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 Decanter: Evocative raspberry notes have the wilderness streak that comes from 100% whole-bunch fermentation. Exquisitely slender, fearlessly bright and verging on the poetic. This is delicate in structure but has crunchy, pure fruit and lasting depth. Idiosyncratic and wilful, but utterly… ...
DE 95
WFW 94
WA 92
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Schnaitmann Spatburgunder Wurttemberg Fellbacher Lammler GG 2014  (#330807)

Pinot Noir from Württemberg, Germany

[ 95 points Decanter: Evocative raspberry notes have the wilderness streak that comes from 100% whole-bunch fermentation. Exquisitely slender, fearlessly bright and verging on the poetic. This is delicate in structure but has crunchy, pure fruit and lasting depth. Idiosyncratic and wilful, but utterly convincing as well. Drink 2018-2030. Alcohol 12.5%. (Sep 2017) ] 95 points Decanter: Evocative raspberry notes have the wilderness streak that comes from 100% whole-bunch fermentation. Exquisitely slender, fearlessly bright and verging on the poetic. This is delicate in structure but has crunchy, pure fruit and…

750ml Bottle | In stock, 8 available
DE 95
WFW 94
WA 92
95 points John Gilman (View From the Cellar): ...The very complex nose delivers a magical constellation of fresh pineapple, white cherries, slate, lime zest, bee pollen, a touch of wild yeasts and a lovely topnote of iris blossoms. On the palate the wine is pure, fullish, zesty and very deep at the… ...
JG 95
WA 95
V 94
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Prum/JJ Riesling Auslese Graacher Himmelreich 2016  (#330463)

Dessert Wine from Mosel, Germany

[ 95 points John Gilman (View From the Cellar): ...The very complex nose delivers a magical constellation of fresh pineapple, white cherries, slate, lime zest, bee pollen, a touch of wild yeasts and a lovely topnote of iris blossoms. On the palate the wine is pure, fullish, zesty and very deep at the core, with racy excellent acids, fine focus and grip and a very long, vibrant and perfectly balanced finish. Great juice. 2023-2075+. (May/Jun 2018) ] 95 points John Gilman (View From the Cellar): ...The very complex nose delivers a magical constellation of fresh pineapple, white cherries, slate, lime zest, bee pollen, a touch of wild yeasts and a lovely topnote of iris blossoms. On the palate the…

750ml Bottle | In stock, 7 available
$44.95
$62.00
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95 points John Gilman: ...The bouquet... is stunning, soaring from the glass in a fine blend of pink grapefruit, a hint of gooseberry, plenty of smokiness, gorgeous minerality, wild yeasts, a hint of mossiness and a topnote of lime peel... pure, full-bodied and beautifully light on its feet, with a… ...
JG 95
WA 94
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Emrich-Schonleber Riesling Monzinger Fruhlingsplatzchen GG 2015  (#329907)

Riesling from Nahe, Germany

[ 95 points John Gilman: ...The bouquet... is stunning, soaring from the glass in a fine blend of pink grapefruit, a hint of gooseberry, plenty of smokiness, gorgeous minerality, wild yeasts, a hint of mossiness and a topnote of lime peel... pure, full-bodied and beautifully light on its feet, with a rock solid core, bright, seamless acids and stunning length and grip on the very, very elegant and perfectly balanced finish... one of the most beautiful dry Rieslings I tasted on this trip. 2020-2050+. (Mar/Apr 2016) ] 95 points John Gilman: ...The bouquet... is stunning, soaring from the glass in a fine blend of pink grapefruit, a hint of gooseberry, plenty of smokiness, gorgeous minerality, wild yeasts, a hint of mossiness and a topnote of lime peel... pure, full…

750ml Bottle | In stock, 5 available
93 points John Gilman (View From the Cellar): The 2017 Kirschheck Spätlese is a lovely example of the vintage, offering up a very pretty bouquet of white cherries, apple, wild yeasts, a touch of sea salts, bee pollen, apple blossoms and a superb base of minerality. On the palate the wine is medium… ...
JG 93
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Donnhoff Riesling Spatlese Norheimer Kirschheck 2017  (#332816)

Riesling from Nahe, Germany

[ 93 points John Gilman (View From the Cellar): The 2017 Kirschheck Spätlese is a lovely example of the vintage, offering up a very pretty bouquet of white cherries, apple, wild yeasts, a touch of sea salts, bee pollen, apple blossoms and a superb base of minerality. On the palate the wine is medium-full, pure and dancing, with a juicy core, great cut and grip and a long, vibrant and perfectly balanced finish. This is going to be delicious to drink in its youth, but will have no trouble keeping several decades. 2018-2045. (May/Jun 2018) ] 93 points John Gilman (View From the Cellar): The 2017 Kirschheck Spätlese is a lovely example of the vintage, offering up a very pretty bouquet of white cherries, apple, wild yeasts, a touch of sea salts, bee pollen, apple blossoms and a superb base…

750ml Bottle | Pre-arrival, 12+ available
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96 points James Suckling: Another 2016 Spätlese from Dönnhoff that's still a bit shy on the nose, but on the palate it s like a huge glittering diamond with more facets flashing many colors. An extremely long super-mineral finish that is impeccably clean in spite of the generous grape sweetness in… ...
JS 96
WA 94
WS 93
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Donnhoff Riesling Spatlese Niederhauser Hermannshohle 2016  (#330120)

Riesling from Nahe, Germany

[ 96 points James Suckling: Another 2016 Spätlese from Dönnhoff that's still a bit shy on the nose, but on the palate it s like a huge glittering diamond with more facets flashing many colors. An extremely long super-mineral finish that is impeccably clean in spite of the generous grape sweetness in this masterpiece of elegance. Better from 2018 with decades of ageing potential. Made from organic grapes and Fair'n Green certified. (11/29/17) ] 96 points James Suckling: Another 2016 Spätlese from Dönnhoff that's still a bit shy on the nose, but on the palate it s like a huge glittering diamond with more facets flashing many colors. An extremely long super-mineral finish that is impeccably…

750ml Bottle | In stock, 12+ available
JS 96
WA 94
WS 93
$46.95
$60.00
Save $13.05 (22%)60.00
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91 points James Suckling: This is the easiest of Dönnhoff's 2016 dry rieslings to enjoy now, because it's the one with the most upfront fruit character. However, this too has a crisp long finish of some complexity. Drink or hold. Made from organic grapes and Fair'n Green certified. (11/29/17) ...
JS 91
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Donnhoff Riesling Kreuznacher Kahlenberg Trocken 2016  (#330118)

Riesling from Nahe, Germany

[ 91 points James Suckling: This is the easiest of Dönnhoff's 2016 dry rieslings to enjoy now, because it's the one with the most upfront fruit character. However, this too has a crisp long finish of some complexity. Drink or hold. Made from organic grapes and Fair'n Green certified. (11/29/17) ] 91 points James Suckling: This is the easiest of Dönnhoff's 2016 dry rieslings to enjoy now, because it's the one with the most upfront fruit character. However, this too has a crisp long finish of some complexity. Drink or hold. Made from organic…

750ml Bottle | In stock, 12 available
97 points James Suckling: Unexpectedly charming on the nose for a wine from volcanic soil this has stunning grapefruit and lime character. Then just when you think it s a nice guy the totally radical, smoky and mineral finish comes through to remind you how strong nature can be! Drink now or hold. … ...
JS 97
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Donnhoff Riesling Felsenberg Felsenturmchen Grosses Gewachs 2016  (#330124)

Riesling from Nahe, Germany

[ 97 points James Suckling: Unexpectedly charming on the nose for a wine from volcanic soil this has stunning grapefruit and lime character. Then just when you think it s a nice guy the totally radical, smoky and mineral finish comes through to remind you how strong nature can be! Drink now or hold. (11/29/17) ] 97 points James Suckling: Unexpectedly charming on the nose for a wine from volcanic soil this has stunning grapefruit and lime character. Then just when you think it s a nice guy the totally radical, smoky and mineral finish comes through to remind…

750ml Bottle | Pre-arrival, 12+ available
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98 points Joel B. Payne (Vinous): Rich golden yellow. Exuberant aromas of caramelized peach, quince preserves and oyster shell on a bed of honeyed botrytis. Incredibly dense on the palate, with its creamy richness perfectly paired with an almost salty tangy quality, this is a breathtaking Riesling.… ...
V 98
JG 98
WA 95
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Keller Riesling Westhofen Morstein Trockenbeerenauslese GK 2013  (#324421)

Riesling from Rheinhessen, Germany

[ 98 points Joel B. Payne (Vinous): Rich golden yellow. Exuberant aromas of caramelized peach, quince preserves and oyster shell on a bed of honeyed botrytis. Incredibly dense on the palate, with its creamy richness perfectly paired with an almost salty tangy quality, this is a breathtaking Riesling. In spite of its depth and weight, this Trockenbeerenauslese is still delicate and elegant. Complex and spicy on the deliriously long finish, this is without any doubt the best noble late harvest offering of the vintage in Germany. Drink: 2020-2050. (Mar 2015) ] 98 points Joel B. Payne (Vinous): Rich golden yellow. Exuberant aromas of caramelized peach, quince preserves and oyster shell on a bed of honeyed botrytis. Incredibly dense on the palate, with its creamy richness perfectly paired with an almost…

375ml Half Bottle | In stock, 1 available
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$1044.00
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97 points James Suckling: The 2016 Hermannshöhle GG from Dönnhoff is once again one of the top dry rieslings of the vintage in Germany thanks to its stunning combination of concentration and finesse. The super-mineral finish tugs at your lapels trying to pull you with it into the distance. Don't… ...
JS 97
WA 96
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Donnhoff Riesling Niederhauser Hermannshohle Grosses Gewachs 2016  (#330123)

Riesling from Nahe, Germany

[ 97 points James Suckling: The 2016 Hermannshöhle GG from Dönnhoff is once again one of the top dry rieslings of the vintage in Germany thanks to its stunning combination of concentration and finesse. The super-mineral finish tugs at your lapels trying to pull you with it into the distance. Don't resist! Good for several decades at least. (11/29/17) ] 97 points James Suckling: The 2016 Hermannshöhle GG from Dönnhoff is once again one of the top dry rieslings of the vintage in Germany thanks to its stunning combination of concentration and finesse. The super-mineral finish tugs at your lapels…

750ml Bottle | Pre-arrival, 12+ available
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$68.95
$85.00
Save $16.05 (19%)85.00
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93 points John Gilman (View From the Cellar): The 2013 Türmchen Grosses Gewächs... is really lovely this year, offering up a superb nose of spring flowers, apples, white cherries, complex minerality, gentle smokiness, wild yeasts, lilacs and a bit of fleur de sel up high. On the palate the wine is… ...
JG 93
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Donnhoff Riesling Schlossbockelheimer Felsenturmchen GG 2013  (#332308)

Riesling from Nahe, Germany

[ 93 points John Gilman (View From the Cellar): The 2013 Türmchen Grosses Gewächs... is really lovely this year, offering up a superb nose of spring flowers, apples, white cherries, complex minerality, gentle smokiness, wild yeasts, lilacs and a bit of fleur de sel up high. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied, complex and supremely elegant in 2013, with a fine core of fruit, ripe, snappy acids and a very long, soil-driven finish. A beautiful wine in the making. 2020-2050. (Mar/Apr 2014) ] 93 points John Gilman (View From the Cellar): The 2013 Türmchen Grosses Gewächs... is really lovely this year, offering up a superb nose of spring flowers, apples, white cherries, complex minerality, gentle smokiness, wild yeasts, lilacs and a bit of…

750ml Bottle | In stock, 5 available
97 points Stephan Reinhardt (Wine Advocate): The 2016 Riesling Zeltinger Himmelreich Auslese ** (Green Capsule) is terribly fine, pure and fresh but also perfectly ripe and rich on the nose without losing precision. Round and highly elegant on the palate, with tropical fruit flavors and just the… ...
WA 97
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Molitor/Markus Riesling Auslese** Zeltinger Himmelreich Green Cap 2016  (#701905)

Riesling from Mosel, Germany

[ 97 points Stephan Reinhardt (Wine Advocate): The 2016 Riesling Zeltinger Himmelreich Auslese ** (Green Capsule) is terribly fine, pure and fresh but also perfectly ripe and rich on the nose without losing precision. Round and highly elegant on the palate, with tropical fruit flavors and just the perfect amount of sweetness, this is a great, vital Himmelreich with superb finesse, purity, mineral tension and bright fruit notes in the long and beautifully slatey finish. This is a gorgeous, exciting Riesling--very stimulating. Drink: 2024-2050. (Mar 2018) ] 97 points Stephan Reinhardt (Wine Advocate): The 2016 Riesling Zeltinger Himmelreich Auslese ** (Green Capsule) is terribly fine, pure and fresh but also perfectly ripe and rich on the nose without losing precision. Round and highly elegant on the…

750ml Bottle | Pre-arrival, 8 available
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WHWC Staff Notes: ...reminiscent of a top wine from the Santa Cruz Mountains, with explosively exuberant black raspberry and black cherry aromas and underlying notes of nutmeg, toffee, and mint... you don't often get this sort of acidic vibrancy along with such a velvety density of fruit. Secondary… ...
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Becker-Landgraf Spatburgunder Gau-Odernheimer Muschelkalk J2 2013  (#330477)

Pinot Noir from Rheinhessen, Germany

[ WHWC Staff Notes: ...reminiscent of a top wine from the Santa Cruz Mountains, with explosively exuberant black raspberry and black cherry aromas and underlying notes of nutmeg, toffee, and mint... you don't often get this sort of acidic vibrancy along with such a velvety density of fruit. Secondary notes of savory cured meats do indeed lend a Burgundian side to the wine... a firm streak of chalky limestone runs through the core... this wine is spectacularly delicious right now! - Andrew Kitz, 9/13/17 ] WHWC Staff Notes: ...reminiscent of a top wine from the Santa Cruz Mountains, with explosively exuberant black raspberry and black cherry aromas and underlying notes of nutmeg, toffee, and mint... you don't often get this sort of acidic vibrancy…

750ml Bottle | In stock, 9 available
$29.95
$35.00
Save $5.05 (14%)35.00
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