Packing a case of Riesling along on a summer vacation may simply be a matter of logic and good taste—no other wine is going to do all the recreational and gastronomic tasks of the season quite as well (in partnership with a few good reds for the charred burgers, spareribs and steaks). We had a couple of opulent Alsatians for the turbot and sole, but the best, most appealing all-rounders, were Germans, deliciously vivacious and lively companions for the occasion as well as the food.
Most memorable was a trio by Prinz von Hessen, from the 2010 vintage. It was a difficult one, with a slow start in the Spring, a sharp heat spike in mid-summer, and then long spells of rain. I was surprised, and delighted, at how well the wines turned out. The afternoon and evening sipper was labelled “H,” pleasantly light at 11.5 percent alcohol, with a bracing zip of acidity to match the light residual sugar—the sort of wine you never tire of, and wonderful with fresh crabmeat on thin slices of sourdough bread. The “Kabinett” was vibrant, a little fuller (12 percent alcohol), nearly dry, with a light touch of citrus, a perfect match for plaice, skate, and John Dory baked with a bit of grapefruit and lots of parsley. “Dachsfilet,” from a vineyard on a high slope, was the fullest (12.5 alcohol and partly fermented with the grape skins), almost unctuous, complex (hints of white peach and a long aftertaste) and, unsurprisingly, the ideal partner for scallops and sea bass.