Any thoughts on where the 1996 German Rieslings are heading

I check in on one or two every once in a while, but find most of them still quite spiky and hard to drink. The Catoir Rieslaners seem to be showing the best. Perhaps the vintage suited such an unruly (and I mean that in a good way) grape.

a recently consumed Loosen UW auslese was outstanding!

I think the 96 vintage’s acid profile suits Loosen’s richly fruited wines.

In general David, my carefully considered answer would be “Who the F@!k knows?” Hans-Leo Christoffel recently threatened to open a Treppchen Kabinett, which just the thought of had my gums starting to throb…and the wine was superb. Not just good: it was the first time I could recall how much I praised the '96s and not feel embarrassed. Wow, they WERE good…

To be serious, the question really reduces to this; we know the wines are tasting mostly very strange right now. Their fruit has matured quickly yet their acid structure hasn’t budged, so is this a permanent bifurcation or will these threads knit again at some point? I recently read a knowledgeable opinion that the '96 Champagnes are merely in a gangly phase and will demonstrate their greatness yet again in the fullness of time.

I wonder also whether we’ve all outgrown our silly fixation on acidity per se, and now when we taste these high-acid vintages we find them coarser than before. (Which makes me very curious to taste the 2010s…) Nearly thirty five years ago, Dr Hans Crusius said “It’s time we got rid of the notion that Riesling is great BECAUSE of its acidity,” and at the time I thought the old man was doddering, but now I know he was right.

Could you expand on this? For me, one of Rieslings great charmes is its ability to be both luminous from the acidity yet have tremendous depth from its dry extract. One without the other would not be nearly as fun. Or is that your point?

That wasn’t exactly my point, but it’s a good point, and one with which I agree.

I think it’s a waste to fixate on any single component of a wine, or to base ones whole approach to wine on an isolated litmus test. If for example you want to defend the statement “Riesling is great because of its acidity,” then I’d ask you, “In that case does it follow that the higher the acidity, the greater the wine?” And then you’d see the error immediately.

Acidity is, as Hans-Günter Schwarz famously said, the “fundament of fruit,” and we all know that Riesling is a high-acid grape. In fact we can presume its acidity will be adequate in all but the weirdest circumstances. It certainly drives flavor in a singularly kinetic way. But too much of it is just…too much of it. In fact I’d theorize that this is true of any single component of a wine’s flavor; if it’s blatant then it’s excessive, and probably unbalanced.