Saturday, September 30, 2017

VDP GG Tasting -- 2015 Spätburgunder from Baden: Bercher, Freiburg, Dr. Heger, Heitlinger, Huber, Keller, Lahr - Wöhrle



There were a few wines presented that did not merit writing up, but on the whole Baden showed as well as, if not better than, any region for Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir) in 2015. The overripeness one might have feared from a hot, dry vintage did not show here and the producers have learned to back off from overdoing the wines. (Continue reading here.)

Friday, September 29, 2017


VDP GG Tasting -- 2015 Spätburgunder from Franken: Castell, Fürst, Klingenberg/Baltes, Zehnthof Luckert

Limestone is, of course, the key to most of the wonderful Silvaners and Rieslings in Franken (Franconia), as well as the great wines of Burgundy. So it’s not surprising that there are quality Pinot Noirs here; but note, not all (e.g., Centgrafenberg with sandstone) are from limestone soils. (Continue reading here.)

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

VDP GG Tasting -- 2015 and 2014 Spätburgunder from the Rheinhessen (Ingelheim, Nierstein, Westhofen): Gutzler, Keller, Neus, St. Antony



With the exception of Keller, I don’t think of Rheinhessen for Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir), and the 2014s and 2015s presented validated that view. (In addition to the wines reviewed below, I tasted several others that did not merit reviewing.) The wines below are pleasant wines for drinking, but except for Keller’s Morstein, they don’t merit the title grand cru (common parlance in Germany for GG), especially since that name evokes Burgundy's greatest red wines.

The good news, as I’ve mentioned before, is that the producers are getting away from over-extraction and over-oaking. (Continue reading here.)

Monday, September 25, 2017

VDP 2016 GG Tasting -- Pfalz Weisser Burgunder (Böchingen, Burrweiler, Duttweiler, Godramstein, Ilbersheim, Laumersheim, Schweigen, Siebeldingen): Bergdolt, Berhart, Kranz, Kuhn, Meßmer, Minges, Münzberg/Keßler, Rebholz, Wehrheim

To my palate, this was not a great vintage for Weisser Burgunder (also known as Weissburgunder, Weiss Burgunder, and Pinot Blanc), but the top producers came through — Bergdolt, Münzberg, Rebholz, Dr. Wehrheim, and Kranz.

If you’ve never tasted German Pinot Blanc and you get the opportunity to do so, don’t pass it up. These wines are completely different from what is produced from the same grape in France and Italy. Specifically, the German versions are much racier and more penetrating. (Continue reading here.)

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Sunday, September 17, 2017

VDP 2016 GG Tasting -- Pfalz Riesling Part IX (Gimmeldingen, Haardt, Idig, Ruppertsberg): von Buhl, Bürklin-Wolf, Christmann, Müller-Catoir



Here, the vineyards are not as well-known as those in Forst and Deidesheim, but there are outstanding wines that regularly come from the vineyards, especially Christmann’s two Idig vineyards.

Note that one of the von Buhl wines and the Bürklin-Wolf wine are from the 2015 vintage. (Continue reading here.)

Thursday, September 14, 2017

VDP 2016 GG Tasting -- Pfalz Part VI (Ungeheuer): Achim-Magin, von Bassermann-Jordan, von Buhl, Mosbacher, von Winning


The Ungeheuers showed very strong and very good for drinking already. (Continue reading here.)

VDP 2016 GG Tasting -- Pfalz Part V (Kirchenstück): Achim-Magin, Bassermann-Jordan, von Winning, and 2015's from Bürklin-Wolf and von Buhl

In my opinion, Kirchenstück is the greatest vineyard in the Pfalz, and indeed one of the very great vineyards of Germany. 

Unfortunately, with the holding back of wines for a year by Bürklin-Wolf and von Buhl (and possibly Mosbacher, which did not show a Kirchentsück) and my not visiting Eugen Müller, who is not a VDP member but produces Kirchenstück (and other wines) on the same level, this gives, for now, an incomplete picture of Kirchenstück. (Continue reading here.)

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

VDP 2016 GG Tasting -- Pfalz Part IV (Jesuitengarten): Acham-Magin, von Bassermann-Jordan, Mosbacher, von Winning


Like a kid in a candy store. Not as great as some vintages, maybe, but still hugely enjoyable. (Continue reading here.)

VDP 2016 GG Tasting -- Pfalz Part III (Pechstein): Acham-Magin, Bassermann-Jordan, von Buhl, Mosbacher, von Winning

Here, we begin one of the most amazing parts of every GG tasting — the vineyards of Forst, followed by those of Deidesheim. Forst is the equivalent of Vosne-Romanée — the most complete, sensual wines of the Pfalz and a tremendous agglomeration of the greatest vineyards. (Continue reading here.)

VDP 2016 GG Tasting -- Pfalz Riesling Part II (Ungstein and Bad Dürkheim): Fitz-Ritter, Pfeffingen/Fuhrmann-Eymael, Rings



All these wines received the same scores, yet if you read the descriptions, you’ll see that each is different.  (Continue reading here.)

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

VDP 2016 GG Tasting -- Pfalz Riesling Part I (Dirmstein, Kallstadt, Laumersheim, Zell): Knipser, Kuhn, Rings


As I stated in a previous post, the Rheinhessen remains the most exciting area in German wine. This is in part because for most of our knowledge of German wine, most of the Rheinhessen, including the areas that are now making some of the greatest wines in Germany, were not producing quality wines. For much of the Pfalz, adjacent to the Rheinhessen, this situation is different — the wines have a long history of celebrated wines (although there are other areas at the extremes of the Pfalz that have only relatively recently begun to produce top quality wine).

Interestingly, the Pfalz in many ways resembles Burgundy’s Côte d’Or. Among other things, both arebacked by a range of mountains with the slopes generally facing southeast, and the hearts of both are in the center of the region, although the extremes at both ends have recently been contributing very fine wines. In Burgundy, the wines grow higher on the slopes, possibly a reflection of the more southerly latitude.

We’re starting here with wines from the northern limits of the Pfalz, and which are not on the slopes of the mountains. They actually are a continuation of the Rheinhessen nearby (e.g., Hohen-Sülzen) more than they are related to the Pfalz further south; but the political boundaries determine the region here. (Continue reading here.)

VDP 2016 Tasting -- Rheinhessen Part IV (Westhofen and Dittelsheim): Groebe, Gutzler, Winter, Wittmann


This group of producers and vineyards typically supplies some of the greatest moments for me at the annual Wiesbaden GG Preview. The wines showed well here in the context of the vintage, but not as well as they have in the past. Is this just the way the vintage is or is this because the wines were tasted so young (this year, the Wiesbaden tasting was moved up a week from what has already been a very early preview of the wines)?  Hopefully, I’ll have another chance to retaste these wines with some more age on them. (Continue reading here.)

Sunday, September 10, 2017

VDP 2016 GG Tasting -- Rheinhessen Part I (Bingen, Siefersheim, Nackenheim): Gunderloch, Krüger-Rumpf, Kühling-Gillot, Wagner-Stempel

Rheinhessen, as I’ve been saying for more than a decade, is the most exciting region in Germany right now (not that there isn’t plenty of excitement in most of the others). The GG’s showed extremely well, and from the whole Rheinhessen, there wasn’t a single wine that I declined to write up. (Continue reading here.)

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

VDP 2016 GG Tasting -- Mittelrhein: Jost/Hahenhof, Lanius-Knaub, Müller, Ratzenberger

This region is on both sides of the Rhein north of the Rheingau and Nahe, and even extending on the east side past Koblenz, where the Mosel empties into the Rhein. It’s not well-known as there have been few quality producers. But as these wines show, there are some, and they are worth investigating, should you come across them. (Continue reading here.)

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Monday, September 4, 2017

VDP GG Tasting 2016 -- Nahe Part II: the Central Region -- Dr. Crusius, Dönnhoff, Gut Hermannsberg, Schäfer-Fröhlich



Dönnhoff and Schäfer-Fröhlich, habitually among the best dry Riesling producers in Germany, came close to producing great wines, but so far, they were just a bit short of it for me.

The single Nahe GG that I tasted that I chose not to review was in this section, and it may well be a very good wine, but it seemed disjointed, perhaps from recent bottling. (Continue reading here.)

VDP Grosses Gewächs Tasting -- 2016 Nahe Part I, the Northern Region: Schlossgut Diel, Krüger-Rumpf, Schäfer


The Nahe arguably has been the strongest region of the VDP GG tastings in many of the past years. That’s may not be true this year, but the quality level nevertheless is uniformly high. (Continue reading here.)

Saturday, September 2, 2017

VDP Grosses Gewächs Tasting -- 2016 Lower and Mid-Mosel Part I: Fritz Haag, Heymann-Löwenstein, Dr. Loosen, J. Wegeler

Generally, it’s a strong year for Mosel Grosses Gewächs wines, although there were a few that I am not commenting on — if I scored them below 88/B, I would want to see the wines again. Mosel producers have greatly improved their skills at making dry Riesling; if you haven’t sampled any in recent years, I suggest that you try a bottle (it need not be GG) from a good producer.

The wines of one of my favorite producers, Clemens Busch, were notably missing from this year’s tasting. I expect that we may see his 2016s at next years GG tasting. (Continue reading here.) 

Introduction to 2016: VDP Grosses Gewächs Tasting Overview



Three days of tasting at the VDP’s annual Grosses Gewächs preview and an additional afternoon of tasting in the Rheingau allowed me to get an initial view of the state of dry wines in Germany for the 2016 vintage. (Continue reading here.)