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.
WineSpectator.com 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.
Passionate about wine? Wine Spectator magazine is looking for an enthusiastic copy editor in the New York office.
Sips & Tips | Wine & Healthy Living
Video Theater | Collecting & Auctions
New! Ratings Flash