2020 Weingut Wittmann, Riesling Trocken, Westhofener VDP Erste Lage, Rheinhessen, Germany.
Opening a bottle of Wittmann Riesling is always a thrill, and this awesome 2020 Westhofener Premier Cru (Erste Lage) Trocken was a real treat with stunning depth and racy acidity, this dry Riesling is absolutely brilliant with classic tension and richness on the fully loaded palate that framed by crystalline mineral driven intensity. This vintage shows ripe dimension and lavish stone fruit, leaning on crisp peach along with lime, muskmelon, quince and green apple, all accented by wet stone, bitter almond, verbena, orange blossoms, chamomile and faint tropical elements. This wine has a powerful presence in the glass and youthful pale golden hue, it delivers GG like performance and has a chiseled steely backbone and plenty of gripping extract to impress any dry Riesling lovers. The Westhofener Riesling, it should be noted, bears the newer VDP Rheinhessen designation, “Aus Ersten Lagen” that translates to “from Premier Cru vineyards” with this year’s grapes being mostly declassified Grand Cru fruit from the legendary Morsteiner and the Brunnenhäuschen Cru. This is, as Wittmann notes, analogous to the Burgundian use of “Premier Cru,” without a single vineyard designation, when a wine is from multiple sites. The soils here are a mix of clay, marl and limestone that help give this wine its expressive depth and precise detailing, bravo to Philipp Wittmann, for crafting such a stunning wine, it is drinking fabulously well now, but has huge potential for aging as well, and it is sublime value for the quality on display here.
The Wittmann family estate, based Westhofen, under the direction of Philipp Wittmann has been certified organic since 1990 and biodynamic since 2004, but the Wittmann family has a long history here and has been growing grapes and producing wine in the Rheinhessen village since 1663. Today, according to the winery, Wittmann cultivates 62 acres of vines in the rolling limestone hills found in the southern part of the Rheinhessen region, just to west of the Rhein river valley. They have been pioneers in developing the full-bodied, well-balanced style of dry wines, of which Philippe with his talents, has gained a huge following for, especially for his GGs and Premier Cru offerings like this one. Of course, Riesling is the dominant grape variety here at Wittman, as the winery adds, accounting for 65% of the estate’s vineyard area, but they also produce Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir, as well as Silvaner, plus small amounts of Scheurebe, Chardonnay and a few other things, like St Lauent I believe. For his Westhofener 1er Cru Wittmann treated it very much like his Grosses Gewachs with the Riesling grapes being all hand picked and carefully sorted before seeing a gentle pressing to fuder to age. The fermentation was “Sponti” using native yeasts and the Westhofener saw a full 10 months on the lees, in the large neutral oak casks, which explains the beautiful play between dynamic energy and luxurious roundness, with this vintage being a touch more austere than the more overt 2018s and on par with the 2019s. Philipp, like Keller, have proved that this area of the Rheinhessen is a fantastic terroir and tasting wines like this are putting a big spotlight on this region of Germany. Even Wittmann’s entry level Estate Trocken is a gem, but this stuff is just stunning, don’t miss this vintage, or any vintage!
($48 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive