Wine Focus for February: German(ic) Riesling

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Re: Wine Focus for February: German(ic) Riesling

Postby Salil » Thu Feb 21, 2013 10:57 am

Yup, 97s are drinking so well now around the MSR (curious to try a 97 Donnhoff Kirschheck soon though), and the Grunhaus wines are just awesome.

A few other Rieslings (and a rogue Rieslaner) enjoyed before and after Rieslingfeier -

1994 Joh. Jos. Christoffel Erben Erdener Treppchen Riesling Kabinett
This is all about cut and lightness. Pale, fresh Mosel fruit flavours over a vividly stony base and gentle herbal and mature savoury/creamy accents, all conveyed on a lightweight frame with gentle sweetness and fantastic acidity that keeps it so precise and vibrant.

1971 Schloss Eltz Rauenthaler Baiken Riesling Spätlese
Rather disappointing given the reputation of the site and vintage. Intensely rich and sweet (still) with ripe orange, peach and apricot flavours tinged with mature honeyed and burnished notes, but it comes across rather heavy and monolithic without the acidity, vibrancy or freshness that I'd expect.

2004 Emrich-Schönleber Monzinger Frühlingsplätzchen Riesling Spätlese
Spectacular. I'm amazed how well this is showing right now, and I really wish I had bought a few more bottles. Pure, vibrant red fruits, limes and peaches up front tinged with developing creamy and smoky notes, and then there's a wash of stone and mineral salts on the back end. The balance here is stunning with bright acids balancing the sweetness perfectly, and just absurd length. Just a fantastic Spätlese. (I opened this as a warmup for Rieslingfeier the night before - definitely got me in the mood for more Riesling. :mrgreen: I opened both the '02 of this, and its auction equivalent "Rutsch" at the BYOB; the regular '02 was solid but drowned out in a sea of amazing wines, the '02 Rutsch was jawdroppingly great.)

2011 F.X. Pichler Riesling Smaragd Loibner Steinertal
Solid, but never spectacular - this just feels a bit too broad and ripe, some of the fruit flavours here are in the tropical end of the spectrum and it doesn't have that focus or clarity that I look for in great Riesling. I wouldn't be surprised if this turns into something much more impressive with time once the fruit and baby fat recedes some, but right now it's not particularly impressive and even a couple of hours of air don't help much.

1998 Müller-Catoir Gimmeldinger Schlössel Rieslaner Trockenbeerenauslese
Nothing new to add to my earlier experiences with this wine. This remains one of the most mindblowing sweet wines I've ever tasted. It's packed with ripe apricot and tropical fruit and plenty of botrytis, but at the same time that fiery, high toned Rieslaner spice still comes through and the balance is stunning - it's intensely sweet and concentrated, yet there's blazing acidity beneath and absurd length. Just in case I needed a reminder that Hans-Günter Schwarz was a magician.
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Re: Wine Focus for February: German(ic) Riesling

Postby Dale Williams » Thu Feb 21, 2013 12:57 pm

Salil wrote:1994 Joh. Jos. Christoffel Erben Erdener Treppchen Riesling Kabinett
This is all about cut and lightness. Pale, fresh Mosel fruit flavours over a vividly stony base and gentle herbal and mature savoury/creamy accents, all conveyed on a lightweight frame with gentle sweetness and fantastic acidity that keeps it so precise and vibrant.


How is 1994 overall? I don't really have a sense of the vintage. I've had a few I loved (Zilliken SR Kab, a Emrich-S Auslese), a few I've liked (Gunderloch Spat, von Hovel Auslese), a few I was disappointed in (Selbach-O Auslese,). Not enough to see patterns.
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Re: Wine Focus for February: German(ic) Riesling

Postby Salil » Thu Feb 21, 2013 1:05 pm

I like 1994 a great deal, and my understanding is that it's regarded very favourably as a vintage, at least in Nahe, middle Mosel and Ruwer. One of the higher acid years in the decade (though for my tastes, not quite as high acid as 96 or 90), but I've had many really great wines from producers like Donnhoff, Prum, Grunhaus, and recently a really remarkable bottle of 1994 Lauer Sekt Reserve.

Have also had a couple of poor bottles, but I worried about provenance in those cases as the wines I had then seemed a little muddled and very advanced.
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Re: Wine Focus for February: German(ic) Riesling

Postby David M. Bueker » Thu Feb 21, 2013 5:00 pm

'94 is highly regarded IF you open the right wines. It's quite variable, and also as Salil indicates very high acid.

Salil - Schloss Eltz hit the downslop sooner than some of the Rheingau old guard. It does not even exist anymore.
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Re: Wine Focus for February: German(ic) Riesling

Postby JC (NC) » Fri Feb 22, 2013 3:26 pm

2009 Leitz Weingut Rudesheimer Berg Schlossberg Alte Reben Riesling, Rheingau, Germany. A.P. # 24 079 004 10. 12.5% abv. Possesses a golden tint, not just pale straw color. Very spritzig when poured. Orange blossoms on the nose? On the palate a drier taste than the nose would indicate. Quite acidic. A ginger aspect in the mouth. Not a very pleasurable sipper at this point in its evolution. It struck me on the second glass that it was a bit like a dry Champagne after the bubbles fade. A bit more palatable on night two. Tastes more balanced and goes well with veal scallopini and a spinach casserole side dish. I usually like Leitz wines and was a bit disappointed in this one. I may have been punished for opening it before its time. Saturday (tomorrow) I will open the Urziger Wurzgarten.
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Re: Wine Focus for February: German(ic) Riesling

Postby David M. Bueker » Fri Feb 22, 2013 4:06 pm

Sounds like it might be shut down. Leitz dry wines generally tend to the lush side.
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Re: Wine Focus for February: German(ic) Riesling

Postby Bill Hooper » Fri Feb 22, 2013 7:03 pm

Speaking of Leitz: Have you tried the Berg Kaisersteinfels vintages of the last few years? Wow. Hands down my favorite and among the great vineyards in the Rheingau.

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Re: Wine Focus for February: German(ic) Riesling

Postby David M. Bueker » Fri Feb 22, 2013 9:35 pm

Bill Hooper wrote:Speaking of Leitz: Have you tried the Berg Kaisersteinfels vintages of the last few years? Wow. Hands down my favorite and among the great vineyards in the Rheingau.

Cheers,
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Yes. Love the wines, but availability is not great.
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Re: Wine Focus for February: German(ic) Riesling

Postby ChaimShraga » Sat Feb 23, 2013 7:24 am

Dönnhoff, Schloßböckelheimer Felsenberg, Riesling Spätlese, 2004

Apples and slate, a hint of petrol , bound together in a cocoon of focused and racy acidity. The saline finish is all about finesse. This delicious wine doesn't wow so much as soothe.
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Re: Wine Focus for February: German(ic) Riesling

Postby Tim York » Mon Feb 25, 2013 8:48 am

Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Riesling Spätlese – 08 – 2001 – Reinhold Haart – Alc.8.5%.

Although very good, I was nevertheless a touch disappointed with this Riesling from one of the Mosel’s best terroirs made by arguably Piesport’s best grower in a vintage of stellar reputation. The nose was rather subdued with attractive floral and petrol notes. The palate was fuller and more generous than often in the Mosel region with more luscious sweetness than ideal as a pairing for sébaste (dictionary says = redfish?) but was saved by deliciously mouth-watering acidity, some salinity and a certain backbone.

Why the slight disappointment? It came from an overall simplistic impression of, albeit delicious, primary flavours and a shortage of the expected complexity and subtlety; maybe in its 12th year this 2001 is still too young to have developed these qualities? About two glasses left in the bottle so it will be interesting to observe development. Very good 16/20.
Last edited by Tim York on Mon Feb 25, 2013 9:58 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Wine Focus for February: German(ic) Riesling

Postby David M. Bueker » Mon Feb 25, 2013 9:09 am

Tim,

From my rather extensive tastings, the 2001s are developing at a very slow pace.
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Re: Wine Focus for February: German(ic) Riesling

Postby Tim York » Mon Feb 25, 2013 4:27 pm

Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Riesling Spätlese – 08 – 2001 – Reinhold Haart – Alc.8.5%.

Reverting to it this evening after dinner with a lingering taste of pear crumble in my mouth, it seems much better integrated and longer with more tension and backbone. I think that this shows more its present unsuitability as a pairing for a savoury fish dish than an objective improvement in 24 hours.
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Re: Wine Focus for February: German(ic) Riesling

Postby David M. Bueker » Mon Feb 25, 2013 9:46 pm

Ok, I struggle with why you would choose to serve a modern spatlese with a savory fish dish.
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Re: Wine Focus for February: German(ic) Riesling

Postby Tim York » Tue Feb 26, 2013 7:20 am

David M. Bueker wrote:Ok, I struggle with why you would choose to serve a modern spatlese with a savory fish dish.


The answer, which could spill into a rant :twisted: , is that I didn't know what degree of modernity to expect from this 2001 before opening the bottle.

My problem with most of these German wines with RS is that they are not very friendly towards savoury European food, with which 99% of my wine drinking takes place. Exceptions, which are becoming increasingly rare as we have discussed before, are traditional Kabinett, some traditional Spätlese and Feinherb.

I have quite an inventory of wines in this RS category which should be delicious on their own. However, I'm very unsure whether I will be able to get through them all :( , given the increasing modernity of the younger vintages.
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Re: Wine Focus for February: German(ic) Riesling

Postby David M. Bueker » Tue Feb 26, 2013 10:57 am

Frankly I would always expect spatlese with less than 20 years of age and no indication of "trocken-ness" to have notable sweetness.
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Re: Wine Focus for February: German(ic) Riesling

Postby Salil » Tue Feb 26, 2013 11:38 am

David M. Bueker wrote:Frankly I would always expect spatlese with less than 20 years of age and no indication of "trocken-ness" to have notable sweetness.

Yup. The alcohol's usually a good indicator - I'd expect that from anything with 7-8.5% alc. The only time I'd expect to see it higher is with producers that make drier-styled Spats, e.g. Koehler Ruprecht.
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Re: Wine Focus for February: German(ic) Riesling

Postby Salil » Tue Feb 26, 2013 12:26 pm

A few more...

2001 Dönnhoff Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle Riesling Spätlese
A great bottle. Mature and completely seamless with the layers of fruit, minerality and mature smoky, burnished and honeyed flavours all coming together harmoniously on the nose and palate. The length here is remarkable, each sip seems to last for minutes and there's such a sense of grace and finesse here. Fantastic wine.

2010 Schloss Lieser Niederberg Helden Riesling Spätlese
A blast of sweet, peachy and citrus fruit up front with floral and sponti yeast accents, intensely sweet on the entry and then the acids kick in. The sweetness and richness here are well into Auslese territory, but the acidity is absurdly high and cuts through everything, balancing the sweetness and keeping it remarkably fresh, vibrant and precise. The balance here is remarkable, even if a couple of glasses of this do leave teeth rattling from the acids alone.

1999 Kurt Darting Dürkheimer Hochbenn Muskateller Eiswein
Not quite at the jawdropping heights of the last bottle I opened, but this is pretty fantastic all the same. Amazing fragrance; layers of floral, honeyed and spicy scents around a core of incredibly fresh tropical fruit, amazing purity and length with a finish that may need an hourglass to measure, though the sweetness is more noticeable here than in the last bottle and it doesn't show quite the same piercing acidity. Nitpicking though, this is still a truly outstanding wine and I'm glad I own a few more.
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Re: Wine Focus for February: German(ic) Riesling

Postby Bill Hooper » Tue Feb 26, 2013 2:04 pm

Tim York wrote:
David M. Bueker wrote:Ok, I struggle with why you would choose to serve a modern spatlese with a savory fish dish.


The answer, which could spill into a rant :twisted: , is that I didn't know what degree of modernity to expect from this 2001 before opening the bottle.

My problem with most of these German wines with RS is that they are not very friendly towards savoury European food, with which 99% of my wine drinking takes place. Exceptions, which are becoming increasingly rare as we have discussed before, are traditional Kabinett, some traditional Spätlese and Feinherb.

I have quite an inventory of wines in this RS category which should be delicious on their own. However, I'm very unsure whether I will be able to get through them all :( , given the increasing modernity of the younger vintages.


Tim, instead of going into a rant about German Riesling being too sweet, why not just buy some dry (Trocken) German Riesling?
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Re: Wine Focus for February: German(ic) Riesling

Postby Tim York » Tue Feb 26, 2013 3:27 pm

Bill Hooper wrote:
Tim York wrote:
David M. Bueker wrote:Ok, I struggle with why you would choose to serve a modern spatlese with a savory fish dish.


The answer, which could spill into a rant :twisted: , is that I didn't know what degree of modernity to expect from this 2001 before opening the bottle.

My problem with most of these German wines with RS is that they are not very friendly towards savoury European food, with which 99% of my wine drinking takes place. Exceptions, which are becoming increasingly rare as we have discussed before, are traditional Kabinett, some traditional Spätlese and Feinherb.

I have quite an inventory of wines in this RS category which should be delicious on their own. However, I'm very unsure whether I will be able to get through them all :( , given the increasing modernity of the younger vintages.


Tim, instead of going into a rant about German Riesling being too sweet, why not just buy some dry (Trocken) German Riesling?


Bill, the rant would not be about German wines being too sweet but about not knowing how sweet it is going to be before opening. I have paired savoury food quite successfully with much Kabinett and quite a few Spätlesen. Same applies to Alsace.
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Re: Wine Focus for February: German(ic) Riesling

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Tue Feb 26, 2013 3:39 pm

Tim, of course, is spot on....not knowing how sweet it is going to be before opening. :mrgreen:
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Re: Wine Focus for February: German(ic) Riesling

Postby Rahsaan » Tue Feb 26, 2013 3:51 pm

Bob Parsons Alberta wrote:Tim, of course, is spot on....not knowing how sweet it is going to be before opening. :mrgreen:


For someone who knows as much about wine as Tim, I would expected him to be more aware. Especially since it sounds like he cellared it for the past 10 years, one could have seen from release that it was a solidly off-dry wine. Not to mention the fact that if you get only a tiny bit more geeky you know that Goldtropfchen is a fairly robust site with ripe wines (by Mosel standards) and Haart is seeing that through into the wines.
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Re: Wine Focus for February: German(ic) Riesling

Postby Tim York » Tue Feb 26, 2013 4:24 pm

Rahsaan wrote:
Bob Parsons Alberta wrote:Tim, of course, is spot on....not knowing how sweet it is going to be before opening. :mrgreen:


For someone who knows as much about wine as Tim, I would expected him to be more aware. Especially since it sounds like he cellared it for the past 10 years, one could have seen from release that it was a solidly off-dry wine. Not to mention the fact that if you get only a tiny bit more geeky you know that Goldtropfchen is a fairly robust site with ripe wines (by Mosel standards) and Haart is seeing that through into the wines.


Ouch, that hurts my self-esteem, Rahsaan :wink: . One couldn't possibly guess from observing the south facing amphitheatre at Piesport that its wines are richer than most in the area.

I stand by my unexpressed rant, however. There's far too much downgraded Auslese around not to mention abuse of the term "dry", "trocken", "sec".
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Re: Wine Focus for February: German(ic) Riesling

Postby David M. Bueker » Tue Feb 26, 2013 5:08 pm

Well hold on just am inute. If you are going to lump in a rant about wines being too sweet with a rant about dry/trocken/sec then I need to call foul.

You want information, but have a problem with designations of dryness?

And Salil had it right when he mentioned the alcohol level. If a spatlese has only 8% alcohol then it's highly likely that it will be decidedly sweet. If it's up around 11% or higher then it's going to be drier.

It only takes a little bit of due diligence to get an understanding of the range a wine will be in. After that it's personal taste.
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Re: Wine Focus for February: German(ic) Riesling

Postby Joy Lindholm » Tue Feb 26, 2013 8:03 pm

If I may throw my two cents in, alcohol doesn't give you the whole picture of a wine's perceived sweetness. Sure, it is a great general rule to follow, but as we all know, acidity plays just as big of a part in determining "sweetness" perception. I have tried several spatleses with low alcohol that taste less sweet than kabinetts, due to the presence of greater acidity that masks the discernible sweetness on the palate. The 2010 vintage was a good example of this.

I like Terry Theise's "SOS" (Sense of Sweetness) chart measuring perceived sweetness. Here is an excerpt from his catalog on the importer Michael Skurnik's website:

A New Way to Measure Sweetness

There’s entirely too much yammering in Germany about sweetness, dryness, sugar; it’s a kind of fetish. For our part, we’re making progress but we still haven’t quite outgrown a preoccupation with residual sugar as a measure of “correctness.” I do feel we have reached the point of knowing the difference between actual sweetness and the sense of sweetness a wine conveys. Many of us know a Mosel Kabinett with 30 grams of residual sugar and 9 grams of acidity tastes drier than a new world Chard-oak-nay with 9 grams of sugar, no acid, and 14% alcohol. I don’t think the standard sugar-pyramid of German wines is Serviceable any more. Thus I started noting each wine I planned to list according to an intuitive scale I tried to apply consistently. I call it the SENSE-OF-SWEETNESS scale—SOS for short—and you’ll see it following
every tasting note. It should be a more reliable guide to the actual taste of a wine than any word on any label. Here’s how it goes:

IT STARTS FROM ZERO.
Zero is the point of no discernible sweetness.

MINUS ONE ( -1 )
Indicates sugar is discernibly absent but the wine is in balance.

MINUS TWO ( -2 )
For lovers of austere wines.

ONE ( 1 )
Signifies barely discernible sweetness.

TWO ( 2 )
Signifies sweetness which is discernible but not obtrusive..

THREE ( 3 )
Signifies sweetness important of itself. Remember, I reject any wine of grotesque or vulgar sugariness.

FOUR ( 4 )
is bona-fide dessert wine.


There are plenty of Spatleses that he classifies as "1" right alongside Kabinetts. This chart is helpful when navigating his portfolio, if you have a lot of his selections.
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