1966klostereberbachhinterhaus1966 Kloster Eberbach, Riesling Spatlese, Rudesheimer Hinterhaus, Rheingau Germany.
What a massive treat to taste this old and stylish Riesling from a single plot of vines from where the slopes of Rudesheimer Berg meets the hamlet of Ruedesheim itself, literally behind the houses “Hinterhaus” or backyard in German. Johannes Leitz now has the exclusive lease on this site, and he was gracious enough to really show me the potential of this site by opening up this beautiful 1966 Hinterhaus Spatlese, since I had been thrilled by the grapes on these vines during my recent visit there. 50 years apart, I took a picture of the 2016 just before Leitz’s crew picked the grapes, which Johannes enjoyed enough to put on his Facebook page, my professional photog fees were waived as I had ate way too many of his grapes while touring his vines! So, the 1966 vintage, I understand it was difficult to the point where in many of the parts of Rudesheimer Berg that it was snowing while harvest was in full swing, and not for icewine, Johannes says his mom told him the grapes came in like slushies! But still the Riesling turned out fantastic, as was the case here in the now with this Kloster Eberbach which shows a remarkable clear youthful hue in the glass, I had guessed it was from the mid to late eighties, such was the form and detail, this drinks wonderfully and vibrantly with a drier tone now that it is fully mature as does Spatlese with age, the sweetness dulls and everything else comes forward with layers of complexity and texture. The Hinterhaus is a warmer site that is protected from the winds and is really it’s own micro terroir and climate with mineral rich soils, some slate and with lots of broken stones, it is a special site, technically part of the Rudesheimer Berg Rottland Cru, but certainly unique and giving of it’s own expression. Kloster Eberbach founded in 1136, one of the oldest wineries in the Rheingau, for centuries one of the leading monastery wineries in Germany and now a heritage site with historic and glorious past, still makes wine today. With layers of stony apricot, grilled orange, butterscotch, clove and dried ginger the 1966 Hinterhaus impresses on the palate with lively acidity and flinty spicy mineral notes adding a contrast to the lush mouth feel and lingering apple butter, tangerine, saline and earthiness. Only a touch of autumn leaves and a slight fading of edges hint at decay and age here, and I can’t help but think there’s another 10 years or so left here, even though I’d say this is a great spot for this Riesling, maybe now at it’s ultimate peak. The balance and weight are just brilliant and it had no problem dealing with the tables choices of cuisine from chicken and pork to beef as well as a tray of mixed starters including trout salad and local cheese, easily this fine Riesling kept pace and added joyous comfort through out. Enjoying this wine with Markus Roll, vineyard manager at Weingut Leitz, who toured me around the vineyards and Johannes Leitz made for an extra special night, I can’t wait to taste the Leitz version of Hinterhaus 2016 in a few years time!
($N/A) 92+ Points, grapelive

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