Oz Clarke describes Riesling, in his Grapes and Wines, as the “teacher’s pet” of grapes. “I wonder what it feels like,” he asks, “being the wine experts’ favorite grape, yet failing to excite the palates of the vast majority of wine drinkers across the world?” Well, Siegerrebe doesn’t have that problem; it is most definitely not the wine experts’ favorite grape. Mr Clarke, presumably saying nothing because he has nothing nice to say, doesn’t mention this Gewürztraminer and Madeleine Angevine cross at all. The nicest thing that Jancis Robinson’s Oxford Companion to Wine had this to say about it is, “The variety can usefully bolster some blends in England.” But she doesn’t just damn with faint praise, calling the wine flabby, oppressively flavored, and a chore to drink. Now that’s a lady who speaks her mind!
All this reminds me of a cartoon about a couple discussing a movie. The girl reads off a list of negative reviews – one star, two stars, thumbs down, etc, “It’s a good thing we saw those,” says the guy, “Yeah,” agrees the girl, “we might have seen the movie and liked it by mistake!” I’m glad I didn’t read Ms Robinson’s comments until after I tried the wine myself, because I might have ignored it by mistake. I liked the Whidbey Island Winery’s Siegerrebe enough to grow the grape in my bonsai vineyard. It grows well and ripens early in this climate, that puts it on a pretty short list of grape varietals, and I like the wine. Maybe this is just a case of an obscure grape finding a place where it can shine.
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