The highlight of my recent trip to Germany was several hours spent tasting at the Weinbörse. If not familiar, the Weinbörse is one of Germany’s top annual wine events held in late April in the beautiful medieval city of Mainz. Every spring some 200 members of the VDP (Verband Deutscher Prädikatsweingüter), Germany’s top quality wine growers association, gather to preview the new vintage for press and the trade. Even though the wines have literally been bottled just days or weeks before, it’s a great opportunity to taste the new vintage from Germany’s–and some of the world’s–top white wine producers.
2012 is a classic vintage with excellent fruit-acid balance in the wines promising great longevity. By contrast, the 2010 vintage yielded leaner wines with intensely high acid levels and little botrytis while the 2011 vintage is known for wines of wonderful richness with slightly lower acid levels. Here is a list of wines I had an opportunity to taste with notes.
*In place of numerical scores I use a tasting chart created by
Peter Granoff, MS. It creates a profile of a wine using seven criteria: intensity of flavor, sweetness/dryness, body, acidity, tannin, oak, complexity. The tasting chart also makes use of a one to seven scale, one being lowest and seven highest, and breaks down as follows:
Intensity: simple 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 very intense flavors
Dryness/sweetness: dry 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 very sweet
Body: light-bodied 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 full-bodied
Acidity: soft, gentle 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 very crisp
Tannins: none 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 very tannic
Oak: no oak 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 very oaky
Complexity: direct 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 very complex
Although not exactly a botrytis year in terms of noble sweet wines, 2012 for the Mosel yielded delicate Kabinett and delicious Spätlesen. Especially noteworthy were the bottlings from the Saarburger Rausch by Zilliken, the Juffer Sonnenuhr from Fritz Haag, the Piesporter Goldtröpchen from Rheinhold Haart, and both Kabinett and Spätlese from the Karthäuserhof estate. Special mention has to be made for Bert Selbach of Dr. F.Weins-Prüm whose entire range of 2012 Rieslings from the Graacher Domprobst and Himmelreich to the Wehlener Sonnenuhr was simply superb.
Hanno Zilliken’s Rieslings from the outstanding Saaburger Rausch vineyard combined precisely etched fruit with pronounced slate minerality and high natural acidity. Good vintages of Rausch Spätlesen easily age 25 years and more.
1. Saarburg Riesling Trocken, Alte Reben
White flowers, lime zest and Pippin with pronounced mineral blast—almost peppery on the palate; sleek, balanced, tart, and long.
2. Saarburger Rausch Spätlese
Orange, honey, floral, mango, lime, slate; laser-like in focus with very long with mineral-dominant finish. Touch of botrytis?
3. Saarburger Rausch Auslese
Luscious attack of orange, lime, white peach and honey then ferocious minerality that doesn’t end. 5/4/4/6/1/1/5
II. Von Kesselstatt
Anagret Reh’s Rieslings offer opulent peach/tropical/tart citrus
fruit with intense minerality. Always approachable on release they still have great potential to age. I found her dry wines, particularly the monopole Josephshöfer, to be the best I’ve tasted from the estate.
1. Riesling Trocken Alte Reben
Notes of lime/lemon, sour apple, honey and white peach. Slate throughout. 4/1/4/5-6/1/1/4
2. Scharzhofberg Riesling Grosses Gewächs
Rounder and more generous but still intense minerality with almost a peppery finish. 5/2/4/5/1/1/5
3. Josephshöfer Riesling Grosses Gewächs
Intensely apple-y (Fuji) with notes of honey/honeysuckle, lime and slate; very sleek and seamless. 5/2/4/5/1/1/5
4. Scharzhofberg Spätlese
Honey, white rose, lime/lemon and white peach; Bach French Suite No. 5 – 4/3/4/6/1/1/5
In the past I’ve called Karthäuserhof Rieslings “liquid piano wire” or “liquid laser beam” simply because of the insanely high acidity and searing minerality. The 2012’s did not disappoint and will be enjoyed over the next several decades.
1. Karthäuserhof Schieferkristall Riesling Kabinett Trocken
Light floral, lime, yellow grapefruit with an almost chalky minerality; acid is extreme on the palate. 5/1/4/7/1/1/4
2. Karthäuserhof Schieferkristall Riesling Kabinett Feinherb
A bit of residual sugar compared to the wine above; rounder and gentler but very deceptive with a mineral/acid blast on the finish. 5/1/4/7/1/1/4
3. Karthäuserhof Spätlese
As always, the acid/mineral combo is so extreme that the wine
quickly loses sweetness in the mouth. Tightly wound and needs 7-10 years before even looking at it again. 6/3/4/7/1/1/5
IV. Fritz Haag
Wilhelm Haag’s Rieslings combine power and finesse on a delicate
frame. Sometimes closed when young they can continue to develop for decades.
1. Brauneberg Riesling Trocken
Intense! A grapefruit, lime, slate blast. 6/1/4/6/1/1/4
2. Juffer Riesling Spätlese
Orange creamcicle with white flowers, white peach, lime and
slate; delicate, precise and crystalline. 4/2/4/6/1/1/4
3. Juffer Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese
Succulent, luscious, juicy with lime, orange, white peach and
mango framed by slate and tart acidity. 5/3/4/6/1/1/5
4. Juffer Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese
Hints of botrytis with honey/honeysuckle, peach, lime and kiwi;
still lots of intensity in terms of slate and acid on the finish. 5/4/4/6/1/1/5+
V. Rheinhold Haart
Theo Haart easily the most important producer in Piesport; his wines are known for their intensity, opulence and power with notes of red currant, peach, lime and slate.
1. Goldtröpchen Riesling Kabinett
Honey, red currant, peach and lime; luscious texture with the
predictable Haart power on the finish; a great Kabinett. 5/2/4/6/1/1/4
2. Goldtröpchen Riesling Spätlese
Wow! Intense, concentrated and vibrant with key lime, white peach, honey and slate; a very impressive Spätlese. 6/4/4/6/1/1/5
VI. Dr. Loosen
Ernie Loosen has a long track record for producing delicious Rieslings from old parcels of some of the Mosel’s top vineyards. The 2012’s did not disappoint and his Grosses Gewächs wines are some of the best Mosel dry wines I’ve ever tasted.
1. Weissburgunder Trocken
Very polished, seamless Pinot Blanc with apple/pear, lime and
2. Blauschiefer Riesling Trocken
Lots of slate for an entry wine with racy lime and tart apple notes. 4/1/3/5/1/1/4
3. Himmelreich Riesling Grosses Gewächs
Mosel Grosses Gewächs has come a long way since the
last time I tasted it—or climate change is really noticeable in the Mosel. Whatever the case, there’s lots of green tea, lime, white peach and mineral here with a long, vibrant finish. 5/1/4/6/1/1/5
4. Sonnenuhr Riesling Grosses Gewächs
Prettier and more floral than Himmelreich; rounder and more elegant palate with green pear/apple, peach and lime. 5/1/4/6/1/1/5
5. Würzgarten Riesling Grosses Gewächs
The most intensely mineral of the GG trio; very spicy, peppery
palate with honey, sour apple and peach notes. 5/1/4/5/1/1/5
6. Erdener Treppchen Kabinett
Just off-dry in style with succulent lime, kiwi, white peach and slate notes; very focused and long—an excellent Kabinett. 4/2/4/6/1/1/4
7. Würzgarten Spätlese
White floral, lime, peach and peppery mineral; vibrant and juicy
VII. Dr. F. Weins Prüm
Burt Selbach has long been one of my favorites in the Mosel and I
don’t think he gets near the credit he deserves. This was my favorite Mosel set of the entire day. The wines were elegant, understated, shimmering and complete; utterly delicious on release and they age very well.
1. Graacher Domprobst Spätlese Trocken
Balance of succulent youthful fruit and seamless texture; kiwi, spice, lime and slate. 4/1/4/5/1/1/5
2. Graacher Himmelreich Kabinett Feinherb
Passionfruit, lime, peach blossom, and slate; delicate in style with just the right touch of residual. 4/2/4/6/1/1/4
3. Graacher Domprobst Kabinett
Orange, lime, white peach and Pippin; perfect sugar-acid balance and easily the best Kabinett of the day. 4/2/4/5/1/1/5
4. Wehlener Sonnenuhr Spätlese
Delicious! Peach, orange, lime and kiwi; finishes with slate and surprising vibrancy. 5/2/4/6/1/1/5
5. Erdener Prälat Auslese: 15% botrytis fruit
An orange-mango blast with luscious fruit, honey/honeysuckle and
slate notes on the finish. 5/4/4/4/1/1/5-6
The Robert Weil Estate in Kiedrich
With just three hours scheduled for tasting I spent most of the time in the Mosel. However, I was able to hit a couple of favorites in the Rheingau.
Günter Künstler’s dry Rieslings from vineyards in Hochheim are
some of my favorite wines made anywhere.
1. Rüdesheim Trocken
Very dense and concentrated for an entry level dry wine; white flower, key lime, tangerine and both stone and earth; sleek, focused and long. 5/1/4/5/1/1/4
2. Hochheimer Stielweg Trocken
More concentrated than previous wine with richer dark earth notes. Flavors suggest honey, mango, lime and yellow peach. 5/2/4/5/1/1/5-6
3. Hochheimer Hölle Erstes Gewächs
Meursault-like in terms of power and focus; seamless palate of
Fuji, lime, mango and mushroom/earth; elegant, concentrated and impressive for its dry extract. 6/2/5/5/1/1/5-6
3. Rudesheimer Berg Rottland Auslese
Lime sorbet rocket fuel with honey and orange notes. Palate has the viscosity of Eiswein. 6/5/4/5/1/1/6
II. Robert Weil
Wilhelm Weil is one of Germany’s—and the worlds—very best winemakers. For over a decade Weil has produced outstanding bottlings at every prädikat level. His 2012 Eiswein and BA were two of the best wines tasted on the trip—and two of the best wines I’ve tasted thus far this year.
1. Kiedricher Turmberg Spätlese
Elegant and graceful with lots of acid lift; not as concentrated
as Gräfenberg; lemon/lime, Fuji, peach and slate with a lingering finish. 4/3/4/5-6/1/1/4
2. Kiedricher Gräfenberg Spätlese
Dense with amazing dry extract; it’s like Spätlese concentrate; white fruits with sweet and tart citrus; mineral and laser acidity on the finish. 5/3/4/6/1/1/6
3. Kiedricher Gräfenberg Auslese
Apricot, lime honey; some botrytis notes but not overwhelming; seamless—this is great winemaking! 6/5/4/1/1/6
4. Kiedricher Gräfenberg BA
Lots of botrytis character here; it’s deceptively
concentrated but very light and ethereal at the same time; very precise, focused and concentrated; honey, lime, green tea, mango, citrus blossom; saffron and white chocolate. 7/6/4/6/1/1/6
5. Gräfenberg Eiswein
A citrus blast; even more extract than the BA; the acidity is off
he charts. 7/7/5/7/1/1/6