German wine is primarily produced in the west of Germany, along the river Rhine and its tributaries, with the oldest plantations going back to the Roman era. Approximately 60 percent of the German wine production is situated in the federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate, where 6 of the 13 regions (Anbaugebiete) are situated. Germany as the eighth largest wine-producing country in the world. White wine accounts for almost two thirds of the total production. Among enthusiasts, Germany's reputation is primarily based on wines made from the Riesling grape variety, which at its best is used for aromatic, fruity and elegant white wines that range from very crisp and dry to well-balanced, sweet and of enormous aromatic concentration.
- Item #: i_372010Bottle Size: 750mlJOHN GILMAN, VIEW FROM THE CELLAR - 91 POINTS I cannot recall ever having a better, basic Riesling Trocken from Klaus-Peter, and I am sure the ramping up of the average age of vines for each bottling is the reason for this! The bouquet is flat out stunning, soaring from the glass in a complex blend of pink grapefruit, blood orange, chalky soil tones, wild yeasts, dried flowers and a topnote of orange peel. On the palate the wine is pure, fullish and again, really deep at the core, with great acidity and grip, superb focus and a very long, very classy and beautifully complex finish. This is not all that far off the quality level of the GGs fifteen years ago! It is a stunning value. 2019-2050. 91.
- Item #: i_328015Bottle Size: 750ML“A PERFECT VINTAGE OF THE BEST WINE VALUE IN THE ENTIRE DAMN WORLD, any color, any grape, any country, any price-point. This year for the first time it also contains fruit from a new acquisition, a hectare in the (Niederhauser) Klamm (see also Jakob Schneider; the site is a mélange of Rotliegend and weathered porphyry, and has both steep and flat sections.)” - Terry Theise
JOHN GILMAN, VIEW FROM THE CELLAR - 89 POINTS The 2018 Estate Riesling Feinherb had also been bottled at the start of the week, ahead of my Thursday afternoon visit, but it was showing quite well indeed (despite having to follow-up all of those GG fireworks). This wine comes in at 10.5 percent alcohol, has acids of 8.5 grams and sports around twenty-five grams of sugar this year. The bouquet is very pretty, offering up scents of white cherries, apple, salty minerality and spring flowers. On the palate the wine is medium-full, crisp and juicy, with very good backend mineral tug, bright acids and lovely focus and grip on the absolutely delicious finish. Another bargain! 2019-2040. 89.
"This is from two main vineyards Oberhauser Felsenberg (volcanic) and Kieselberg (slate) as well as declassified fruit from the Grand Cru sites and Klamm, a new acquisition, a hectare in the (Niederhäuser) Klamm which we know from Jakob – it’s a mélange of slate and weathered porphyry, and has both steep and flat sections.. The idea here is to make a village wine, basically, though it’s sold and marketed as a Gutswein or Estate bottled basic wine. The Estate wine combines the two major soils that dominate the holdings for the estate, giving the drinker a look into what Donnhoff is all about. The basic wine is a calling card and thus Cornelius wants to make statement" - Importer
- Item #: i_321206Bottle Size: 750ml
JOHN GILMAN - VIEW FROM THE CELLAR - 89 POINTS
The 2017 Estate Riesling Trocken is a very strong indication that the entire lineup is going to be excellent here in this vintage, as this is a very high quality, entry level wine. The wine comes in at twelve percent alcohol and carries 4.5 grams per liter of residual sugar this year. It offers up a fine bouquet of tart orange, grapefruit, slate, a touch of wild yeasts and a topnote of dried flowers. On the palate the wine is medium-full, focused and very well-balanced, with a good core, ripe, seamless acids and excellent length and grip on the open and precise finish. This is a serious bottle! 2018-2030. 89.
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From volcanic soils the 2017 (Estate) Riesling Trocken is lovely, pure, refined and mineral on the nose, displaying ripe white fruit aromas and crushed stone flavors. On the palate, this is a tension-filled, lovely, juicy and intense Riesling of great elegance, lightness and finesse.
- Item #: i_324314Bottle Size: 750mlA tributary of the Rhine, the Nahe River also lends its name to the wine-producing region covering over 4,000 hectares of vine. Clearly lesser known than Moselle, it is home to reputable producers like Emrich-Schönleber. Straightforwardness, freshness and minerality characterise this superb Trocken Riesling.
- Item #: i_374426Bottle Size: 750mlMOSEL FINE WINES 93 POINTS The 2017er Euchariusberg Kabinett AP 12 (known internally as “Kugel Peter”) comes from a parcel planted with 50 year-old grafted vines in the prime Gross Schock sector of the vineyard which was classified in the highest category on the old taxation maps and was fermented down to 40 g/l of residual sugar. This offers a gorgeous and delicate nose of greengage, pear, apple, bergamot and slate. The wine develops a gorgeously vibrant yet ripe fruity feel on the palate. The finish is superbly elegant and persistent. This has more power than its 2016 sibling but remains utterly elegant and refined. 2027-2037
- Item #: i_374427Bottle Size: 750mlWINE ADVOCATE 94 POINTS From two parcels (Forster and Ternes) in the upper Gewanne of the cru, the 2017 Krettnacher Euchariusberg Riesling Spatlese (AP 14) is discreet and delicate on the nose, which still offers yeasty and discreetly flinty notes. Concentrated and ripe fruit aromas emerge only later. Sweet and lush but carried by enormous acidity and grippy-mineral tension, this is a potent, age-worthy Spätlese that will develop over the years into a great wine. Tasted in June 2019. If you are interested in superb, classic, highly individual Saar Rieslings, Hofgut Falkenstein is one of the very best addresses. As in old times, each plot is vinified and bottled separately, and only a very few wines blend the fruit of two similar parcels that are too small to fill a 1,000-liter fuder. Each parcel has a given name—so, there is an "Uncle Peter" or "Gisela" fuder—though it is never mentioned on the label. Thus, the wine you get is only officially the Euchariusberg Kabinett Alte Reben, but in truth—and among freaks—it's "Gisela." Like any other wine, "Gisela" always goes into the same fuder every year, and so, if you want to speak about terroir, the terroir begins here: inside the traditional Mosel barrel that is cleaned but never filled with water between the bottling and the advent of the new vintage. Instead, a part of the sediment is conserved with sulfur and helps shape the new "Gisela," as does the vineyard plot with its old, ungrafted vines. The Webers say this is how they keep the soul of each fuder alive.
By the way, "Gisela"—or Euchariusberg Kabinett Alte Reben—is the finest Kabinett I have tasted in the Saar Valley this year. It has the luminous, precise and airy character combined with vitality, depth and complexity like Egon Muller's finest Scharzhofberger Kabinetts used to have. Really, I don't think I'm exaggerating. There was no Kabinett like Müller's Scharzhofberger before I met the Euchariusberg Kabinett from the 2017 and 2018 vintage, which actually outshine the famous neighbor in both years.
Unfortunately, the Falkensteiner Rieslings are fast-selling wines. You need to have a great relationship with your supplier, because even at the domaine you won't get a bottle to buy, only to drink. Erich and Johannes Weber could sell each bottle at least two times. There is no other domain that is as "hot" as the Falkensteiner Hof right now. The Webers are real farmers who do everything themselves and by hand. The vines have just one arch, and the soils are kept meager, with natural green cover between the rows. "After 42 years of farming the same way, we have an evolved system," said Erich. Whole-cluster pressing and natural fermentation in traditional fuders in the old, humid cellar are part of the system, too. Father and son know each single vine, and both (plus one employee) care about the plants as if they were pets. Some call the Webers (and their "wine historian" Lars Carlberg) crazy, and that's exactly what they are—but there is no better way of craziness. Just check out the wines, they speak for themselves.
The current vintage is the 2018, an early but ripe year. The Riesling harvest began on September 15. "As soon as the grapes have 80° Oechsle we get nervous, because we want to keep the acidity Saar-like and Falkenstein-like," said Erich Weber. Like most of the domains, the yields were reduced on the press. "The first must that is running from the press is 'winzerblond' [untranslatable: bright] or colored like ice tea," he said. With more than 0.8 bar of pressure, the juice becomes dark and reflects the enormous sunshine of the vintage even in a dense canopy wall. "It was easy to lose two grams of acidity if pressed for too long, so we stopped early. This is also a kind of intervention, but it's not a chemical one," Erich told me. He described the look of the grapes as "beautifully golden and healthy like in 2015." Since he is striving for lightweight wines, which he loves to compare with a ballet dancer, he doesn't de-leaf the grape zone, doesn't pick too late and does no maceration. "We don't want to have holes in the dance floor because the dancer is too heavy." In 2018, the Webers stopped pressing at 0.8 to 0.9 bar, while in normal years and also in 2017, the pressing went up to 1.1 to 1.2 bar. "We also need the last part of the pressing, otherwise the acidity would be too high. Ours is already self-confident, but we don't need 12 grams of total acidity."
Due to spring frost and botrytis, 2017 was a more difficult vintage, and the parts that were left on the press in 2018 were discarded in 2017. The selective picking paid off: the Hofgut Falkenstein's 2017s are extraordinary good, especially the Auslese from the Euchariusberg.
- Item #: i_342382Bottle Size: 750mlThis is a superb Pinot Noir-based dry rose from the Ahr region of Germany. On the nose you find a wonderful combination of fresh berries, herbs and citrus. In the mouth the fresh berries come to the forefront followed by a trace of lemony citrus. With a hint of minerality on the lingering finish this wine is perfect as either an aperitif or served with chicken, fish and seafood.
Wine making along the Ahr was founded by the Romans more than 1,000-years-ago. Historic records give evidence for cultivation from the year 770. Since the 13th century the region has been renowned for the cultivation of red varieties. This tradition has been continued, with an emphasis on growing Pinot Noir since the 18th century.
As a fifth generation family estate, a passion for wine is at the core of Mayer-Nakel Winery. Today’s wine estate was established by the marriage of Paula Meyer and Willibald Näkel. Although Willibald Näkel only cultivated 1.5 hectares of vines he was already a pioneer for the then rather unusual dry red wines from the Ahr valley. Today’s 15 hectares estate is managed by his son Werner Nakel, Werner's wife, Claudia, and their daughters Meike and Dorte.
- Item #: i_399957Bottle Size: 750mlDECANTER.COM 91 POINTS This wine, from the blue Devonian slate of the Ahr valley, has been the Meyer-Nakel calling card for years. Sourced from different parcels in the village of Dernau, it spent 10 months in used barriques and presents a wonderful introduction to Ahr Pinot Noirs. It's a lovely blend of smoke and cherry on the nose, while the palate is slender and shows lots of tart red fruit. The tannins have a gentle grip and the freshness is mouthwatering. Drinking Window 2019 - 2025
Ahr Valley's Werner Nakel is called the "red-wine wizard" - one of the leaders of modern Germany's high-quality Pinot Noir movement. This Estate Pinot has a wonderfully bright ruby red hue, with aromas and flavors of ripe raspberries and blackberries. It shows both a juicy fruit filling and a fine minerality from the distinctive blue slate makeup of the vineyards, with subtle notes of smoke and cloves. The tannin is velvety, elegant and full of finesse.
- Item #: i_360380Bottle Size: 750mlThe 2018er Spatlese Mosel Slate is a fully fruity-styled wine made from the Estate’s holdings in the Erdener Treppchen. A hint of smoky reduction gives quickly way to riper notes of quince, candied grapefruit, herbs, ripe apple and pear puree. The wine is pleasantly playful on the palate, where some nicely ripe yellow fruits mingle with fine acidity, thereby nicely balancing out the sweetness of this fully fruity Spatlese. This is already a joy to drink now but will gain in finesse in a few years’ time.
- Item #: i_360383Bottle Size: 750mlWINE SPECTATOR - 89 POINTS This shows precision and great clarity, with aromas of orchard blossom and flavors of apple and lime, plus notes of slate for added complexity. Blood orange and spice flavors linger on the crisp finish. 1,500 cases made.
MOSEL FINE WINES - 89 POINTS The 2017er Urziger Wurzgarten Kabinett Feinherb was fermented down to fully fruity-styled sugar levels. The wine opens up to some minty elements before revealing an aromatic and ripe bouquet made of spices, pear, fresh pineapple, almond, greengage and a hint of cinnamon. It has the ripe and creamy presence akin to that of a Spatlese on the palate, where pear, a hint of apricot and juicy yellow peach make for a hugely sweet feeling. The finish reveals more structure and is nicely intense despite the noticeable sweetness.
- Item #: i_362374Bottle Size: 750mlMOSEL FINE WINES - 90 POINTS The 2017er Ayler Senior Fass 6 comes from the original Kupp hill and was fermented down to just off-dry levels (13 g/l of residual sugar). It offers a gorgeous nose of grapefruit puree, candied lemon zest, cassis, pear and smoky slate. The wine proves beautifully fruity on the comparatively full-bodied palate and leaves a great touch of bitter lemon in the mouthwatering and nicely tart finish. More citrusy fruits come through in the long and persistent after-taste. This is a gorgeous bottling of Senior in the making! 2019-2027 90 points
Lauer 'Senior' is Florian's nod to making a style of wine his grandfather (Peter Lauer Sr.) would enjoy. His aim is to make a feinherb, weeknight wine from 70-year-old, ungrafted vines on the Kupp. With each passing vintage, Senior always seems to over deliver--for the price, the level of complexity is outstanding.
- Item #: i_333308Bottle Size: 750mlWINE ADVOCATE - 93 POINTS The 2017 Niederberg Helden Riesling Spatlese is the finest and most precise of the different selections or predicates. The nose is pure and fresh, with slatey notes. The palate is lush but lean, crystalline and elegant, revealing generous but precisely defined fruit and lingering salinity. Tasted in March 2019.
Thomas Haag lost 33% of the potential yield due to the spring frost in April 2017. This led to high extract levels despite a patchy summer. The harvest started on September 25—earlier than ever before. (In 2018, however, the harvest started even one week earlier.) Haag describes the vintage as "spicy, mineral and complex, with fine and subtle fruit, vibrantly racy acidity and a lot of tension, salt and straightforwardness. The 2017s have more concentration and structure compared to 2016, whereas the 2018s will have more generous and accessible fruit," he finds. "2018 is precise and offers a charming, fruity character, but it also has a degree more alcohol than 2017. After two bottles of Riesling, you'll know the difference, though you don't feel the alcohol immediately. But you'll feel it very soon..."
Since I was only in the Mosel Valley in late winter this year, when the first 2018s were prepared to be bottled, I didn't taste the whole range of 2017, but I still tasted many impressive wines, such as all the seven Grosses Gewächs (GG) Rieslings from Piesport, Lieser and Brauneberg stream downwards to Bernkastel, Graach and Wehlen, as well as the sweet predicate wines from the same vineyards.
The quality is exceptionally high, and no wine was rated lower than 91 points. Among the dry wines, the Doctor GG (96 RP) is on top, followed by the Graacher Himmelreich and the Piesporter Goldtröpfchen (95 RP each). The 2017 Auslesen are all terrific, namely the gold-capsuled Juffer-Sonnenuhr (97 RP), which has only one rival: the glorious TBA from the Niederberg Helden (98+ RP).
The wines from Thomas Haag are all vinified in stainless steel, and the dry wines are kept on the lees until June and do not undergo the malolactic fermentation. All the GG's were bottled in July.
The five Kabinett wines all came out at 8% alcohol to serve the lighter Kabinett style, as Thomas Haag explains. However, in 2017—and most probably also in 2018—these are pretty sweet wines with about 60 grams of residual sugar. They taste sweet but also racy-piquant, and freaks will be awarded, if they remain patient.
The four Spätlesen I tasted are all made from healthy, golden-yellow berries and fermented up to 7% or 7.5% alcohol. The Goldtröpfchen and the Wehlener Sonnenuhr are my favorites in a strong quartet.
There are three "regular" Auslesen (95+/96 RP) that are based on healthy grapes free of botrytis. The gold-capsuled Auslesen (96-97 RP) are based on, respectively, 15% to 25% and 35% to 40% botrytis berries and were all selected in a singular passage. They are excitingly clear and shining and also very precise on the palate.
2017 is a terrific success for Thomas Haag, who announced some changes for 2018. Nothing dramatic, though, only some new names for well-known Spätlese trocken wines.
This Estate is one of the new stars of the Mosel that in Thomas Haag (son of Wilhelm at Fritz Haag), has one of Germany's brightest up and coming winemakers. Smoky sweet red apples lead to notes of red slate, earth and fine peaches on the palate. There's plenty of energy here and bags of punchy fruit set in an open, accessible and inviting package. A warm, open and embracing Spatlese.
- Item #: i_364181Bottle Size: 750mlMOSEL FINE WINES 94 POINTS The 2017er Scharzhofberger Kabinett was fermented down to fully fruity levels. This is still massively under the impact of the spontaneous fermentation on the nose. It takes a few minutes before a most beautiful and telltale nose of white peach, white flowers, mint and plenty of chalky minerals, blended into elements of smoky slate to perfection. The wine is racy but also delivers a delicately smoothing feel of creamy grapefruit on the palate. While it does have the presence of a light Spätlese, the wine remains light-footed and completely elegant right into the apricot blossom infused finish and leaves one with a superbly airy, delicately fruity and mineral feel in the after-taste. Overall, the wine still remains rather shy and it is easy to overlook its greatness to come. Everything is there for making a stunning, playfully light yet complex Spatlese or Auslese like Eberhard von Kunow, the father of Max, used to make in the 1990s.
- Item #: i_331138Bottle Size: 750mlWINE SPECTATOR 90 POINTS An elderflower aroma draws you into this silky white, offering flavors of ruby grapefruit, blood orange and nectarine. Rose petal hints add to the complexity of the mineral-infused finish. Drink now through 2023. 375 cases made, 125 cases imported. — AZ
Hans Wirsching's lovely dry Scheurebe comes from the Iphofer region of Franken. Bottled in the old fashioned bochsbeutel.