- 2021 Dr. Loosen Blue Slate Riesling Kabinett, Mosel, Germany ($14.99 @ Costco, California – Item #249109)
Since it was first reviewed almost exactly a year ago, this wine was one of those we kept going back to and restocking our wine fridge with. You know why? Well, it is delicious for starters. But it is also unique. In a sea of California table wines (we’re looking at you Chardonnay and Cabernet) this is a wine that fits a hard to fill niche in your collection. Namely, a wine that is on the sweeter side (we would call it “off-dry” in the wine trade) and as such, has very low ABV. In this case, a mere 7.5%. Best of all, it pairs with all those spicy cuisines (Indian, Thai, Chinese, etc.) that dry wine just don’t work as well with.
The name Loosen on the label assures you of good things ahead. Dr. Loosen is one of the most highly acclaimed wine estates in the world, especially in the world of German wines, and specifically with the Riesling grape.
In the family for over 200 years, Ernst “Erni” Loosen assumed ownership in 1988 and quickly propelled the reputation of Dr. Loosen into the top echelon of Germany’s wine producers. With a focus
on the old, ungrafted vines the estate owns in some of the Mosel Valley’s best-rated vineyards, the wines express their cool-climate origins through environmentally sensitive viticulture, strict harvest selection and gentle cellar practices.
This classic Mosel Kabinett is harvested from cooler, high-elevation parcels owned by Dr. Loosen in the villages of Bernkastel, Graach and Wehlen. It’s a brisk, juicy, low-alcohol Riesling from ancient slate soils in the Mosel valley. I am glad that I chose to put several bottles in my cart during a recent visit to our local Costco.
While we rarely start with a photo of the back label (heck, we rarely ever show a photo of a back label!) this one contains an important graphic representation which shows where this wine falls on the scale between dry and sweet wines. It places the wine as “medium sweet” although don’t let that scare you away. The wine is deliciously balanced by acidity, minerality and a melange of ripe fruit flavors.
The wine makes an elegant aperitif and is an excellent match for seafood (we paired it with tuna poke bowls) spicy Asian cuisine and lighter dishes. It tastes of spice and stone, and canned peaches. There is also some lemon-lime acidity and spicy, smoky earth tones. Off-dry in style, its fruit flavors are edged by a honeyed sweetness that leads to a deliciously brisk, firm and delicate finish.
Thanks to players like Dr. Loosen, as well as a recent string of excellent vintages, Germany is undergoing a bit of a wine renaissance. Germany is divided into thirteen wine regions and produces a very wide variety of wine styles, from incredibly high-acid, dry wines to some of the sweetest, most unctuous concoctions on the planet – even a few surprisingly hearty reds. Most of the highest-quality wines are grown on steep banks along the rivers in these regions. Small vineyards are still mostly hand tended and picked, due to the difficult nature of mechanization on these slopes. White wine production accounts for nearly 80% of the total, with Riesling being the most important varietal, though Muller-Thurgau is still more widely planted.
Within Germany, the Riesling grape seems to do best in the warming slate soils of the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, which appends to just “Mosel” as you see on the front label of this wine. In the New World its stronghold is Australia, where it does best in the Eden and Clare Valleys. It is also planted in smaller amounts in New Zealand. In the US, winemakers are eschewing the syrupy sweet versions of the 1970s and 1980s, instead making elegant and balanced wines in both California and Washington State.
If you are not familiar with the Riesling grape, your research will be rewarded. Trust us.
Need More Wine Picks from Costco – or Trader Joe’s Even?
If your wine shopping excursions land you in Costco, prepare by grazing our most recent reviews of Costco wines here in our Lucky 13 list.
And if your shopping finds you at Trader Joe’s, you can find our Lucky 13 list of TJ’s wine here.