The Riesling You Need to Buy Right Now
Here’s a wine that the winemaker doesn’t even have anymore—and it’s a bargain to boot.
I’ve been writing about German riesling a bit these days, but only because it’s, hands down, the best deal in all of the white wine world these days and today there’s a smoking deal even/market blip that you’re sort of insane if you don’t take advantage of.
Martin Tesch is one of those winemakers that comes along once in a rare while, and by blazing a new trail, fundamentally changes how consumers look at a region. But whereas most trailblazers—Manfred Krankl with Sine Qua Non in Southern California or Jonthan Maltus in St. Emilion both come to mind—take a radical new approach to the status quo because they were on the outside looking in, Tesch’s family has grown wine in their current location since 1723. That being said, it wouldn’t exactly be correct to brand the 40-something Tesch, who drops two Iron Maiden references over lunch, a German wine insider.
Tesch’s innovation was firstly to focus only a dry riesling and let the sweet wine be the purview of those who’s sites are more suitable to that style. Secondly, he has clearly delineated five specific vineyards that he grows identically but bottles separately for nice and tidy lesson on the importance of terrior. Finally, he took a chainsaw to the archaic and insanely confusing lexicon that plagues German wine lables. No Spatlese, no Kabinett, no halb-trocken, just the winery’s name and colour-coded vineyard designation on the label. And for this innovation, he lost 40% of the family wineries’ customers. But those departees have been more than replaced by a new legion of devotees who, while they appreciate Tesch’s no BS approach to labelling, are also passionate about the racey, fresh and complex approach he brings to German riesling.
It’s one of the most exciting German rieslings around and it’s definitely the most exciting German riesling available in our market. This is usually where the other shoe drops and you feel the pricing pain of innovation (Krankl’s Sine Qua Non bottlings hover around $500, ditto Maltus’ Le Dome). But today is a special day. Today there are 93 bottles of the single vineyard Karthauser available at the BCLDB. They’re mislabelled as “Tesch Trocken” (which given all he’s done to simplify things, must kill Tesch), but trust me they’re the single vineyard, they’re the 2009 vintage (they’re on 2012 in most other markets) and they’re $28. The winery has only minuscule amounts of this wine left in their wine library and they’re giving it away. The wine is amazing, a lightly floral nose, a tight structure and bristling acidity, but not so austere as to be angry or mean. It is drinking well now, and I imagine it will be drinking amazingly in 2-4 more years (10-12 if you have the patience).
And about those 93 bottles—I’m actually stopping on the way home, so by the time you’re reading this it’s probably more like 87.