2016 Weingut Spreitzer, Riesling Feinherb, Engelmannsberg, Rheingau Germany.
I was happily reminded that I was in the Rheingau exactly four years ago, having a fantastic experience during the grape harvest, exploring vineyards throughout the famous region and visiting some incredible historic sites, but most importantly it was about seeing friends and meeting new ones, it was especially fun to spend time with Andreas Spreitzer, who I had known for years without getting to see his estate. So, as I look back with some awesome memories of that trip to Germany and wishing I was there right now I wanted to highlight a wine from that special year, it’s a beautiful Riesling made in Spreitzer’s generous style, but still wonderfully dry in the way it drinks with an array of classic Rheingau flavors with orange blossoms, lime, crisp green apple, yellow peach/apricot or fleshy stone fruit and verbena along with mineral tones, wet gun flint and a whisper of crystalized ginger, clove and honeycomb. The Hattenheimer Engelmannsberg Cru sits at about a 100 meters up and has the mineral rich clay, loam and loess soils with Spreitzer’s parcel being from a newer selection of vines, just about 20 years old that are sustainably (using mostly organic practices) farmed, it’s a place that delivers opulent density, but still allows lively acidity for impeccable balance and luxurious mouth feel, especially in Spreitzer’s Feinherb, which is slightly off dry with a creamy medium bodied palate. For purity and freshness of detail, Andrea and Bernd used 100% stainless steel in this one with the golden Riesling grapes whole cluster pressed and then settled overnight to drop out any green phenolic bitterness, again this wine is generous and all about pleasure, it is sublime with delicate curries, spicy cuisine and more traditional dishes as well as both briny fresh sushi and Vietnamese ginger beef with cellophane noodles. The modern Feinherb(s) are typically more dry, but have more sugar in the must, they are more textural than sweet, as this superb Spreitzer version shows, this category is finding a popular niche and can be impressive as well as being top values.
The family domaine of Weingut Josef Spreitzer in the small town of Oestrich-Winkel in the Rheingau first came to my attention when Terry Theise suggested I give them a try at one of his monumental trade/importer tastings and I found out that Andreas was a friend of Johannes Leitz, one of my favorite producers in the Rheingau, plus Andreas is a huge soccer fan, like me, as are most Germans, which gave us lots to chat about as I sampled his family’s wines. The vineyards, which I finally got to visit in 2016, sit in the middle Rheingau where the Rhein is at its widest point and have a huge variety of soils from sandy loam and loess to mixed slate, quarzite and sandstone along with some harden mineral rich clay. This part of the Rheingau is warmer and the Rhein gives an almost lake effect here allowing for great richness and concentration in the wines. The Spreitzer estate was privately founded back in 1641 and is one of the oldest family wineries in the whole Rheingau, with a long tradition as winegrowers as well as, it should be noted, a recent high upswing in quality with the innovations of Josef’s sons Andreas and Bernd Spreitzer who took over the estate in 1997 and bright the label to world attention in the last 20 years, especially these last 6 to 10 years. Their new tasting and education center, which was just updated prior to my 2016 tour, is stunning with amazing views and a settling that is both comforting and sleek, I highly recommend visiting Spreitzer and the Rheingau, it is one of the most important wine regions in the world with exciting villages, restaurants, vineyards, castles, abbeys and hiking trails along one of the world’s great rivers, as well as a stellar array of wines to discover, I can’t wait to go back! The 2016 vintage continues to impress in bottle and gaining in character with each year and I am really excited to see what 2019 is like from Spreitzer, which looks to be a legendary year to grab on release!
($25 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive