DISCLAIMER: Wine-Blog is a journal of my PR wine activities and learnings. 1) I occasionally write stories about wine clients, but don’t charge them hours for that time. 2) Wine reviews (and trips) originate from free samples sent by PR people representing the brands. 3) Images are either mostly mine, some are purchased; a few rare ones are part of fair trade usage.

Two Rieslings ~ Schloss Johannisberg Gelblack and Urban by Nik Weis… Two very different, but equally delicious, Rieslings.

Thus begins the season of thanks. And, I am so thankful that my wine journey has included Rieslings. Dry, off dry, I love them all, because they’re so versatile and food friendly. Usually lower in alcohol, you can also enjoy a bit more, and not feel as tipsy.

I’ve been sent two Rieslings, so I’m going to feature them both today. They’re extreme opposites, as Rieslings go. One was dry, the other off dry, so it makes this a better sharing moment. And, before I forget, make sure that you think of this variety for your Thanksgiving meal(s). It is a perfect wine for appetizers, the sweeter version can work with salads (sweet ones, as long as your salad dressing also has some Riesling in it, along with Mandarin oranges, and lemon versus vinegar), great for bird dishes, making stuffing out of this world as a pairing, and even desserts (off dry ones, to balance the sweetness of desserts).

With Rieslings, think Yin Yang. If it’s dry, match with sweeter foods (cranberry dressing). If it has some residual sugar, go with dryer foods (herb dressing).

2015 Schloss Johannisberg Gelblack (SRP $30) – Produced by the architect and first 100 percent Riesling estate in the world, this off-dry wine was crafted from hand-harvested grapes from the Schloss Johannisberg Vineyard.

The Schloss Johannisberg Gelblack Riesling was the drier of the two. This one is my appetizer Riesling… Bring on a cheese plate, taste a few cheeses, and pick a couple of your favorites to serve. You can also wrap up a meal with a cheese plate, and finish your meal with this one. This one is sheer elegance.

The Riesling grapes for this one were hand-harvested from a single vineyard, located in Rheingau, Germany. After fermentation, the wine settles on the lees for five months. It’s quite complex and has a delicious nose of white gardenias, pears, and apple blossoms.  It’s very well balanced and speaks refinement! I wanted to expect that, and wasn’t disappointed, and delighted that it over delivered so well, with really crisp acidity. This one is only 12 percent alcohol. Just refreshingly delicious and completely over delivers to perfection. Highly recommended for your holidays!

HISTORY from their Website:

Some 1,200 years of viticultural history are associated with Johannisberg. An eventful history, which, among other things, led to the creation of the world’s first Riesling wine estate and with it, a unique wine culture that has existed at Johannisberg ever since. Founded as a Benedictine monastery, the Johannisberg abbey quickly became a viticultural focal point and initiator in the Rheingau. Today, in the heart of the cellar, is the underground library “Bibliotheca subterranea” – the famed treasure chamber of the palace, with its centuries-old wine rarities.

As of 1716, Schloss Johannisberg belonged to the prince abbot of Fulda, who had a grand, three-winged palace built in line with the taste of the times. It is thanks to this owner that the benefits of a “Spätlese” (late harvest) were recognized. In 1775, the courier annually sent to Fulda to receive official permission for the start of the grape harvest was delayed by several weeks. By the time he returned to Johannisberg, the grapes were infested with noble rot. Nevertheless, the courageous cellarmaster had the rotten grapes harvested and vinified, thereby producing a new style of ?wine – “Spätlese” – which thereafter became standard at Johannisberg. Although documents from 1730 report that a few growers “gladly waited for a bit of noble rot in order to increase the sugar level of the grapes,” the year 1775 marked the beginning of a deliberately scheduled late harvest of botrytized grapes. A monument adjacent to the Vinothek (wine shop), where the estate’s current vintages can be sampled, commemorates the famous courier whose delay led to the worldwide triumphal course of “Spätlese”.

2016 Nik Weis Selection, Urban Riesling. (The off-dry one.) My first impression, since I tasted it during really hot weather: As refreshing as a long summer day, when a heat spell has finally broken, and we’re all energized. So, now taking that refreshing moment into the warmth of autumn, it’s light and lively and ready for delicious foods. Please keep in mind, this is a 9.5 percent alcohol wine. Get out the foods, Precious, we’re going for a ride with this touch of sweet wine! Remember, when there’s  a touch of residual sugar, there is going to be a whole lot more flavor.

Here is what Nik Weis Selections offers as historical info:

Urban Riesling (SRP $15) is made by Nik Weis , under his Nik Weis Selection label, to distinguish this non-estate wine from his family’s celebrated estate-bottled St. Urbans-Hof Rieslings. A master of Riesling (he works with nothing else), Nik is best known as the winemaker and third generation owner of St. Urbans-Hof, one of the premier estates in Germany’s Mosel Valley. Urban was created by Nik a few years ago and is very much a family-community affair, including grapes from vineyards owned by his wife Daniela’s family, plus friends of Nik’s father-in-law. For this wine, Nik works with grapes grown in the Mosel’s blue slate vineyards and valley floor vineyards characterized by gravel and river sediments.

About the “Urban” name: No, it’s not a nod to hipster urban chic, but a reference to Saint Urban, patron saint of winemakers, prayed to in hope of good vintages and invoked in cases of blight, unseasonable weather, or simply feeling faint (presumably after experiencing any one of the aforementioned conditions). The story goes that Urban was named Bishop of Langres in Burgundy in 374 AD. Political troubles broke out soon after, forcing Urban to flee for his life and take refuge in the nearby vineyards. There, friendly vineyard workers took pity on the unfortunate bishop and hid him from his assailants. Not one to waste an opportunity, Urban went to work, converting his newfound companions to Christianity. From there it was a happy-ever-after situation, with Urban and his merry band roaming the French countryside, making converts as they went. Urban died peacefully around 390 AD at the age of 63 – a relatively good age for the time. He sounds like a reasonably good egg.

This wine is a treasure. How could anyone be disappointed in a wine that offers so much flavor, value, and charming history, at such a great price? It’s on my “favorites list.” Give it a try, and I’m betting that it will be on your list, too.

Imported by HB Wine Merchants

Jane Kettlewell and Suzie Kukaj from Mionetto Pfitscher Marion