Riesling Spatlese Spritz ?

Recently drank from my cellar (stored for 4 years) an 04 Karthauserhof Eitelsbacher Karthauserhofberg Riesling Spatlese that had a prickly spritz on the tongue. No bead, but tiny bubbles on inside wall of bottle. What causes this? Is it a flaw? The wine was otherwise delicious and the spritz didn’t take away from my enjoyment, but may have added interest. I have noticed this a few times in the past with other non-sparkling white wines.

Refermenting. Just decant.

Perhaps not refermenting. Could still have trapped CO2…

If it is just spritz, it is probably just trapped CO2. Prum is famous for this. It goes away in the cellar or by decanting. If it tastes or especially smells flawed (sauerkraut), it may be refermenting or something made its way into the bottle and is not fermenting on its own. That will not be cured by decanting or air and the bottle is flawed.

It better not be refermenting!

I asked Katherina Prum once why their wines also tend to have more sulfur notes in the nose than most other Mosel producers. She said she wasn’t sure but that it might be because the wine isn’t moved around much in the winery. That would also explain the high CO2 levels.

Most certainly trapped CO2 which dissipates quickly after opening.
Probably not the case with this particular wine but the estates that are going to stelvin for their lower praedikat wines have the option to inject a little pfft. of CO2 on the bottling line before the machine screws on the caps. A couple winemakers told me it displaces the oxygen and they need a little less sulfur to keep the wine fresh.

Do you suppose the viscosity of sweet wines makes them more prone to retaining CO2? Just speculating.

Seems perfectly feasible and a quick search of the net concludes that we need Ken V Frank D to help correct our homework.

On Levi Dalton’s podcast she said that what most people of think of as the sulfurous aromas are actually byproducts of the sponti/ambient yeasts they use, and that their sulfur levels are no higher than anyone else’s.

If it’s just a light, faint sprtiz, it’s probably just a bit of dissolved CO2 and a decant should cure it. If it’s seriously bubbly, the wine is probably refermenting and is likely flawed. I had a half-bottle of Prum auslese once where the cork shot off and wine sprayed all over my face due to a pressure build-up from the wine refermenting in bottle. It did not taste very good either.

Wow! Never heard of that happening in a German.

Dalton’s comments are interesting. Twenty years ago, it was definitely sulfur. I remember arriving for a German tasting once and you could smell the sulfur in the room. I seldom pick it up now, even in Prum’s wines. I’ve assumed they all cut back on the sulfur, perhaps by instead filtering out yeasts to prevent secondary fermentation. So perhaps what we smell now is yeastiness, not sulfur. Very interesting.

I’ve wondered what the lower sulfur levels mean for longevity. I remember a tasting circa 1990 of Coteaux du Layons dating back to the 40s. Even the 1960s wines were still bleached from the sulfur. Only the wines from the 40s and 50s had any color. The wines had some sulfur, but man were they youthful!

Fourrier also doesn’t move the wines around very much, and the wines come carbonated as well. Shaking the bottle (as Jean-Marie does before serving) gets rid of the fizz.


A couple of years ago I had a Schmitt-Wagner kabinett that refermented. I poured a glass, and it had a head like a beer. Smelled like one too!

Just did this to a Chamonard Morgon, less than half an hour ago!

Nice wine, once the spritz was gone.

I had a spritzy bottle of 2011 Schafer-Frohlich Bockenauer Kabinett with lunch at Lotus of Siam on Monday. From the way they looked at me, the other diners thought I must be insane as I Mollydooker’d the unresolved C02. Nice wine after the spritz was gone.

The vast majority of German producers add a little CO2 to their basic (and sometimes mid-) level white wines these days, not just to their Rieslings, but also to their Pinot Blancs, Pinot Gris, Silvaners, Auxerrois, Sauvignon Blancs, Scheurebes. Since most of these wines are being drunk within one year of bottling, it is meant to give the wines a “spritzy” summer feeling and retain it for a while. I’ve heard several producers say “That’s what the customers expect”. Especially in combination with stelvin screwcaps, this can lead to unexpectable results. For example, I’m still drinking now and then a bottle of Bassermann-Jordan Weißburgunder 2009, of which I bought a few too many bottles after I liked the wine the first time I had it. It still tastes as if it was bottled yesterday and the CO2 is still very present.

I don’t know if Tyrell added CO2 to his Spätlese in 2004, but I would’t exclude that it was the case. These days, I sometimes just decant young German white wines that have CO2 added. I don’t like the Spritz.

An invigorating spritz is typical for Mosel Rieslings, especially in their youth. In most cases, it’s naturally produced during fermentation, especially in a deep, cold cellar. A winemaker can also make use of temperature-controlled stainless-steel tanks as well as pressurized tanks (less common now).

I take it you are thinking of Trocken wines. Do you think CO2 is added to sweet Mosel rieslings as well? I would be surprised.

How do the pressurized tanks work, Lars? On a visit to Max. Grunhaus 10 years ago, Dr. von Schubert mentioned that they used them. I’d never heard of them and haven’t found anyone who could explain them.

Also, do you think there’s anything to my speculation that the viscosity of sweet wines might make them retain more CO2?

Those who add CO2 do it to both dry or sweet wines. Most top producers on the Mosel don’t need to freshen their wines this way. As I mentioned above, the deep, cold cellars, plus a relatively long, cool fermentation in Fuder with minimal racking (that is, long lees aging) keeps the naturally produced CO2 in the wine.

John, Maxminim Grünhaus no longer uses the 10-hl pressurized tanks. Schmitt-Wagner used pressurized tanks, too. I asked Ulli Stein, who is a winemaker and a friend of Carl von Schubert, about them. He said that the tanks were initially used for making sweet reserve. The fermenting must is sealed under pressure and the trapped CO2 kills off the yeasts. To make a sweet wine, the pressurized tank is sealed later on when the must has fermented further along. I hope this answers your question.

As for sweet wines retaining more CO2, I don’t notice this from my tasting experience.

Hi John,

you’re right, I was mostly thinking of Trocken wines. I had some perception of fizz in some young off-dry Mosel rieslings as well (QbA, to a lesser extent Kabinett), but that may be due to what Lars explained.