The famous list of the world greatest white wines from the french culinary writer Curnonsky is still a reference point today – even though it is nearly a 100 years old. Recently I read a 2016 Noble Rot article in which famous gastronomer Yotam Ottolenghi was drinking those five famous wines: A 1990 Château d’Yquem, a 1990 Château-Grillet, a 1990 ‘Clos de la Coulée de Serrant’, a 1992 Baron Thénard Montrachet and a bottle of 2007 Macle Château-Chalon.
When I scrolled to the end of the article I found that Noble Rot had asked famous wine people about their opinion of the list and what wines would be fit to be on such a list today. That got me thinking:
Obviously the original list is not a real „best white wines of the world“ list. Not even back in the day. (Hermitage Blanc anyone?) It is a list which contains five important wine regions (Bordeaux, Rhone, Loire, Burgundy and Jura) and six more or less important white wine grapes from France (Semillion/Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay and Savagnin). This list is more a state of the art of French wine in the 1930s than anything else. Famously Riesling was left out. Maybe Alsace was to German for such a list.
So I got to work and created my own list. Being German myself my list of course is the „Greatest White Wines of the World (German Edition)“. And my rules are as follow: I try to represent five regions in Germany. Also I try to have SOME grape variation in this list, but I can use Riesling more than once. Because … you know it is Germany and also my list. Also - I haven’t had any of these wines. This is just a wild mix of talked about, sought after and highly regarded wines.
Egon Müller Scharzhofberg Riesling TBA (Mosel/Saar/Ruwer)
Bernhard Huber Schlossberg R Chardonnay (Baden)
Klaus-Peter Keller G-Max Riesling (Rheinhessen)
Georg Breuer Rüdesheimer Schlossberg Riesling (Rheingau)
Dr. Bürklin-Wolf Forster Kirchenstück GC Riesling (Pfalz)
Well you know. This is a lot of Riesling. There is no Silvaner. And wines from Franconia, Nahe or Württemberg are shut out. How can I make my list even greater? And what are the greatest white wines of the world (insert-a-country-here Edition)?
Thanks for the list. I have been systematically disappointed by the Breuer Schlossberg on many occasions. I would javelin in two other recommendations: Robert Weil, Monte Vacano 2019, and Von Winning Mar Mar 2019. (I love 2019 in Germany).
Maybe then it could be the Rüdesheimer Schlossberg in general? Like Montrachet? Monte Vacano is an interesting candidate. I’m a little hesitant, because it doesn’t have the track record (first year of production was 2018 or so?) yet.
Von Winning is also a really interesting addition. Would you say that Barrique fermented Riesling is here to stay?
And I totally agree on the 2019s. I really like them.
Wow, that is the opposite of my experience. The 2004 is still one of my benchmarks for dry Riesling. I do find the style very distinctive, so I am not surprised if you don’t like it, but the quality seems clear as long as it has enough age. This is one of the few that I no longer open when it’s young.
Personally, I think Breuer Schlossberg is one of the greats and agree with putting a Keller (but maybe Abtserde, to keep with the theme of great, known terroirs?) and Bürklin-Wolf Kirchenstück on the list. Maybe some day I’ll get to try a Müller TBA to see what I think.
You’ve got me curious about that Chardonnay, Clemens, given its company here.
I once had a Sommelier say to me, that the (relative young) Breuer Schlossberg they had would be lost on the consumers because there was no way to keep it long enough to show the true potential. He recommended a Keller Abtserde though - maybe that is the better choice!
Huber is well known for their Spätburgunder, but the Schlossberg Chardonnay is truely sought after here. I found one single bottle on wine searcher. It needs a lot of time to show its true potential and it is one of the most famous Chardonnays produced in Germany.
Also, Catoir Rieslianer now is not the benchmark that Catoir Rieslaner was “then.”
I might do a Franken Scheurebe rather than the Sylvaner. Could even stick with the same producer.
Regarding the original list, while EM TBA may be great, I personally find TBA almost always misses the mark on varietal expression. A BA or Eiswein, or even just a really fine Auslese is a better expression of what happens with sweet German Riesling for my tastes.
It s completely impossible to compare dry and sweet white wines with each other - nonsense.
Is d Yquem better than Montrachet? Or Prüm Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese GK better than a Top Hermitage blanc?
I m definitely missing Hermitage blanc, as well as Pessac Leognan blanc here (Haut Brion blanc and Laville HB (now LMHB blanc) can be among the greatest white wines, also Austrian like FX Pichler M and Unendlich and Tement Zieregg all have long track records - on the other hand I ve never had a stunning Ch.Grillet and only one really fine Coulee de Serrant, but fine Clos St Hunes!
@DougS, you asked about the role of terroir in my list. So I thought maybe there could be five truly worthy vineyards (and the vintners to make the wines) in Germany:
From my original list
Rüdesheimer Berg Schlossberg: Rheingau
Forster Kirchenstück: Pfalz
new entries could be:
Würzburger Stein: Franconia
Monzinger Halenberg: Nahe
Niersteiner Rothenberg: Rheinhessen
@Pau1_M3nk3s the best sweet wine I ever had was a Müller-Catoir Rieslaner BA 2001 (the last vintage of famous winemaker Hans Günter Schwarz). For a good part of the 20th century these wines would be a great entry on such a list.
I actually thought about Ziereisen, but about another wine. The Gutedel Jaspis 10 Hoch 4. The guts to produce a 120 Euro Gutedel makes me chuckle.
The best German white I’ve tasted is Joh. Jos. Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese Lange Goldkapsel Versteigerung 2000 (I’d like to abbreviate as JJP WS Aus LGK Auction 2000).
To nominate best and most famous German whites, here is my list (I tasted none ):
Mosel-Saar-Ruwer: Egon Muller Scharzhofberg TBA
Rheinhessen: Keller G-Max
Rheingau: Rober Weil Grafenberg TBA
Nahe: Donnhoff Brucke Eiswein
Pfalz: Dr. Burklin-Wolf Forster Kirchenstuck GC