Tastings in Italy and Germany - November/December 2017

Rome/Bernkastel/Cochem/Herborn

Tasted November 23, 2017 - December 1, 2017 by br_winelover with 303 views

Introduction

This was an attempt to taste as many wines as possible during my recent trip to Europe. My main goal was to have a look at Germany's Riesling GGs from 2015, but I drank a lot more than just that

Flight 1 - Tasting in Rome (1 note)

Just a Barbera D'Alba from probably its best producer in Piedmont. And it was off the charts!

Red
2012 Giacomo Conterno Barbera d'Alba Cerretta Italy, Piedmont, Alba, Barbera d'Alba
95 points
This is a serious Barbera - definitely the best I've had. Put this together with any $50 Barolo and I doubt it can be beaten. If you want to understand the potential of Barbera as a big time performer, you must treat yourself to a bottle of this. It's that good.

On the nose, black cherries, blackcurrant, a bit of raspberries, very concentrated, dark, really perfumed. On the palate, more cherries, blackcurrant again, a bit of everything, really delicious, perfect acidity to go with food, a Ferrari of a Barbera, long finish, monumental. 95pts.

Flight 2 - Tasting in Bernkastel (3 notes)

Two Austrians (one Riesling, one Grüner Veltiner) and a German Riesling. What a surprise the Austrian Riesling was! Best wine of the trip.

White
2015 F.X. Pichler Grüner Veltliner Smaragd 'M' Austria, Niederösterreich, Wachau
93 points
I know the "M' in this wine stands for 'Monumental", but I couldn't think of any other thing than 'Megalomaniac'. This is a whale of a Grüner Veltliner - big in every sense. I drank it during three days and it grew bigger and bigger. If you like it large-scaled, intense wines, this is for you. Of course it didn't help it was pitted against the best wine I had in the trip, which was so precise and pure it made this look like a behemoth.

On the nose, passion fruit, plum, some pineapple, a bit sweet initially (although that was almost imperceptible on the second and third days). It has this beautiful golden dark yellow which makes it appear much older than it is, like aged Riesling. On the palate, pear, passion fruit again, a bit herbal on the third day, tons of acidity, looks a bit like white port wine because it is so intense and creamy! This is not for the faint-hearted - I confess I got a little bit tired of drinking it, the only wine in this trip I wouldn't like to have again. But it is not a bad wine by any means (its first glass was very good everyday I drank it), and I understand others may like it much more than I did. 92-93pts.
White
2015 Prager Riesling Smaragd Wachstum Bodenstein Austria, Niederösterreich, Wachau
96 points
This was probably the biggest surprise of the whole trip. I never thought the cheapest of the 13 wines I selected to taste would be the best one, but this was it. Upon opening, I felt like in the middle of a garden - this is the definition of floral on the nose, perfumed, as pleasant as it gets, with notes of passion and citric fruits in the nose, but with nothing sticking out.

On the palate this was like drinking liquid velvet - extremely silky, refreshing, as it the flowers on the nose had liquefied and were part of the wine, complex, perfect acidity, kept all its aromas on the second and third days, really long finish, truly exceptional. I wrote 'world class' besides my notes, and I don't think anyone will ever regret opening a bottle of this. This is as god as it gets, although it loses some of its luster if you allow it to get to room temperature. It must be enjoyed a bit colder. 96+pts.
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White
2016 von Winning Forster Pechstein Riesling Großes Gewächs Germany, Pfalz
94 points
This was the first 2016 Riesling GG I have tasted, and came away impressed with it. On the nose, it has a typical von Winning profile, with more vanilla than one usually sees in a Riesling, but also passion and green apple, having some semblance to a cold-weather sauvignon blanc.

But it is on the palate where this wine shines - creamy, really elegant, with notes of vanilla, pineapple, and lime, and tons of freshness. It's at the same time intense and light - there is nothing out of place, every component is in harmony with the rest. Of course this is still a baby and will develop further, but it is already delicious now. 94+pts.

Flight 3 - Tasting in Cochem (3 notes)

Three reserve Rieslings from great German wineries.

White
2009 Koehler-Ruprecht Kallstadter Saumagen Riesling Auslese trocken "R" Germany, Pfalz
94 points
This was my first experience with Koehler-Ruprecht wines, and hopefully not my last. This 'R' (reserve) bottling could never be a GG, since I suppose that its residual sugar is way above what is allowed by the VDP for dry wines in this category. But it works wonderfully in this bottle - you get in what tastes like a dry wine aromas that are common in sweet ones, like honey, candy, caramel, and also some stonefruit. I could smell this the whole day!

On the palate it is not so great. Again, it tasted a bit sweet initially, but after some air it kind of goes away (this was particularly evident 48 hours after opening). It must be allowed to reach almost room temperature though - it does not show much while cold. And a lot of the aromas described on the nose appear again here, with good intensiveness but not much acidity and a medium finish. However, it is extremely pleasant to drink - I could drink bottles and bottles of this, something I don't think I'd manage to do when drinking GGs in general. And I am sure it will develop further, since it did after being open for two days. 93-94+pts.
White
2012 Dr. Loosen Erdener Prälat Riesling Großes Gewächs Alte Reben Reserve Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer
94 points
I had high hopes for this wine, since I understand it is the cream of the crop regarding dry wines at Dr. Loosen, one of the top wineries in Germany. And don't get me wrong - this is a very well-made wine, with notes of peach, vanilla (just a little bit), white plum, and some citrus. It has excellent length and a nice creaminess to it, but this was probably the wine which I believe will most benefit from extra time in the bottle to mature, even more than some 2015s and 2016s I've had in this trip. Right now it appears closed, and even on the second day it was not showing all its muscles. It was definitely overshadowed by PJK's Schlehdorn on this flight.

I have bought another bottle, which I really intend to keep for at least 5 years. It might be sufficient for this wine to earn two or three points more. I'd rate it 94(+?)pts for now - you can sense the potential in its raw material today.
White
2013 Peter Jakob Kühn Riesling Trocken Schlehdorn Germany, Rheingau
95 points
This was the clear winner of this flight, and it is a bottle every Riesling lover should attempt to look for. The intensity and persistence of this wine are remarkable, although its flavor profile does not reflect what usually we encounter when tasting dry Riesling.

In the glass, this has a deep yellow color that betrays its young age. On the nose and the palate, I could find really intense notes of stone fruit, cashew, wet grass, and a bit of caramel and vanilla. It is really a powerhouse in the mouth - it takes control of your senses there and doesn't let go, which translates into a long finish.

The only reason why I'm not grading this higher was the fact it was not as good on the second day - maybe it closed a bit, or maybe its sheer intensity had worn off a bit its welcome. I confess I prefer wines who are more elegant and precise - this is a bit too broad to earn a higher grade.

95pts though - I can't rate this lower. It is really good overall.

Flight 4 - First tasting in Herborn (3 notes)

Rheinhessen GGs and a 2015 GG from probably the most friendly winery in Germany

White
2011 Weingut Keller Kirchspiel Riesling Großes Gewächs Germany, Rheinhessen
93 points
This was supposed to be a 2015 Kirchspiel, but the store I ordered it from made a mistake and delivered a 2011. Since I was on a trip and didn't have time to return it so I could get the correct bottle, I decided to have a go and crossed my fingers. In retrospect it was a clear mistake, because this was too expensive for what it delivered.

On the first day this was not impressive. It did improve quite a bit after 24 hours, and the score here reflects this development after lots of air. By then I could find notes of white plum, green apple, and a bit of pear. On the mouth it was round, with good acidity and balance and a medium finish, but nothing spectacular. It is definitely a good wine, but it was a very poor QPR for 75 euro. 91pts on the first day, 92-93pts at the end.
White
2015 Dönnhoff Hermannshöhle Riesling Großes Gewächs Germany, Nahe
95 points
From all 2015 GGs I had the opportunity to drink during this trip, this was by far the one that most benefited from exposure to air, being much more expressive on the second day than it was upon opening. It is almost a crime to drink this now without a really long decant - in almost every regard this wine will improve with time. Leave yours in the cellar for a long time if you can.

As I said above, on the second day this bottle was really shining - having tasted with Helmut Dönnhoff in Oberhausen both the 2013 and 2014 Hermannshöhle a couple years ago, this is a different beast - much more intense and broad in particular than the 2014, but with the elegance and precision that characterizes Dönnhoff's GGs. Notes of pineapple, lime, pear, some kiwi and green apple were noticeable both on the nose and palate, and it possessed great freshness and a round and long finish on the second day. Buy as much as you can if you can still find it for under 50 euro. 95pts after air.
White
2014 Kühling-Gillot Nackenheimer Rothenberg Wurzelecht Riesling Großes Gewächs Germany, Rheinhessen
95 points
This was a bottle I was eager to drink, since it is a very limited production Riesling from perhaps the best Red Slate soil in all of Germany. This 2014 was chosen by Gault&Millau as the top dry Riesling choice for that vintage, and it didn't disappoint one bit, having won this tasting by a whisker over the Hermannshöhle.

Notes of pineapple, lime and lemon peel were discernible. This is on the palate ample and round - nothing is sticking out. It has great intensity, balanced acidity and a long finish which leaves you reaching for more. But its calling card is its striking elegance - it dances on the palate, and is never cloying. I'm sure this bottle will still improve further with time (and I don't intend to open my other one until 2019), but it is already a stunner now. 95+pts.

Flight 5 - Second tasting at Herborn (3 notes)

Only 2015 GGs - all great!

White
2015 Wittmann Westhofener Morstein Riesling Großes Gewächs Germany, Rheinhessen
95 points
This tasting included only 2015 GGs, and all of them were great. I had drunk previously a 2011 Morstein from this same producer, and this 2015 is already much better than that one (and it still has lots of room for development).

This wine already has a very impressive floral nose which I don't often associate with Riesling. Besides that, I found some pear, green apple, and a bit of passion on the nose, and stone fruit and again green apple on the palate, wrapped by some sweetness which really made a good impression. It is intense and long with an excellent body, balanced acidity, and great precision, but it fell off a cliff on the second day - probably one should wait a bit now to drink a bottle, since it might go through a closed period in the next couple years. 94-95(+?)pts.
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White
2015 Schäfer-Fröhlich Monzinger Halenberg Riesling Großes Gewächs Germany, Nahe
96 points
This tasting included only 2015 Riesling GGs, and all were great. But none reached the same heights as this sublime Halenberg, which was the best GG I had during this entire trip. I still haven't tasted my Emrich-Schönleber GG from the same vintage (and I consider this one to be the benchmark for this vineyard - his 2011, for example, was one of the top five Riesling I have had in my life), but I can only hope it will be as good as this one.

This has a nose which can only be described as created by a genius - floral, but also with pear, green apple, and the spontaneous fermentation which is a hallmark of wines produced by Tim. On the mouth this exudes precision and elegance - its 'drinkabilty' is absolutely off the charts, being again floral with also pear and passion. I mean, I could drink this the whole day and not get fatigued. I remember writing down in my notes 'Why don't I buy only Schäfer-Fröhlich?'. This is really good, but it closed a bit on the second day, so I can't really give it a higher grade. 96pts now, and for consumption in the next decade.
White
2015 A. Christmann Konigsbacher Idig Riesling Großes Gewächs Germany, Pfalz
95 points
This tasting included only 2015 Riesling GG, and all were great. This Idig is my very first experience with A. Christmann wines, and definitely won't be the last. This site, which is a monopole in the southern Mittelhaardt region of the Palatinate, doesn't have the name recognition as Pechstein or Kirchenstück around Forst, for example, but it is probably on a par with those in 2015.

This Riesling possesses a very pleasant nose with mostly notes of pear and pineapple, but it is on the palate where it excels, being really structured with great freshness and intensity, and perfect acidity. It is precise and long on the aftertaste, although it was overshadowed in this regard by the Halenberg in this flight. I'd put this on a par with Wittmann's Morstein, which might have a bit better chance of improvement in the next few years. But this Idig is as good as it gets for its price. 94-95(+?)pts.

Closing

There were some surprises (I never thought the cheapest wine of the whole trip would be the one I enjoyed the most), but the best thing was there were no bad bottles.

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