Poker of Rieslings: Stainless Steel, Barrel, Plastic Container, Amphora…

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“Riesling Ice was fermented at a controlled temperature with the use of selective (purchased) yeasts and we left 5.5 grams of sugars per litre. The second, a classic for us, spent 12 hours in a press on grapes, fermented with its own yeasts, lying on fine residue for several months and in a large 3,000 litre barrel for a year and a half. Both have 7.5 grams of acids per litre, and are completely different wines,” told Zdenko Šember the story of two Rieslings from the 2015 harvest.

They are quite different. Ice is ready to be consumed. It is extremely likeable as the relatively high acids are balanced with the residue sugar. An aroma of apple is bursting from it and has a juicy taste.

The second is self-suppressed. Like Šember. It is “silent” in the glass for a long time, as if thinking what to say and how. And when the words begin to flow, one can only imagine how lovely the verses will be in a year, two, three…

The 2011 harvest was represented by two macerated Rieslings. The label of the first has Roman numerals MMXI. It fermented for 25 days in a plastic container with grapes, then spent half a year on fine residue, 18 months settling in a barrel and moved to the bottle. Its colour is amber, fitting for macerated white wines, the scent is complex, with a long wait to differentiate individual aromas, while the taste is full, yet refreshing. Similar, but more complex, is Qvevri. This Riesling from 2011 was macerated for six months with fermentation in an amphora buried in the soil. Later it spent years in a large barrel and then bottle. In a wide glass slowly come the scents of figs, carob, spices and even resin, while its taste is salty, refreshing and long lasting. Besides the variety, they have in common 12.5% of alcohols and the fact that each is fine in its own way and that each is for a different occasion.

After this poker of aces came the trio of aging kings. Chardonnay sur lie 2004 is lively as if it was from 2014. The Pinot Blanc from 2002 is, Zdenko says, an old love and always a new excitement. Yellow Plavec from 1996 went great with baked cheese, onion and parsley štrukli.

They would plant it for sparklings and still wines, but seedlings are not available, as they said. Shame, we commented along with two jokers: sparkling Blanc de Blanc 2013, which washed out our mouths for the Pinot Noir 2015, another great wine from the Šember cellar.

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