2018 Weingut Leitz, Riesling Kabinett, Rüdesheimer Klosterlay, Rheingau Germany.
The 2018 Leitz Klosterlay Kabinett is bright and focused, drinking with a snappy dry tanginess and feels very well balanced with just enough fruity off dry sweetness to go refreshingly well with Asian cuisine, like my mom’s cherished birthday traditional Tommy’s Wok (of Carmel) Chinese meal, which included orange chicken and Singapore curry noodles and BBQ pork, all of which was easily handled by this delightful Riesling. Rudesheim is one of my absolute favorite wine towns to visit and I am a long time fan of Johannes Leitz an d his wines, especially his cru bottlings from the famous Rudesheimer Berg sites, including the VDP GG’s from Schlossberg, Kaisrersteinfels and Roseneck as well as his Prädikat offerings, like this Klosterlay Kabinett. “Lay” is a very old word meaning slate (stone) and “Kloster” is the German translation of Abbey, and the Klosterlay vineyard sits beneath the Benedictine Abbey of St. Hildegard, above the eastern edge of the village of Rudesheim in part of the Johannisberg zone, almost all these sites here were church owned vines in the past and walking here you see many religious icons and symbols scattered around. Here, as Leitz notes, the Rüdesheimer Berg begins to gently undulate as it levels out toward the village of Geisenheim and turns from intense slate soils to more heavy loam, loess and clay. Johannes believes this site is best suited for a fruity style with some residual sugar and therefore he choses to makes Kabinett from this terroir. Over the years, I have become quite addicted to opening a Leitz wine on special occasions, they always bring an inner happiness and celebration of life, and this one didn’t fail to add to the joy of having my family around and forgetting the stress of this horrendous year.
The Klosterlay 2018 starts with crisp apple, white peach and lime fruits with zesty acidity cutting the density and sweetness along with a fresh saline element and spicy ginger and clove on the light feeling palate, everything is clear and precise, making for pure Riesling refreshment with a comforting old school charm. The Klosterlay site faces south and gets wonderful ripe flavors and it is mostly loess and loam with some sand and slate, plus veins of quartzite that adds complexity, there’s a beautiful mineral tone that runs the length of this Riesling and while I had it with full flavored Chinese food, it also goes great with more subtle dishes as well. I love Kabinett level wines in the Summer and Fall, the low alcohol, in this case about 9.5%, and light phenolic bitter notes lessen the impact of the underlying sugar, again, especially with Leitz’s example, Kabinett can drink in a drier sense. This vintage is jazzy and refined, opening up with white flowers, crushed flint, tangerine and quince, very poised, as you’d expect from this famous producer, but still playful and without pretense, easy to quaff and it is a wine that generates lots of smiles. The Klosterlay is farmed using sustainable Fair ‘N Green practices, as are all of Leitz’s top sites and Johannes is committed to making sure Rudesheim’s history is preserved and has started a movement to restore many of the original terraces and cares deeply about the health of the region. The basic offerings, with screw caps, at Leitz, are bottling that see stainless steel fermentation and aging with the idea they will be enjoyed in their youth, like this Klosterlay, which was intended to be drunk with its zippy details within its first 3 to 5 years. I can’t wait to return to the Rheingau and in particular Rudesheim with its amazing vineyards and views of the Rhein, this wine absolutely transports me there.
($24 Est.) 90 Points, grapelive