2018 Weingut Leitz, Riesling, Dragon Stone, Rheingau Germany.
The Rüdesheimer Drachenstein, which sits above the Grand Cru Berg(s) and backed up against the Niederwald Forrest and set on the almost pure quartzite soils, is the source for Leitz’s famous Dragon Stone (Drachenstein means Dragon Stone in German) Riesling and one of my favorite vineyards to walk above the Rhein, it’s an awesome site and makes for a unique Rheingau expression. While not classified, or a QbA, the Dragon Stone Riesling is usually a generous wine with a fairly high must weight, but feels drier than it is, because of the terroir minerality and vivacious acidity, making for a gorgeous easy to love quaffer that can go with a vast array of foods and is exceptionally refreshing in an off dry wine. The 2018, even with high residual sugars, is vibrant with an almost dry sensation on the brisk palate that shows the classic yellow fruits of this remarkable vineyard area, it gives peach, apricot, lemon and golden apples as well as a tangy burst of racy citrus, wet stones, saline and rose oil. Johannes Leitz, who took over his family’s tiny estate in 1985, has turned into one of Germany’s best known and loved wineries and has been a tireless champion of the Rheingau and especially the sites about his hometown of Rudesheim with his Rudesheimer Berg Schlossberg, Kaisersteinfels and Roseneck GG’s being some of the most iconic Riesling bottlings you can experience.
The semi sweet and salty Dragon Stone gains seriousness and impact with time in the glass and with matching cuisine, which I say brings out the best here, like spicy Asian dishes, it delivers a stellar performance and remains one of the greatest values in the Riesling world. Leitz employs an all stainless steel regiment for his lighter or up to Spatlese level bottlings with some lees aging all to promote freshness and purity, like in this Dragon Stone, which get screw caps while the Cru offerings see Stuckfass aging and a real cork finish. The Rüdesheimer Berg, and the Drachenstein, have a spectacular view overlooking the confluence of the Nahe and Rhein Rivers with challenging slopes, these are singular terroirs with lots of slate and quartzite at the westernmost point of the Rheingau region, it’s an area of great importance to Leitz and he farms his plots with passion, integrity and with the utmost care, relying on hand tending of these vines to ensure quality in every bottle that leaves the cellar. While the GG’s and Trockens are the stars, Leitz’s Kabinett and Spatlese remain impeccable and classic, with this Dragon Stone being an extra joyous extra to this fine collection of Rieslings. This 2018 version of Dragon Stone is absolutely delicious and one of the best yet, and gives a hint on just how good, I mean great, this vintage is, stock up.
($18 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive