Petroleum and Riesling

Justin and I recently conducted a tasting for a group of consumers consisting of our different Riesling vineyards.  It was fun and encouraging to see so many people stay engaged for nearly 2 hrs and taking such an interest in what we do.  Someone asked me about petrol in Riesling and it just so happened that today as I was checking one of my favorite producers web-site, I don’t see him as much as I used to, he had a nice piece about petrol in Riesling…By the way, if you get a chance to try André’s wines, you should.

From the great (in my humble estimation) André Ostertage of Alsace, France:

“I’m not talking here about those fires raised by some infuriated pétroleuses. More prosaically, I mean petroleum notes in Rieslings! You do remember that, not so long ago, we said Cabernet Franc was smelling after green pepper. This was before the best winemakers in the Loire region managed to harvest ripe and green pepper-free Cabernets. Ever since, we have figured out the green pepper taste was indeed typical of Cabernet Franc, but only when it is not ripe! It goes the same with petroleum in Riesling. This is a distinctive plant tracker of grapes harvested unripe, especially when petroleum notes are to be found in young wines.

So please, stay away from petroleum-smelling young Rieslings, or you may feel sorely disappointed. Look only for noble petroleum ageing notes in some terroirs, not including Muenchberg, Fronholz and Heissenberg at all. However, bear in mind that Riesling wines made from ripe grapes will never smell after petroleum. They will rather remind you of a bunch of white flowers or a peach and apricot basket, and most aged Rieslings will only exhibit a short-lived hint of it, never enough to fill up an oil barrel!”