If you haven’t tried a dry German Riesling recently, you owe it to yourself to take another look. There are some excellent wines currently available.
It helps that the past 3 out of 4 vintages—2003, 2005 and 2006—have been favorable for dry wine production. All have been warm, ripe vintages with good maturity and healthy grapes for making dry Riesling.
The odd one out of these three is 2006. Though the quality is high, hail in some areas and a quick and early onset of botrytis translated to very tiny quantities.
I have tasted dozens of dry Rieslings from these vintages. Last week, I attended a tasting of 50 dry German wines presented by Rudi Wiest Selections. Six young winemakers and managers were on hand to pour wines from their estates. And it wasn’t just Riesling: There was Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Scheurebe and Sylvaner.
However, with the exception of Dr. Heger Pinot Blanc Spätlese Dry Baden Ihringer Winklerberg 2005, Wirsching Scheurebe Kabinett Dry Franken Iphöfer Kronberg 2006 and several Pinot Noirs, the Rieslings provided all the fireworks.
Not that the other wines were bad. The top dry Rieslings simply have more presence, complexity, mineral character and class.
The other interesting point is that 95 percent of the dry wines at this tasting came from regions other than the Mosel or Nahe. Growers make dry wines in these regions, yet the best wines from the Mosel and Nahe are the elegant, mineral-driven fruity-style Rieslings. No other places in the world are capable of wines like these.
My favorites? In no particular order:
Schnaitmann Württemberg Uhlbacher 2006
Karthäuserhof Spätlese Dry Mosel Eitelsbacher Karthäuserhofberg 2004 (a nice surprise from this leaner vintage)
Wegeler Rheingau Rüdesheimer Berg Schlossberg Erstes Gewächs 2006
Robert Weil Rheingau Kiedricher Gräfenberg Erstes Gewächs 2006
Gunderloch Rheinhessen Nackenheimer Rothenberg 2006
Pfeffingen Pfalz Herrenberg “Mardelskopf” Grosses Gewächs 2006 (from the best part of the Herrenberg)
Künstler Rheingau Hochheimer Stielweg Alte Reben 2006
Künstler Rheingau Hochheimer Kirchenstück Erstes Gewächs 2006
Künstler Rheingau Hochheimer Hölle Erstes Gewächs 2006
Von Buhl Pfalz Forster Pechstein Grosses Gewächs 2005
Von Buhl Pfalz Ruppertsberger Reiterpfad Grosses Gewächs 2006
Rebholz Pfalz Kastanienbusch Grosses Gewächs 2006
What makes these wines more successful is attention to yields, selection and a determination of a new generation of growers, six of whom were on hand to present their wines.
For example, Max von Kunow presented two dry Rieslings from Dr. Wirsching: A Spätlese Dry Franken Iphöfer Kronsberg 2006, and Franken Iphöfer Kronsberg Grosses Gewächs 2006. The difference is in the selection—lower yields, older vine parcels and two weeks additional ripeness for the latter.
The Wirsching wines, in their unique bocksbeutels, and those of Rudolf Fürst, also from Franken, deserve to be better known.
Stephen Vodanovich — November 21, 2007 11:04am ET
Bruce Sanderson — New York — November 21, 2007 4:11pm ET
James Peterson — San Antonio, Texas — November 24, 2007 7:31pm ET
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