This is the second installment of two German tastings I attended recently in New York. Two major importers were previewing the 2008 vintage, among other years.
I arrived late to the Terry Theise tasting at Tribeca Grill, so was unable to taste through everything I wanted, but did get a good impression of several growers. I missed Leitz and Christoffel, so I must wait to taste these lineups for official review later this year.
There was an assortment of dry wines, of which the Wagner Stempel Qualitätswein Trocken Rheinhessen Siefersheimer Vom Porphyr stood out. Bright and full of peach flavor, it was dry and beautifully balanced. Herbert Messmer’s Spätlese Trocken Pfalz Schiefer also delivered loads of fruit backed by a mineral essence.
From there I moved on to Selbach-Oster, represented by the indefatigable Johannes Selbach. “We had almost as long hang time in 2008 as '07,” he explained, “but '08 was about 5 percent lighter, with more apple flavors. It's perfect for kabinett and spätlese, whereas in '07 we achieved higher prädikats and more botrytis.”
This is a terrific range, with the Kabinett Mosel-Saar-Ruwer Zeltinger Sonnenuhr standing out for its floral and peach notes and lovely balance and harmony. This year, Selbach added another single parcel bottling to his “Rotlay” (Zeltinger Sonnenuhr) and “Schmitt” (Zeltinger Schlossberg) labels. The Zeltinger Himmelreich Spätlese Anrecht is detailed, delicate and rich, with long lasting flavors of apple, citrus and peach.
The Mosel-Saar-Ruwer Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Rotlay was full of apple and brown spice notes, while the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer Zeltinger Schlossberg Scmitt seemed drier, featuring more mineral and chalk tones. Selbach is moving away from using the aulsese designation on the label in order to focus on these special terroirs.
Things don’t change as quickly in Old World regions as in emerging areas of the New World, but nonetheless, they do change from time to time. Karl Loewen of Weingut Carl Loewen has taken over winemaking responsibilities at Schmitt-Wagner. There is more finesse, cut and mineral character in the wines, as evidenced by the Kabinett Mosel Longuicher Maximiner Herrenberg. From Carl Loewen, I liked the Spätlese Mosel Thörnicher Ritsch for its classic Mosel lime, peach and slate flavors.
The Nahe furnished several delights, first from Hexamer, whose QbA Nahe Meddersheimer Rheingrafenberg Quarzit oozed with juicy apple, bordering on peach, all supported by fine acidity. Jakob Schneider’s Kabinett Nahe Niederhäuser Klamm exuded apple and savory notes, a succulent texture and excellent definition.
Dönnhoff’s range progressed from juicy to creamy to rich, with the Spätlese Nahe Schlossböckelheimer Kupfergrube offsetting its richness with a mineral quality and dry, citrusy finish. There was a mouthful of juicy apple and peach from the Kruger-Rumpf Kabinett Nahe Münsterer Kapellenberg and Schlossgut Diel’s Spätlese Nahe Dorsheim Pittermännchen, the harlequin, flaunted its gorgeous citrus, peach and apricot flavors and nuanced profile.
The 2008 Riesling QbAs (estate Rieslings) and kabinetts are delicious wines to drink this summer. The best spätlesen can also be enjoyed over the next year or so, but are capable of aging for 20.
Stay tuned for full tasting notes and scores in upcoming issues of our weekly Insider newsletter and fall 2009 issues of Wine Spectator.