Winemaker shares Riesling revelations in Vail
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL, Colorado ” Ernst Loosen looks more like a university professor than a world-class winemaker, with his round glasses and longish curls and sporting a subtly plaid vest-and-jacket combo.
But the effect is fitting ” the German winemaker is an expert in the philosophy and process behind the Rieslings in which he specializes.
On Saturday afternoon, Loosen shared his expertise and passion at the Taste of Vail’s Riesling Seminar, explaining the soil and harvesting behind each of the wines and recommending food pairings for the drinks.
And he is serious about his wines. Loosen’s wines are made the traditional way ” grapes are grown in natural soil, hand-harvested and processed with minimal technological meddling.
“I want to smell the blue-slate soil that nourishes the fruit. I want to taste the depth of the old vines. I want to experience the character of the vintage. I want authenticity. Without it, a wine is simply another beverage,” he said.
The seminar showcased eight of Loosen’s wines, which come from the Mosel and Pfalz areas of west-central Germany. The selections ranged from dry to sticky sweet ” that’s right, Rieslings can be very dry, too.
“Many think it is too sweet, only a dessert wine. But there is a balance,” Loosen said. “It’s stupid to talk about German wines as being sweet. We have 13 wine-growing regions in Germany, and they are all different.”
Drier Rieslings can go well with cured meats and sausages, while the sweeter, lower-alcohol-level ones do very well with spicier foods and many Asian cuisines.
“It’s some of the most food-friendly wine in the world,” said Michael Weiler, assistant wine manager at Sweet Basil in Vail. “For me, I love some spicy barbecue with a Riesling that has a little residual acidity.”
Everyone can find a style of Riesling that they like, Loosen said.
“You only need to learn about it and learn to read the labels,” he said.
He admits that deciphering German labels can be difficult, but even knowing the basics ” such as the fact that drier Rieslings have higher alcohol percentages ” can help buyers make more educated wine decisions.
Avon resident Debbie Brill said she was especially surprised by the taste of the drier Rieslings.
“The presentation was brilliant and very accessible ” which learning about German wines generally is not,” she said.
Mark Stang, of Boulder, said he stayed in Vail an extra day just to attend the seminar.
“It’s always a learning experience. We had (Loosen’s wine) last night at dinner, and we loved it. So we stayed an extra day for the seminar,” he said.
Loosen, whose family has been making Rieslings for about 200 years, also talked about the history of the land and heritage of the vineyards.
“It’s neat to hear it from the horse’s mouth,” Vail resident Jack Schwartz said. “It’s great to hear him talking about his great-grandparents and their work in the vineyards.”
Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 748-2928 or email@example.com.
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