With the sunny weather here in Germany (warmer than south of France and Spain actually, which is incredible), we were seduced several times to open a bottle. It was a nice occasion to re-taste some Rheingau Rieslings from Künstler and check on their current condition.
2001 Künstler Stielweg Riesling Spätlese trocken
The last time we had this one was in September 2005, I made a short note here (in German). It still had a nice fruity nose with a sweet touch of honey and apricot. On the palate then it radically changed during this year and a half. It appears much drier and marks a real contrast to the nose, iodic and metallic, with a steady acidity. This one needs a food match to reveal its full potential. We matched it with a starter, eggplant rolls stuffed with feta-creme, and – very important – a balsamic vinegar dressing on top. The acidity in the food balances the acidity in the wine and makes the wine appear more round and elegant. Now this was a perfect match. As for the evolution of the wine, my guess is that it has now reached its optimum maturity. I will keep a spare bottle for next year, trying to track its further development.
1999 Künstler Stielweg Riesling Alte Reben halbtrocken
We had this bottle and the next one after coming home from an Italian restaurant where we already had 2 satisfying wines (Italian Sauvignon Blanc and Arneis on a sunny terrasse). We then needed some bottle as a perfect finish fort he evening. Luckily I put this Stielweg „old vines“ from 1999 in the fridge a day earlier. It is a „halbtrocken“ wine, which means „semi-dry“ but I remembered it not to be overwhelmingly sweet. The last time I had this one was also roughly 2 years ago (here). It was back then a really nice wine but it completely changed during that period of time. The flintstone nose I noted down disappeared and became a very dense and mature fruit nose with exotic touch; some would say it had an age note, but an elegant one which you would look for (leichte Edelfirne)
On the palate then some really fantastic stuff: a slightly sweet liquid with extreme feel of clarity and purity with a nice mineral note. As an analogy, I thought of giant clear and pure icebergs when I tasted it. And above all it had an extremly long finish where minerality and mature fruit notes reverberated forever. I wonder for how many years this one will be on the top? My guess is at least another 2 to 5, but I can well imagine this bottle being a nice experience in 10-20 years.
2005 Künstler Reichestal Riesling Kabinett trocken
This bottle came right after the `99 Stielweg. It is from the same estate and I thought it could top the last one. I was wrong. Although it was quite a nice wine with exotic fruit nose, it just didn’t have the depth and structure in the mouth to make it up to the Stielweg. With only 7,5% of alcohol it was evident it didn’t have the necessary backbone and with that much sweetness it appeared somehow unbalanced. But on the other hand it is still very young and might developp some more complexity. Also it was somehow unfair and silly to open this one after a matured giant. I’d give it an 84 and the guarantee of another chance to prove itself in one or 2 years.