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2007 Rheingau Tasting at the Gourmet Festival: Some Favorites

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In the very last minute I realized that I was about to miss the start of the Rheingau Gourmet Festival, a one week event comprising many mouth watering lunches, dinners and wine tastings all held in this epicurious region along the Rhine.

So I hurried to attend the Sunday wine tasting featuring some 30 VDP Rheingau estates as well as a dozen of Chianti and Barolo winemakers. The tasting was being held at mythical Eberbach Abbey, a huge ancient monastery which was also used as scenery for the movie “The Name of the Rose” with Sean Connery: could there be any more inspirational setting?

Whereas I skipped most Italian reds- those I tried just felt horribly bitter and adstringent- I spared no efforts in tasting each of the 2007 Rieslings; what an opportunity to get an overview of this excellent vintage in Germany.

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And to be honest I was surprised that many estates only brought up some pretty average First Growths considering the quality of the vintage. But fortunately there were also wines to remember, some maybe for a lifetime. A handful of wines entered my imaginary list of favorites and 2 wines really fought hard in a final (imaginary :=)) showdown for the first place.

To make a long story short, the showdown that crystallized for me in this tasting, urged me to rush back and forth several times from the Leitz estate booth to the Künstler estate booth. The outcome then was a pretty close game, but I’m pretty sure that my favorite First Growth of the tasting was the Hochheimer Hölle by Künstler.

This Riesling made of more than 40 year old vines just has it all: spiciness, fruit, power, minerality, a nice acidity; and all those elements just are in perfect balance. On the other hand the Leitz Berg Rottland alte Reben Goldkapsel, also made from old vines (more than 60 years old) has the greater intensity: apricot underlined by masculine spices and a nearly crackling minerality, not to mention an infinite length. But in the end the Rottland appeared a bit overpowered, nearly too intensive for me. (I remember the 2005 without the GK being way more balanced). The Hölle appeared a little more balanced and elegant and would therefore be my choice for a wine able to please at any occasion. But don’t get me wrong: both are great wines. I just wanted to have a winner and therefore had to put myself in a situation where I must choose. This said there is another factor which usually plays a role in decision making, but which I didn’t take into consideration here: the price. The Rottland GK sells for incredible 65€; the Künstler for “only” 25€ (But keep in mind that there is also a Rottland without GK for 30€ and a Hölle GK for 40 €, but both weren’t offered at this tasting).

Now for my third place, there was another elegant appearance. One of my usual suspects actually: The Kiedricher Gräfenberg FG by Robert Weil. As always it showed an incredible clarity of taste with finely chiseled minerality. Will Weil ever produce a disappointing Gräfenberg? This vineyard just seems to be a warranty for good wines.

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Finally I also stumbled on some FG’s offering quite good value for money. First of all the Oestricher Doosberg FG by Querbach for 15 € showing masculine spice, Riesling fruit with power and complexity while at the same time being nicely balanced. Secondly, the Hattenheimer Nussbrunnen FG by Balthasar Ress with a nearly similar style. The Erbacher Steinmorgen FG by Baron zu Knyphausen offers fresh minerality and juicy Riesling fruit for 17€. Interesting also, the Lorcher Pfaffenwies FG by Graf von Kanitz for 19,5 €; a very masculine Riesling with tobacco and herbs, but also with nice layers of peach fruit and a precise minerality.

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