frederic Emile 1989 (Magnum)(Trilateral Offline): Pale straw color, veering into pale lemon at the center of the glass; ooh, its got a nose that means business, fragrantly rich, stern and velvety--an iron nose in a velvet noseglove. White flowers and minerals, a touch of gasoline, good riesling fruit. Tastes like it smells, a tightly-coiled big wine with a smooth steely spine surrounded by a layer of citrus-rock cream, tangy and lingering a long time around the tonsils. Very young still, very rich and pretty (if such a strong wine can be called pretty without impugning it), just showing tiny signs of loosening up a bit around the edges. (3/14/00)

Trimbach Riesling Alsace Cuvée Frederic Emile 1993 (Magnum) ($40) (Age-Related Drunkenness): Light kerosene notes, lemon-ginger and hay and yellow flowers in my nose. Tastes tight but fairly weighty; there's heft here, but the wine comes across as rather stark. Big and stark. Give it time. (9/17/03)

Trimbach Riesling Alsace Cuvée Frederic Emile 1995 ($28)(VS Eats at Joe's): Pale, pale wine; lighter and brighter and stonier nose than the ZH. Chalky-tasting and a bit shrill, a bit closed-up. This wine needs time. A squeaky-crisp wine that curiously turns limey and gin & tonic-y on the finish. (11/7/99)

Trimbach Riesling Alsace Cuvée Freddy-E 1995 ($28)(Quiz Show II): This hasn't budged an inch since I had it a few months ago. Light kerosene, honey and yellow appleskin on the nose, I take a mouthful, turn to Jack and say "Now THAT'S wine." I'm not sure why I say that but I do nonetheless, with feeling. Big and tight, a bit hard and unyielding, it's not terribly friendly now, but there's great density and richness and concentration. Give me a straw. It's hard and shiny around the lemon-mineral edges, and the finish turns back again with a limey gin & tonic flourish. If you don't mind a rough ride it'll take you along with a scowl, but you'll have fun. (4/15/00)

Trimbach Riesling Alsace Cuvée Frederic Emile 2003 (Birthday Engorgement): Not expecting much from that benighted year, I'm surprised to find rainwatery ripe lemon-apple-vinyl fruit smellies, not exactly typical Fred, but not quite freakish either. A sip, and it's plush enough, with sufficient acidity, broad-tasting and on the loutish side, but with a surplus of fruit for the available structure, like Fred on vacation in the Carribean. Actually rather decent, if you take it for what it is and don't expect it to be a textbook Fred. I can live with it tonight: fat-bottomed Fred, you make the rockin' world go 'round! (6/06)

Van Volxem Riesling Scharzhofberger 2000 ($21) (Axis Wines): Smells of lime and rocks. Tastes limpid and lacking structure, pallid and watery. Not good. (11/3/02)

Van Volxem Riesling Wiltinger Gottesfus Alte Reben Qualitatswein 2001 (No Hook): Smells like good riesling fruit, lemon-peachy, laced with vinyl and yellow apple hints. In the piehole it's robust, lightly sweet and boisterous up front, with a happy burst of lemon-stony fruit that grows rather hefty, spreading itself thin in the middle, but rallying for a sweet finish. Big and easy to like, the lack of focus at the core is a quibble, it's a St. Bernard puppy of a riesling that slides down the gullet with the greatest of ease. (6/7/03)

Robert Weil Riesling Kiedricher Gräfenberg Auslese 1995 (Scheduling): Medium gold color, tinting towards amber at the rim. Light pineapple, vinyl and mango smells. Tastes big and sweet and powerful, a creamy-smooth mouthful with crisp lemony acidity. Wonderfully integrated, a seamless package of flavors, acidity, sugar, all on a large scale. Brawny Auslese, not for the faint of heart--this Gräfenberg really hits the spot. (12/8/02)

Domaine Weinbach Clos des Capucins Riesling Alsace 1997 ($27)(Blind Whites): Ah, here's one I can finally identify with confidence--fairly light gewürz nose, lychee and, as Jennifer pointed out, 'hand soap.' Soft & light, a bit round, could use a bit more backbone, but clearly gewürztraminer. (7/8/99)

Weingart Riesling Schloss Furstenburg Spätlese 2001 (Beaucoin Revisited): Pale straw color. Smells of light yellow apple, hint of white peach and rainwater. Some good flesh here, young and smooth and still tightly-wrapped, more size, more flesh. Noticeable sweetness and firm acidity but quite primary, needs some time to loosen up and come around. (3/7/04)

Hermann J. Wiemer Dry Riesling Finger Lakes 1991 ($12)(Cape Mayhem): It's got some pleasant minerally hints, but the nose is dominated by vinyl, smothering anything that might be going on underneath--the wine smells entirely like a beanbag chair. Crisp tasting, but rather pallid and watery, not much going on. (5/25/01)

Hermann J. Wiemer Dry Riesling Finger Lakes 1992 ($12)(Cape Mayhem): This apparently saw only 60% new vinyl, as there are low-intensity hints of mineral and pine peeping through. It's a quieter wine to smell and has more balance when tasted, with a touch of sweetness and some light sulfurous notes, but it too is fairly lackluster and seems tired. (5/25/01)

Hermann J. Wiemer Dry Riesling Finger Lakes 1994 ($8)(Finger Lakin' Good): Pale, pale; light but floral banana-stone-honey nose, almost gewürzish, that opens up a bit with some swirling. Medium-crisp in the mouth, with nice tart green-appley fruit and a touch of sweetness. Very nice. (12/8/99)

Hermann J. Wiemer Dry Riesling Finger Lakes 1998 ($10)(Finger Lakin' Good): Deep garnet... oh, no, strike that, turns out it's pale, pale as well; vivid nose, white honey and light tropical hints, and is that a touch of botrytis? Well-balanced and nicely crisp, more complex layers of flavor than many of the others. Tasty. I would buy both of these wines. (12/8/99)

Hermann J. Wiemer Late Harvest Johannisberg Riesling Finger Lakes 1994 ($11)(Elegant Americans): Pale, pale wine; smells of honey, gardenia, trace of gasoline. Slightly sweet, not quite enough acidity to balance it out, but close. Decent enough. Elegant? Maybe a bit simple. (9/99)

Hermann J. Wiemer Late Harvest Johannisberg Riesling Finger Lakes 1995 ($12)(Swedes Invade): Pale straw-gold. Nice rich aromatics on the nose, some honeydew & green apple form the pyramid while light honey and vinyl notes climb on their shoulders and wave and grin. A bit simpler in the mouth, with rich but monolithic fruit balanced nicely in a crisply acidic, lightly sweet body. Pretty decent. Not foul at all. (3/24/00)

Hermann J. Wiemer Semi-Dry Riesling Finger Lakes 1987 ($12) (Asylum): The inmates gather 'round to peer at this oddity, and pours of the yellow-gold liquid are carefully sniffed at. There's a bit of decay here, as the wine smells flat and waxy, with some keroseney aged-riesling hints but not much nosal action going down. Tastes lightly sweet, with decent crispness, but the amiably puckery levels of acidity are offset by a ponderous mouthfeel, so the final effect is a bit odd and disjointed. There are outraged cries of "Dishwater! Bilge!" that turn some heads at adjacent tables, but it's really not so terrible as all that, just (like so many of us) well past its prime. (9/8/00)

Willamette Valley Vineyards Riesling Oregon 2003 ($8) (Boatloads VI): Oy, yet another '03. Let's see... smells lightly whitefloral, gardenia mingling with a gentle lemon-lime citricity. Demisec-sweet, gentle spritziness, light flowery-citric wine, simple and soft. Strangely, I find myself draining my glass and going back for another pour. It has a gently drinkable quality that trumps any objections about simplicity and softness. [Buy again? Yes, I think so.] (12/05)

Wittman Westhofener Morstein Riesling Spätlese 1997 (Waiting for Callahan): [They taste it.]

CHRIS: This is a tasty wine, with a racy and reserved nose, light, spritzy honey and stone and gasoliney notes, along with some citrus, it is classy and lightly tangy in the mouth, wonderfully balanced between light sweetness and not-quite sharp acidity. A velvety young riesling. That's what I think. (9/12/99)

Domaine Zind-Humbrecht Riesling Clos Windsbuhl 1994 (New Value Region): smelling sweetly of white plumeria, vinyl and baked yellow apples. There is a good upfront wash of flowery yellow fruit, the midpalate turns a little blowsy and spreads out without focus, but the finish narrows and flows towards a tangy stoniness. A large but not hulking wine without enough cut, though pleasant enough to drink. (12/22/01)

Domaine Zind-Humbrecht Riesling Clos St. Urbain Rangen Reserve Lutece 1988 (Chateau Joe): Pale yellow; spritzy mineral/citrus/gasoliney nose--rieslingish--Feinburgunder?! Nahhhh. Bright and smooth, medium acidity, crisp but not sharp, nice weight, feels good in the mouth, rich & tangy. Alsace riesling? (8/99)

Domaine Zind-Humbrecht Riesling Herrenweg de Turckheim 1994 (VS Eats at Joe's): Big rich smooth nose, with all kinds of interesting stuff going on--honey & kerosene, lychee & hints of peach. A sip, and it's not quite as interesting to taste as it is to smell. Slightly sweet, kinda fat, not enough acidity to please anyone but Kane--a bit limpid. (11/7/99)

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