Staying vertical during a vertical tasting

Hope you in the U.S. had a happy and safe Thanksgiving. I listened to Dr. Fauci and didn't go to anyone else's house. Luckily I have mad cooking skills and made my own deliciousness. As for what to drink... Well, I was sitting around, and the turkey breast was bubbling away in the sous vide. The legs were braising (not mine, the turkey's). Potatoes were cooking away in the pressure cooker in anticipation of a good mashing later. I had some time to kill, and whatever shall I do to occupy myself...


Well, that'll do.

No worries, folks, I did not drink all of these fine wines in one day. Rather I had myself a nice little vertical tasting, where you try the same varietal from the same producer over several years.


And damn, but it looks good on Insta.


If you want to try your own vertical tasting, make sure the bottles are all stored the same way. My Beneduce Vineyard rieslings all sat in the fridge, and I brought them out for an hour to come to temperature. I recommend you get the same or similar glasses. (Though I could spiel for ages on tasting the same wine in different shaped glasses, but that, friends, is for another newsletter.)


These vintages ranged from 2014 to 2017. The most surprising thing to me was how little variation there was between each year. The 2014 was the softest of the four, and I'm guessing that's more down to age. The other years were bright and fairly crisp. All had very restrained fruit. I caught a very little bit of floral on the nose of the 2015, but otherwise they were all very clear.


The other big thing I noticed was the pronounced petrol note on the nose. I know that doesn't sound very appealing, but to riesling goobers like me, it's rare you actually see them in the wild. This author calls it "a factor that many consider to mark some of the best aged Riesling wines on the planet." I've never gotten that note on an American riesling, only on wines I've tasted from Mosel Germany. Mike Beneduce, the vineyard manager and winemaker at the vineyards, has commented many times before that the soil and microclimate of their site actually tests out to be much like Austria's. That's why their interest in grapes like blaufränkisch (their signature red) and riesling. If we had a blind tasting of Austrian rieslings and these, maybe someone with a more refined palate could tell the difference, but I'm pretty sure I couldn't.


And then I sipped the 2014 and 2017 side by side, just to have fun with the wildly varying texture.


If you want other tips on how to host a vertical tasting of your own, the SpruceEats has some tips here.


And yes, all the rieslings went great with my meal. I've still got some of the last three years in my fridge. I should probably go work on that now.


Need some ideas on wine gifts for the holidays? Shoot me your questions and I'll do my best to answer!

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