Report from Wiesbaden GG tasting, Part 5: Rheingau

Continuing with my report on the Weisbaden tasting of GG’s held at the end of August, this is a report on the Rheingau. Previous reports covered the Mosel, Nahe, Rheinhessen and Pfalz and can be found on the board (mainly off of page 1 by now).

The Rheingau’s recent reputation as an under-performer among the region’s making fruity-styled Rieslings is well known. Based upon what I found in tasting the dry GG wines this year, that reputation seems to apply to the dry wines as well. While there are certainly a few very fine GGs here, overall there are far too many wines that are simply lack the depth and complexity that one should expect in a GG.

There were 10 flight offered, but I was able to get to only 6 of them due to time constraints. I focused on the extremities of the region: the villages of Rüdesheim and Johannisberg in the west, and Erbach and Hochheim in the east. Wines from the more centrally located villages of Winkel, Mittelheim, Oestrich, and Hattenheim were not tasted. I’m organizing these notes by region, first covering the west end of the Rheingau, then the east.

One of the more highly regarded producers around Rüdesheim is August Kessler, whose two wines were both good. Berg Roseneck was bright if a bit tart, but with good fruit underpinning for the acidity, an elegant styled wine, not powerful or rich but bright and fresh. Better was the Berg Schlossberg, with very bright acidity supporting ripe, complex fruit showing peach, apricot and cherry. Elegant and persistent, fairly full bodied and rich with a touch of heat in the finish. Wegeler also made an excellent Berg Schlossberg, a bit of sponti on the nose, but good minerality and crisp energy from firm acids, quite long with a seamless character from start to finish. This was one of the best Rheingau’s from either end of the region. Although mainly based in Hochheim, Künstler made a very fine Berg Rottland, with round deep fruit, good acidity and a serious character, quite rich with good depth and length, with everything in balance. The Berg Roseneck from Allendorf had an interesting perfumed/exotic nose, good firm acidity with a lighter body and excellent balance. A pretty style of wine with a floral aspect to the fruit that was quite attractive.

The other wines from the west side of the Rheingau were merely good, or worse. The historic estate of Schloss Johannisberg’s “Silberlack” is elegant, round, well balanced and with a hint of minerality, solid if unexciting. G.H. von Mumm’sches made a floral/herbal flavored wine from Berg Rottland, medium bodied and elegant, the somewhat unusual flavors adding interest, while this producer’s Johannisberg Hölle was complex with herbal notes again, but also some earthiness that detracts from the elegance of the wine. The state domain, Kloster Eberbach made a rich, ripe styled wine full of apricot jam, quite extracted and long if rather clunky. The remaining producers in this end of the Rheingau, Ress, Johannishof, and Fendel, showed wines that ranged from decent to mediocre to poor.

The east-side villages of Erbach and Hochheim produced a higher proportion of good wines overall. Two producers stood out, one in each of these two villages. In Erbach, von Oetinger showed three wines that were very good. Siegelsberg shows good fruit intensity, a round character supported by good acidity, quite rich with very good balance and seamlessness. Even better was Hohenrain, with deeper fruit, very round and seamless again, bright acidity, and perhaps a bit of residual sugar that adds suppleness while leaving the wine dry tasting; complete and delicious. Marcobrunn is also quite rich with deep fruit, superb balance and persistence on the palate. A complete wine again that manages to be both rich and light textured at the same time, with no sense of heaviness or over-extraction—excellent. Another good wine from Erbach was the Siegelsberg from Jakob Jung, round with deep fruit, good acidity with depth and balance. It is better than his Hohenrain, which is almost tart without quite enough fruit or richness to support the very high acidity. Decent but unexciting wines from Erbach were the offerings from Toni Jost (oily and cidery), August Eser (pretty and simple, for drinking young), von Simmern (nice lighter-styled wine if not much depth), and Baron Knyphausen (nothing special here).

In Hochheim the leading producer is clearly Künstler, whose three wines from this side of the Rheingau (he has one from the west side, mentioned above) were clearly a step ahead of every other producer’s. From the neighboring village of Kostheim, the Weiß Erd is rich, ripe, very deep and powerful, quite round with a peachy flavor profile and good length. It’s a richer-styled wine that seems very drinkable now. From Hochheim and similar in style is the Kirchenstück, again with the peachy fruit flavors and rich, ripe, but round, balanced and full-bodied. A more structured wine with higher acidity is the Hölle, with similar richness to the other two wines but with a tighter structure, very deep with good length, this would seem to be the best candidate for cellaring among these three wines. The remaining three wines from Hochheim, from Joachim Flick and Domdechant Werner’sches were perfectly decent wines that could be enjoyed on their own, but they were not at the level of Künstler.

Great stuff Bennett. Enjoy your travels.

Erbacher Marcobrunn was my favorite Rheingau when I lived in Germany several decades ago. I don’t remember if they were from von Oetinger but I’m glad to see it is still performing.

I was hoping to see your take on the wines of Spreitzer, a producer I enjoy a great deal from dry to sweet. Unfortunately they are in the middle of the region!

Yea, I wanted to do the entire region, but there’s simply too much to taste in two days. I think I missed nearly 100 wines! After 5 reports, I still have two more to do! Will cover Baden, Franconia (incl. Silvaner), and the Spat- and Weiss-burgunders.

Speitzer showed three wines: Mittelheim St. Nikolaus., Oestrich Lenchen"Rosengarten", and Hattenheim, Wisselbrunnen. Perhaps others will report on these. I know Claude Kolm was there and will probably be doing a comprehensive report on the wines in his Fine Wine Review. Joel Payne was there also, and his reports are usually published in Tanzer’s IWC. Can’t recall any other critics who write in English in attendance. Too bad (and a bit surprising) that Schildknecht doesn’t attend.