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GERMANY 2010 – A SPECTACULAR VINTAGE

Cary Feibleman • 8/28/11        Print This Post Print This PostComment Bookmark and Share

Introduction

Imagine if Philippine Rothschild had said that today’s supermarket Mouton Cadet was the equal of the 1982 Chateau Mouton Rothschild, the estate’s flagship wine from a famed vintage.  Hanno Zilliken, owner/winemaker of the famed German Saar estate Forstmeister Zilliken,  made a similar statement, comparing his 2010 wines to a cellar aged 1983 gold capsule Auslese, a prized late harvest wine from a highly praised vintage.  “The concentration achieved in the 2010 vintage kabinett level wines is the equal of what we sought formerly for our Ausleses.”  This amazing statement succinctly characterizes the quality level produced by the best winemakers in the astounding 2010 vintage.  This is a vintage of exceptionally small quantity with the highest, off the chart, concentration levels ever seen in Germany.

We didn’t taste 1921 en primeur, nor were we of drinking age to taste 1947, 1953 and 1959 when first released, but no one now active in German winemaking can remember a vintage so impressive as the one currently beginning to arrive in wine shops around the world.  The opportunity to buy and taste them will be brief, however, because yields are dramatically low, in some cases 30% of normal.  The vintage was the greatest gift global warming could produce — reduced grape volume, perfectly ripe grapes, staggering concentration and perfect balance.

It is hard to make comparisons with the past, but jumping across territorial lines to France, 1961 Bordeaux comes to mind for crop size and 1959 for ripeness — German winemakers are knocked out by these wines, but fearful of the effect they will have on the public’s appreciation for other recent superb vintages.  2009 is still largely available in the marketplace and it is great, but tasting the wines side by side, it is hard for the one year older wine to grab your attention once you get a sip of the super concentrated 2010s.  On the other hand, many winemakers prefer their 2009 vintage as it is more traditional and consider 2010 “freakish.”  Often, vintages of great concentration and lengthy summers of intense sunshine, 1990 for instance, do not develop much botrytis, but this vintage apparently had more than its share and higher echelon wines of Auslese, Beerenauslese and beyond were made in many locations.

Few wines in the world can rival German wines for their overt, upfront, lush, floral scented,  fruity appeal.  Paradoxically, the German wine buying public now seeks mainly dry wines and these are made from Riesling, Sylvaner, Chardonnay and other white grapes with varying degrees of success.  Keller and a few other dry wine specialists produce dry white Rieslings from select vineyards that are priced in Germany like premier cru white Burgundy.  They are excellent wines and remind one of the better efforts from Austria and Alsace vinified free of residual sugar.  For us, though, the highest level of excellence a German Riesling can achieve is a late harvested wine that retains its natural sweetness rather than losing it in the fermentation process.

Germans traditionally harvest their grapes in successive pickings and sortings in a pyramid shaped arrangement with the largest quantity and least concentrated wines at the broad bottom, ascending through decreasing quantities of increasing quality and concentration through kabinett level, spätlese, auslese and then beerenauslese and trockenbeerenauslese wines, the latter of which are the equal of the best Grand Cru Sauternes and made from raisiny grapes in quantities so low that a single vintage may produce as few as 50 bottles for the whole world!

Global warming and swings in climate change have altered the shape of the pyramid from vintage to vintage.  In many recent vintages there simply is very little average wine, tafelwein. Warmer and warmer years have so altered the shape of the pyramid that it frequently looks more like the Sophia Loren profile with larger quantities of Spätleses and Ausleses than ordinary wines.  Further compounding Anglo-American buyers frustrated by cumbersome Germanic village designated labels is that at each level of quality, the winemaker has the discretion to vinify separately and bottle multiple cuvees of the same ripeness level wine.  These are identified by separate, specific barrel numbers in the miniscule coding at the bottom of the label.

The winemaker is free to break his harvest into as many distinct portions as he wants if he believes that individual characteristics of a particular knoll or hilltop  are worthy of distinction.  For the academics, tasting these separate portions of the vineyard are a delightful treat, and they are frequently priced quite differently with the very finest and generally smallest quantities reserved for the annual fall wine auction where they may bring two to five times the price of the more broadly distributed bottling that goes to the trade.

For 2010, Hanno Zilliken has six different Ausleses, because he thinks each one is special.  One can’t argue with a father who takes pride in the distinct beauty and attributes of his six daughters, but for the wine business this historical practice has become an increasingly frustrating problem.  Imagine Chateau Pétrus splitting its production into ten separately identifiable portions, each individually numbered and each being slightly different from one another.  While great winemakers in the Rhone like Chave and Krug in Champagne take great pride in their blends from multiple regions and grape varieties to make the proprietary blend that they release as their flagship wine, the Germans take just the opposite approach, vive le difference?

Background

Recently we attended a trade tasting organized by leading German wine importer, Rudi Wiest, who for over 30 years has imported the finest German wine estates into the United States.  Almost all of his producers are members of the prestigious VDP, the organization composed of the top German wine estates.   These notes focus on the heralded 2010 vintage with a few other wines from earlier vintages also evaluated.  2010 was a vintage of unparalleled ripeness.  Many winemakers had never seen such concentrated fruit in their lifetime and made wines of staggering richness.  Much like 1982 Bordeaux shocked wine critics and tasters who had had come to accept leaner, less opulently styled wines like those produced in the 60s and 70s, many tasting the 2010 German vintage are stunned and not certain what to make of them.   We have been tasting German wines for 40 years and believe this is probably the best vintage of our lifetime.  Others who expect a more modest style year in and year out are not certain how to deal with bottles packing such explosive flavor and concentration.  For our part, we’ll accept the challenge, sit back and savor these brilliant, Elysian elixirs.  That being said, not everyone produced great wines, so we are reporting only on those offerings which we think are special, and buyers in the market place should probably taste individual bottles from producers we have not evaluated before buying larger quantities.

German Riesling wines are extraordinary taste experiences, both with and without accompanying food.  There is perhaps no grape which marries better with such a broad variety of food. Unlike Bordeaux, German estates do not blend their wines into a unitary product appearing with the estate’s label.  German estates often have holdings in several nearby villages with distinct microclimates, sun exposure and soil characteristics. Not only are these bottled separately, but in addition there are separate bottlings of each village according to their level of sugar content, Kabinett, Spätlese, Auslese, Beerenauslese and Trockenbeerenauslese.  Additionally, Eisweins are sometimes made from frozen grapes and in recent years many producers are vinifying their grape juice to totally eliminate residual sugar to produce dry Rieslings which have become the favorite wine style among the German public. In addition to these bottlings, winemakers save their very best lots for an annual auction of the very finest small lots.  These also are bottled separately.  So it is quite possible for an estate to have 15-20 different bottlings with distinct label markings in a given year.

Quantities are very small for many of the wines and frequently visiting media critics and writers are offered tastes of the very best wines which excite their readers, but the chances of ever securing a bottle or two of the rarest bottles are extraordinarily small, frustrating everyone in the distribution chain. In 2010, quantities were down at some estates to as low as 30% of normal.  Due to very tight quantities, very few gold capsule Ausleses and higher echelon wines were offered for our tasting. They are difficult for retailers to sell and are expensive. In many cases only three and four cases of these wines are available for the entire United States, so one can understand how limited they were for our tasting.

my pictures.german wine glasses

Tasting Notes

By Cary Feibleman and Christine Graham.  All wines tasted are imported by Rudi Wiest Selections, Cellars International, San Marcos, CA (http:www/rudiwiest.com).

MOSEL-SAAR-RUWER

One of the 11 wine regions established in 1982, the wine region of Mosel-Saar-Ruwer comprises the wines produced along the Mosel River and its two tributaries, the Saar and the Ruwer.  There are about 30,000 acres under vine in the region, primarily Riesling, with over 500 vineyards.  The three regions are distinctive, with each having its own character.  The Mosel area is the northernmost, extending from Trier to Koblenz, with the towns of Bernkastel-Kues, Traben-Trarbach, Cochem and Zell in between.  The Middle Mosel is known for very steep vineyards with slatey soil and various microclimates.  The Saar is the southernmost section and the most exposed to the wind, therefore generally the coolest in temperature.  The wines produced from grapes grown here are often steely and very fragrant.  The Ruwer has fewer than 500 acres of vineyards, nearly all planted with Riesling.  The wines can be delicate, very floral and elegant.  The leading wine-producing towns in the entire region are Ayl, Kanzem, Oberemmel, Ockfen, Saarburg, Serrig and Wiltingen.  The Scharzhofberg is the most famous vineyard.

Fritz Haag

The Fritz Haag estate has for over a generation been one of the top estates in Germany.  Wilhelm Haag made superb Rieslings here for close to 50 years definitely solidifying his position with Egon Mueller and Manfred Prüm as the top three winemakers in Germany.  The Haag family has been engaged in viticulture at Brauneberg since 1605.  The village was called Dusemond meaning sweet hill until 1925.  One of Wilhelm’s ancestors was a co-founder of the Brauneberger-Juffer-Sonnenuhr vineyard site, the largest and best portion of which is owned by the Fritz Haag estate.  The estate also owns many of the best parts of the Brauneberger Juffer.  The very steep vineyards with grades up to 73%, are planted on slate rock, and are among the most difficult vineyard sites in the world to cultivate. The 12-acre estate in the Mosel is planted 100% to Riesling and is a member of the VDP.    Wilhelm has turned over operations of the winery to his youngest son Oliver and Oliver’s wife Jessica who are carrying on Wilhelm’s legacy.   (http://www.weingut-fritz-haag.de)

2010 Fritz Haag Riesling Estate. This pale yellow wine, medium dry in style, is lively, fresh and forward with aromas and flavors of peach, nectarine, citrus and a mineral edge, with a clean, delicate finish –- Highly Recommended Plus.  $19  2-n-half-yellow-stars

2009 Fritz Haag Riesling Kabinett Brauneberger. Pale yellow gold in color, it has scents of citrus, apple and pear, with outstanding kabinett quality fruit.  The bright and racy mouthfilling flavors are balanced by a fine minerality and ending in a long finish –- Outstanding Plus.  $26    3-n-half-yellow-stars

2010 Fritz Haag Riesling Spätlese Erste Lage Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr. Light gold in color, this Spätlese offers great, rich, concentrated fruit with intense, complex, focused flavors of peach, slate, tropical fruit and citrus.  The fruit and minerally finish is long and lingering – Extraordinary.  $41  4-yellow-stars


my pictures.Mosel

Reinhold Haart

The Haart family has the longest winemaking tradition in Piesport in the Mosel, having been owned by the Haart family since 1337.  Theo Haart, the current owner, has consistently been making excellent wines here for close to 30 years.  The estate is located at the foot of the Piesporter Goldtropfchen vineyard.  Over the years they have acquired portions of the best Piesporter sites including the Goldtropfchen (10 acres), Domherr (1.3 acres), Grafenberg (2.5 acres) and the Kreuzwingert a monopole position (.25 acres).  The estate also includes the Wintricher Ohligsberg vineyard.  All are planted 100% to Riesling.   Haart is a member of the VDP.  (http://www.haart.de)

2010 Reinhold Haart Riesling Kabinett Erste Lage Piesporter Goldtropfchen. Light yellow color, the wine is aromatic, fruity and flavorful, with components of citrus, apple, melon and pear.  It is lively, balanced and fresh, with good acidity and length – Highly Recommended Plus.  $32  2-n-half-yellow-stars

2010 Reinhold Haart Riesling Spätlese Erste Lage Piesporter Goldtropfchen. Pale yellow gold in color, the palate is slightly honeyed, with exotic fruit resembling the nose of citrus, melon, grapefruit, peach and honeysuckle.  With pinpoint acidity, good complexity and a fine minerality, it is lovely – Outstanding. $44  3-yellow-stars

Von Hovel

This over 200-year-old estate in Oberemmel in the Saar is owned by Eberhard von Künow, one of the very affable gentlemen involved in making German wines.  For years he ran the VDP and has presided at the auction in Trier.  Like so many others, Eberhard is very generous and a fine fellow to visit on a tour of the region.  The 27.5-acre estate has been in the same family since 1803 when it was purchased from Napoleon’s administration.  The monopole site Oberemmeler Hütte, with 12.5 acres, is by a margin the largest holding of the estate, while the other monopole site Kanzemer Horecker, with barely one acre, is the smallest.  There is also a five acre position in the great Scharzhofberg vineyard.  The estate is planted 100% to Riesling.

2010 Von Hovel Riesling Kabinett Oberemmeler Hütte. Light yellow in color, this is an excellent, full, fruity wine from this well-known and liked Saar winemaker.  It is very aromatic and flavorful, laced with crisp green apple, lemon-lime and delicate citrus, with a lingering finish —  Outstanding.  $22    3-yellow-stars

2007 Von Hovel Riesling Spätlese Oberemmeler Hütte. Pale yellow gold in color, the wine has complex aromas and flavors of peach, pear, apricot and nectarine.  It is textured and structured, with good depth and a very nice finish –- Highly Recommended Plus.  $26  2-n-half-yellow-stars

2010 Von Hovel Riesling Spätlese Oberemmeler Hütte. This light yellow gold colored wine shows great concentration and complexity and offers an instructive comparison with the previous Spätlese, three years its senior, but from a totally differently styled vintage. The wine is juicy, lively and bright, displaying notes of peach, slate, pear, lemon and orange blossom, ending in a long, minerally finish – Outstanding Plus.  $26 3-n-half-yellow-stars

my pictures.Traben

Schloss Lieser

The Lieser estate was purchased in 1997 by Thomas Haag, the oldest son of Wilhelm Haag, and one of the most talented young winemakers of the region, after having managed it since the 1992 vintage.  The village is located next to the famous old town of Bernkastel-Kues.  The 21 acres of vineyards, planted 100% to Riesling, includes the initial holdings in the Lieser sites along with the Graacher Himmelreich and Bernkasteler Schlossberg as well as newly acquired vineyards, Brauneberger Juffer, Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr and Lieser Niederberg Helden.  The estate is a member of the VDP.  Regarding the 2010 vintage, Thomas Haag said “We have never seen such a combination of physiological ripeness, must weight and acidity.”  (http://www.weingut-schloss-lieser.de)

2007  Schloss Lieser Riesling Spätlese Erste Lage Lieser Niederberg Helden. Light yellow gold color, this wine is fat and sweet with a slate-petrol quality needing resolution, but should improve with time – Recommended/Highly Recommended.  $31   1-yellow-star/2-yellow-stars

2010 Schloss Lieser Riesling Spätlese Erste Lage Lieser Niederberg Helden. This pale yellow gold colored wine shows great concentration with ripe, full fruit and marvelous intensity, displaying aromas and flavors of tropical fruit, mineral, melon and lemony acidity, ending in a long finish –- Extraordinary.  $31  4-yellow-stars

Mönchhof

The 9-acre Mosel estate in Urzig has been owned by the Eymael family since 1804.  The history of the Mönchhof dates back to 1177 when Cistercian monks living there were active winegrowers, later constructing the estate building and underground wine cellars in early 1500s.  Robert Eymael manages this estate, having taken over in the mid-90s, and is one of the kindest and most gregarious gentlemen in the German winemaking business.  He is of good cheer, always accommodating and well worth visiting should you find yourself in the Mosel.  The beautiful estate, which has prime holdings in the vineyards of Urziger Wurzgarten, Erdener Treppchen, Wehlener Klosterberg and Zeltinger Himmelreich, is situated at the base of the Urziger Wurzgarten vineyard.  The Wurzgarten Rieslings are characteristically floral and spicy.  The Erdener Prälat Auslese is from the best portion of the Pralat vineyard, under long-term lease to the Mönchhof estate.  All the vineyards are planted exclusively with Riesling.  The building, including the 500-year-old manor house and medieval vaulted cellars, is an historic monument.  (http://www.moenchhof.de)

2010 Mönchhof Riesling Estate. The pale yellow-colored wine displays a lovely floral nose with a delightful body, focusing on green apple, peach and slate.  It is delicious, slightly sweet, with a nice, medium finish –- Highly Recommended Plus.  $15  2-n-half-yellow-stars

2010 Mönchhof Riesling Kabinett Urziger Wurzgarten. Light yellow in color, the wine is similar to the Estate Riesling, displaying a beautiful floral bouquet, accented with apple, peach, spice and slate.  The pure fruit is slightly sweet and showing more concentration and richness and a longer finish –- Highly Recommended Plus.  $21 2-n-half-yellow-stars

2010 Mönchhof Riesling Spätlese Mosel Slate. Sourced from the Erdener Treppchen vineyard, this light yellow-gold colored wine, offers aromas of apple, slate, citrus, peach and tropical fruit.  It has excellent complexity and fresh, round, sweet fruity flavors that mirror the aromas, with a lovely, slightly honeyed finish — Outstanding.  $23   3-yellow-stars

2010 Mönchhof Riesling Spätlese Urziger Würzgarten. Light yellow-gold in color, this wine is rich and full, textured and a bit sweet, with lovely notes of apple, peach, pear, apricot, flowers and spice in the nose and mouth.  It is vibrant, with power and complexity, a step up from the Mosel Slate Spätlese –- Outstanding Plus.  $26 2-n-half-yellow-stars

2010 Mönchhof Riesling Auslese Erdener Prälat. Pale gold color, this wine saturates the palate with rich, complex, fruity flavors of citrus, apple, peach, mineral and tropical fruit.  It is lively, thick in texture, with a full body and a long, slightly honeyed finish.  Lovely now, cellaring will only enhance, adding richness, structure and depth –- Extraordinary.  $45   4-yellow-stars

Dr. F. Weins-Prüm

Bert Selbach is a retired banker who answered his calling in winemaking. His chateau next door neighbor is Manfred Prüm, his cousin.  Clearly, it is not a bad neighborhood to get lost in if one is thirsty.  Bert makes excellent wine that has always been among the most fairly priced in the region, particularly considering the quality of his vineyard holdings.  His 1983 and 1985 wines are still lovely.  The 10-acre estate in Wehlen, dating back to the 1800s, was formed when the original Prüm estate was divided in 1911.  Dr. F. Weins, the husband of Anna Prüm, started the estate, which was expanded when their daughter married Mr. Selbach from an Urzig wine growing family.  It is Selbach’s son Bert who is making some of the finest, elegant Wehlener and Graacher Rieslings.  The estate’s vineyards are planted 100% to Riesling and it is a member of the VDP.

2010 Dr. Weins-Prüm Riesling Kabinett Wehlener Sonnenuhr. Pale yellow color, this wine has lovely floral qualities, and aromas and flavors of lemon, lime, green apple and melon.  It is forward and refined, with a very nice finish –- Outstanding.  $21  3-yellow-stars

2008 Dr. Weins-Prüm Riesling Spätlese Wehlener Sonnenuhr. A light yellow gold colored wine, with notes of citrus, apple, pear and a floral component, it offers very nice fruit and complexity.  It is a lovely, typical, good 2008 wine –- Highly Recommended Plus.  $31  2-n-half-yellow-stars

2010 Dr. Weins-Prüm Riesling Spätlese Graacher Domprobst. Pale gold in color, this lovely wine is very fruity, rich and intense, displaying aromas and flavors of mineral, citrus, peach, nectarine and apple.  It is balanced, with good acidity and a long finish –- Outstanding Plus.  $26 3-n-half-yellow-stars

my pictures.Moselweinkeller

Zilliken

Hanno Zilliken is the present owner who, with his daughter, makes and markets the wines at this famous Saar estate.  In the last 20 years Hanno has markedly increased the quality of wines produced at this estate in Saarburg to where they are frequently now in the top echelon year after year with frequently brilliant wines in the last decade that has competed for top bottlings of the year.  In 2010 Hanno was beside himself with the quality of fruit that he harvested and felt compelled to make five or six different Ausleses to maximize the particular qualities he found in different  regions of his vineyards as well as different barrels.  If the comparatively “lower echelon” of wines we tasted is any indication, his auction wines are probably of “World Cup quality.”  Records show that ancestors of the Zilliken family were actively producing wine as early as 1742 in both Saarburg and Ockfen.  The estate has the deepest cellar in the Saar, with three levels below ground.  The cellar stays naturally moist due to ground water entering through the cellar walls.  The estate comprises 26.5 acres in the following vineyard sites:  Saarburger Rausch (19 acres), Saarburger Antoniusbrunnen (1 acre), Saarburger Bergschlosschen (4 acres), and Ockfener Bockstein (2.5 acres).  The property is planted 100% to Riesling and is a member of the VDP.  (http://www.zilliken-vdp.de)

2010 Zilliken Riesling Kabinett Erste Lage Saarburger Rausch. Our notes say “excellent” and “great” adjectives that we rarely ever attribute to kabinett level wines which are usually thought of as very correct, entry level wines associated with a particular vineyard.  In this case these are brilliant with, as noted above, must concentrations that in previous decades were associated with auslese level wines. It is perfumed with citrus, pear, flowers, peach and mineral and has flavors echoing the aromas.  Balanced, layered and textured, with a lingering finish, it is delicious –- Outstanding Plus.  $33   3-n-half-yellow-stars

2010 Zilliken Riesling Spätlese Erste Lage Saarburger Rausch.  It is very full bodied and quite complex with lovely floral elements of honeysuckle and fully ripe stone fruit flavors of peach, pear and apricot.  Intense and concentrated, it is bright, fresh and lively, with a long, delicious finish –- Extraordinary.  $53   4-yellow-stars

2010 Zilliken Riesling Auslese Erste Lage Saarburger Rausch. This wine is absolutely brilliant, displaying concentrated floral and very rich apricot and honey qualities, with added hints of delicate creamy lemon.  It is exotic, seductive and very enticing, with a very long, rich, honeyed finish –- Extraordinary.  $53  4-yellow-stars After tasting this, one longs to taste the gold capsule Auslese and more concentrated wines.

PFALZ

Formerly called the Rheinpfalz, this wine region is generally the leader in production, with 58,000 acres accounting for over 25% of the total German wine crop.  Riesling and Muller-Thurgau are the most widely planted grape varieties, followed by Portugieser.  The region is bounded on the east by the Rhine, on the south by France’s Alsace-Lorraine region, and on the north by the Rheinhessen. The vineyards are not situated on the Rhine but extend along the lower slopes of a chain of hills called the Haardt and over the plain that extends eastward toward the Rhine, opposite Mannheim and Karlsruhe.  The famous wine villages of the region include Wachenheim, Forst, Deidesheim, Ruppertsberg, Bad Durkheim, Kallstadt and Konigsbach.

Rebholz

Hansjorg Rebholz is the owner/winemaker of this 42-acre estate in Siebeldingen in Pfalz, now in its third generation.  Hansjorg carries on the legacy of his grandfather, Eduard, following strict guidelines that include an understanding of climate, soil character and selection of vines suited to the terroir, never chaptalizing and fermenting the wines dry.  The estate is close to being certified organic.  The most important vineyards are Berkweiler Kastanienbusch and Siebeldinger im Sonnenschein.  The vineyards are planted 35% to Riesling, 25% to Pinot Noir, with 25% a mix of Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay, 10% to Gewurztraminer and Muskateller and the remaining 5% other varietals.  The Rebholz estate is a member of the Pfalz VDP.

2009 Rebholz Dry Riesling Estate. This is a well made, dry Riesling with good complexity, a fine minerality, good acidity and length, offering notes of lemony citrus, stone and lime –- Highly Recommended.  $22   2-yellow-stars my pictures.German-wine-regions

RHEINGAU

The Rheingau has an average annual production of over two million cases, accounting for three percent of Germany’s total production.  The bulk of the vineyards are planted with Riesling, followed by Muller-Thurgau and Spätburgunder.  The region encompasses the foothills of the Taunus Mountains, west of Wiesbaden and opposite Mainz and Bingen, overlooking the Rhine.  The best known wine villages are Hochheim, Assmannshausen, Lorch, Rauenthal, Erbach, Eltville, Hallgarten, Hattenheim, Oestrich, Mittelheim, Johannisberg, Geisenheim and Rudesheim.  The most famous vineyards are Marcobrunner, Schloss Johannisberg, Schloss Vollrads and Steinberg.  The wines of the Rheingau are generally ripe, full-bodied, rich and concentrated, with a steeliness and balanced acidity.

Franz Künstler

Franz Künstler, who founded the 17-acre estate in Hochheim in the Rheingau in 1965, is descended from a family of winemakers in Czechoslovakia dating back to 1648.  His son, Gunter, an affable and popular man, has been running the property since 1992.  The property, now 62 acres of vineyards subsequent to Gunter’s purchase in 1996 of the neighboring Aschrott estate,  is planted 85% to Riesling, 14% to Pinot Noir and 1% to other varietals.  Top Hochheim vineyards include the Kirchenstuck, Holle, Stielweg, Reichestal and Domdechaney.  Franz Künstler is a member of the VDP.

2010 Franz Künstler Dry Riesling Estate. This pale yellow-colored wine is very dry and tight at this juncture, perhaps needing a couple of years to open.  With its fine acid structure, give it time as cellaring will only enhance –- Recommended/Highly Recommended.  $24  1-yellow-star/2-yellow-stars

Schloss Schönborn

Schloss Schönborn is the oldest estate in Germany, dating back to the times of the crusades, and one of the oldest in the world being run by the same family – 27 generations.  The Schönborns were among the first to actually bottle their wines  and the estate is one of the founders of the VDP.  The estate in Hattenheim has 125 acres of vineyards in the Rheingau, including 38 single vineyards in the best parts of the Rheingau.  Paul Graf von Schönborn is the owner and Peter Barth is the winemaker/technical director.  (http://www.schoenborn.de)

2010 Schloss Schönborn Dry Riesling Estate. The light yellow-colored wine is fruity and nice and a tasty, quite correct house style wine –- Recommended.  $16  1-yellow-star

2009 Schloss Schönborn Dry Riesling Erstes Gewächs Hattenheim Pfaffenberg. This is a very nicely delineated dry German Riesling from the Rheingau, with a lovely finish –- Highly Recommended Plus.  $16  2-n-half-yellow-stars

2009 Schloss Schönborn Dry Riesling Erstes Gewächs Rüdesheimer Berg Schlossberg. The  characteristics of this wine are very similar to the previous wine, although it is from a different vineyard, the Hattenheim Pfaffenberg –- Highly Recommended Plus.  $26  2-n-half-yellow-stars

my pictures.German-Vineyard

RHEINHESSEN

The largest of Germany’s specified wine regions, with over 65,000 acres of vineyards, the Rheinhessen represents about 20 percent of the total crop.  The principal grape variety is Muller-Thurgau, followed by Silvaner and Riesling. The region is bounded on the east and north by the Rhine, on the south by the Pfalz and on the west by the Nahe.

Gunderloch

This 35-acre estate in Nackenheim in the Rheinhessen, dates to 1890 when banker Carl Gunderloch purchased the Gunderloch manor house and founded the Gunderloch wine estate with initial vineyard purchases in both the Nackenheimer Rothenberg and Engelsberg.  The estate has been operated since 1979 by Agnes Hasselbach Usinger, Carl’s great granddaughter and her husband Fritz Hasselbach (formerly a teacher at the Oppenheim Wine School), who is in charge of the cellar.  The team of Agnes and Fritz has transformed this estate into one of Germany’s finest and most consistent.  In 1996 they took control of the Balbach estate in Nierstein.   Their most important vineyard is the Nackenheimer Rothenberg, where Gunderloch controls 80% of the site, a near monopole position.  Their other classified sites are located in Nierstein, the Pettenthal, Hipping and Oelberg vineyards.  The estate is planted 80% to Riesling, and the remainder mostly Pinot varietals.  Gunderloch is a member of the VDP.  (http://www.gunderloch.de)

2010 Gunderloch Dry Riesling Estate. Pale yellow in color, the wine is elegant and structured with a fine minerality, offering notes of citrus, peach and apple, ending in a very dry finish — Highly Recommended Plus.  $18  2-n-half-yellow-stars

2010 Gunderloch Riesling Kabinett Jean Baptiste. Light yellow colored, the always lovely Kabinett displays clean, fresh and bright citrus in the nose, followed by grapefruit, lemon, white peach and mineral.  With fine fruit and flavors, it is delicious –- Outstanding.   $17  3-yellow-stars

2010 Gunderloch Riesling Spätlese Nackenheimer Rothenberg. Light gold color, the wine is fresh and vibrant, with exotic, complex, enticing aromas and flavors of pineapple, peach, pear, apricot and mineral.  It is elegant, seductive and has a long, very fruity finish — Outstanding Plus. $42  3-n-half-yellow-stars

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