2019 German Grosse Gewächse & 2018 Pinot Noir
2019 Dry Whites
Now and then a truly great vintage comes along, a year when all the elements combine to give wines of harmony, finesse and energy, wines that reflect their origins, that taste delicious young but also have the capacity to age. 2019 is such a vintage.
They are easy to taste: very precise wines where each element – the vibrant fruit, the juicy acidity, the pure minerality is clearly delineated and effortlessly integrated. Some are positively ethereal. They crackle with energy and a broad spectrum of fruit flavours: elderflower and blackcurrant, pear and white peach. Many show notes of fresh green herbs and spice - nutmeg and pepper. The acidity is ripe and lemony, and the mineral structure complex and fine, going from pithy and lean to broad dark earthy flavours, almost always with a distinct salinity.
2018 was one of the hottest vintages this century and created great challenges for growers. As you would expect, the reds are rich and muscular, with ripe forward fruit; nonetheless despite the heat, they are balanced and elegant and show clearly defined terroirs. They are opulent and fruit-driven, seductive and approachable, and display all the hallmarks of longevity.
These are some of the world’s greatest wines, and they offer excellent value.
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2019 Wehlener Sonnenuhr GG [32 20] (SCLI09219A)
At its best the Sonnenuhr is ethereal, angular and long. This is all that, a beautifully lean pure wine with generous ripe lemon and juicy pear fruit, and a very fine smoky slate note that builds in intensity to the brisk long finish.
2019 Stromberg GG [21 20] (SFRO76219A)
The steep rocky volcanic soils of Stromberg are the site of the estate's oldest vines, half of them eighty-five years old. A bad hailstorm in June reduced the yields by half, and the resulting wine is all the more intense, with smooth juicy ripe citrus fruit, white peach, and an appealing fresh grassiness. The finish is bright, pure and incredibly long.
2019 Frühlingsplätzchen GG [19 20] (SFRO77219A)
Hard red slate gives a very juicy, elegant wine with pronounced dark earthy flavours, notes of redcurrant and spice, and a firm fine citrus finish.
2019 Halenberg GG [20 20] (SFRO78219A)
Fine weathered blue slate produces a taut wine of amazing clarity and length. There is dense blueberry and pink grapefruit, cool fresh grassy flavours, and a long fine cool stony saline finish.
2019 Kupfergrube GG [17 20] (SFRO79219A)
Kupfergrube - on the site of an old copper mine - is a narrow strip of vineyard between the river and a steep volcanic cliff and has correspondingly little airflow. The rocks reflect and store heat, and the grapes have riper flavours even when they have the same must weight as those in other vineyards. This is broader and gentler than the Felsenberg, still tightly focussed, but with softer orange rather than lemon, red fruit notes and a fresh steely salty finish.
2019 Felsenberg GG [18 20] (SFRO80219A)
Felsenberg's position next to the river and rich soils makes its vines reach maturity quickly. This also means the vineyard is susceptible to fog, and as the damp air softens the grapes, it is crucial to harvest at the right moment. Wines made by other growers from this vineyard are often rounded and weighty, but Tim Fröhlich picks earlier, and draws out its most elegant aspects. There is power, and it is lean and taut, bristling with energy, pithy citrus and herbal flavours and a cool stony minerality, building to a pleasantly bitter finish. What a fantastic and exciting start to the tasting line-up!
2019 Aulerde GG [16 20] (WITT42219A)
Philipp Wittmann reckons this is the best Aulerde he has ever made. Hard to disagree: it is a gorgeously ripe, zingy and harmonious wine. The stony minerality makes an appearance early and mingles seamlessly with the elegant yellow fruit, and there is a lovely juicy energy that sees it through to the long, slightly smoky saline finish.
2019 Kirchspiel GG [17 20] (WITT44219A)
Situated just above the Aulerde in a shallow east-facing amphitheatre which catches the first sun, the soil is mostly limestone with some loam. Lots of citrus fruit here, in a beautifully flowing wine that has notes of spice and herbs, and a very long fresh fine stony finish.
2019 Gaispfad [10 20] (WSEI74219A)
The Gaispfad is just over the legal limit of dryness (9g of residual sugar) weighing in with 12g, but so intense are the stony smoky slate flavours that you barely notice. It has smooth generous peach fruit, bright lemony acidity and a very long salty finish, and will keep for a good long age.
2018 Ellergrub trocken 'Reserve' [15 20] (WSEI81218A)
Towards the end of the harvest, Konstantin and Alexandra decided to delay the harvest of a whole terrace of wines in the Ellergrub in the expectation of making an Auslese from botrytised grapes. But no botrytis came, so they picked the grapes and fermented them to dryness, leaving them on their lees for two years before bottling. The result is quite extraordinary: the 'regular' dry wine from here, the 'Grosse Eule' is marked by a powerful phenolic structure, but here the ageing has rounded the edges, leaving a pure, very intense and supremely elegant wine with a superfine minerality. It has enormous depth and concentration, but an ethereal quality too, lots of energy and a fantastically long finish. A very exciting accident - may it become an annual occurrence!
2017 Jaspis Gutedel 10 hoch 4 (ZIER26217A)
104 refers to the vine density. Originally planted in 1968, Hans-Peter doubled the number of vines per hectare in the oldest part of the Steingrüble vineyard in 2001 to get closer to Burgundian models. The wine shows what Gutedel (known as Chasselas across the border in Switzerland) can do when challenged. This is a supremely fine wine in anyone's book, up there with the best Burgundies, showing that Gutedel is not only a superb reflector of terroir, but can also produce extraordinary complexity and intensity. The 2017 is lean, pure and delightfully juicy. Overnight skin contact after picking gives freshness, structure and a hint of bruised apple, backed by bright citrus fruit, a dash of cream and a minerality that grows more persistent as it glides to an infinitely long, smooth finish. One of Germany's great white wines.
2019 Rausch GG [11 20] (ZILL04219A)
Wonderfully fresh and lemony, with ripe yellow pear, grapefruit and mint, complemented by smooth, very fine smoky mineral flavours and a long elegant finish.
2018 Auf der Rausch GG [15 20] (ZILL05218A)
A plot of ungrafted vines at the top of hill was harvested and vinified separately, left on its lees until March, then given another year in cask. It is a cooler site, and the wine weighs in at a mere 11% - quite an achievement in 2018. Those extra months have rounded it into a smooth, flowing wine with beautifully expressive herbal, smoky flavours, cool juicy citrus fruit and a long spicy saline finish. Absolutely lovely!
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