aging GG's and the like

Hi, Terry, thanks so much for contributing here. The question that comes to my mind is related to aging curves of Grosses Gewachs and similarly styled wines (relatively ripe grapes from the best sites bottled as seemingly dry wines) from Germany. I suspect that this is a broad question with no simple answer, and I’m not sure how many examples there are that already have 10-20 years’ bottle age (I know the GG designation hasn’t been around that long, but that the style existed before the designation did). My very limited experience with these wines has shown that they can drink extremely well in their youth, but also that they do seem to be tight in a way that makes me think they will improve over time. I’m wondering how much time that would be and what will happen to the wines as they age. This has been talked about a little bit here and elsewhere recently, and I welcome input from others as well. One example that increased my curiosity was the 2007 Donnhoff Hermannshohle that we tasted when you presented at the Society of Wine Educators Annual Conference this past Summer in D.C. I thought all of the other GG/EG wines showed very well that day, but the Donnhoff seemed to me (and a couple of other tasters) to be so tight and (almost) unyielding that I thought it might be entering a closed phase. I can only think that is the case based on my familiarity with that producer’s other wines and wines of this style from other producers, not having had the wine in question before that day. Do you think any of these wines will/have shut down? IF so, (and please let me know if you think my palate just wasn’t working at that time), I wonder if you have a theory as to how long it might take for them to reawaken, and then how long until they begin to grow tired. If you don’t think these wines shut down, maybe you can simply address the more general questions related to their aging curves. Thanks.

This is a rare case where the conventional wisdom seems correct. It says that these dry Rieslings should be drunk in the first 18 months after bottling, or not until they’re really into their tertiary development.

Yes, the same can be said of the “sweet” wines, and it is partly true, but the difference is the sweet wines are at least palatable even when they’re inexpressive.

Exceptions of course abound, and one learns them eventually through experience or talks with growers or both.

So the '07 Dönnhoff from the conference can be thought to have entered its mute phase. Oddly, I had the '05 a couple months earlier, and it was tasting magnificent. Do we ever really know what’s going on with these infernal bottles of wine?!?

Useful information on the '05 Terry. I’ve been eyeing that one for a while and keep saying no, no, not yet.

Nope :wink: To add to your anecdotal evidence, we had the 04 NH GG about a year and a half ago (so just under 5 years past harvest), and it was one of the most spectacular wines I have ever had, period. I think I’m reaching the conclusion that a lot of Austrian rieslings follow your description, but German trockens seem to always be showing something good, at least in my experience.


Thanks for the input. What you say about waiting for tertiary development does make some sense to me. I have had some wines from '01 and '04 recently that have been showing very well (of course, single bottles prove nothing, but if you want the most recent example it was the Georg Breuer 2004 Schlossberg, drinking very well now to my taste, so your experience with the '05 Dönnhoff doesn’t surprise me). That aside, and I do believe that what you’ve said must be true in most cases, I wonder when that tertiary character begins to emerge, either in general or with specific wines/regions/producers/vineyards. I also wonder how long the wines will stay at the plateau which I’m sure they reach at that point.