First Growths 2008: Ode to Rheingau!

Blurry outside-view of Tigerpalast

Once again I had the opportunity to attend a First Growth presentation of VDP; this time within the locality of Frankfurt Cabaret and Michelin-starred restaurant Tigerpalast. The represented regions were Rheingau, Franconia and Baden. I predominantly focused on the Rheingau trying to get a thorough view on the 2008 vintage there. And I must say there were a lot of excellent wines. The disparities weren’t as big as in other years and even some of the not so big names presented impressing results. Thus I simply could’nt give this post any other title than “ode to Rheingau”. Ok you got me! I simply didn’t have a chance to thoroughly try any other of the so-praised regions of 2008 such as Pfalz, Rheinhessen and Nahe; but this gave me the opportunity to set the flags high for some regional Rheingau-patriotism ;)

Weingut Friedrich Fendel presented a beautifully round Rüdesheimer Klosterlay with juicy limesoil fruit and a vibrant backbone +++ Weingut Joachim Flick stunned me with an excellent Wickerer Nonnberg, a monopoly vineyard of their own, with fruit, minerality, vibrancy and a nice balance, a taste of the 2004 showed the enormous potential of this Terroir +++ Weingut Johannishof presented a good Rüdesheimer Berg Rottland, with herbal aromatics, a little sweet alcohol, with power, yet seeming filigree +++ Hessische Staatsweingüter Kloster Eberbach displayed its new bottles with the monastery on the label, their Hochheimer Domdechaney impressed with its elegance, a very compact, yet subtle wine with fruit and slight earth notes +++ Peter Jakob Kühn, “Enfant Terrible” of the Rheingau, famous for its uncompromising biodynamic work and spontaneous fermentation presented a very powerful Oestricher Doosberg: nervous, powerful, aromatic and needing loads of time, a sample of his 2005 showed how beautifully unique those wines can develop (not a hint of a maturity note) +++ Künstler presented his Hochheimer Kirchenstück and Hölle: at the moment Kirchenstück seems much more present than Hölle which is in a bit secretive phase; in some time, this will reverse though- both are elegant, yet energy-charged wines +++ Wilfried Querbach presented 8 vintages of his spontaneous fermentation Oestricher Doosberg, the 2008 being very promising, but still incredibly young, with a clear yeast tone on top and lots of potential underneath. By the way, owner Peter Querbach once trained a few months at Wiemer Estate in the Finger Lakes region, one of the pioneers for American Riesling +++ Weingut Balthasar Ress impressed with a nice Rüdesheimer Berg Rottland with herbs, minerals and a nice length, only the fruit drop notes were not so much my cup of tea; A Revelation though was a sample of his voluptuous 2003 Rüdesheimer Berg Schlossberg, with hazelnuts, honey, perfect harmony and no sign of age +++ Schloss Johannisberg –oldest Riesling estate in the world- presented the Rheingau prototype First Growth wine, classic style (subjectively for me of course) in a cool mineral and filigree way, with energy and yet balanced; still a baby with yeast tone and a little tannic +++ Freiherr Langwerth von Simmern had a really nice Hattenheimer Mannberg, aromes of herbs, lush fruit and an impressive length +++ Weingut Josef Spreitzer presented a powerful yet elegant Hattenheimer Wisselbrunnen with lots of herbs too +++ Robert Weil again showed a true masterpiece of a Kiedricher Gräfenberg, seeming a bit less on the fruit and a little more on the cool mineral side, although the analytics were exactly the same than in 2007 +++

Yes definitely some world class Rheingau wines they were, hopefully finding the right appreciation among all the top wines from Pfalz, Nahe and Rheinhessen that were praised this year. After all those Rieslings, I tried to invest some time for sampling some of Franconia’s and Baden’s premium wines. In the end I only managed to try a few.

Horst Sauer presented 2 beautiful wines from Escherndorfer Lump: A Silvaner with yellow fruit, deeply aromatic and complex and at the same time surprisingly slim as well as a Riesling with depth and a complex spiciness still seeming way too young for consumption +++ Weingut Josef Störrlein showed a nice Sonnenstuhl Pinot Blanc, with extremely well implemented barrique, subtle vanilla notes and a slight smokiness +++ Weingut Stadt Lahr Familie Wöhrle from Baden also presented an interesting Pinot Blanc Kronenbühl with a more juicy style, a bit less homogenous, a more present acidity but still enough aroma and depth +++ Brilliant Pinot Noirs from Baden were presented by Weingut Bernhard Huber, excellent structure, depth and complexity, a must-try for every PN lover

Less blurry outside-view of the location – a boring side street actually

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  1. Christian G.E. Schiller (guest) Said,

    Well I just drafted something on Wiemer for my Blog for the series German winemakes in the world. That’s why your comment caught my attention. As you may have seen from my Blog I am pretty much grounded in Germany, when it comes to Riesling. Washington State it definitely on the screen, when it comes to American Riesling. Wiemer produces in my view the most German Riesling in the US, but Konstantin Frank and others from the Finger Lakes region are not bad either. Long Island is for Merlot and anyway is only known by insiders. I plan to do a presentation of American wines for the Hochheimer Weinfreunde next year. You might be interested in that. Anyway, for the next two months, I will be based in Frankfurt am Main and my interest will shift to the Reingau.

  2. martin (guest) Said,


    How was the “Wildenstein” Spätburgunder from Huber??

  3. alexis2 Said,

    Leitz wasn’t present unfortunately. And Wildenstein wasn’t poured by Huber. But Bienenberg, Sommerhalde and Schlossberg were pretty good already (with Sommerhalde being more on the fruit right now)! Greets

  4. Christian G.E. Schiller (guest) Said,

    Why did Peter Querbach go to Herrmann Wiemer in the Finger Lakes …. and not to …. Washington State? Because Wiemer’s Rieslings are the best?

  5. alexis2 Said,

    Thanks! Oh I couldn’t tell you why he specifically went there. Neither could I tell you which Rieslings are the best in US. Only have fragmental knowledge. Washington State, Finger Lakes, a little Long Island maybe.. St. Michelle’s Eroica definitely comes to my mind. I remember Wiemer to be praised as “the” Riesling estate on the East Coast though. What’s your take on Riesling in US? Regards

  6. alexis2 Said,

    Thanks for the infos. Let me know when your presentation is, sounds very promising! Regards

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