There are probably four major names in the production of German wine and their wines are sought after in every country: the winerys' labels are immediately recognisable and their wines, some of the world’s best: Jos. Joh. Prüm, Egon Müller, Robert Weil and Keller. Whereas the previous two deal mainly with sweet wines, Keller’s strength is universally applicable: consistently producing some of Germany’s finest dry wines and also some of its finest sweet wine too: much like Robert Weil in fact.
The producer's single-vineyard and prestige cuvees are sold out, year after year, including the Hubacker GG. It serves as one of the producer's calling cards: world-famous and, arguably, one of the world's best-priced fine wines.
The Hubacker vineyard is defined by its limestone soil however, when the wine has aged a little, those chalky notes are restrained leading to a puristic take on dry Riesling: yes the soil plays a role in the wine but it doesn't define it solely as is sometimes the case in Rheinhessen. It's fair to say that this wine is probably a bit young and yet the key to good wine is that it can be enjoyed at every stage of its lifetime - this wine delivered on all levels.
With a brief hint of gooseberry on the attack, the only chalk-element of the wine is noticeable: creamy and, until the body picks up, intensely smooth. When the body kicks in, you all-of-a-sudden realise why people go crazy about this wine. Fully ripe stone fruit: sweet apricots, yellow plum and a decent helping of yellow peach. There is a thick sense of pear in there as well that gradually picks up momentum until the finely-spiced finish takes the reins: vegetative notes with nettles, green herbs and perhaps a hint of green pepper: you would be forgiven for thinking this wine grew on slate rather than chalk thanks to a smoky feel to the finish.
A true stunner, priced at around 50€, it certainly isn’t cheap but it impresses immensely and is, undoubtedly, one of the world’s finest dry, white wines, much like its bigger and vastly-more-expensive brothers.
Keller in the US
Keller in the UK
Rheinhessen is a mighty beast. Churning out a massive amount of Germany’s supermarket shelf-filler, a rare diamond shines out of the region only rarely. Whereas Dreissigacker, Wechsler and co. already experience a great amount of publicity, recently another winery has taken me by surprise: Becker-Landgraf of Gau-Odernheim.
J2 – Julia and Johannes produce an attractive portfolio of wines that impress from the first sip. From the entry-level Gutswein (estate wines) right up to the fabulous single-site bottles, the wines combine a modern approach to winemaking with a healthy lug of unmistakeable Rheinhessen touch: genuinely impressive wines with universal appeal.
One such wine is the entry-level Weißburgunder-Chardonnay – a wonderful Pinot Cuvee that really makes the most of both varietals whilst being able to expertly represent the region as a whole.
An alluring golden yellow in the glass, the wine immediately reminds of ripe yellow pears on the nose. Alongside a few hints at green herbs and freshly-cut grass, a rewarding sense of joghurt is present behind a touch of stone fruit and a hint of something more tropical: banana, mango and passionfruit.
On the attack is a brief flirt of citrus: perhaps grapefruit more than anything else but it moves straight onto pear, apple and yellow plum before eventually settling on a creamy, chalky structure with an addictive sweet undertone. Dry finish with a slight white pepper decoration.
Very good. Priced at around 8€, fantastic value for money.
Buy in the UK
For me a perfect wine is one where character is shown and yet all important aspects are covered: balanced fruit and acid but also minerals: spices and then it all needs to be pulled off with a package that feels right – however, laboratory perfection isn’t ideal either: such wines are usually lacking in character. To shorten this story. Kühling-Gillot’s Pettenthal is a wine that consistently offers fantastic drinking and, like all good wines should, varies from year to year despite maintaining the qualitative parameters of what make a wine good.
This single-vineyard Großes Gewächs from Weingut Carolin Spanier-Gillot comes close to that perfection I look for. Not only that: the wine is affordable and organic. I’ve been looking at Rheinhessen fairly intensively over the last few weeks and can say that this is easily the best wine I’ve tried – still this isn’t just about personal preferences.
The winery is currently operated by Carolin Spanier-Gillot and has been in family control for generations. Pettenthal is one of the company’s finest vineyards and also one of the steepest in Rheinhessen offering South-facing slopes that soak up the sun for as many hours as is annually possible.
The nose is rather delicate to start with: stone fruit in the way of white peach but also lime, yellow apples and a hint of menthol herbs.
The initial feel is a clean one: the attack is slow and, whilst acidic, defined by yellow fruit: apples, pears and quince but also lemon peel and juice. The finish is slightly sherry-like and a background hit of wood.
A delicate wine with almost perfect balance and appeal on all levels. The acidity is a bit heavy for the feel of the rest of the wine but it does offer a touch of character and hints at the 2010 vintage which was well-known for acidity in 2010. If you’re drinking Rheinhessen Riesling, Kühling-Gillot is a name you can’t ignore.
I’ve recently tried a few wines from this Westhofener winery in Germany’s Rheinhessen and have been astonished as to how delicate winemaker Katharina Wechsler is able to work with traditional powerful varietals. Typically Rheinhessen Riesling, Grauburgunder and the like is full of sometimes overpowering fruit and a thick chalky note that often feels out of place. Her wines however are all very delicate and incredibly crafted: smooth, easy-drinkability and character and three terms I use to describe nearly all of her wines.
Weingut Wechsler operates the Benn vineyard entirely and this Riesling makes use of what it some of the finest Riesling terroir in all of Rheinhessen. It was probably designed to be opened in a few years time but my handler informed me of its excellent drinkability right now.
Satin Gold, very shiny.
Lime cordial, lemon peel and green apple made up the nose but so too did almonds and limestone.
The attack is of sharp lemon juice but this eventually gets milder giving the drinker some of the finest lemon notes I’ve ever experience in any wine. Grapefruit, orange peel but also a touch of orchard fruit is presented as well: delicate yellow apples and green pears. The finish is crisp and brings chalk but only a touch – enough to complete the wine and remind of the fantastic soil here without risking an off-balance, cloudy affair.
I probably did open this a little too early – with a few years in the cellar, the sharpness of the lemon would go away and the fruit probably improve through this. The Wechsler touch is there though – delicate elegance although this Riesling offers a tad more power than most of the rest of the range. Once again, the possibilities of producing wines based on Riesling appear endless.
The organic boom in Germany shows no sign of slowing down. It’s a trend that has been part of the wine industry for many years. Particularly in sunny Rheinhessen, a number of wineries started producing high-quality, organic wine in the middle of the last decade. For some, the satisfying of the growing demand for such products was the reason for this push and yet a handful of wineries stuck to making high-quality wine first of all, putting organic production in second place of importance: these included Wagner-Stempel, Gysler, Wittman and, of course, Dreissigacker.
Dreissigacker is a family-run winery in Bechtheim. Alongside a number of single-vineyard and commune wines, the winery produces a handful of varietal specific wines. This Riesling is partially aged in oak and contains 12% alcohol by volume.
Lots of citrus fruit on the nose: lemon juice and peel, grapefruit and lime.
The attack is one of smooth lemon juice and eventually gives way to a creamy body full of apples and pears but also feels rather yeasty. The finish is long, slightly salty and reminds of chalky limestone.
A smooth, large-style, Riesling: the citrus is particularly rewarding and so too is the mineral finish with the limestone. Whereas the wine is big and long, it is refreshing and offers buttery-smooth drinking from start to finish.
Home to nearly everything that lands in the bottom shelves of supermarkets, Germany’s Rheinhessen is often forgotten about when it comes to listing the production regions where one can find high-quality wine. Thankfully, alongside a whole host of names worth forgetting are a handful of wineries that consistently produce some of Germany’s finest wine: Wittmann in Westhofen is undoubtedly one of these.
With some of Rheinhessen’s best Riesling terroir to its name, the winery produces organic certified wine (under the Naturland certification) since 2004. The winery itself belongs to the Wittmann family since the middle of the 17th Century. It is famed for its single-vineyard Grand Cru (Großes Gewächs) wines but, like most other VDP wineries, bottles a series of Gutsweine – wines made using only own-grown fruit.
Bright straw yellow
Lots of fresh citrus of the nose but also crisp green apples and pears, a mineral-note is to detect but takes a background role.
The attack is a fresh bite of lime and Granny-Smith apple. The body leads on to other green and yellow fruit: kiwi, gooseberry and pineapple. This eventually comes to a chalky, creamy finish which stays in the mouth long after swallowing.
A fresh and fruity Riesling with a great deal of kick – the fresh citrus and green apple is rather sour although the wine itself doesn’t seem too acidic. The chalky notes reflect large parts of the Rheinhessen’s limestone soils. A well-made, rounded wine perfect for a fish dish. This is what Gutsweine are all about - offering up a taste of the region without too much complication: they then awake consumers, provoking them to try out the much more unique Grand Cru wines.
Check out www.thewinebarn.co.uk for information on this wine in the UK.
Rheinhessen is home to a whole host of varietals: alongside the traditionally regionally grown Müller-Thurgau and Silvaner, the region is also where some of the country’s finest Riesling vineyards are located. In the heart of Rheinhessen lies Dittelsheim: the commune where Weingut Winter is based.
Weingut Winter has been under the control of Stefan Winter since the beginning of 2000 and obtained VDP membership in 2013. On its more than 20 acres of vineyard, about 60% of production area is planted with Riesling.
Alongside a handful of varietal wines, the winery also creates a number of high-quality dry wines from Grand Cru vineyards (Grosse Lage). Those based on classic, regionally-typical grapes are allowed to carry the declaration VDP Grosses Gewächs –these make up most of Germany’s best wines. Geyersberg is a Grosse Lage in the Southern part of Dittelsheim: the site is optimised for the growth of Riesling and an small amount of chalk is to be found in the soil.
Bright gold, blonde.
The wine was both fruity and floral but the defining elements on the nose were minerals: wet stone and pepper. Peach, apricot and lemon peel came through but only briefly.
The wine was opened a little too young and the whole thing still felt rather compact and closed: nonetheless the attack was one of fresh yellow fruit: apricot, lemon and pear. The minerals came in too early though: evidence that the wine wasn’t yet quite yet ready to drink: mint, eucalyptus, wet stone, hefty pepper although it was all very smooth: creamy almost.
There’s a great deal of potential in this wine: sadly I opened it way too early. When those mineral notes relax a bit and the fruit looses a bit of sharpness (perhaps in two or three years), I can imagine a very smooth, fragrant and clean Riesling with a rounded character and yet still exciting thanks to that yellow fruit and the menthol herbs.
90 Points (+)
Rheinhessen is home to a number of fantastic producers. Wechsler is one such winery. Located in the small commune of Westhofen, situated close to the Rhein about halfway between Mainz and Mannheim, it is operated by Katarina Wechsler and family. Alongside a handful of single-vineyard creations, of which the monopole 'Benn' is the family’s swansong, the winery produces a handful of varietal specific wines made using grapes from the company’s own vineyards all over the region.
Silvaner is a popular varietal planted in Rheinhessen and whilst the wines grown on chalky soils in Franconia are shaped by acidic touches and powerful notes, Rheinhessen wines tend to be lighter and more vegetative in feel. Many have been quick to label them as being a bit dull and, being completely honest, quite a lot of them are.Some wineries however are able to turn Silvaner into something special. Weingut Wechsler has done exactly that.
Almost completely clear, a very faint golden-green hint to the wine.
Very discreet; herbal, vegetative and reminding of freshly-cut grass. There is a faint sense of citrus but also plenty of yellow fruit.
The attack is mild although a certain amount of citrus is available. The body is slightly thicker and reminds of elderberries, pears and yellow apples. The finish is rather earthy and you can pick out certain minerals: quartz perhaps, granite almost certainly but also reserved notes of fresh herbs.
A perfect wine for food – particularly salads and grilled poultry. Its lightness deceives at first and the body and finish are full of character proving that Silvaner can be a very interesting varietal: even if it doesn’t come from Franken.
Every now and then I stumble across a fantastic winery in Rheinhessen. As I’ve mentioned before, Rheinhessen is home to all that is bad about German wine: mass-made discounter crap and most of the wines you find on the bottom shelf at your local supermarket. Thankfully, there are still a number of very high-quality wineries in the region: Wagner-Stempel, Meiser, Dreissigacker, Winter and many more: Weingut Karl-Hermann Milch is now firmly in place as one of them.
Actually I have to give the man in the wine shop credit for this discovery – you’ll have noticed I’m a Riesling, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc kind of a man when it comes to white wine: my partner unfortunately is not. I simply asked for a good, everyday wine that isn’t one of the above varietals for her and he pushed it into my hand saying it was well worth trying. You can check out his website here and, if you live closeby, I strongly persuade you to visit the store in Essen-Süd.
Weingut Milch is one of those old-style wineries: all work is completed by the family members themselves and the 13.31 hectares are all tended to by hand. Alongside the traditional Riesling, several varietals are planted in the vineyards: Chardonnay and the Pinot grapes seem to do very well here – this Pinot Gris (Pinot Grigio, Grauer Burgunder, Grauburgunder, Ruländer) was proof of that.
Satin gold with a faint hint of green
A great deal of fresh fruit on the nose, most prominent was nectarine, apricot, pear and apple. There were hints of more exotic fruits and a lovely feel of freshly cut grass.
A very big attack in the way of fruit: pear, peach, apricot and pineapple dominated with a fine lime cordial sense in the background. The body was controlled by yellow fruit: apricot and pear and this finished on a rather relaxed sense of chalk and even a hint of metal and fresh menthol herbs. The finish was long and sweet.
A big wine that, despite its huge attack, was completely restrained at all times – the finish might have been rather long (although I predict that this wine might’ve been more than just a Qualitätswein) but it was actually rather pleasant. This is once again proof that Rheinhessen provides a wonderful home to the Pinot grapes.
Now, I’ve posted a few Meiser reviews on here before and all of them roughly adhere to the same criteria: they’re all very good, they are all Spätlese wines and all of them are lovingly made in Rheinhessen by the Meiser family.
Of course Gewürztraminer is somewhat of an exotic varietal in Germany, famed for its cultivation on the other side of the Rhine in Alsace and from a few boutique producers in Austria. It is however a fixed part of any wine store’s range although rarely found outside of the simple Q.b.A format. This bottle is somewhat of a rarity from 2010.
A very radiant golden green shone from the glass
Alongside a strong vegetative note was a sense of pronounced citrus: grapefruit and lemon mainly. Stone fruit, pepper, slate and rose petal could also be picked out.
The attack was very mild and dictated by lovely apricot and elderflower. The petal and vegetable notes came through in the body alongside pink grapefruit and paprika. The spice structure was rather complicated with notes of stone, pepper and green herbs (basil, oregano). The finish was long and honey-syrup like - the age of the wine came through here too with a light woody feel after swallowing.
A lovely wine combining the extra sugar of Spätlese with a rather mild and fragrant varietal. The honey-notes of the residual sugar fitted perfectly with the flower petals and the discreet citrus really nicely with the apricot and other stone fruit. Drink it now though, it won’t hold for much longer.
-Sud de France
-Pinot Blanc (Weißburgunder)
-Pinot Gris (Grauburgunder)
-Pinot Meunier (Schwarzriesling)
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-Medium / off-dry
-Brut Zero/ Brut Nature
-Medium / off-dry