For over well over 30 decades, I have felt so compelled to include German wines into the tastings I do, especially for those geared for the younger generations. Yes, part of the reasons I have to admit, is because these wines are such underdogs in the world of wines & so grossly under appreciated. At the same time, I have to say that some of the VERY finest wines I have experienced over the years have been aged German Rieslings, as they can show such incredible class, refinement & true nobility….AND, quite effortlessly so. Furthermore, I am continually amazed & re-amazed at how wonderfully food friendly they can be AND with such a wide range of foods. Lastly, I am so absolutely blown away at how under priced they usually are, especially given the supreme quality.
So, in an effort to show “Young Sommeliers” what all of this can mean, we included 5 German wines in today’s tasting from 3 of the country’s (& world’s) finest producers.
We began with a duo of Spätlese from Gunderloch & their red slated hillside vineyard–the 2012 Gunderloch Spätlese “Nackenheimer Rothenberg” & the 2001 Gunderloch Spätlese “Nackenheimer Rothenberg”–from the Rheinhessen region. (please go to “archives to check out an earlier post I did on this winery). Just as various soils & micro climates can greatly affect the resulting wines in other wine regions throughout the world, the same is true in Germany. Most of the more famous & iconic vineyards of Germany have dominantly slate soiled vineyards. So, in the Mosel for instance, one regularly sees gray to black slate dominate the “Cru” sites. In the Rothenberg, however, the soil is RED slate, which creates a much deeper, bass versus treble character in the finished wine. Furthermore, because the temperature in this area is typically much warmer than the Mosel (& therefore typically lower total acidity in the wines), the wines seem more forward, much lusher, rounder & deeper. In the case of the Rothenberg, however, its red slate & resulting stony character helps to create buoyancy in the wine which greatly supports the innate acidity, thus helping to keep the wine fresh & alive on the palate from start to finish. The 2012 showcases young, fresh, tropical fruit, with an underlying stoniness. It really exudes such a bright personality with lots of vigor & eager vitality. The 2001 (donated by our friend Brent Curlow), in comparison is less apparently sweet, much more tactile in texture AND the minerality has totally come forward, completely overshadowing any kind of fruit nuances.
In comparison to the Gunderloch duo (which we used to refer to as “brown” bottle Riesling), we then followed with a duo of Mosel produced Riesling (“green” bottle Riesling)–the 2012 Reinhold Haart Kabinett “Piesporter Goldtröpfchen” & the 2007 Reinhold Haart Kabinett “Piesporter Goldtröpfchen”. The soil in this breathtaking, panoramic, steep vineyard is various shades of blue, gray, to brown tinged to black slate. The resulting fruit is more delicate–apple, pear, slight lychee–with a pronounced pencil lead quality. The wines seem lighter in body & weight–leaner–with a crisper, most riveting levels of acidity. FYI–Theo Haart was “2007 Gault Millau Winemaker of the Year”…..& deservedly so. (please go to “archives to check out an earlier post I did on this winery). Theo makes such profound, thought provoking, age worthy wines which exude pedigree, class & nobility.
We ended the tasting & the day with a gift–the 1994 Rudolf Fürst Spätburgunder Trockenbeerenauslese “Bürgstadter Centgrafenberg”–from Kevin Toyama, wine cellarmaster of the Halekulani Hotel. Owner/winemaker Paul Fürst was the “2003 Gault Millau Winemaker of the Year” & essentially specializes in world class Pinot Noir, almost all still & red. (please go to “archives to check out an earlier post I did on this winery). I highly encourage all to really check them out as they can be that good! Interestingly, in 1994 he decided to make this wine from his home Centgrafenberg vineyard & its hilly red sandstone soils. Back in the late 90’s, although I originally thought this wine would be just a novelty, upon first taste I was astounded how wonderful it truly was. I expected there to be botrytis present, as is often the case with late harvest grapes like this. Nope. That means he must have picked grape by grape to make this wine. I just loved its resulting, unique character as it was NOT like any wine I had before or since. Now 22 years later, the color became much more pronounced & the high levels of apparent sweetness has essentially partially dried up to make a VERY viscous, vinous, wine that showed me something different with each sip. Wow! What an experience. Thank you Kevin!