New Wines from VDP Grosses Gewächs – First Impressions

VDP sneak preview tastings of top dry wines from best parcels (Grosse Gewächs) made by members of this elite association are famous as masterpieces of event management but participants leave the hall of Kurhaus in Wiesbaden impressed by wines most of all. Last week tasting was again a great show of German wines. Vintage 2014 will give enjoyment to all fans of premium Rieslings and Silvaners. Also 2013 Spätburgunders will be very delightful.

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In general 2014 was easier than 2013 and it allowed in many places to achieve fuller ripeness and develop more flavors. However weather created challenges at the end of the season when rains started. It demanded very accurate decisions concerning harvesting and fast work in vineyards, which is not easy on steepy slopes.

So, it was possible to make great wines in 2014 but it demanded not only great vineyard but also confident winemaker. You can find many of them in VDP of course.

For me among many marvels created in last season, HeymannLöwenstein and Clemens Busch wines from Mosel were the greatest. Generally, Mosel tasting was very insipring. There were some very elegant Rieslings, with quite pronounced frutiness in beatiful balance with mineral and acidic structure, not so austere and demanding as they sometimes can be.

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When I say elegance I must also say Pfalz. It is home of the most pleasurable, relaxing – yet classy – Rieslings of the tasting, with ligther structure, not so mineral, wide but not heavy, with very appealing rich floral and ripe citrus aromas. Jesuitengarten and Kirchenstück (both in Forst) are vineyards that gave my favourite wines. Not the most concentrated, they showed that there are different ways to great dry Riesling.

In Rheinhessen, famous Roter Hang near Nierstein, is still my favourite place, especially Hipping and Pettenthal vineyards. Pettenthal wines married in 2014 strong minerality with notes of intensive ripe fruit. Hipping wines by St Antony, Gunderloch, Kühling-Gillot are lighter, crispier and wonderfully refreshing. Quite big difference between wines from neighbouring sites.

You can hear from time to time complains on softness of Rheingau Rieslings. For sure you can find an example of wine with some flabbiness or signs of overripeness among them but it is not a norm. Many Grosse Gewächs Rheingau Rieslings from 2014 showed firm acidity, focus and potential to develop into splendid, magnificient, rich wines. Wildsau “Schlenzenberg” and Langenberg in Martinsthal from Diefenhardt’sches Weingut, Berg Schlossberg in Rüdesheim by Leitz, Holle by Johannishof from Johannisberg (the richest in exotic aromas also), wines from Berg Rottland in Rüdesheim by Künstler, Balthasar Ress and Johannishof are examples.

Armin Diel, President of VDP Nahe.

Armin Diel, President of VDP Nahe.

Nahe is so small, yet so diverse. Its wines stood very well against other top Rieslings and showed range of styles this region and its premium wineries offers: fruity, elegant, mineral, powerful … On Sunday, before main tasting we were invited to spend evening with VDP members from Nahe. We could try their Rieslings from 2004 and 2005, which are wonderful now – pure, harmonious, still fruity, much milder than young wines, without signs of tiredness. We had a great time there with old masters and young generation of winemakers. I will write more about it. Great thanks, Caroline and Armin Diel, Helmut Dönnhoff, Tim Fröhlich, Stefan and Georg Rumpf, Werner Schönleber!

Franken is another region that presented fascinating wines – like mineral salty Silvaners from Stein in Würzburg, Castell or Iphofen and crisp, full flavoured fruity Rieslings (Stein again). Full bodied Rieslings from Baden were also very nice, when they had enough acidity to give structure to rich wines filled with tropical fruit like in Schellenbrunnen from Heitlinger or Plauelrain “Am Bühl” made by Andreas Laible.

I tried just few Spätburgunders 2013 from Rheingau, Franken, Baden and Rheinhessen. For sure they deserved more attention that I could pay to them. My general impression is of concentrated wines with fully ripen intensive red fruit notes, strawberry and sherry dominating, with rather low acidity. Differences in wine-making technics were noticable. Some wines need a little more time to achieve full harmony.

It’s good to know that so many great wines will be available for wine lovers soon. It will be hard to surpass them in finesse, character and energy!

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