Very complex, spicy nose with a whiff of funk adding tension, this is a tightly focused, medium-full bodied wine with a strict tannin structure that may be too much for some, but it delights us. Just wait until it unfurls! Better after 2021.
WINE ADVOCATE - 92 - 93+ POINTS
The 2019 Hohen-Sulzen Kirchenstuck Riesling GG is bright and precise on the purely chalky, delicately yeasty and lemon-scented nose. Full-bodied, pure, straight and salty on the palate, this is an elegant and juicy, very stimulating and almost easy-drinking Kirchenstuck with remarkable finesse and vitality. It's not as dramatic as the Frauenberg or the Rieslings from the Zellertal, but an excellent Riesling for sure. Tasted as a sample in April 2020.
As far as my first impressions from spring this year do not deceive me, Hans Oliver Spanier pressed his perhaps best Riesling to date in fall 2019. I have never tasted so much tension, precision and chalky terroir expression under the BattenfeldSpanier brand as I did in his 2019 Grosses Gewachs bottlings. The Frauenberg Riesling GG is outstanding, as are the two Rieslings from the cooler Zellertal, Zellerweg Am Schwarzen Herrgott and the Zellertal Kreuzberg, which was still extremely racy and nervous when I tasted it in April. Its tension and concentration, however, will make this another great wine that will be auctioned in Bad Kreuznach in September this year, which is also the release month of all the other GGs listed here.
Like in 2018, Hans Oliver did not expect such a great vintage still in August. "The vines still seemed to be a bit stressed from the previous vintage throughout the year, which was another very warm year yet less dry than 2018," he reported over the phone. "However, in September from the vines and later from the vats, the taste was just incredible," he remembers.
There were some key factors to deal with the heat and the drought. In the vineyard, soil and canopy management were crucial. A good layer of humus and straw to protect the vivacious soil from drought, and compost etc. were as helpful as the right leaf wall and a balanced yield. Hans Oliver Spanier has farmed organic since 1993, yet he got in contact with dry farming only after the heat of 2003. Year after year, he has adapted his vineyard management to global warming, yet in 2019, the cool nights from mid-August until the end of the harvest in early October were more than helpful. Those made 2019 a classic of modern times.
Secondly, the deep roots and the time of the harvest (mid-September until October 3) were important as well as the handling of the grapes when picked. Hans Oliver Spanier, who also makes the wines for the Kuhling-Gillot brand from the "Red Slope," is not a friend of a too-early harvest just to keep acidity but to relinquish intensity, depth and complexity. He prefers to pick in two steps but almost always prefers the later harvest the most. He also reduced the maceration time significantly. Since high temperatures and direct sunlight cause natural tannins in the grapes' skins anyway, a further maceration of phenols wasn't necessary. "We have perhaps exaggerated this procedure after the 2007 and 2008 vintages," he admits. Therefore, in 2019 as already in 2018, at least 50% of the grapes were pressed as whole clusters, and the other half was only slightly crushed. The pressing was very always gentle and made sure to get as much as possible out of the skins without extracting too much phenols.
As always, the musts were fermented in large oak vats (600 to 2,400 liters) spontaneously, and the best wines were kept on the full lees until a day before the assemblage and the bottling in June.
The finest 2019 Rieslings come, again, from the Zellertal, with the Frauenberg in front, which is Hans Oliver's favorite Riesling anyway. The Zellertal benefits from the amplitude between warm days and significantly cool nights thanks to the cold winds from the Donnersberg. The soils are perfectly calcareous, though very rocky in the Frauenberg. Readers should definitely invest in the 2019s from BattenfeldSpanier and Kuhling-Gillot. You will not find many wines that can really compete with the finest here.