Clean Slate Riesling - new release - an enjoyable generic German wine

October 14, 2013

Last Thursday I took son Connor to New Jersey for a major wine tasting at the Florham Park Club in Madison. Their were hundreds of wines, beers and upscale liquors plus all types of cheese, charcuterie, chocolates and pastries available to sample. Grist for several months for this column. This was Connor’s first venture into large scale tasting and he found it a welcome life experience. I must tell you who have an interest in wine that as each of my children has approached 25, I have exposed them to this type of event and it has been an outstanding way to pass several hours with them. I recommend that those who have grown children take an opportunity to plan such a trip for a terrific bonding experience.

Recently I sampled a bottle of Clean Slate Riesling 2012 - the new release. It is a very enjoyable generic German Riesling that can be found in at least four of our local stores, at Crabby Dick's and Pig and Fish. It is pale green tinged yellow and opens to peach, orange and floral aromas.

Clean Slate is slightly sweet, but the acid structure balances and keeps it clean. As with most German Rieslings it is unoaked. A very nice food wine for those who enjoy Spicy Asian and Mexican dishes, it also goes well with crab cakes and white fishes in butter sauce; 89 points when bought under $10.

If you live in the D.C. environs you can find a very enjoyable $12 Prosecco named Zardetto Prosecco DOC NV. Those who enjoy well made dry sparklers will be pleasantly surprised by the QPR on this 89-point aperitif wine.

The nose is slightly floral with lemon/lime notes that lead to pear and lime soda flavors.

I hope some of you big buck buyers glombed onto some of the 2010 Bordeaux. One caveat; you really need to shop these. A good example: buyers can purchase about eight cases of 100-pointer Pontet Canet for the price of one case of 100-point Latour or Lafite - and have change to spare. Jancis Robinson gave Latour and Lafite 19/20 and Pontet Canet 18/20. Better for folks with connections to an interested local purveyor; you can order Chateau Beausejour Daufua Lagarosse 2011 and 2012 rated 95-98 points for well under $100.

Trust me folks unless you are a collector - reseller this is the way to go. Since Nicolas Thienpoint and Stephane Derenoncourt came on board with Michel Rolland for the 2009 vintage, the production changes they instituted have born fruit (pun intended). Another idea is to buy a case of half bottles rated in the mid 90s. You pay a slight premium, but you can do six, four vintage verticals and the wine matures earlier. The 2008 up need more cellar time and the best of them may need six to eight years.

While I was at the New Jersey tasting, I had the opportunity to talk with several European growers and producers. They all confirmed the weather reports that I synopsized from the Snooth projections. In a few cases the fall has been warm and sunny the past few weeks just before the pick. Those who reported that were mildly encouraged. However, I think, for the most part, I detected whistling past the graveyard optimism. The general comments were: “difficult year,” “lower yields,” cold, wet spring,” “hail and windy spring,” and my favorite from the Sauterne region of Bordeaux, "blooming of rot that wasn’t so noble.” Fortunately most of the wine being shown was 2010 and 2011. The tasting went far to confirm what I have been reporting to you here. Everything was good.

We met a couple of delightful enthusiastic young guys from Alba vineyards in Village of Finesville, Milford, N.J. There wine is not available in Delaware, due to our ridiculous laws, but they were delicious, especially the Riesling and both a raspberry and a blueberry wine.

The 2010 Chambourcin has won medals in Cali and the Finger Lakes competitions. I’m guessing Jean Lafite’s great, great, great grandson could get some for those who don’t have internet access. You can check them out at