Germany, WINE

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Germany's rich, illustrious wine history can stand proudly next to the rest of the world's great regions, but its recent history has been somewhat more checkered. For centuries, the country's nobly sweet Riesling wines were considered the finest on Earth. But by the late 20th and early 21st centuries, this style had long fallen out of favor with the general public, both in Germany and abroad. The dry, or trocken, style now encompasses the majority of German wine production, but the best contemporary winemakers have held fast to tradition and held themselves and their peers to strict quality standards.

The late-ripening Riesling grape is perfectly suited to the sweet style and perfectly suited to Germany's best vineyards, the most northerly in the wine growing world. First, only Pinot Noir can match Riesling's ability to convey such a pure sense of time and place from such highly specific plots of land. Second, the profile of luxurious sugar and fruit allied to bracing acidity is simply inimitable. Many regions have tried. All have failed. The sweet wines, or Prädiktat wines, are legally defined according to must weight and actual alcohol content. Kabinett is the first tier on the pyramid, typically bright and fresh in style with exuberant fruit and racy acid. Spätlese wines are riper in natural sugars and potential alcohol, fuller in body and residual sugar, and longer lived in the cellar. The Auslese tier takes wine to another realm of expression and complexity with intensely ripe fruits married to ultra-fine, filigreed acid. The super-premium tiers of Beerenauslese, Trockenbeerenauslese, and Eiswein are to the point of defying description. Exceedingly rare and exorbitantly expensive, they are among the wine world's unicorns, and enjoying one is the treat of a lifetime, indeed.

In terms of terroir, Germany's wine identity is defined by the five-mile-long wall of vines in the middle Mosel River Valley. The best plots of vines cling to steep inclines (up to 60% in some places) on beds of weathered slate soils, said to impart the region's trademark "petrol" character to the wines' bouquets. Along the river's snaking course, the best sites enjoy southerly exposures to take full advantage of the day's rays, even late into the season. Many of Germany's greatest wine estates are based in the villages on the Mosel, but its tributaries, Saar and Ruwer, boast their own fair share of iconic vineyards and producers, with the wines generally more elegant and austere than those from the river's main course.

Where the Mosel meets the mighty Rhine river, there begins the rest of Germany's wine mosaic. The Nahe is another of the river's tributaries. Southeast of Mosel, it's more of a patchwork of vineyard sites, on both the main Nahe branch and along some of its tributaries. The wines are generally riper and more unctuous than the Mosel's, but great growers are finding new levels of refinement each year. At an eastward bend in the river, the historically majestic Rheingau's prized, south-facing vineyards produce wines of elegant subtlety and austerity. Where the Rhine turns south again, the Rheinhessen's easterly wall of red slate, known as the Roter Hang produces wines of luxurious sweetness and spicy minerality. Further down the river, the Pfalz is perhaps Germany's most exciting wine region today, as it sits in the lee of the Vosges mountains, far from any major river, making it Germany's driest, sunniest micro-climate. The resulting Rieslings display a honeyed decadence and body with riveting acidity, characteristic Riesling but wholly Pfalz at heart.

Away from this stretch of the Rhein, Germany's lesser-known regions quietly excel with often obscure native varietals and a few transplants. With Germany's most northerly vines, the tiny Ahr river valley grows some of the country's best Pinot Noir, or Spätburgunder, on steep blue and black slate slopes. A few top producers are now making wines to rival the heavyweights from elsewhere, with a meaty, ripe density and firm texture. In addtion to Spätburgunder, Germany's best indigenous red varietals also see great success in Baden, in the country's Bavarian south. Trollinger and Lemberger thrive particularly well around Württemburg. Franken, on the other hand, has a world-class reputation built on a white grape, and it isn't Riesling. The densely compact Silvaner does best here on the limestone soils, and the top wines are as ageworthy as most great Rieslings.

Germany's wine reputation may rise and fall with the fortunes of one varietal, as it should. But that one varietal is unlike any other, and with time the country's upstart mavericks will continue to make waves with the other staple grapes here, as well. Through highs and lows, the heart and soul of Germany's wine scene have stayed strong, and they're only getting stronger.

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95 points Fine Wine Review: The Dellchen GG is from a combination of slate and volcanic soils. The nose is a bit smoky and has dust elements. The mouth is austere and deep with clarity, excellent acidity, and great penetration. (Issue #142; 2014) ...
FWR 95
JG 94
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Donnhoff Riesling Norheimer Dellchen Grosses Gewachs Trocken 2012  (#317585)

Riesling from Germany

95 points Fine Wine Review: The Dellchen GG is from a combination of slate and volcanic soils. The nose is a bit smoky and has dust elements. The mouth is austere and deep with clarity, excellent acidity, and great penetration. (Issue #142; 2014)

750ml Bottle | In stock, 12 available
95 points David Schildknecht (Vinous): A headily aromatic amalgam of musk melon, mango and white peach sets the stage for a luscious palate performance featuring primary, fresh-fruit juiciness without end. Creamy and glycerol-rich even as it conveys such striking freshness, this finishes with… ...
V 95
WE 94
JS 94
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Haag/Fritz Riesling GK Auslese Brauneberger Juffer-Sonnenuhr #9 2015  (#333303)

Riesling from Mosel, Germany

95 points David Schildknecht (Vinous): A headily aromatic amalgam of musk melon, mango and white peach sets the stage for a luscious palate performance featuring primary, fresh-fruit juiciness without end. Creamy and glycerol-rich even as it conveys…

375ml Half Bottle | In stock, 12+ available
$39.95
$52.00
Save $12.05 (23%)52.00
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94 points Mosel Fine Wines: AP: 22 16. This Auslese GK woes one with gorgeous scents of exotic fruits including mango, passion fruit and apricot, all wrapped into some rich honeyed notes on the note. The wine coats the palate with exotic fruits and juicy honey. The finish is however all about… ...
MFW 94
WA 92
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Haag/Fritz Riesling GK Auslese Brauneberger Juffer #22 2015  (#333301)

Riesling from Mosel, Germany

94 points Mosel Fine Wines: AP: 22 16. This Auslese GK woes one with gorgeous scents of exotic fruits including mango, passion fruit and apricot, all wrapped into some rich honeyed notes on the note. The wine coats the palate with exotic fruits and…

375ml Half Bottle | In stock, 4 available
$29.95
$42.00
Save $12.05 (29%)42.00
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91 points Wine Spectator: An opulent spätlese, with a lush, mouthcoating texture framing its peach, sweet corn, vanilla pastry and lemon notes. It's firm in structure, with the acidity emerging on the finish. Tasty now, this will be a beauty in a decade. Drink now through 2020. 1,000 cases made. (4… ...
WS 91
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Schloss Schonborn Riesling Spatlese Graflich Eigenbau 2004  (#328873)

Riesling from Rheingau, Germany

91 points Wine Spectator: An opulent spätlese, with a lush, mouthcoating texture framing its peach, sweet corn, vanilla pastry and lemon notes. It's firm in structure, with the acidity emerging on the finish. Tasty now, this will be a beauty in a…

750ml Bottle | In stock, 2 available
Not yet reviewed; 2015 vintage rated 95+ points by John Gilman (View: ...The bouquet offers up a youthfully complex constellation of tart orange, grapefruit, wild yeasts, a beautifully complex base of slate minerality, the vintage’s signature botanicals and a topnote of lime peel. On the palate the… ...
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Zilliken Riesling Saarburger Rausch Grosses Gewachs 2016  (#331081)

Riesling from Mosel, Germany

Not yet reviewed; 2015 vintage rated 95+ points by John Gilman (View: ...The bouquet offers up a youthfully complex constellation of tart orange, grapefruit, wild yeasts, a beautifully complex base of slate minerality, the vintage’s signature…

750ml Bottle | In stock, 10 available
94 points Stephen Reinhardt (Wine Advocate): The 2016 Rheingau Riesling Kiedrich Gräfenberg Spätlese opens with a deep, intense and flinty bouquet of tropical fruits as well as lovely raisin and grapefruit aromas. On the palate, this is a mouth-filling and lush yet highly elegant and delicate… ...
WA 94
JS 94
WS 93
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Weil Riesling Spatlese Rheingau Kiedricher Grafenberg 2016  (#331474)

Riesling from Rheingau, Germany

94 points Stephen Reinhardt (Wine Advocate): The 2016 Rheingau Riesling Kiedrich Gräfenberg Spätlese opens with a deep, intense and flinty bouquet of tropical fruits as well as lovely raisin and grapefruit aromas. On the palate, this is a mouth…

750ml Bottle | In stock, 12+ available
WA 94
JS 94
WS 93
$59.95
$86.00
Save $26.05 (30%)86.00
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95 points Joel B. Payne (Vinous): Rich golden-yellow. Enticing aromas of pineapple, acacia honey and lime waft over a bed of brown spice botrytis. The sweet peach preserve fruit and salty minerality are very well balanced: more elegant than rich and tantalizingly light on the palate. Both delicate… ...
V 95
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Keller Riesling Westhofen Brunnenhauschen BA Abtserde E 2013  (#324422)

Riesling from Rheinhessen, Germany

95 points Joel B. Payne (Vinous): Rich golden-yellow. Enticing aromas of pineapple, acacia honey and lime waft over a bed of brown spice botrytis. The sweet peach preserve fruit and salty minerality are very well balanced: more elegant than rich and…

375ml Half Bottle | In stock, 10 available
$299.95
$396.00
Save $96.05 (24%)396.00
Save $96.05 (24%)
92 points James Suckling: Cool and crisp, but also powerful and mineral this has a lot of drive at the finish. Where is that seafood platter? Best through 2025. (9/8/17) ...
JS 92
WA 91
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Gunderloch Riesling Rheinhessen Nierstein Trocken 2016  (#330567)

Riesling from Pfalz, Germany

92 points James Suckling: Cool and crisp, but also powerful and mineral this has a lot of drive at the finish. Where is that seafood platter? Best through 2025. (9/8/17)

750ml Bottle | In stock, 7 available
94 points Decanter: Pure and lifted redcurrant and cranberry mingle with slight smoke on the nose. This has gorgeous freshness and pure red fruit notes that convince with brightness and freshness. There is a slight but pleasant grip and while this is very pretty, there is serious structure and… ...
DE 94
WA 91-92
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Salwey Spatburgunder Baden Oberrotweiler Henkenberg GG 2014  (#330806)

Pinot Noir from Baden, Germany

94 points Decanter: Pure and lifted redcurrant and cranberry mingle with slight smoke on the nose. This has gorgeous freshness and pure red fruit notes that convince with brightness and freshness. There is a slight but pleasant grip and while this is…

750ml Bottle | In stock, 4 available
94 points James Suckling: Cool, super-clean and delicate with fine floral and herbal notes, lovely white peach and tart apricot fruit on the palate, then a super-clean finish. If you can resist it now, then you could cellar this through 2035. (6/7/17) ...
JS 94
WA 93
WS 92
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Gunderloch Riesling Spatlese Rheinhessen Rothenberg 2016  (#330568)

Riesling from Rheinhessen, Germany

94 points James Suckling: Cool, super-clean and delicate with fine floral and herbal notes, lovely white peach and tart apricot fruit on the palate, then a super-clean finish. If you can resist it now, then you could cellar this through 2035. (6/7/17…

750ml Bottle | In stock, 12+ available
JS 94
WA 93
WS 92
94 points Stuart Pigott (JamesSuckling.com): The Centrafenberg Riesling from Paul Fürst is one of the most sought after German GGs because of the wine’s crystalline purity, racy acidity, and complex herbal and berry aromas. This is one of the best vintages, packed with flavor and blessed with an… ...
JS 94
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Furst/Rudolf Riesling Burgstadter Centgrafenberg Grosses Gewachs 2015  (#329078)

Riesling from Franconia, Germany

94 points Stuart Pigott (JamesSuckling.com): The Centrafenberg Riesling from Paul Fürst is one of the most sought after German GGs because of the wine’s crystalline purity, racy acidity, and complex herbal and berry aromas. This is one of the best…

750ml Bottle | In stock, 12+ available
94 points James Suckling: A delicate Auslese with a lovely delicacy and freshness. Very filigree for a wine of this richness and rather dry for a wine of this sweetness. The result of this fascinating combination is a beautiful wine for spicy foods or conversation. The cool and clean finish is of… ...
JS 94
JG 93
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Schaefer/Willi Riesling Auslese Graacher Himmelreich Gold Cap #4 2016  (#330186)

Riesling from Mosel, Germany

94 points James Suckling: A delicate Auslese with a lovely delicacy and freshness. Very filigree for a wine of this richness and rather dry for a wine of this sweetness. The result of this fascinating combination is a beautiful wine for spicy foods…

750ml Bottle | In stock, 4 available
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