2018 Weingut Spreitzer, Riesling Trocken, Hallgartener Buntschiefer, Rheingau Germany.
One of my secret favorites of this vintage in Germany is Weingut Spreitzer’s awesome and hellishly good Hallgartener “Buntschiefer” dry Riesling, in fact I think it is on par with the top GG’s in this year, its full of power and concentration, but with the winery’s signature open nature and remarkable finesse. The Spreitzer estate, also known as Josef Spreitzer, founded in 1641, is one of the Rheingau’s oldest private wine growers and when Bernd and Andreas were the Gault Millau’s Discovery of the Year Award recipients in 2001 they got a chance to show the world what can do, and with every vintage since have raised their game. In a recent tasting of their lineup in San Francisco, hosted by Riesling guru Terry These, Spreitzer’s famed importer, I found the wines, especially their upcoming 2018 releases to have even got better. The estate lies in the middle Rhein, where the river is at it’s widest point, this creates a unique climate and gives the area an almost lake effect and the terroir here is dramatically different from area parts of the Rheingau with a vast array of soils and elevations to work with. Around the winery itself, near Oestrich, set in the vines, it is mostly loam and loess with their Lenchen and Rosengarten crus showing deep perfumes and exotic fruits. Also in Oestrich, at the Hallgarten is their plot up high on the slopes, where the Buntschiefer comes from, it sits at close to 300 meters up on a combination of colored slate, quartzite and loess, which gives the Riesling mineral tones, flinty spice, yellow fruits and textural density, and of which Theise adds, it’s like sort of Graacher Himmelreich echo, mutsu apples, scree and slate, and the wine is yummy, gentle and suave. (who could argue?)
In the cellar, as noted by Theise, Spreitzer strives to maintain fruit purity and finesse by clarifing the must by gravity for 24 hours after a whole-cluster pressing, then allowing the wines to rest on their gross lees and only with a light filtering once. The Spreitzers employ a long sponti (natural yeast) fermentation, and extended lees ageing to protect the juice from oxidation, with most of the serious Cru wines like this one, aging in 1200 liter casks of German oak, known as stückfass. The grapes are grown using organic principles where achievable and all with sustainable viticulture as natural as possible and includes alternating cover crops of herbs, greens, and lentils in the summer with grains in the winter. This Buntschiefer Riesling Trocken comes from mature Erste Gewachs (Premier Cru) vines and this 2018 is wonderfully balanced with the slate really giving it an extra level of complexity and stony intensity with layers of weightless fruit, but with structured extract, showing green apple, apricot, yellow peach, snappy crystalized ginger, kumquat, brisk lime and a touch of papaya along with rosewater, verbena, citron and loads of spice, wet shale/rock and salinity. This is gorgeous wine that is just beginning its journey to greatness and I look forward to seeing what happens here with some cellar time, but for the quality and reasonable price you’d be forgiven if you wanted to enjoy a few bottles on the fresher side, especially on a warm day and or with lightly spiced Asian cuisine and or preferably with fresh high end sashimi. This one is a rather special bottling to look for, but don’t overlook the basic Estate Trocken either, it is one of the best values in the Rheingau as well as the stunning old vine Feinherb(s) which I will review soon as well!
($25 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive