Report from Wiesbaden GG tasting, Part 6: Franconia (Riesling & Silvaner) and Baden (Riesling)

Continuing with my report on the Wiesbaden GG “sneak preview” tasting in Wiesbaden held in late August, this will cover Franconia Silvaner and Rieslings, plus the Rieslings from Baden. Other varieties from these regions will be included in my next (and last) report which will cover Weißburgunder and Spätburgunder.

Franconia Silvaner

The four flights of Silvaner, all from Franconia (there are no Silvaner GG’s from any other region), were quite good across the board, but the wines from three vineyards really stood out: Wurzbuger Stein, Escherndorf Lump, and Iphofen Julius-Echter-Berg. All of my top wines came from these vineyards regardless of producer, a pretty good example of terroir driving quality. My top Silvaner was the Eschendorf “Lump” from Horst Sauer, a wine with intense minerality and impeccable purity, bright apple fruit with complex notes of savory herbs, a remarkable combination of lightness of texture and depth of flavor and great length. This wine stood head and shoulders above the other Silvaners, but there were plenty of other excellent wines. Also from Lump the wine from Michael Frölich showed good minerality if not quite the depth of the Sauer. From Wurzburger “Stein”, the example from Juliusspital was intense, crisp and fairly rich, showing a hint of alcohol but great depth and persistence. The Stein from Staatlicher Hofkeller Wurzburg as also very good with richness supported by precise acidity, while the Stein from Burgerspital zum Hl. Geist was a bit softer, full-bodied and rich. From Julius-Echter-Berg, the top wines came from Juliusspital again, rich with extract and deep if a bit soft, and Wirsching, with brighter acids and more precision if less richness than the Juliusspital. The J-E-B “im Frohntal” from Johann Arnold was similarly structured and with good minerality and depth.

Other excellent Franconian Silvaners included a Rodelsee Kuchenmeister “Hoheleite” from Weltner, rich and fruit-driven, very clean and fresh; a Frickenhausen “Monchshof” from Bickel-Stumpf, bright with good purity of fruit and freshness; and an Iphofen “Kronsberg” from Wirsching, not quite as deep as their J-E-B, but with excellent balance and vibrancy, styled for earlier drinking. Other good if not great wines tasted were from Furst Lowenstein, Ludwig Knoll, and Schmitt’s Kinder.

Franconia Riesling

I decided to follow the Franconian Silvaners with the four flights of Franconian Rieslings on offer.

Although there were many fine Rieslings made in Franconia in 2012, two really stood out. One from a vineyard well-known for producing excellent wines from both Silvaner and Riesling: Escherndorf Lump. Michael Frölich’s Riesling from this site was one of the stars from Franconia with great depth, intensity and precision, with crisp minerality and complexity that really unfolded on the palate. The other standout among Franconian Rieslings was made by a winery better known as one of Germany’s finest producers of Spätburgunder, Rudolf Fürst. His Bürgstadt “Centgrafenberg” was brilliant, with great minerality and depth, a sense of weightlessness on the palate but tremendous intensity of flavor and great length. This will be a truly remarkable dry Riesling with some time in the cellar.

There were a bevy of excellent Rieslings only a bit less exciting than the two above, with the top producers of Silvaner typically making equally strong Rieslings. Horst Sauer scored again with his Riesling from Lump, even if it didn’t stand out quite as much as his Silvaner; a fuller style that is quite rich and robust but very well balanced, with good minerality but dominated by its fruit. Wirsching’s two wines, Julius-Echter-Berg and Kronsberg were also excellent, with the J-E-B typically more structured, minerally and tight, needing time, while the Kronsberg is a bit broader and more generous today, well-balanced and with good depth of fruit. Juliusspital’s Stein vineyard Riesling was the equal of his Silvaner from this site, one of the richer and more full-bodied Franconian Rieslings but balanced with good acidity. Weltner’s Riesling from Küchenmeister “Hoheleite” stood out with a cidery/phenolic note that tasted as if the wine had seen some skin contact during fermentation (although by no means an “orange” wine). Rich, slightly oily and with some earth notes but clean and very well-made, this was one of the biggest Rieslings in this group, but well-balanced and intense in a somewhat unique style. Other excellent Franconian Rieslings were the Michelbach “Apostelgarten” from Bernhard Höfler; Wurzberg “Stein” from Burgerspital zum Hl. Geist; Sommerhauseen “Steinbach” from Schloss Sommerhausen; and the Echerndorf “Lump” from Zur Schwane. Good if not excellent wines also from Fürst Löwenstein, Zehnthof Lckert, and Schmitt’s Kinder.

Baden Riesling

This region, just over the French border and the Black Forest east of Alsace, is very popular and respected in Germany, but little known in the U.S. Many different varieties do well here; I will cover both Weißburgunder (Pinot Blanc) and Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir) in another report. Here I’ll review the Rieslings tasted in Wiesbaden; there were 3 flights of Baden Rieslings available, I tasted 2 of them. Overall the wines showed good quality and consistency.

My favorite of the Rieslings from Baden was the Durbach Plauelrain from Andreas Laible. A beautifully elegant wine with firm acidity and real depth of fruit, seamless from start to finish. A very classy wine with superb balance—excellent plus. I also liked both wines from Heitlinger; Eichelberg Kapellenberg is rich, dark with a surprising note of something like coffee or chocolate (!), quite rich, round, only moderate acidity and full bodied; unusual but very good. The Tiefenbach Schellenbrunnen was equally full-bodied but with brighter acidity, more tree fruits that are ripe but well balanced, a riper style but also very good. Marktgraf von Baden showed two wines frm the Durbach Schlossberg vineyard; the “M” has firm acidity, bruight fruits with good intensity and depth, some minerality and decent depth, good energy; while the “K” is similar but just a bit riper and softer. Overall I preferred the “M” for a bit more complexity, but both wines are worthy. Marktgraf also made a Meersburg Chorherrenhalde with bright acids, peachy/citrusy fruits and good energy, but perhaps not quite enough concentration for GG quality. Ihringen Winklerberg “Herrgottswinkel” from Stigler has a ripe fruit character with luscious peach/apricot pie notes, seemingly quite ripe but with a firm acid backbone; very good in a full-fruited big style. Dr. Heger made a leaner, more minerally wine from Achkarren Schlossberg, with bright apple/peach fruit in support, not as rich as some but complex and full of stony minerality and depth, a tightly wound wine in need of time. There was a good Sulzfeld Burg Ravensburg Husarenckappe from Burg Ravensburg, with good rich fruit and balancing acidity, but also a slight oily note that kept it from excellence, but still pretty good in a ripe style. Finally, the Zell-Weierbacher Neugesetz Marienquelle from Franckenstein was a bit creamy and soft (ML here?) lacking structure and rather diffuse.