November 19, 2013

No, I don’t either, I do however remember the first wine that made me sit up and take note – I was preparing a tasting note in fact. It was 15 years ago but I remember exactly where I was because it was definitely a pivotal point in my life.

Let me set the scene: I was a new mother, a new expat in Brussels and I had embarked on a new hobby, wine appreciation. I had for many years wanted to follow a wine course but more so now since arriving in Belgium I had found it really difficult to buy a bottle in the supermarket; not only were the labels in French but the shelves were arranged such that you really needed to know your Bordeaux from your Bourgogne.

I had been presented with a homework list of 40 wines to taste that covered the majority of wine-producing countries around the world. Three German wines/grape varieties were included in the list. I really was not looking forward to trying any of them. I had enlisted my husband to help with the tastings and so one Friday night after the baby was asleep we sat down and opened all three pouring a glass from each to compare and contrast the different styles (that was the excuse anyhow). I fully expected to be jettisoning one, if not all of them, down the sink afterwards.

We started on the Riesling from the Alsace region of France and found it to be nothing short of a revelation. Aromas of petrol and fumes had enticed rather than deterred us. The first taste brought relief that this wine was more than drinkable, in fact it was a most pleasant wine. The flavours from that liquid gold have remained locked in the memory of my taste buds. It was bone dry with a racy acidity that tingled the sides of my tongue. It had a powerful mineral-driven character coming from the grey slate soils of the region along with flavours of lime & lemon, green apples too. It was deliciously complex and so very elegant. It rendered us speechless; we really, really, really liked it.

Messieurs Hugel, Pere et Fils were no doubt unaware that their elixir had such a profound effect on me. I now couldn’t imagine doing anything but continue with this hobby. Many years later I am embarking upon the first year of the Master of Wine course and yet another homework list!

So this wasn’t my first wine; it was my first Riesling and I will always remember it.


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