The RieslingKenner 3rd Annual Hofgut Falkenstein vintage charity tasting was held last Sunday evening, October 23 at Easy Does It in Chicago. The third iteration of this event was bigger and better than our previous two events, and most importantly we were able to partner with and support a wonderful charity, in the Trotter Project. We were thrilled to be joined by German wine expert/legend and current Vinous reviewer David Schildknecht who heard about our event and drove in to attend from Ohio. His knowledge and commentary was a huge added bonus for all. Our sold-out event was a ton of fun and we are so appreciative of the 50 plus people (coming from 6 different states) that were there to support, help, and enjoy!
Our event featured something that has never taken place before, anywhere. We were able to offer our guests an opportunity to taste through the entire US allocation of 24 different current release bottlings which highlighted the highly anticipated 2021 vintage. The shear number of wines is something to behold when they are all lined up and presented for tasting. By the reactions of the guests, we were also reminded by the rarity of these wines. Each bottling is made from a single cask which will roughly yield only 100 cases of wine. That is NOT very much wine! Especially when you think about that being spread around the globe. We are very fortunate here in Chicago to have Robert Houde Wines bringing in such a wonderful selection of the different bottlings. To make this tasting possible the RK team had to hunt around the entire US to get them all. Plus, we even had our friend Michael Wright bring a bottle of super rare Falkenstein grappa made by Franz Irsigler from the grape musts and given to the 2021 harvest crew! So, I guess you could technically say that we had 25 different wines…
Before our impressions about the wines, we want to talk about why we do this annual event and our other events, raffles and get togethers for RieslingKenner. We do it for two simple reasons. The first is to celebrate our beloved Riesling by sharing it with others, giving attention to an underappreciated grape, and sharing our experiences along the way. The second (and most important) is to do what we can to help those of us in our society that need it, with a particular focus in fighting food insecurity and opening doors into wine for people that haven’t historically had equal access. We make no money on any event or anything else that we do at RieslingKenner. Everything goes to purchasing the wines, securing a venue, and the remainder going to one of the charities we are supporting. We are overjoyed to partner with the Trotter Project for this latest event and through our efforts with this event and raffle, we were able raise $2500 to help them create and plant a new community garden in the Austin neighborhood, here in Chicago. None of this would be possible without the support of so many people that attended the event and donated as part of our raffle. Please feel free to come out and enjoy any of our events and also feel free to contact us about enlisting our support for you to host a RieslingKenner event in your home town.
2021 Hofgut Falkenstein
N.V. Pet Nat
This is 100% Weissburgunder from Niedermenniger Herrenberg and is unfined, unfiltered, with no sulfur dioxide added. This hazy sparkling wine was a great way to start. Zippy with notes of ginger infused apples.
N.V. Landwein der Mosel
Also 100% Weissburgunder, but from a different parcel from Niedermenniger Herrenberg and is unfined, unfiltered, with no sulfur dioxide added. This sparkling version seems to have a slightly fruitier notes of cider and yeasty quality.
2021 Niedermenniger Herrenberg Weissburgunder trocken AP 2
Moving into the still bottling of Weissburgunder is like an electric shock to the palate, in the best way possible. This is super racy with crazy grip on a linear palate that showcases tons of quince. For the great acidity in this wine, it is actually beautifully balanced and an incredibly singular expression of this varietal. Always a fun one each vintage.
2021 Niedermenniger Herrenberg Kabinett trocken ‘Mutter Anna’ AP 1
The first Riesling of the tasting is a great introduction within the Kabinett trocken range. This was phenolic, herbaceous, and pulverized stones. This was racy, but the fruit was there to balance things out.
2021 Nidermenniger Sonnenber Kabinet trocken ‘Munny’ AP 9
This takes a more savory turn and is again incredibly phenolic, with notes of green grape skins, quince, and tart lemon. There is a real sense of savory minerality here.
2021 Niedermenniger Herrenberg Kabinett trocken ‘Egon’ AP 19
To me this was my favorite in the Kabi trocken range and the best Egon I can remember having. Notes of citrus glazed nectarines on a racy but quite pretty frame. The term that I have been hearing about the 2021 vintage is ‘ripe acidity’ and I think wine is a perfect example of that concept.
2021 Krettnacher Auf dem Hölzchen Kabinett trocken AP 21
This was very zippy, with flinty minerality and a ton of bright citrus fruits.
2021 Krettnacher Ober Schäfershaus Spätlese trocken AP 18
This seemed slightly less focused that the Kabinett trockens before it. A juxtaposition of earthy and savory tones next to high toned citrus. This needs time.
2021 Krettnacher Altenberg Spätlese trocken AP 7
Feeling more composed at this stage than the previous wine. It had many similar tones but they seemed to be better integrated on this evening.
2021 Niedermenniger Herrenberg Kabinett feinherb ‘Herbert’ AP 15
This was wonderfully fresh, bright, and playful. This is an utterly gulpable wine that begs for a warm day to sit outside and enjoy. A surprise favorite of many at the event.
2021 Niedermenniger Herrenberg Spätlese feinherb ‘Meyer Nepal’ AP 11
This seemed to be the most fruity and forward of the famous trio of Spätlese feinherbs. Being from magnum and the added difficulty of its temperature control, may have played a part though. Notes of juicy nectarines on a creamy palate made this delicious. This is a must buy for us every year.
2021 Niedermenniger Herrenberg Spätlese feinherb ‘Onkel Peter’ AP 4
Talk about a lip-smackingly good wine. A mélange of orchard fruits that were piquant and full of tangy goodness. On this night it had more verve that Meyer Nepal with a wonderfully delicious and spicy finish.
2021 Niedermenniger Herrenberg Spätlese feinherb ‘Palm’ AP 3
To me this was the star of the Spätlese feinherb trio and I was not the only one there to feel that way. It just seemed to have another level to it. Notes of pretty high toned florality, a tingle of lime zest, white peaches, sweet herbs, and touch of spice. This firing on all cylinders.
2021 Krettnacher Euchariusberg Kabinett ‘Arthuro’ AP 13
This was delicious, but I think that it may have suffered in this particular setting, because it followed Palm. And if I am being honest, I was still thinking about the previous wine…
2021 Niedermenniger Im Kleinschock Kabinett AP 20
This wine to me always reminds me of lemon lime soda. For whatever reason, it makes me think of that every vintage. I am obviously saying that in the context of Falkenstein, so please don’t read my notes as meaning that it is out of line or character with the other wines. This was delicious.
2021 Ockfener Bockstein Kabinett ‘Schorsch’ AP 17
I have been very excited to try the two new comers to the lineup, coming from the neighboring and famous Ockfener Bockstein vineyard. This wine comes from the ‘young’ vine parcel which are about 30 years old. This was more linear and racy than its counterpart. The fruit tones were similar, but this felt younger and a bit more wild at this stage. I am very excited to see this wine evolve with bottle age. A couple of our guests mentioned this wine.
2021 Ockfener Bockstein Kabinett ‘Mia’ AP 22
Coming from the older vine parcel, this wine seemed to show a bit more restraint and composure at this stage. The nose was herbal with bright citrus notes. The palate was stoney, showing almost bluer and rounder tones to the fruit followed by notes of smoked cream. This was mineral and deep.
2021 Krettnacher Euchariusberg Kabinett ‘Ternes’ AP 14
Bursting with citrus, this had fantastic grip and clearly full of wonderful potential. This will be fun to watch.
2021 Krettnacher Euchariusberg Kabinett ‘Kugel Peter’ AP 12
On this night, I think this was the star of the Kabinetts. Wondefully zippy, minty fresh, a flutter of wildflowers, juicy Meyer lemons, all will crazy good energy.
2021 Krettnacher Euchariusberg Kabinett Alte Reben ‘Gisela’ AP 8
On this particular night, the nose was not quite as expressive as I have come to expect with this wine. But that palate was amazing. It was deep, soulful, and haunting – with notes of smoke, lime and pears. Some thought this vintage would especially benefit from more time in bottle. Could be a crazy good in a couple years. This is a special wine…
2021 Krettnacher Euchariusberg Spätlese ‘Förster’ AP 5
This came across as sweeter than Klaus with a more rich and spicy palate. Notes of ripe apples and smoke on a mouthcoating finish. I think the temperature of this wine was slightly warmer than the others, for whatever reason, and that may have played a part in how it showed.
2021 Krettnacher Euchariusberg Spätlese ‘Klaus’ AP 6
This had wonderful energy that made the sweetness just completely melt away, giving way to piquant nectarines and mineral tones of wet slate.
2021 Niedermenniger Herrenberg Rosé trocken AP 23
This suffered from following the two Spätlese. Tart red berries and super high acid. This needed food or a better position in the tasting.
2020 Niedermenniger Herrenberg Rotwein trocken AP 10
Wonderfully elegant weight with notes of red berries, tart cherry and baking spices on a bright and fresh palate.