Riesling the world’s greatest wine – Paul Grieco
My last morning at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen was spent watching part of the Quickfire Cookoff between Rick Bayless of Frontera in Chicago and Michael Voltaggio of The Langham in Pasadena, Cal. and being entertained and educated by Riesling fan extraordinaire Paul Grieco.
This final morning of the Classic traditionally is the quietest of the three-day event, as many people are thinking about heading home while there also are plenty of Saturday-night hangovers being nursed.
Grieco is co-owner of Hearth restaurant and Terroir
wine bar in NYC and such a devoted fan of the Riesling he was sporting for the weekend a big, bold, black “Riesling” tattoo.
Grieco (rhymes with echo) offered a seminar called “Riesling: A World Tour,” and after three days of the Classic, a Sunday morning seminar is unlikely to be very crowded, as he noted.
“People are either too hungover to get up or are over at the St. Regis watching the show,” Grieco offered. “So that means you (in the audience) are either lost or in love with Riesling.
“I’ll be bold enough to presume it’s the latter.”
“Finesse, harmony, complexity, longevity, all these add up,” he said, running his hand through his unruly mane of black hair, flashing the big, bold “Riesling” printed on his forearm.
But it’s terroir, and the ability to communicate terroir, that makes a wine truly great, he said.
“What do I mean by terroir?” he asked. “It’s more than just the soil or the landscape or the weather. It’s a sense of place, it’s what you grow and where you grow it and even the history of the land.”
Riesling, said Grieco, speaks of place like no other grape.
“Riesling is the greatest grape and produces the greatest wines on the planet,” he said. “Riesling is totally transparent, it gives absolute voice to the place it’s grown.”
He was also wearing a T-shirt announcing “The Summer of Riesling,” a Riesling-phile program offered at his wine bar, Terroir. Thirty wines, all Rieslings and all by the glass, comprise the bar’s white-wine menu.
“No chardonnay, no pinot gris, no sauvignon blanc, just Riesling,” Grieco explained. “We want people to experience and get to know Riesling.”
The six Rieslings he had us sample during his 45-minute included the 2007 Von Kesselstatt Riesling Trocken Josephshofer from the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer region of Germany.
“The measure of greatness in a Riesling isn’t the level of sugar, it’s the acidity to give it balance,” Grieco said. “The area along the Mosel is the perfect place to create wines with that balance.”
He laughed about the tattoo on his forearm, and noted we, too, could have one.
“If you love Riesling as much as I do, you’d do this, too,” he said, lifting the arm for all to see. “And so I’ve given you all the opportunity to have a Riesling tattoo.”
It’s not a real tattoo, of course, but rather a temporary water-based mark, and there at our seats were similar wet-and-press-on tattoo kits.
In spite of the hour, and any remaining hangovers, very few of the audience left without their Riesling tattoo.
Other Rieslings in Paul Grieco’s “Riesling: A World Tour:”
– 2008 Johannes Hirsch Zobinger Heiligenstein Riesling, Kamptal, Austria
– 2005 Josmeyer Les Pierrets Riesling, Alsace, France
– 2007 Herman J. Wiemer Magdalena Vineyard Riesling, Finger Lakes, N.Y.
– 2006 Cave Spring Cellars CSV Riesling, Niagara Peninsula, Can.
– 2009 Craggy Range Fletcher Family Vineyard Riesling, Marlborough, N.Z.