Commenting on style: The Riesling Masters was yet another demonstration of Riesling’s sublime versatility. There were good examples of Sparkling, Dry, Medium Dry, Medium and Sweet Rieslings. At the top end we glimpsed greatness in the Dry (wines 33, 34 and 35), Medium Dry (wine 46) and Sweet (wines 61, 61B and 62) divisions. Even within these styles there was fascinating variety. On one occasion we discussed the relative merits of two juxtaposed wines: the first was packed with ripe stone fruit balanced by vibrant acidity and a bone dry finish, the second was richer, more opulent and showed botrytis notes on the nose. I preferred the former, Patrick the latter, but they were both lovely wines and ended up with the same score.
Commenting on price: While our Golds and Masters were clustered at the top end of the price range, there was a pleasing spread of Silvers across the price categories. Wines 4B and 48 deserve a special mention for picking up Silvers despite being in the <£10 bracket.
Commenting on medals: Looking down our medal tally, we did seem to award a high proportion of Silvers (25) compared to Bronzes on one side, and Golds / Masters on the other. It is hard to know whether there is any profound significance to this. Does it suggest that it is hard to make dull or mediocre Riesling, but even harder to make great Riesling? I am not sure. As ever, a lot depends on the samples that we see on the day. Certainly when we were confronted with greatness we had no problem in handing out the top gongs.
Commenting on sources: Austria, Germany, Australia, Washington State and Canada seemed to pick up the biggest slew of top medals. That said, there were some plodding examples from these places as well. We had a good Trentino wine, and I seem to remember that one of the Kazakh bottles did alright. The Chilean Rieslings were not great, and neither was the Turkish one. I remain concerned about the direction of Alsace. Doubtless there are still sublime wines being made there, but I rarely see them in the UK nowadays. What we saw today is typical of the occasional Alsace bottle that I see in the mainstream trade: correct but rather dull and hollow. Perhaps the really exciting wines are being shipped elsewhere, but I am not sure.
Commenting on faults: Miraculously, I think for the first time ever, there were no faulted wines: no cork taint, no obvious reduction, no egregious oxidation, no raised VA. The odd wine was a tad soggy, a couple of wines had slightly suspect quality fruit, and a few had shrill acidity but there was nothing that was faulted.