Riesling from Germany, Austria and Alsace

In a comprehensive tasting with Munich Wine Club last Saturday we tasted many of the best wines made from the Riesling grape back to 1976.

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Dönnhoff´s 2015 Oberhäuser Brücke Spätlese, from heavy, loamy soils and primary rock right on the banks of the Nahe river on the opposite side of the winery, showed very fruit-driven, ripe and open with tons of yellow fruits (stone fruit, citrus, mango and pineapple) and little herbal fresh- and spiciness. I´m curious to see these wines in 10+ years time.
The weathered slate soils with rocky parts, embedded iron and clay created a distinct Scharzhofberger Riesling in 2001. Even though this wasn´t a perfect bottle, Egon Müller´s 2001 Scharzhofberger Spätlese showed the typical fresh and intensive herbal characters and citrus notes with present, vibrant and salty minerality.
A clean, concentrated and structured wine.

Knoll´s Schütt is always among my personal favorites from the Wachau, because it´s more focused and pure and not as ripe and bold as many other vineyards. Good to see the 2012 shining strong with citrus (zest), concentrated yellow fruit, herbal freshness, notes of ginger and minerality. Bold and ripe on the palate with present alcohol and sufficient substance and fruit. Powerful and long with focus.
The fourth wine of the evening was already a serious highlight of the night!
Wittmann´s ‘La Borne’ comes from heavy limestone soils with chalk, which always create wines of elegance, coolness and fresh fruit. 2011 La Borne perfectly fits this profile. Elegant and almost reluctant aromas of little yellow fruit, fresh herbs, perfume and white florals, but powerful, dense and full of drive on the palate with substance, great depth, focus and length. Fantastic vibrant and salty minerality. Keep this wine 10+ years.

Wittmann 2007 Brunnenhäuschen is powerful and ripe with aromas of stone fruit, yellow apples, caramel, exotic spices and smoky minerality. Deep, dark and vibrant on the palate. Immense potential!
F.X. Pichler 2006 Unendlich. I remember tasting exceptional examples of this wine – like the magnificient 2002 or the deep, exciting and vibrant 2005, but the 2006 was a bit over the top for me. As in 2005 from 100% Loibenberg fruit, the 2006 is incredibly bold and driven by present alcohol. Still, great structure, depth and complex aromatics. Keep.

Schäfer-Fröhlich´s 2005 Felsenberg directly showed the distinct Schäfer-Fröhlich fingerprint of smoky minerality and notes of spontaneous fermentation (!). The volcanic soils created a wild, still young and vibrant wine of drive and focus.
Especially compared to the Schäfer-Fröhlich, Ökonomierat Rebholz 2005 Kastanienbusch is quiet, feminine and well-behaved with fine, yellow fruits, a lot of perfume and florals. Drinking nicely, but lacking character and depth.

Heymann-Löwenstein 2004 Uhlen Blaufüßer Lay comes with stone fruit, lemon, dried grass and herbal spiciness. Very clean, yet powerful and long. A fresh, fruit-driven and harmonious wine of density and drinking pleasure.
But Keller´s 2003 Morstein appeared to be on a level above with ripe stone fruit, orange zest, oriental spices, fresh herbs, pepper and dark minerality. Deep and dark on the palate with decent length. Maybe lacking some acidity and drive to be exceptional, but fascinating and still young.

In Bürklin-Wolf´s 2002 Hohenmorgen high ripeness and fine acidity combine.
A strong wine of ripe stone fruit, dried herbs, some orange zest, little honey and lactic notes. All in all more bold than elegant, but in perfect harmony.
Prager 1998 Ried Klaus Smaragd was among the stars of the night with precision, purity and perfection. Fresh aromas of citrus, mix of green herbs, traces of petrol, little moss and delicate minerality.
Fine and alive on the palate with great length and laser-like focus.
A masterpiece!

While Trimbach´s 1993 Frederic Emile was oxidized, its big brother was singing: Trimbach 1991 Clos Ste Hune showed citrus, petrol, fresh herbs, traces of honey and wild minerality. Present, vibrant and complex on the palate with a solid structure of acidity and extract, yet an elegant Clos Ste Hune of sophistication.

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J.J. Prüm 2003 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese wasn´t able to hide its origin. Which meant showing, on the one hand, the distinct dark and earthy nuances of the Wehlener Sonnenuhr vineyard, but, on the other hand, also the characteristics of an exceptionally hot 2003 vintage. Thereby, the wine was very ripe, expressive and lacked finesse and vitality. Still super-youthful, I´m curious to see the development over the next decades.

Von Schubert 1998 Abtsberg Auslese Nr.215 on the contrary was amazingly good!
Fresh, precise and complex with aromas of citrus and exotic fruits, fresh herbs, fir trees, traces of petrol and delicate, salty minerality. In perfect harmony, this wine drinks deliciously and is pure sophistication at the same time. So pure and clean.

Gillot 1976 Oppenheimer Sackträger TBA finished our tasting with ripe, stone fruit, coffee, caramel, honey and dark spiciness. A young power package of ripeness, sweetness and substance. Still endless potential.

Tasting Note: Joh. Jos. Prüm 2007 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett

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1. Introduction:
The Prüm winery is just opposite of its famous, and probably best, vineyard site the “Wehlener Sonnenuhr”,
on the other side of the river Mosel in Wehlen, Germany. It directly faces the vineyard.
Actually, the historic eponymous “Sonnenuhr” (sundial), which can still be found in the vineyard today, was built by Jodocus Prüm, an ancestor of Manfred Prüm, who runs the winery with his daughter Katharina in these days, in 1842. J.J. Prüm stands for profound and ageable Riesling with residual sweetness and finesse from the Mosel´s slate soils. Our 2007 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Kabinett is in perfect condition.
Flawless bottle and cork. 9% alc.

2. Appearance:
Pale straw color.
Vital with no signs of aging.

3. Nose:
Aromas of Stone Fruit, Gooseberry and Exotic Fruit (Passionfruit, Pineapple, Banana).
Fine Minerality, traces of (Sweet) Butter and Yeast.
Florals (Rose, Violet) and notes of Sulfur.
Nice, but still very cautious and a bit reductive.

4. Taste:
More Yellow Fruits (Citrus, Gooseberry and Exotic Fruit).
Some Honey. Fine Minerality and Healthy Acidity.
Finishes medium-long with Fine Fruit, Elegance and very little Spiciness.
Still young and closed, but showing capacity for development.

5. Opinion:
A fine, young wine with potential, which has not fully opened up yet, but shows an interesting play of fruit and minerality.
At this stage the wine is lacking density on the palate and appears a little edged and reluctant.
This Kabinett asks for patience and long-term cellaring to evolve.
Prüm is known for its generous use of sulfur which slows the evolution of the wine down significantly.
When compared to wines of same vintage from other top Mosel producers, Prüm wines are in my experience usually the ones least developed.
Keep and drink in 3+ years.

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Wehlener Sonnenuhr vineyard, 03.2013

Tasting Note: Reinhold Haart 1994 Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Riesling Auslese

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1. Introduction:
Located nearby an ancient Roman Wine Press in Piesport, the Haart family is making wine for more than 650 years.
Karl-Theo and his son Johannes cultivate 7,5ha (18,5 acres) of steep slope vineyards which stretch right behind the winery, where viticulture has a history of more than 2000 years.
So, history and tradition play an important part in their winemaking philosophy and, in the vineyard as well as in the cellar, sensitivity and restraint are the key words when Haart is focusing on sweet wines with elegance, charm and personality.
Today we taste the 1994 Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Riesling Auslese from Haart´s premium site- the Goldtröpfchen.
Bottle and cork flawless. 8,5% alc.

2. Appearance:
Golden-yellow. Vital.

3. Nose:
In the beginning, very reserved, but opened up after one hour.
Filigree aromas of Stone- and Tropical Fruits. Hints of Petrol.
Multifaceted Floral and Herbal characters come with Fine Minerality.
Very fine, sophisticated and inviting!

4. Taste:
Decent and elegant Stone Fruit- mostly Ripe Peach- and some Orange Zest and Lime.
Soft Honey. Freshness- in a quiet but exciting play of Acidity and Minerality.
Finishes medium-long with Soft Fruit, Herbal Spices and a beautiful mouthfeel.
Harmonious and fine knitted with good concentration and elegance!

5. Opinion:
Light as a feather, but complex, filigree and perfectly balanced.
Compared to the aged Auslesen from Maximin Grünhaus and Karthäuserhof, we´ve tasted recently, this wine is even more delicate. Highly interesting, and even challenging, to smell and taste through the wine´s many facets and layers.
Fascinating and still good for some more future years.

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(photo http://www.haart.de)

Tasting Note: Maximin Grünhaus 1989 Abtsberg Riesling Auslese Nr.96

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1. Introduction:
Maximin Grünhaus is located on the left banks of the river Ruwer 2km (1,2miles) before it flows into the Mosel. It mainly cultivates three vineyards surrounding the estate, Abtsberg, Herrenberg and Bruderberg. All of these are exclusively owned by the Von Schubert family and deliver distinct wines of unique character.
With parts of the 14ha (~35acre) of the steep slopes and slate soils in the Abtsberg under vine for more than 1000 years, the wines are long-lasting, finely structured and filigree.
Our 1989 Abtsberg Riesling Auslese Nr.96 is in perfect condition- even though the cork had soaked up some wine over the years. No oxidation or other flaws. 9% alc.

2. Appearance:
Deep golden yellow. Shining and lively!

3. Nose:
Subtle and complex aromas of Yellow and Tropical Fruits in a play of Melon, Peach, Orange, Passion Fruit and others. Hints of Cedar!
Soft Honey and obvious traces of Herbs, Chamomile and Mint.
Little Petrol and vibrant Freshness!
Multilayered, very fine and exciting as it delivers new nuances over the time of tasting again and again!

4. Taste:
Ripe Yellow and Exotic Fruits- mostly Peach, Apricot, Lemon and Passion Fruit.
Some Apples.
Again Honey and Herbs (Lovage, Chamomile) with delicious Sweetness of Cake.
Perfectly balanced and softly textured.
Finishes long and playful. Gentle Acidity, Filigree Minerality and Herbal notes.
Great finesse, many details, plus vitality and freshness!

5. Opinion:
A wine at its maximum! Nicely integrated components, aged, but still fresh with decent fruit.
Optimum balance in a delicious and sophisticated Auslese, which combines fine delicateness with great flavor concentration.
Very good now, but still able to rest for some more years.

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Tasting Note: Karthäuserhof 1999 Karthäuserhofberg Riesling Auslese Nr. 23

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1. Introduction:
Due to market-driven demand abroad and domestically, the development might head for a growing production and marketing of Dry Riesling in Germany.
The new classification system blends into this trend by pointing out the “Großen Gewächse” (GG) on top of Germany´s quality spectrum.
While there´s a debate going on in Social Media about the assumed question of principle of “Dry vs. Sweet”, CellarTV enjoys the diversity and fascination of both- sweet and dry Riesling :-)

Today we taste the 1999 Riesling Auslese Nr.23 with 9% alc from one of the best vintages in history of the Karthäuserhof. The fruit comes from their exclusively cultivated vineyard- the Eitelsbacher Karthäuserhofberg- of course.
Bottle and cork flawless.

2. Appearance:
Bright yellow with green reflexes.
Looking good with hardly any visual aging.

3. Nose:
Filigree and multi-layered aromas of Ripe, Yellow Fruits- as Apricot and Peach-
traces of Forrest Strawberries.
Floral characters, Moss, Mint and Freshly-Cut Herbs. Little Butter.
Delicate, very fine and sophisticated.

4. Taste:
Decent Sweetness with Fruit Flavors of Apricot and other Stone Fruits.
Orange Zest and Soft Honey characteristics. Freshness.
Amazing Soft and Long Finish with Superfine Acidity and Mineral Notes.
Great finesse and detail without lacking concentration!

5. Opinion:
A gracefully built, integrated and complex Auslese with detail and, thus, a perfect example of the greatness of “sweet” Riesling.
While fourteen years old, this wine comes with fine complexity, harmony and a lot of future potential. Amazing!

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Tasting Note: Karthäuserhof 2003 Karthäuserhofberg Riesling Spätlese

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1. Introduction:
Karthäuserhof cultivates only one vineyard site, the Eitelsbacher Karthäuserhofberg, exclusively. While almost every premium vineyard in Germany is subdivided and used by several producers, the Karthäuserhofberg on the banks of river Ruwer is owned by the Tyrell family only.
Steep slopes with red-copper colored slate soils create concentrated wines with mineral characteristics.
Today we taste the 2003 Karthäuserhof Riesling Spätlese (Late Harvest) with 9,5% alc and nice residual sweetness.
Bottle and cork flawless.

2. Appearance:
Bright golden- yellow. Brilliant and strawy.
Hardly any visual aging.

3. Nose:
Nose driven by Stone- Fruits, Honeydew Melon, Pineapple and some Raspberry.
Filligree exotic aromas and complexity!
Floral characteristics- mostly essence of Roses- paired with Petrol.
Unobtrusive, delicate and inviting!

4. Taste:
More Exotic Fruits. Stone- and Citrus Fruits, Lychee and Honeydew Melon.
Fresh Herbs in a beautiful frame of Minerality and Acidity.
Very little sweetness.
Finishes medium-long with Fruit flavors, Honey and mostly Minerality.
Appears surprisingly young and fresh, but well proportioned and interesting.

5. Opinion:
Another beautiful Riesling!
Nice complexity, balance and future potential in a young appearing, concentrated, but delicate wine.

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Tasting Note: Van Volxem 2005 Schwarzhofberger Riesling Auslese GK

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1. Introduction:
After a period of struggling with major problems the Van Volxem winery was bought by Roman Niewodniczanski in 2000. He reanimated the property with its premium sites Schwarzhofberg and Wiltinger Gottesfuß, which is now well-known for its concentrated, powerful wines with acidity from the steep slate soils at the Saar (river).
Today we´re tasting the 2005 Riesling Auslese (selection) Goldkapsel (gold capsule) from the Schwarzhofberg vineyard.
The Riesling Auslese is a wine with residual sweetness and little as 7,5% alc.
Bottle and cork flawless.

2. Appearance:
Deep golden and yellow. Bright and beautiful!

3. Nose:
Aromas of Honey paired with Citrus and Stone Fruit. Little Melon.
Present Minerality and Firestone! Herbal and Floral characteristics with traces of Mint.
Very complex, integrated, filigree and smooth!

4. Taste:
Honey (-Melon) with Stone-, Citrus- and Exotic Fruits!
Beautiful creamy, almost oily texture with a combination of Floral and Herbal flavors.
Pleasant acidity adds tension to a smooth and cozy mouthfeel.
Finishes long with Fruit, Honey, more Herbs and nice sweetness.
Round, perfectly harmonious, velvety and complex!

5. Opinion:
A wine with a lot of depth, which combines the softness of Fruits and Honey with a healthy and perfect structure of Minerality and Acidity.
This is a perfect example for what German Riesling with residual sweetness is able to do! Great now with a lot of potential still.

Tasting Note: Heymann- Löwenstein 2011 Röttgen

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1. Introduction:
Reinhard Löwenstein sources the fruit for this Riesling from the blue slate soils of his steep and rocky Röttgen terrace vineyard in Germany´s Mosel Appellation.
One of Löwenstein´s main goals is to capture the uniqueness of his vineyards and to really reflect the terroir in his individual, authentic and complex wines.
The 2011 Röttgen is a dry Riesling with 13,5% alc.
Bottle and screwcap were flawless.

2. Appearance:
Bright straw-yellow, golden.

3. Nose:
Present aromas of Stone-Fruits, Pineapple and Banana. Little Citrus and Honey.
Some Petrol and Coffee. Fresh characteristics of Mint.
Opulent, rich and complex!

4. Taste:
Exotic Fruit comes with Stone Fruit. Lemon Balm and fresh Citrus.
Minerality, traces of Herbs and Coffee.
Finishes long and beautiful with lively acidity, Fruit and Pepper.
Round, almost full-bodied and softly textured!

5. Opinion:
An opulent, tropical and exotic Riesling.
While Löwenstein´s wines from the different parcels of the Uhlen vineyard appear more filigree, the Röttgen is richer and bigger.
Still, a complex, greatly structured, sophisticated and distinctive wine, which is good for many years of development.

Tasting Note: Willi Schaefer 2011 Graacher Domprobst Riesling Kabinett

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1. Introduction:
Willi Schaefer cultivates only 4ha (less than 10acres) of steep vineyard slopes in Graach in Germany´s Mosel Appellation.
It is a real family business with hardly any outside influence, a small production and a focus strictly on quality.
Schaefer´s wines are among those with the greatest aging potential of all German wines.
Our young 2011 Graacher Domprobst Riesling Kabinett is in perfect condition.

2. Appearance:
Light-colored straw yellow.

3. Nose:
Delicate aromas of Stone Fruits paired with Floral characters.
Moss and Aromatic Cheese. Hints of Firestone.
Beautiful, very elegant and complex!

4. Taste:
Flavors of gracefully built Stone Fruits, Lychee and ripe, yellow Kiwi.
Floral characters and fresh Minerality.
Finishes medium-long with nice residual Sweetness and herbal Spices.
Great mouthfeel with an oily and soft texture!

5. Opinion:
A very elegant, round and balanced wine with complexity and profundity!
It comes with great finesse, a beautiful structure and a lot of future potential.