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Fritz Hasselbach Qba Rheinhessen Fritz's Riesling 2014
Fritz's Riesling is a light, dynamic very food flexible and modern 100% Riesling wine in a hip packaging and a balanced style.
“His selection in the vineyard was one of his great skills,” said California-based importer Rudi Wiest, who has handled Gunderloch wines in the U.S. since 1988. “He knew which part of the Rothenberg was for the great sweets and what was best for the dry [wines]. He sliced it to perfection. And he didn’t screw it up in the cellar. He was a very kind man and had a lot of friends.”
Born Sept. 1, 1946, Hasselbach graduated from the viticultural school in Eltville in the Rheingau and also earned enology and viticultural degrees from Germany’s leading winemaking school in Geisenheim. He later worked as a viticulture consultant at the research institute in Oppenheim.
In 1974, he married Agnes Usinger, who grew up at Gunderloch, and whose great, great-grandfather Carl Gunderloch founded the estate in 1890. In 1979, the couple joined the family winery and, beginning in 1986, they assumed control over its management, soon helping it to reach new heights of quality. “My aim is for the terroir to express itself in the best possible manner,” Hasselbach once said of his role at the 58-acre estate. “I know that our location is the greatest treasure we possess, and I feel it is my duty to give new life to this treasure each year.
”Hassebach’s son Johannes, 37, succeeded his father in overseeing Gunderloch earlier this year. Hasselbach is also survived by Agnes and their two daughters, Stefanie and Kathrin.
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 more 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.