What is the greatest Riesling vineyard?

Maximin Grunhauser Abtsberg

I’ve been poking around WB more and more lately but haven’t started a thread yet.

The Top Ten winery thread prompted me to consider why a number of us chose Prum, Schaefer, and/or Muller for the list while I was the only one who listed, as a runner up, von Schubert. I was and am conflicted about not having von Schubert in my top ten, eventhough no one else in the thread even mentioned the estate.

Notwithstanding the great wines consistently made from Scharzhofberg by Muller and from the middle Mosel vineyards by Prum and Schaefer and others, and notwithstanding other great Riesling sites such as Hermannshohle, Rosacker, and Singerriedel, I consider Maximin Grunhauser Abtsberg to be the greatest Riesling vineyard. I am not alone. Many geeks have said the same during conversations on the topic or conversations starting,“If you could choose only one Riesling …”

Abtsberg wines are consistently complex, profound, and unique, reflecting a terroir that is unmistakable. Wines that to me are magical young, middle aged, and old. Even more so than Scharzhofberg and the middle Mosel vineyards.

I love Prum and Schaefer wines. I buy them almost every vintage. I drink them often. I drink Muller wines with glee whenever a generous friend pours them, more often than I deserve. But then there is Abtsberg. And I am so bold and arrogant to think that many of the more recent wine geeks would think the same about Abtsberg, if they don’t now, if von Schubert had not engaged in an unfortunate replanting program (early 2000s?) during which many of the oldest vines were ripped out.

What do you think is the greatest Riesling vineyard? Why?

I wouldn’t argue against you.

But what defines a great vineyard? Worth bearing in mind that ocassionally Herrenberg trumps Abtsberg in the Grunhaus lineup (and I don’t just mean eiswein where it’s Herrenberg 9/10 times).

I personally prefer Wehlener Sonnenuhr but I don’t think you can go wrong with many choices!

Clos Ste Hune deserves a mention

Scharzhofberg for me, though Abstberg/Herrenberg is definitely up there, along with Karthauserhofberg, Kiedricher Gräfenberg, and Braune Kupp (Le Gallais). If I could list 10 I would also include Clos St Hune, Bernkastler Doktor, Brauneberger Juffner Sonnenuhr, Piesporter Goldtröpfchen, and Trittenheimer Apotheke (admittedly that last one is a bit of an outsider on the list but I’ve always had great experiences with it).

Scharzhofberg because I don’t think I’ve ever had a bad bottle from this vineyard (that wasn’t faulty); even lesser vintages from lesser producers (if there is such a thing there) have been outstanding. And of course because Egon Muller makes what are, in my opinion, some of the world’s greatest wines there, across all predikat levels. Then there’s the uniquely brilliant terroir…

producer over the vineyard.


I know a couple of star growers who would agree with your choice.

It’s also true that a Riesling from Maximin Grünhäuser Herrenberg can be superior to one from Abtsberg. But I would argue that Abtsberg is the greater site. For one thing, the present-day Abtsberg, along with parts of the Bruderberg, was the prime area of the hillside that supplied the grapes for the famous Grünhaus wines of the late 19th century. In addition, much of Herrenberg wasn’t even planted to vines, including a 10-ha section hidden behind trees on a plateau atop the hill. This was first planted in 1976.

So much depends on a producer maximizing the full potential of a given site. Without that, it can never be great.

Maximin Grünhaus is the estate, owner is family von Schubert -
Grünhäuser Abtsberg is the vineyard (monopole) … !

However - it´s nonsense to compare off-dry Mosel-(Ruwer)-Rieslings with dry Riesling from Austria, Germany and France …

You could as well name “Kellerberg” or “Singerriedel” in the Wachau, “Heiligenstein” in Kamptal - or Rosacker, Schlossberg or Brand in Alsace …

… or Abtserde … [cheers.gif]

That ignores the question. A great producer can’t make a great Riesling in a crappy vineyard, and sometimes fails to make great wine from an undeniably great vineyard. Von Schubert included. Also the question isn’t directed to buying choices.

Really it’s a terroir question in disguise. And my selection is a monopole, and has been one, I believe, for hundreds of years.

No doubt producer is critical to making a great wine. As is vine age. But in my view the question of site superiority comes down to dirt, drainage, slope shape, and exposition for the given grape. I.e., terroir.

Lars, when do you typically find Herrenberg to outperform Abtsberg (not counting Eiswein)? Is it at the lower pradikats like Kabinett or the sweeter wines? Availability of Herrenberg is spotty here in the States, but I’m trying to explore more.

To each his own. In truth, there is no objectivity to the question I posed although it can be considered an empirical question. So to, then, it cannot by definition be “nonsense” to pose the question, answer it, and explain the answer.

1 Like

I won’t speak for Lars but Herrenberg kabs are often wonderful, as are, in particular, the single cask auslesen.

Grünhaus has solely owned the vineyards in what is today Abtsberg. But well-to-do Trier families, small-scale growers, and the Bischöfliches Konvikt once owned vines in the present Herrenberg.

Although I tend to favor Abtsberg, there have been great wines from Herrenberg in all the different Prädikat levels, as well as dry Rieslings (which, sadly, no longer have a Prädikat).

1 Like

Agreed. My guess is that if you asked this question 100 years ago the answers would have included Bernkastler Doctor, Schloss Johannesburg, Schloss Vollrads, Steinberger, Erbacher Marcobrun and Raulenthauler Baiken. But, I doubt anyone names these because the producers for the main part are not elite today. I would love for say Donnhoff to get some say Steinberger or Prum to get some Doctor and see the results.

Is it more accurate to say a piece of Rosacker than Clos St. Hune - isn’t Clos St. Hune the name of the wine, not the name of the vineyard? In any case, as much as I love German wines, this would be my pick as the greatest Riesling vineyard.

It’s hard to argue against Scharzhofberg. :slight_smile: Also a privileged site. I’ve had some great wines not only from Muller over the years but also von Hovel.

Are you identifying Hune specifically in your list as a unique (and the best) site within Rosacker or would you put Rosacker in its entirety in your top ten?

Again hard to argue. The Clos is Trimbach’s monopole within Rosacker. It is both a well defined named vineyard and the name of the wine.

Thomas Haag has some Doctor, and his 16 Auslese is meant to be a star. Not tried one yet but six are in the mail.

Since the OP didn’t specify greatest German vineyard, I’m going with Austria, which I prefer over Germany for Riesling: (1) Steinertal, (2) Brundlmayer’s “Lyra” section in Heiligenstein; (3) Nikolaihof’s Steiner Hund. They make the best Rieslings year in and year out for my tastes.