German Riesling Vintage 2012 Report
By Kerry Winslow
Riesling, this amazing grape is one of the most terroir driven varietals there is, it always gives pure expression of place, transparently delivering striking wines that reflect exposure and soil. Germany showcases this with different examples of schist, slate, loam, loess, limestone and sandstone all adding interesting characteristics to each region and each wine. Riesling, while great in both France and Austria, seems spiritually connected to Germany and it’s famed regions like the Rheingau, the Mosel, the Nahe and the Pfalz, to name a few historic areas.
The latest releases from Germany show 2012 is a year to celebrate in the glories of Riesling, no other year has moved me as much as this one in early tastings, and the potential is there for this to be one of the absolute great vintages in our generation. Beyond this vintage there is much to be excited about in the German wine world, there are many new young winemakers on the scene, some old hands making the best wines of the career and of course the refined Grand Cru or Grosses Gewachs system for dry wines from top vineyard sites. Of the new names to watch I would suggest following Matthais Knebel, Andreas Spreitzer and Eva Fricke and of the talented old hands to be admired you should really check in on Johannes Selbach and Johannes Leitz as they keep upping their game with each vintage, plus names to focus on include Muller-Catoir, Schlossgut Diel, Donnhoff and Kruger-Rumpf. I know I’ve left a lot out, for which I am sorry, but these certainly will not disappoint in this majestic vintage.
The 2012 vintage across the board in Germany looks to be one of the strongest years in my experience, with most every region producing top quality wines. While there is little argument about the vintage, there does seem to be a growing identity issue with produces reporting that customers are being led by the nose into shunning wines with residual sugar and this is proving to be very troubling as wineries are almost having to forsake anything above Halb Trocken, this is crazy, but I did see that trend on my visit to Germany in 2009, and it’s only gotten worse. There is a misconception, and this is a worldwide trend not convinced to Germany, that sweet is bad, made the more idiotic or at least ironic when you see in real terms customers crave sweet, in fact there has been a huge increase in residual sugar in red wines, and a huge increase in demand for Muscato or semi sweet Muscat wines, it is all in peoples heads. Wines labeled as sweet will not sell, but sweet wines or sweeter wines that are thought to be dry sell like crazy, and in blind tasting customers overwhelmingly gravitate to the sweeter wine as long as they associate it with the idea it is dry. Lets end the silliness, though it will be hard to re-educate the masses… That all being said, I’m am thrilled by the latest Trocken style wines coming out of Germany, and I rate the dry wines in 2012 the highest overall, even if the Spatlese and Auslese were also exceptional, and as not all the sweeter styles have yet been released, I’ll need to review my thoughts after longer reflection.
Regardless of issues regarding sweetness levels and negative perceptions that are causing concerns, the 2012 is a thrilling and exciting vintage for German Riesling and there are many outstanding wines to covet, this is a vintage to jump on, perfect for anyone to get know these fanatic wines and regions, especially also for collectors or those that want to add great drinking values to their cellars. Riesling is a great drinking investment, these wines are fun and age well gaining character and they are long lived, putting them a away even short term is massively rewarding.
Riesling is certainly one of the most flexible and most noble of grapes, it is a white grape that even die-hard red wine drinkers can fall in love with and it can go with almost any cuisine thrown at it. From dry sparkling wines to oozing thick honey flavored sweet wines Riesling is a champion, no other grape can match it for quality in everything style, and it amazes me it still is so under valued in the market place, and or overlooked. we professionals certainly drink a lot of it! Why can’t we change mainstream opinions? That’s eternal question.
Here are 30 plus outstanding Riesling wines that you should look for, they have mostly been released and should be available through fine wine merchants between now and the end of 2013, most are from the famed Terry Theise portfolio, I certainly am grateful to have attended his and Wine Wise’s huge pre arrival tasting in San Francisco in June of 2013, that is where most of my notes came from and it was great to get some one on one time with many of the producers, this report would not have been possible without their kind support, Danke. Oh, I did include one Muskateller and one Scheurebe, because they were too good to leave out!
2012 Selbach-Oster, Riesling Zeltinger Schlossberg Auslese (0ne Star) Mosel, Germany.
Johannes Selbach’s weightier Rieslings are majestic wines, some of the finest white wines in the world, and I look forward to trying some of the single block rarities like the Andrecht, but while those are extremely limited and more costly, this beautiful 2012 Zeltinger Schlossberg Auslese will be a slightly easier treasure to acquire when released this fall (2013) and it is a stunning Riesling in it’s own right. This one star selection, I tasted recently and while young, shows amazing class and depth all ready, and it is remarkably well balanced and doesn’t feel overly sweet, even though it is an Auslese, and it is full of complexity and focus. The nose is bright and fresh with crystalline mineral, white flowers and stone fruits leading to a full and generous palate of peach, pineapple, tangerine, apricot and key lime, while there is briny sea breeze and saline, tropical essences, candied pear and cool slate stoniness. This wine is powerfully dense, but filled with acidity and vibrant intensity, without question one of the top cellar choices of the vintage, so be sure to make note to look for this fantastic wine, and be rewarded short term and especially long term, drink from 2014-2022. Selbach’s 2012 vintage looks set to join his long line of legends and rivals even the great 2005 wines, but don’t over look 2009 and 2011 either as they also provide glorious drinkability and are worth extended aging as well, that said these 2012’s are very very special.
($38 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive
2012 Selbach-Oster, Riesling Zeltinger Schlossberg Spatlese Mosel, Germany.
Classical styled and remarkably pure the 2012 Zeltinger Schossberg Spatlese is a great candidate for cellar building with wonderful depth and structure and stunning potential for future rewards. While beautiful and charming even now, this wine has much more to come and is really worth investing in with everything in store to give massive drinking pleasure both short term and long term. The nose is still evolving and shy needing a lot of coaxing to reveal much, but there is a hint of spring blossom and smoking mineral tones with a touch of sea salt leading to a very gripping and balanced palate, while a Spatlese it feels more dry than sweet at this stage with plenty of zing and vibrancy. The mouth is an explosion of citrus, tropical fruit and creamy white peaches with a crystalline essence of rich minerality. The is a nice briny earthiness and saline quality to this fine Riesling and the touch of sweet papaya lingers on and on. This appealing and compelling white is a star in the making, best to show patience, drink 2016-2025, if you can of course, even with my best intentions I can’t always resist these Selbach-Oster Rieslings in their youth, and these 2012’s look to be legendary, be sure to get some later this fall when the arrive in the states.
($28 Est.) 93+ Points, grapelive
2012 Selbach-Oster, Riesling Zeltinger Sonnenuhr “Ur” Alte Reben Mosel, Germany.
This Riesling from 100 Year Old Mosel vines in Zeltinger Sonnenuhr is a touch off dry technically, but is wonderfully dry feeling and is a marvel of precision and balance. Selbach’s selection of ancient vines and deft touch shows in this finely detailed wine that has both grace and underlying power and intensity with salty minerals, extract and lazar like focus, and amazing potential. The hint of sweetness adds a subtle touch of lush luxury to this classy Riesling and gives a hint of creamy mouth weight while remaining vivid and vibrant throughout. The nose is still a bit closed, though crushed stones, mint leaves, white flowers and grapefruit show, before a lively palate of green apple, peach and lime fruit, sea salt, chalk and tropical essences. A clean and fresh Riesling with glorious character, the 2012 Selbach-Oster “Ur” Alte Reben ultra old vine finishes with tangerine and tangy apricot plus a burst of energy, this is fantastic stuff, don’t miss it when a tiny amount is released this Fall (of 2013) and while it will drink great young, it should age well, Drink 2014-2024.
($32 Est.) 93-94 Points, grapelive
2012 Selbach-Oster, Riesling Zeltinger Schlossberg Spatlese Trocken (one star) Mosel, Germany.
Johannes Selbach’s dry Spatlese wines are truly special in this vintage, the Mosel was blessed with an amazing vintage in 2012 for a full range of Rieslings, there is greatness from each level and while there maybe a lack of TBA and Icewine, the quality of the Trocken, QbA, Kabinett, Spatlese and Auslese is outstanding, and especially the Spatlese Trocken. While, I admit I adore the slightly sweet regular Spatlese from Selbach-Oster, I must say the Zeltinger Schlossberg Trocken is a fine example of the dry style, and even I personally like the Zeltinger Sonnenuhr a bit more, this is an amazing wine of class and nature with lush texture, extract and brisk acidity. The nose is full of mineral tones, spicy slate essences, hints of tropical fruit and white rose leading to a tangy palate of sizzling intensity with tangerine, grapefruit, dried pineapple, mangoes and lime, plus hints of apricot and green apple, briny saline and peach pit. The dusty minerals coat the mouth and a spicy element lingers on the crisp and clear finish, drink from 2014-2017.
($30 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive
2012 Selbach-Oster, Riesling Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Spatlese Trocken Mosel, Germany.
This is the real deal, without question this should be a Grosses Gewachs (Grand Cru) with it’s power, grace and extract this wine is utterly mind-blowing, a dry Riesling for the ages. This wine might be a game changer, with it’s pure Mosel character, focus, drive and depth it goes beyond what I’ve experienced in Mosel Trocken, this is glorious wine and a top cellar choice, if you can find it of course. I freely admit I’m a huge fan of Selbach’s wines and have been for ages, but honestly I can’t remember a better dry style in previous vintages than this 2012. The single block collection wines might be more of everything, weight and potential included, but for the money, it is hard to imagine a better dry Riesling from the Mosel than this. The 2012 Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Trocken Spatlese starts with heady bouquet, it is more expressive at this stage than the Schlossberg, with white flowers, tea spices, tropical essences and flinty minerals leading to a lifted palate of lime, papaya, orange and apricot fruits with chalky wet stones, bacon fat, sea salt and grapefruit seeds adding savory notes to the bright freshness of this gripping Riesling. A huge explosion of secondary citrus, green apple and peach flow from the mid palate to the tangy finish that leaves a lime and pineapple aftertaste. This vivid and vibrant wine impresses for the expansion of flavors in the mouth, the vigor of it’s acidity and the density of the extract all coming through in a well judged fashion, this artisan crafted wine is pure, round and exciting throughout and should drink fantastic for the next decade or more, if you are looking for a dry Mosel, this is a wine to search out.
($30 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive
2012 Weingut Donnhoff, Riesling, Estate, Nahe Germany.
Certainly, you cannot find many QbA Rieslings as good as this Donnhoff, there is just no question, especially this years edition, as 2012 is proving to be a fantastic vintage. I missed this wine at the pre arrival tasting in June of 2013 in San Francisco, where I got a chance to try most of the significant offerings from the wonderful Terry Theise portfolio, so I was thrilled to be able to taste it this weekend, and it did not disappoint, it is a lovely and mostly dry style with just a touch of sweetness, about normal Kabinett level in feel. This remarkable 2012 Donnhoff Estate Riesling makes for a compelling wine and again a super value, this is quality stuff, with floral and tropical essences, tangy lime and peach fruit, steely minerals and creamy rich finish, but with brisk and vibrant acidity. This charming and pure wine has a touch of apricot, tangerine, basil, sea salt and wet stones as well, plus some juicy green apple. The off dry feel plays well, making for a bit of fleshy texture, this is a very pleasing and refreshing wine. The 2012 Donnhoff Estate Riesling is almost a must wine, if not a must have a case wine, it is that good and it is perfect for Asian food, picnics and well, almost time, and it should drink great for a decade!
($26 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive
2012 Weingut Donnhoff, Riesling, Estate Trocken, Nahe Germany.
This 2012 Dry Estate Riesling is clearly and most definitely a baby Grosses Gewachs (Grand Cru) and shows amazing drive and quality throughout, this is a steal, don’t even think about it, get yourself a case or two! Donnhoff is one of Germany’s great wineries and without question these 2012 vintage Rieslings are going to be highly sought after and prized, and this Estate Trocken is just plain gorgeous and very entertaining. The nose is slow to get open at this stage, but with coaxing it delivers white flowers, hints of rose petals, mint leaves and steely mineral tones along with orange and stone fruit leading to an electrically charged palate of sizzling intensity with bright lime, green apple, peach and tangerine along with subtle tropical notes, wet stones, flinty mineral spice and tangy nectarine. The acidity is fantastic, lighting this wine up while allowing dense extract and fleshiness to show through, and I bet this little Grand Cru will age well, it should develop and gain greatly over the next decade, bravo, this is an impressive gift to us Riesling fiends. The crisp and clear finish is mouth watering with a briny saline note and a round creamy element settles in on the aftertaste, simply stunning, this rivals Premier Cru Chablis for class easy.
($25 Est.) 92+ Points, grapelive
2012 Donnhoff, Riesling Tonschiefer Trocken, Nahe Germany.
Another fantastic wine from Donnhoff is the Tonschiefer Trocken Riesling, it is a real classy effort that brings intensity and vitality to the table, but in a graceful and purpose filled fashion with an amazing mineral/steely core and perfectly judged acidity. The fruit is tangy fresh with lime, yellow peach, mango, bitter apple and green melon along with chalky stones, briny sea salt and spicy herb notes. There is a subtle bouquet of citrus blossoms, smoky flint and tangerine essence that lead into the palate, and the crisp, dusty dry finish leaves an electric buzz of acidity, but a lingering hint of creaminess. This is sublime Riesling and a mega deal, be sure to look for this wonderful Donnhoff, in the US, again look for Theisse Selections for it, it should be hitting the shelves in Oct or Nov of 2013. With out question this wine is a class act, even now, but patience will be rewarded and you should look to putting a few bottles away, drink 2014-2020. Weingut Donnhoff is serious one of the greatest wineries in the world, if you’ve not tried their wines you are missing out, from top to bottom this wines rock, especially the 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2012 vintages!
($27 Est.) 94+ Points, grapelive
2012 Donnhoff, Riesling Hollenpfad Trocken, Nahe Germany.
Donnhoff’s outrageously good Hollenpfad Trocken is a suave and sexy Riesling that delivers everything on promise and on the palate. While not a Cru, Grosses Gewachs, the Hollenpfad could easily be, this is a dry style marvel with great depth, extract, detail and class no question, and with many happy years ahead of it. The 2012 Hollenpfad Trocken lifts off with lime and tropical essences with a tangy mouth of mango, briny sea salt, chalky mineral, multi-citrus and peach fresh with more stone fruit, melon, apple skin, spice and apricot. The acidity is on vibrant display, but everything is remarkably balanced and elegantly focused, especially for such a young wine, this is pure genius and I can’t wait to try it again down the road, look for this in the states in the late fall of 2013, this we be a real treasure in the cellar.
($43 Est.) 93-94 Points, grapelive
2012 Donnhoff, Riesling Felsenberg GG (Grosses Gewachs), Nahe Germany.
Donnhoff’s amazing dry Grand Cru Felsenberg is one of the world’s great wines, forget white or red, grape, anything, this Riesling is as good as it gets, rivaling any wine from anywhere. While the last few vintages, especially the 2009 and 2011 which are stunning as well, this coming release, the 2012 Donnhoff, Riesling “Felsenberg” Grosses Gewachs (GG) Nahe, Germany is going to surpass prior efforts, this is a white that compares or blows away the top wines of the Cote de Or or Hermitage! While this Riesling might not seem cheaply priced, I can assure you it certainly is when you taste it and understand it’s qualities, this is a thrilling and classic wine, still very primal and what you’d call an infant, but the making of a legend are all ready unfolding. The bouquet takes some time to open, but the essences are clear with apple skin, spiced pear, lime flowers and crushed stones with a touch of cream and sea brine, this leads to a intensely striking palate of brisk and firm bee of acidity with lime, white peach, mango, tangerine and dried apricot. Tangy stone fruit pit, saline and chalk add to this mineral laced white, while a medium textured feel comes through, everything is precise and fantastically focused in this crisp and persistent Riesling, and is often the case when writing about wines like this, words just fail to due justice, this is awe inspiring wine with jaw dropping potential, drink 2018-2024.
($70 Est.) 96 Points, grapelive
2012 Donnhoff, Riesling Kreuznacher Krotenplahl Kabinett, Nahe Germany.
This elegant Kabinett has it all, and while still subtle and classy in character it maybe the finest vintage I’ve ever tasted of this wine, and anyone looking for a German classic need look no further. This clever Riesling shows a clarity that is like looking into the soul of Donnhoff, this pure and spiritual wine is nothing short of stunning with a light hearted sweetness, but with ultra serious character, this graceful Riesling plays with you, toys with your senses and seduces completely with flowery citrus, dried pear, candied apricot and tangy apple teases, zest acidity and dusty stones. The palate expands and includes pineapple, guava, white plum and a core of white peaches plus a savory side that balances the sweetness perfectly, briny sea salt, hints of minty tea and striking mineral tones. Don’t you dare miss this great vintage, it would be unthinkable not to have a few of these in your cellar, if you could be patient, the rewards are going to be heavenly.
($27 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive
2012 Donnhoff, Riesling Normeimer Kirscheck Spatlese, Nahe Germany.
The Normeimer Kirscheck Spatlese is the most overt, extrovert and flamboyant of the 2012 Donnhoff wines, it is openly sexy and flaunts it throughout, and I must admit, I’m totally comfortable with that! This inviting Riesling is no tease, it gives you it’s all and then some, it doesn’t require lots of foreplay either, this is easy to love and energizing wine with great vigor and lusty flavors. The nose is slightly floral and tropical with a hint of sultry earth and spice before a full and fleshy mouth that kisses deep with energy, there is raw honey, mineral and tangy stone fruit layers held firm by bright acidity. There’s green apple, yellow peach, passionfruit and lime layers as well as sugared plum, tangerine and kiwi notes. The finish is remarkably long and the aftertaste is of oranges, sweet flowers and liquid minerals with a element of saline and seaweed. Ultra fantastic and glowing wine, proving a noticeable sweet wine can rival the worlds best whites, Donnhoff again has delivered a masterclass of great wines in 2012 and this beauty is a must have for short and long term drinking pleasure, this is a 20 year wine no question.
($43 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive
2012 Donnhoff, Riesling Oberhauser Brucke Spatlese, Nahe Germany.
The 2012 Brucke Spatlese is reserved and is like a museum piece, it just might be my favorite Spatlese ever, it is just outrageously fabulous, even if it is more understated than it’s cuisine like the Normeimer Kirscheck. This graceful and joyous Riesling flows in a creamy and more austere fashion with subtle perfume, elegantly integrated acidity and sweet tannins, but don’t let that fool you this is a wine for the ages, I wouldn’t doubt a 30 year lifespan with pleasure given until the very end. This classic and statuesque wine is like having the Hermitage museum in your glass, it is a true masterpiece, and certainly words will not begin to due justice here, I just beg you to get a few bottles, especially if you are a real Riesling junkie! The nose is slight still with hints of rose petals, citrus blossoms and sea breezes leading to a crystalline palate of white peach, apricot flesh, wet stones, apple skin and honeyed pear while in the background you find almost cherry notes and briny saline along with steely mineral essences. With air the texture fills out, the cream nature comes through, but everything is held firm with acidity and earthy elements. A classic beauty, the Oberhauser Brucke Spatlese is simply one of the best wines in the world.
($55 Est.) 96 Points, grapelive
2012 Kruger-Rumpf, Scheurebe Spatlese Nahe Germany.
Georg Rumpf’s brilliant 2012 Scheurebe is one of the most exciting wines of the vintage, and maybe the ultimate example of this grape, it is simply magic in the glass. While a Spatlese, this wine neither feels or tastes cloying in any way, but rather divinely balanced with wonderful vibrancy and class. The nose is the most perfumed expression of Scheurebe I’ve ever encountered with delicate jasmine, honeysuckle and orange blossom, it is mind-blowingly seductive, but still restrained and refined. The palate is medium weighted with extract and hints at density with beautifully lifted and vibrant fruit, lemon, melon, nectarine and honeyed pear all playing parts. Nice light mineral essences and tropical notes shine through as well, and while everything flows smoothly, there is plenty of vigor and life here, and a refreshing salt lick and crispness come through on the finish with the faints of sweetness lingering. This is a fantastic white wine, coming this fall (2013) and should not be missed, drink 2014-2018.
($26 Est.) 93+ Points, grapelive
2012 Kruger-Rumpf, Riesling Munsterer Pittersberg Auslese Nahe Germany.
Georg Rumpf’s fantastic 2012’s deserve a lot of attention and high praise, especially this amazing Auslese, maybe one of the best I can remember and utterly drop dead gorgeous with sublime balance and detail already. This is a wine for the ages, though very versatile in that it could be enjoyed young and in fact could partner up with certain cuisine choices right now with it’s youthful freshness, but without question there is more magic to come with time and the rewards for cellaring a few of these would pay huge dividends. The 2012 Pittersberg Auslese starts with a lovely almost delicate bouquet of lime blossom, ripe nectarine, candied pineapple and steely liquid minerals leading to a lush palate of peach flesh, apricot, papaya and sweet tangerine with subtle savory notes, sea breeze and verbena. The seductive tropical essences, mandarin oranges and honeyed pear elements only flitter in the background and the bright acidity makes everything feel dream like and surreal, though there is plenty of weight and extract to fill the mouth with luxury and hedonism, this is a profound Riesling of terrific class and character, not to be missed, don’t be afraid of the sweetness this wine is all about grace and pleasure.
($60 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive
2012 Schlossgut Diel, Riesling Nahesteiner Trocken, Nahe Germany.
Diel’s gorgeous dry Nahesteiner Riesling is bright and vigorous with loads of extract, mineral notes and gripping acidity, without question this one of the great steals in Trocken for the vintage. The 2012 Schlossgut Diel Nahesteiner Trocken starts with fresh orange blossom, sea breeze, chalk dust before a palate of lime, yellow peach, dried apricot and grapefruit essence with hints of river rock, apple, iodine, flint and lemon oil. This steely Riesling is intensely lively with a real kick of acidity, but everything folds together nicely, balanced and focused all the way, even a roundness in the mouth comes through, and there’s a good length to the citrusy finish. Diel’s dry wines are all refined, tasty, crisp and full of flavor and class, especially this Nahesteiner, be sure to get your hands on some when it comes out later this year, drink 2014-2020.
($28 Est.) 93+ Points, grapelive
2012 Schlossgut Diel, Riesling Dorsheim Trocken, Nahe Germany.
Diel nailed it in 2012, and one of my favorite wines in their exceptional lineup is the beautiful and vigorous Dorsheim Trocken, this is a vibrant and intense Riesling of pure class, style and persistence. The 2012 vintage is one of the best years to invest in Germany Riesling across the board, but it is especially true of the dry wines, and Diel is one of the masters of this niche, these are wines of good extract, acidity of course, and amazing life and detail. Diel’s Dorsheim Trocken is a great example of this style and a wine that will reward time in the cellar, it gives amazing quality and while still way too young it delivers stunning character all ready with super depth and grace. The nose is shy, there is a lot more to come here, but with coaxing there is some white flowers, dusty stones, essences of the sea, briny elements and steely minerals with hints of basil and stone fruits leading to a palate of white peach, green apple, grapefruit and a juicy core of mouth watering lime. There are notes of green tea, mint and loads of saline as well in this tight and brisk Riesling, but certainly a few years in the cellar will be massive rewards, the results are something to look forward to, no question.
($36 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive
2012 Schlossgut Diel, Riesling Kabinett, Nahe Germany.
The normal Diel Kabinett certainly deserves mention, it is a slightly sweet style that while feeling plenty dry has a bit more refreshing creaminess that the trockens, and I can honestly say it delivers the goods, this very complete Riesling is a charmer. I find it impossible to really call this, or many Kabinett level wines “sweet” I mean this is a pretty and stylish table wine, this is not a dessert wine or even as sweet as many California chardonnays in perceptual cloyingness. This wine is less severe that a trocken and more caressing on the palate, but still serious and highly pleasurable. This wine is perfect for low alcohol fans, picnics and medium spicy Indian or Asian cuisines. As I have mentioned a few times, the 2011 and 2012 Germany wines do tend to favor some of the dry styles, but do not overlook the great other wines of these vintages, especially Kabinett and Spatlese from the best producers, like this lovely Schlossgut Diel Kabinett that shows tangy peach, tropical essences, apple and fleshy apricot along with creamy lime, kiwi and nectarine. There is also a steely edge here with a driving force of acidity, plus mineral, wet stones and mint leaves that add to the complexity and balance in this finely tuned white. The finish is bright with an aftertaste of sea salted honey, verbena white tea and tangerine tanginess, this is a class act, drink 2014-2020.
($30 Est.) 92+ Points, grapelive
2012 Muller-Catoir, Riesling Trocken, Pfalz Germany.
Even the basic Riesling Trocken by Muller-Catoir is a stellar wine, and a steal, be sure to look for these 2012’s, they might be rare on the shelves, but certainly worth the search. Not too long ago, it was common wisdom that for dry aromatic Riesling you looked to Alsace France, but that no longer applies in the wine world as we discover the magical dry Riesling of Germany, and especially Muller-Catoir of the Pfalz, if you’ve not had these wines this is a great time to start, though be warned, you will become addicted to them! The Muller-Catoir Pfalz Trocken is a fine Riesling with lifted flavors, floral notes and wonderful steely presence with citrus fruit, sone fruit and a dusty chalky finish. The palate includes lime, tangy nectarine, orange and white peach elements, along with wet stones, white tea and sea salt. This wine feels zesty and almost sizzling with energy, it is light and fine in character, but shows good persistence in the middle and cooly crisp on the finish, drink over the next 3-5 years.
($25 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive
2012 Muller-Catoir, Riesling Burgergarten Trocken, Pfalz Germany.
I believe the first vintage of Muller-Catoir I bought was the 1997, and I’ve been a fan ever since, these Pfalz wines are some of the finest white wines made and the 2012 vintage is a stellar year for this great domaine. While I can’t stop babbling on about Muller-Catoir’s fantastic Muskateller, it is there dry Riesling wines that take center stage in this latest set of releases, especially this magical 2012 Burgergarten Trocken. This is serious wine for serious wine lovers, intense and noble with transparent clarity and real purpose, the Burgergarten is a pure Riesling expression from it’s place, the sandstone soils, exposure and deft winemaking. The 2012 Muller-Catoir Riesling Burgergarten Trocken is vigorously steely and stingingly dry with spritzy vibrancy throughout, there is white flowers, salty brine, tangy peach, pear and green apple with a core of cool lime, plus hints of grapefruit, apricot pit and chalky wet stones. The finish is mouthwateringly dry and zesty, but there is lingering impressions of rosemary, mint and tangerine. This is ultra Riesling, maybe not a Grand Cru, but certainly it has it all if not in name, this wine is looking good to be in my top ten best of the year, bravo, drink 2015-2022.
($55 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive
2012 Muller-Catoir, Muskateller Haardt Trocken, Pfalz Germany.
If you ever want to know how serious dry muscat should taste, then you must try Muller-Catoir’s Haardt Muskateller, in fact if you what to try one of the world’s most beautiful wines then you should sample this fabulous white from the Pfalz. The 2012 is one of the finest examples of this wine I can remember, and I’ve lusted after this wine since first trying the 1998 vintage, and there is no doubt this will be in my ten best whites of the year. The 2012 Muller-Catoir Haardt Muskateller has a wondrous perfume of star jasmine and citrus blossoms along with spice and river stones leading to an ultra dry and light-medium bodied palate of lime, crisp green apple and white peach with chalky mineral essence and juicy acidity through out. This brisk and delicate wine marvels the senses and is pure class from start to finish, this wine is totally captivating and the most dynamic expression of this grape I’ve tasted to date. I can’t wait to try this again, it will be released in the fall of 2013.
($40 Est.) 94+ Points, grapelive
2012 Muller-Catoir, Riesling Haardt Trocken, Pfalz Germany.
A classic dry Catoir, tangy, detailed and pure, this is a near perfect vintage for this fabled estate, this set of releases takes Muller-Catoir back to the very top and this Haart Trocken is stunning stuff. The 2012 dry Haart is bursting with energy and intensity, it makes your palate tingle and set your senses alight with an almost stick your tongue in a light socket shock, this is bright and sizzling steely Riesling. The nose is saline filled, mineral charged and citrus laced with hints of chamomile, lemon zest and brine leading to a lifted palate of dried mango, grapefruit, lime and white peach fruits with hints of green tea, white currant and tangerine. The texture is light and chalky and there is a real wet stone element throughout leaving a long aftertaste of mineral spice and apple skin. Give this wonderful Riesling a bit more time to delevop and reap the rewards, drink from 2016-2021.
($33 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive
2012 Muller-Catoir, Riesling Mussbach Kabinett, Pfalz Germany.
This little Kabinett from Catoir is off the charts! The slight hint of sweetness is positively outstanding in this lovely wine, making it really pop and gives the wine tremendous flexibility and refreshment, this is glorious Riesling that will shine with almost any cuisine, especially Asian fusion fare and or pork dishes. The 2012 Muller-Catoir Riesling Mussbach Kabinett is a bright and vibrant white that shows an array of lively flavors and is mostly dry with plenty of sizzling acidity and has loads of charm. The nose is again pretty shy, as young rieslings tend to be, but does show orange blossom, hints of earth and sea, touches of tropical essence and sweet tea leading to a firmly crisp palate of lime, mint leaves, yellow peach, honeycomb, sea salt, brine, pineapple, apricot and a hint of apple flesh. You can notice the slight creaminess the touch of sugar adds, though you’d be had pressed to think of this beautiful wine was anything other than dry. As much as I love the totally searing Trockens, it is impossible not to adore this near perfect example of Kabinett, bravo, drink from 2014 to 2022, utterly gorgeous.
($36 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive
2012 Von Winning, Riesling, Deidesheimer Paradiesgarten, Trocken, Pfalz Germany.
Von Winning’s dry Rieslings are a revelation and are easily some of Germany’s most interesting wines, especially the three Grosses Gewachs (Grand Crus) each of which is dynamic and totally unique, but their med range Trocken (Dry) wines are not to be overlooked, like this Cru Paradiesgarten which is extraordinary in 2012. The upper Crus see more new French oak and rival Grand Cru white Burgundy, while the middle and lower wines are more about pure fruit essences and are subtler expressions, though non the less impressive, these wines are all sublime and offer amazing quality and character. The 2012 Von Winning Paradiesgarten is a forceful and firmly structured wine, but also is classy, elegant and charming with orange zest, white roses, verbena and mango to lead, before revealing intense lime, chalky minerals and grapefruit on the palate with touches of mint, briny saline and peach pit. This vigorous Riesling sizzles with energy and excitement throughout and the mid palate really kicks you with a burst of citrus, though the finish picks up a creamy note and the length is impressive for such a baby wine, for sure patience will be greatly rewarded here, and while not as hedonistic as Von Winning’s upper Crus, this certainly is an entertaining Riesling of fine details, excellent winemaking and a extremely well priced wine that should be a serious cellar contender for anyone looking for value, I know I’ll be picking a few of these up this fall when released.
($44 Est.) 93+ Points, grapelive
2012 Weingut Spreitzer, Riesling “303” Oestricher Lenchen, Spatlese, Rheingau Germany.
This is Spreitzer’s signature classic Rheingau, and a thrilling expression of style and terroir with dynamic flavors, density and lush charms, while remaining balanced and focused throughout, this feels as weighty as ever, but in fact tastes drier than the 2009, 2010 or 2011 wines, echoing my my balanced comment. This is a powerhouse wine with a velvet cover, lovely and unique with yellow peach, mango and candied pineapple adding to the core of apple and zesty citrus fruitiness. The extract level feels high and there is a certain creaminess that is impressive too, but there is loads of zing and vibrant acidity along with a savory earthy loam character with hints of brine, sea salt and wild herbs. Wonderful length, especially in a young wine, there is massive aging potential here, fantastic effort, definitely a cellar selection.
($48 Est.) 93-95 Points, grapelive
2012 Weingut Spreitzer, Riesling, Wisselbrunnen Grosses Gewachs, Rheingau Germany.
The newly elevated Grand Cru Wisselbrunnen is one of the star dry wines of the vintage in the Rheingau and the Spreitzer family can really be proud of the majestic and powerful effort that is this wine, this is what all the buzz is about in modern dry German Riesling and right up there with some of the stars doing top echelon dry wines like Leitz, Donnhoff, Diel and others, this is a class act no question. Both the 2012 Grosses Gewachs I sampled this summer are stunning wines, it was hard to pick a favorite here, but in the end the flamboyant Wisselbrunnen got the nod, it is a massive and impressive wine with tons of dry extract and raw intensity, though some patience will be required here, it is another wine that should see a bit of cellaring. The nose has dried apricot, lime and smoky mineral essence with a full force palate of stinging acidity, earth and stones with loads of tangy fruit. Layers of lime, tangerine, white peach and pear all flow across the palate with a brisk dry sense of salt and spice finishing with length and lift. Drink 2014-2020, be sure to make note of Spreitzer’s Grosses Gewachs (Grand Crus) these are brilliant dry wines of charm and character.
($36 Est.) 93-94 Points, grapelive
2012 Weingut Spreitzer, Riesling, Winkeler Jesuitengarten Kabinett Halbtrocken, Rheingau Germany.
The sleeper in the Spreitzer lineup is the Winkeler Jesuitengarten Kabinett, this easy to enjoy Riesling does everything right and is very lovable right out of the bottle, but is serious in quality, it shows off this loess and loamy soil terroir well. Brightly fruited, entertaining and classy, the 2012 Spreitzer Kabinett is a joy with peaches, apple and tropical fruits leading the way, along worth hints of grapefruit, lime and saline coming through. Look for a bit more aromatics by this fall when it’s released and the touch of sweetness really makes for a pure and refreshing Riesling to be enjoyed over the next three to five years, though I expect it should age well for a decade at least. This playful and interesting Riesling is great first step into understanding the estate and terroir, be sure to check it out, and if you see 2009 or 2011 versions, snap them up too!
($22 Est.) 91+ Points, grapelive
2012 Eva Fricke, Riesling QbA, Rheingau Trocken, Germany.
Fricke’s 2012 dry Rieslings are stunning wines, but very tight, these are a set that will be best enjoyed with some age and cellar time, this patience will be rewarded greatly, though the basic Rheingau Trocken is starting to come out of it’s shell. The 2012 Eva Fricke Rheingau Trocken is a fine and unique Riesling of hand crafted charm and character with mouth watering acidity, tangy fruit and filled with mineral spice and saline. This intense wine starts with lime and mint, citrus blossom and sour peach and wet stones, the palate opens to apple, stone fruit flesh, flint and sea salt, this is a brisk, firm and vibrant Riesling that has a good long life ahead, best from 2015 to 2020, though being the Riesling freak I am I’ll be drinking it sooner I’m sure. This wine has lots going for it, but it certainly is severe and cooly focused, so if you are looking for a fruity style, best to look elsewhere.
($18 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive
2012 Weingut Leitz, Riesling “Dragonstone” Rheingau, Germany.
The Drachenstein is a lush and seductive wine of suburb quality and intensity with rich layers, but with loads of tangy acidity, this is an exotic wine and a great value. The 2012 edition is striking for it’s weighty feel, but dry crispness, this is a mostly dry style that has plush fruit and creamy texture, the unique Drachenstein site above the major Crus is from quartzite and slate soils, this is what gives the area it’s name Dragonstone, it is this terroir character that separates it from the schist and collared slate that makes up the premier Rudesheimer Berg vineyards. The Dragonstone keeps evolving and getting better and better each vintage, highlighting it’s personality, the Dragonstone has plenty of sweet peach, mineral essences, minty spices, saline (sea salts) honeyed fruits, bitter pit, apricot, apple and tropical fruits, plus there is hint of tart cherry water, tangerine and lots of limeade notes. With air the citrus elements gather strength and drive, but the mouth feel gets denser and coats the palate with a steely/stone dustiness, though everything is smooth and creamy. A hint of sweet and sour in the long aftertaste begs you to keep sipping, this is fantastic and fun Riesling that would go great with crab, smoked ham or Asian cuisines, drink now through 2021.
($18 Est.) 93+ Points, grapelive
2012 Weingut Leitz, Riesling Estate Rudesheimer Trocken, Rheingau Germany.
A bit more serious than his Leitz Out and a touch drier than Dragonstone, the Rudesheimer Trocken is a stunning value in Leitz’s all star lineup for 2012 and is a wine to stock up on for short to midterm drinking. Coming off vines from Bischofsberg, this bright and savory Riesling has plenty of extract and pleasing fruit to do the trick, this is a finely judged wine with a wonderful balance of sweet and sour elements. The nose is still a touch shy, but the palate is electric, charged up with vibrant lime, lemon and grapefruit while smoky mineral notes, peach, mango and saline add character. This charming wine has touches of earth, herbs and mint tea and after some air a tangy apricot aftertaste lingers. This is a friendly dry Riesling that is easy to enjoy now, but it should be at it’s best between 2014-2018, though I know I won’t wait to long myself.
($22 Est.) 91-92 Points, grapelive
2012 Weingut Leitz, Riesling Rudesheimer Magdalenenkreutz Spatlese, Rheingau Germany.
The Maggie Spatlese is always one of my favorite wines year after year, and while I couldn’t get enough of the 2009 and 2011, the 2012 is maybe even better still with plenty of lush extract, sweet fruit and loaded with juicy acidity, this is stunning wine at a stupidly fair price, I mean to say, this wine is a steal! Here is a classic example of why German Riesling is one of the best wine investments you can make, for a drinking cellar, putting a case away of this wine would pay off huge in terms of value and pleasure, especially as this wine has most likely a 15 to 20 year life ahead of it. I certainly will be signing up for some, putting my money where my mouth is, and I recommend getting on board the Riesling love train yourself. The 2012 Leitz Rudesheimer Magdalenenkreuz Spatlese leads with a heady bouquet, that needs coaxing still, of fresh cut roses, orange flowers and tropical essences with a firm streak of flint, spice and yellow fruit leading to a brisk palate of vivid crystalline citrus, mineral and fleshy stone fruit with mango, pineapple adding exotic character while smoky slate and salty essences add classic terroir. While a true sweetie, this Spatlese is pure class and balanced to perfection. Everything is here, everything is controlled and everything is delicious, bravo. The fall 2013 release can’t come soon enough.
($24 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive
2012 Weingut Leitz, Riesling Rudesheimer Berg Roseneck “Katerloch” Rheingau Germany.
Trying to pick of favorite of Leitz’s top dry cru wines is damn near impossible, honestly these are all unique and utterly fascinating wines that rival anything from anywhere, these crus just continue to get better and better and 2012 is one of the best vintages to explore these dry Rieslings from the hills above the Rhein River. Okay, that was a long sentence, but I’m sure you get the idea, Leitz Riesling is a bucket list wine and especially intriguing is the lovely and intense 2012 Leitz Riesling Rudesheimer Berg Roseneck “Katerloch” which is a fantastic example of German dry wine. This finely tuned Riesling bursts from the glass with smoky flint, red pepper spices and cool stone fruits, while the nose has white flowers and crushed stones the palate showcases the Roseneck terroir with full flavors of yellow peach, white currant, lime and powerful extract. This wine has total impact, force and firmness, a classic Riesling powerhouse and a wine of sublime character, this is a wine for the ages. Lingering apricot, mango and grapefruit add to the complete lustiness of this marvelous dry wine.
($42 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive
2012 Weingut Leitz, Riesling Rudesheimer Berg Kaisersteinfels, Terrassen, Rheingau Germany.
This staggeringly sublime wine is as good as it get in dry Riesling and this unique block high up in the famed Rudesheimer Berg, Kaisersteinfels is one of the great crus in this historic area framed by terrace walls, recently and painstakingly rebuilt. Having hiked up here in 2009, this steep site is extreme and gives amazing complexity with a near perfect mix of slate and quartzite soils that are highlighted in the wines with sheer transparent beauty and riveting details, it is no wonder why you hear “best Rheingau trocken” when you hear comments about this Riesling, both by experts and laymen tasters alike. Johannes Leitz himself thinks the 2012 is as good as it gets. The nose is intensely seductive with crystalline liquid mineral, smoky flint, tropical floral essences, citrus zest and salty sea breeze leading to a lime and yellow peach filling palate with plenty of sizzle and extract along with apple skin, apricot and tangerine notes, along with tangy mangoes and savory briny elements. This is beautiful and pure, a classic terroir driven wine of stunning presence and persistence, without a doubt this is going to be legendary, and patience with be greatly rewarded, drink 2015-2025, fantastic.
($55 Est.) 95+ Points, grapelive
Rheingau 2012 Riesling Report Part One-READ ON