Clean Slate Riesling 2017
Pairs beautifully with spicy cuisines, Asian, Tex-Mex, Indian and sushi.
Clean Slate is the product of a partnership between Moselland of Bernkastel-Kues, Germany and The Winebow Group. Moselland is the largest vineyard owner in the Mosel and one of Germany’s top exporters of Riesling. The thin slate stones of vineyards in the Mosel River Valley are a critical factor in crafting Riesling of exquisite balance. The stones are so precious that should any slip into the river, they are carefully retrieved and carried back up the treacherously steep vineyard slopes and returned to their place. The slate’s ability to reflect and retain heat is essential to ripening grapes in this cool climate, and what develops the fresh peach, crisp lime, and subtle mineral flavors of these wines. Clean Slate is made of Riesling grapes sourced from selected vineyards throughout the Mosel region. Known for its steep slopes, the region’s exceptional climate and mineral-rich slate soil create the perfect growing conditions for this grape. The cool climate of Mosel’s northerly location allows grapes to ripen very slowly, while the slopes give the vines ideal sun exposure. Further protection comes with the Mosel River’s tendency to hold heat, keeping vines protected from getting too cold and creating a special microclimate for ideal ripeness levels. The thin, stony topsoil forces the vines to root deep through the rocks for water and nutrients, resulting in wines of excellent minerality and complexity. In the course of harvest, Clean Slate makes daily decisions regarding which grapes to pick, based on ripeness and maturation in the different areas of the region. Winemaker, Peter Meurer, insists on the gentle handling of the grapes, which are then fermented and stored instainless steel tanks under temperature-controlled conditons. All of this is critical to the development of the fresh peach, crisp lime and subtle mineral flavors of Clean Slate’s wines — Peter's exquisite expression of the region’s unique essence of Riesling terroir. Peter Meurer was born and raised in the small village of Burg located in the Mosel valley and comes from a long linage of winegrowers. He started his career at the Dr. Loosen Esate in Bernkastel-Kues, followed by studies of viticulture and enology at the world famous University of Geisenheim. After graduation, he look over his family winery and became a member of the jury at the Chamber of Agriculture. Clean Slate is evidence of Peter's passion of the Mosel region and the Riesling grape.
Following the Mosel River as it slithers and weaves dramatically through the Eifel Mountains in Germany’s far west, the Mosel wine region is considered by many as the source of the world’s finest and longest-lived Rieslings.
Mosel’s unique and unsurpassed combination of geography, geology and climate all combine together to make this true. Many of the Mosel’s best vineyard sites are on the steep south or southwest facing slopes, where vines receive up to ten times more sunlight, a very desirable condition in this cold climate region. Given how many twists and turns the Mosel River makes, it is not had to find a vineyard with this exposure. In fact, the Mosel’s breathtakingly steep slopes of rocky, slate-based soils straddle the riverbanks along its entire length. These rocky slate soils, as well as the river, retain and reflect heat back to the vineyards, a phenomenon that aids in the complete ripening of its grapes.
Riesling is by far the most important and prestigious grape of the Mosel, grown on approximately 60% of the region’s vineyard land—typically on the desirable sites that provide the best combination of sunlight, soil type and altitude. The best Mosel Rieslings—dry or sweet—express marked acidity, low alcohol, great purity and intensity with aromas and flavors of wet slate, citrus and stone fruit. With age, the wine’s color will become more golden and pleasing aromas of honey, dried apricot and sometimes petrol develop.
A regal variety of incredible purity and precision, Riesling possesses a remarkable ability to reflect the character of wherever it is grown while still maintaining easily identifiable typicity. This versatile grape can be just as enjoyable dry or sweet, young or old, still or sparkling and can age longer than nearly any other white variety. Riesling is best known in Germany and Alsace, and is also of great importance in Austria. The variety has also been particularly successful in Australia’s Clare and Eden Valleys, New Zealand, Washington, cooler regions of California, and the Finger Lakes region of New York.
In the Glass
Riesling typically produces wine with relatively low alcohol, high acidity, steely minerality and stone fruit, spice, citrus and floral notes. At its ripest, it leans towards juicy peach, nectarine and pineapple, while cooler climes produce Rieslings redolent of meyer lemon, lime and green apple. With age, Riesling can become truly revelatory, developing unique, complex aromatics, often with a hint of petrol.
Riesling is quite versatile, enjoying the company of sweet-fleshed fish like sole, most Asian food, especially Thai and Vietnamese (bottlings with some residual sugar and low alcohol are the perfect companions for dishes with substantial spice) and freshly shucked oysters. Sweeter styles work well with fruit-based desserts.
It can be difficult to discern the level of sweetness in a Riesling, and German labeling laws do not make things any easier. Look for the world “trocken” to indicate a dry wine, or “halbtrocken” or “feinherb” for off-dry. Some producers will include a helpful sweetness scale on the back label—happily, a growing trend.