Questions or comments on our new mobile-responsive site? Tell us here.
Log In / Join Now

what we're drinking now

Senior editor and tasting director Bruce Sanderson joined Wine Spectator in 1993. His tasting beats are Burgundy, Italy and Germany.
Bruce Sanderson

A White from the Cellar

Franz Künstler Riesling Spätlese Rheingau Hochheimer Kirchenstück 1996

Bruce Sanderson
Posted: October 11, 2010

I was going through some bottles in my cellar and found the last of six bottles of a German Riesling spätlese I had purchased for $20 a bottle in 1997. It was the Rheingau Hochheimer Kirchenstück 1996 from Franz Künstler.

The 1996 Rieslings had screaming acidity. I recall the vintage tasting in New York at the time. My teeth hurt for days after tasting about 60 young Rieslings. However, there were several I thought had great balance between fruit, residual sugar and acidity. The Künstler was one of them.

The bottle had a little seepage under the capsule and down onto the neck label, so I figured it was time to open it. What a pleasant surprise. Medium golden in color, the wine offered a profuse bouquet of apricot and quince paste followed by flavors of honey and mineral; it was rich yet racy, with concentrated fruit, citrus and mineral flavors. Overall, it showed fine texture, harmony and terrific length. I gave it 94 points, non-blind. At 14 years of age, it could easily have gone another 10 to 15 years. members: Read the original blind-tasting review for Franz Künstler Riesling Spätlese Rheingau Hochheimer Kirchenstück 1996 (92, $30).

• Plus, get our quick list of Top Values among recently rated German Rieslings.

Would you like to comment? Want to join or start a discussion?

Become a member and you can!
To protect the quality of our conversations, only members may submit comments. Member benefits include access to more than 315,000 reviews in our Wine Ratings Search; a first look at ratings in our Insider, Advance and Tasting Highlights; Value Wines; the Personal Wine List/My Cellar tool, hundreds of wine-friendly recipes and more.

WineRatings+ app: Download now for 300,000+ ratings.