Germany, WINE

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Germany's rich, illustrious wine history can stand proudly next to the rest of the world's great regions, but its recent history has been somewhat more checkered. For centuries, the country's nobly sweet Riesling wines were considered the finest on Earth. But by the late 20th and early 21st centuries, this style had long fallen out of favor with the general public, both in Germany and abroad. The dry, or trocken, style now encompasses the majority of German wine production, but the best contemporary winemakers have held fast to tradition and held themselves and their peers to strict quality standards.

The late-ripening Riesling grape is perfectly suited to the sweet style and perfectly suited to Germany's best vineyards, the most northerly in the wine growing world. First, only Pinot Noir can match Riesling's ability to convey such a pure sense of time and place from such highly specific plots of land. Second, the profile of luxurious sugar and fruit allied to bracing acidity is simply inimitable. Many regions have tried. All have failed. The sweet wines, or Prädiktat wines, are legally defined according to must weight and actual alcohol content. Kabinett is the first tier on the pyramid, typically bright and fresh in style with exuberant fruit and racy acid. Spätlese wines are riper in natural sugars and potential alcohol, fuller in body and residual sugar, and longer lived in the cellar. The Auslese tier takes wine to another realm of expression and complexity with intensely ripe fruits married to ultra-fine, filigreed acid. The super-premium tiers of Beerenauslese, Trockenbeerenauslese, and Eiswein are to the point of defying description. Exceedingly rare and exorbitantly expensive, they are among the wine world's unicorns, and enjoying one is the treat of a lifetime, indeed.

In terms of terroir, Germany's wine identity is defined by the five-mile-long wall of vines in the middle Mosel River Valley. The best plots of vines cling to steep inclines (up to 60% in some places) on beds of weathered slate soils, said to impart the region's trademark "petrol" character to the wines' bouquets. Along the river's snaking course, the best sites enjoy southerly exposures to take full advantage of the day's rays, even late into the season. Many of Germany's greatest wine estates are based in the villages on the Mosel, but its tributaries, Saar and Ruwer, boast their own fair share of iconic vineyards and producers, with the wines generally more elegant and austere than those from the river's main course.

Where the Mosel meets the mighty Rhine river, there begins the rest of Germany's wine mosaic. The Nahe is another of the river's tributaries. Southeast of Mosel, it's more of a patchwork of vineyard sites, on both the main Nahe branch and along some of its tributaries. The wines are generally riper and more unctuous than the Mosel's, but great growers are finding new levels of refinement each year. At an eastward bend in the river, the historically majestic Rheingau's prized, south-facing vineyards produce wines of elegant subtlety and austerity. Where the Rhine turns south again, the Rheinhessen's easterly wall of red slate, known as the Roter Hang produces wines of luxurious sweetness and spicy minerality. Further down the river, the Pfalz is perhaps Germany's most exciting wine region today, as it sits in the lee of the Vosges mountains, far from any major river, making it Germany's driest, sunniest micro-climate. The resulting Rieslings display a honeyed decadence and body with riveting acidity, characteristic Riesling but wholly Pfalz at heart.

Away from this stretch of the Rhein, Germany's lesser-known regions quietly excel with often obscure native varietals and a few transplants. With Germany's most northerly vines, the tiny Ahr river valley grows some of the country's best Pinot Noir, or Spätburgunder, on steep blue and black slate slopes. A few top producers are now making wines to rival the heavyweights from elsewhere, with a meaty, ripe density and firm texture. In addtion to Spätburgunder, Germany's best indigenous red varietals also see great success in Baden, in the country's Bavarian south. Trollinger and Lemberger thrive particularly well around Württemburg. Franken, on the other hand, has a world-class reputation built on a white grape, and it isn't Riesling. The densely compact Silvaner does best here on the limestone soils, and the top wines are as ageworthy as most great Rieslings.

Germany's wine reputation may rise and fall with the fortunes of one varietal, as it should. But that one varietal is unlike any other, and with time the country's upstart mavericks will continue to make waves with the other staple grapes here, as well. Through highs and lows, the heart and soul of Germany's wine scene have stayed strong, and they're only getting stronger.

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WHWC Staff Notes: ...reminiscent of a top wine from the Santa Cruz Mountains, with explosively exuberant black raspberry and black cherry aromas and underlying notes of nutmeg, toffee, and mint... you don't often get this sort of acidic vibrancy along with such a velvety density of fruit. Secondary… ...
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Becker-Landgraf Spatburgunder Gau-Odernheimer Muschelkalk J2 2013  (#330477)

Pinot Noir from Rheinhessen, Germany

[ WHWC Staff Notes: ...reminiscent of a top wine from the Santa Cruz Mountains, with explosively exuberant black raspberry and black cherry aromas and underlying notes of nutmeg, toffee, and mint... you don't often get this sort of acidic vibrancy along with such a velvety density of fruit. Secondary notes of savory cured meats do indeed lend a Burgundian side to the wine... a firm streak of chalky limestone runs through the core... this wine is spectacularly delicious right now! - Andrew Kitz, 9/13/17 ] WHWC Staff Notes: ...reminiscent of a top wine from the Santa Cruz Mountains, with explosively exuberant black raspberry and black cherry aromas and underlying notes of nutmeg, toffee, and mint... you don't often get this sort of acidic vibrancy…

750ml Bottle | In stock, 9 available
$29.95
$35.00
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94 points Fine Wine Review: It seems that every year, Rebholz is one of the very top producers of GG, and there s no difference this year... Crisp, pure, great attack on the palate. Light, nervy, energetic, like a bolt of thunder. (9/19/17) ...
JS 95
WS 94
FWR 94
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okonomierat Rebholz Riesling Pfalz Kastanienbusch GG 2016  (#330803)

Riesling from Pfalz, Germany

[ 94 points Fine Wine Review: It seems that every year, Rebholz is one of the very top producers of GG, and there s no difference this year... Crisp, pure, great attack on the palate. Light, nervy, energetic, like a bolt of thunder. (9/19/17) ] 94 points Fine Wine Review: It seems that every year, Rebholz is one of the very top producers of GG, and there s no difference this year... Crisp, pure, great attack on the palate. Light, nervy, energetic, like a bolt of thunder. (9/19/17)

750ml Bottle | In stock, 12 available
JS 95
WS 94
FWR 94
$79.95
$120.00
Save $40.05 (33%)120.00
Save $40.05 (33%)
99 points Stephan Reinhardt (Wine Advocate): From over 100-year-old vines and fermented in an eight-year-old 2,000-liter Stockinger vat and 15% in small oak barrels, the 2016 Riesling Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Auslese *** (Green Capsule) offers a deep and concentrated, terribly fresh and oaky nose. Round… ...
WA 99
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Molitor/Markus Riesling Auslese*** Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Green Cap 2016  (#701907)

Riesling from Mosel, Germany

[ 99 points Stephan Reinhardt (Wine Advocate): From over 100-year-old vines and fermented in an eight-year-old 2,000-liter Stockinger vat and 15% in small oak barrels, the 2016 Riesling Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Auslese *** (Green Capsule) offers a deep and concentrated, terribly fresh and oaky nose. Round and lush on the palate, this is a very elegant, intense and refined Sonnenuhr with super lush fruit, very fine tannins and ripe acidity. Molitor is extremely proud of all his Sonnenuhr bottlings, but they demand a much longer period of bottle aging. The richness (which is still elegant and fine) and the oak flavors (which are discreet but present) will surely integrate, so the wine has huge potential. Bottled in September 2017; tasted March 2018. Drink: 2018-2060. (Mar 2018) ] 99 points Stephan Reinhardt (Wine Advocate): From over 100-year-old vines and fermented in an eight-year-old 2,000-liter Stockinger vat and 15% in small oak barrels, the 2016 Riesling Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Auslese *** (Green Capsule) offers a deep and…

750ml Bottle | In stock, 10 available
94 points and 'Cellar Selection,' Wine Enthusiast: Initial whiffs of smoke and struck flint fade into pretty pineapple and blossom on the nose of this full-bodied, dry Riesling. Mango and tangerine flavors are riper and heftier on the palate than in many of the Mosel's 2015 Grosses Gewächs wines,… ...
WE 94
JS 93
WA 92
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Haag/Fritz Riesling Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr Grosses Gewachs 2015  (#329079)

Riesling from Mosel, Germany

[ 94 points and 'Cellar Selection,' Wine Enthusiast: Initial whiffs of smoke and struck flint fade into pretty pineapple and blossom on the nose of this full-bodied, dry Riesling. Mango and tangerine flavors are riper and heftier on the palate than in many of the Mosel's 2015 Grosses Gewächs wines, neatly balanced by racy acidity and a backbone of cool steel. It's delicious already, but likely to evolve well through the 2020s at least. Alcohol 13%. (May 2017) ] 94 points and 'Cellar Selection,' Wine Enthusiast: Initial whiffs of smoke and struck flint fade into pretty pineapple and blossom on the nose of this full-bodied, dry Riesling. Mango and tangerine flavors are riper and heftier on the palate than in…

750ml Bottle | In stock, 8 available
WE 94
JS 93
WA 92
$36.95
$56.00
Save $19.05 (34%)56.00
Save $19.05 (34%)
94 points Stuart Pigott (JamesSuckling.com): The Centrafenberg Riesling from Paul Fürst is one of the most sought after German GGs because of the wine s crystalline purity, racy acidity, and complex herbal and berry aromas. This is one of the best vintages, packed with flavor and blessed with an… ...
JS 94
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Furst/Rudolf Riesling Burgstadter Centgrafenberg Grosses Gewachs 2015  (#329078)

Riesling from Franconia, Germany

[ 94 points Stuart Pigott (JamesSuckling.com): The Centrafenberg Riesling from Paul Fürst is one of the most sought after German GGs because of the wine s crystalline purity, racy acidity, and complex herbal and berry aromas. This is one of the best vintages, packed with flavor and blessed with an almost super-natural freshness. (9/27/16) ] 94 points Stuart Pigott (JamesSuckling.com): The Centrafenberg Riesling from Paul Fürst is one of the most sought after German GGs because of the wine s crystalline purity, racy acidity, and complex herbal and berry aromas. This is one of the best…

750ml Bottle | In stock, 12+ available
95 points James Suckling: White tropical flower aromas and a hint of Thai basil in the nose. Concentrated and filigree, succulent and pristine, everything fitting together beautifully. Super-clean finish in which the sweetness is barely perceptible, even at the early stage in the game of decades. (6… ...
JS 95
JG 93
WS 93
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Schaefer/Willi Riesling Auslese Graacher Domprobst Gold Cap #11 2016  (#330185)

Riesling from Mosel, Germany

[ 95 points James Suckling: White tropical flower aromas and a hint of Thai basil in the nose. Concentrated and filigree, succulent and pristine, everything fitting together beautifully. Super-clean finish in which the sweetness is barely perceptible, even at the early stage in the game of decades. (6/7/17) ] 95 points James Suckling: White tropical flower aromas and a hint of Thai basil in the nose. Concentrated and filigree, succulent and pristine, everything fitting together beautifully. Super-clean finish in which the sweetness is barely perceptible,…

750ml Bottle | In stock, 11 available
JS 95
JG 93
WS 93
$71.95
$85.00
Save $13.05 (15%)85.00
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Staff Notes: This 100% Pinot Noir rosé wine exhibits a strikingly vibrant, light ruby color and astounding complexity for a rosé. The bouquet of ripe Bing cherry and white pepper is somewhat reserved now, but will undoubtedly come into its own with proper cellaring of up to 3 years. The palate is… ...
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Meyer-Nakel Spatburgunder Rose Ahr 2017  (#332624)

Rosé from Ahr, Germany

[ Staff Notes: This 100% Pinot Noir rosé wine exhibits a strikingly vibrant, light ruby color and astounding complexity for a rosé. The bouquet of ripe Bing cherry and white pepper is somewhat reserved now, but will undoubtedly come into its own with proper cellaring of up to 3 years. The palate is already beautifully expressive with flavors of honeycrisp apple, crushed rocks, tart raspberry, and clove. This is a wine for all seasons and one of the most impressive rosés you will find anywhere. ] Staff Notes: This 100% Pinot Noir rosé wine exhibits a strikingly vibrant, light ruby color and astounding complexity for a rosé. The bouquet of ripe Bing cherry and white pepper is somewhat reserved now, but will undoubtedly come into its own with…

750ml Bottle | In stock, 12+ available
98 points Joel B. Payne (Vinous): Rich golden yellow. Exuberant aromas of caramelized peach, quince preserves and oyster shell on a bed of honeyed botrytis. Incredibly dense on the palate, with its creamy richness perfectly paired with an almost salty tangy quality, this is a breathtaking Riesling.… ...
V 98
JG 98
WA 95
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Keller Riesling Westhofen Morstein Trockenbeerenauslese GK 2013  (#324421)

Riesling from Rheinhessen, Germany

[ 98 points Joel B. Payne (Vinous): Rich golden yellow. Exuberant aromas of caramelized peach, quince preserves and oyster shell on a bed of honeyed botrytis. Incredibly dense on the palate, with its creamy richness perfectly paired with an almost salty tangy quality, this is a breathtaking Riesling. In spite of its depth and weight, this Trockenbeerenauslese is still delicate and elegant. Complex and spicy on the deliriously long finish, this is without any doubt the best noble late harvest offering of the vintage in Germany. Drink: 2020-2050. (Mar 2015) ] 98 points Joel B. Payne (Vinous): Rich golden yellow. Exuberant aromas of caramelized peach, quince preserves and oyster shell on a bed of honeyed botrytis. Incredibly dense on the palate, with its creamy richness perfectly paired with an almost…

375ml Half Bottle | In stock, 1 available
$695.00
$1044.00
Save $349.00 (33%)1044.00
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97 points Stephan Reinhardt (Wine Advocate): ...super deep, intense and precise on the nose where flinty/stony notes and very fine (and slightly spicy) raisin and grapefruit aromas are displayed. Rich, lush and super sexy on the palate, with highly delicate but intense and persistent fruit and very… ...
WA 97
JG 95
WS 94
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Prum/JJ Riesling Auslese Graacher Himmelreich GK 2016  (#330466)

Dessert Wine from Mosel, Germany

[ 97 points Stephan Reinhardt (Wine Advocate): ...super deep, intense and precise on the nose where flinty/stony notes and very fine (and slightly spicy) raisin and grapefruit aromas are displayed. Rich, lush and super sexy on the palate, with highly delicate but intense and persistent fruit and very fine salinity... rich, finessed and almost weightless in its intensity. The salty and piquant acidity is alive and kicking. You can hardly produce a better Auslese in this delicate and filigreed style... 2018-2045. (Apr 2018) 40 cases. ] 97 points Stephan Reinhardt (Wine Advocate): ...super deep, intense and precise on the nose where flinty/stony notes and very fine (and slightly spicy) raisin and grapefruit aromas are displayed. Rich, lush and super sexy on the palate, with highly…

750ml Bottle | In stock, 12+ available
WA 97
JG 95
WS 94
$99.95
$135.00
Save $35.05 (26%)135.00
Save $35.05 (26%)
Not yet reviewed; 2015 vintage rated 95+ points by John Gilman (View: ...The bouquet offers up a youthfully complex constellation of tart orange, grapefruit, wild yeasts, a beautifully complex base of slate minerality, the vintage s signature botanicals and a topnote of lime peel. On the palate the… ...
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Zilliken Riesling Saarburger Rausch Grosses Gewachs 2016  (#331081)

Riesling from Mosel, Germany

[ Not yet reviewed; 2015 vintage rated 95+ points by John Gilman (View: ...The bouquet offers up a youthfully complex constellation of tart orange, grapefruit, wild yeasts, a beautifully complex base of slate minerality, the vintage s signature botanicals and a topnote of lime peel. On the palate the wine is deep, fullish, pure and absolutely seamless, with a fine core, excellent focus and nascent complexity, ripe acids and perfect balance on the very long, still quite primary finish. A beautiful GG in the making. 2023-2060. ] Not yet reviewed; 2015 vintage rated 95+ points by John Gilman (View: ...The bouquet offers up a youthfully complex constellation of tart orange, grapefruit, wild yeasts, a beautifully complex base of slate minerality, the vintage s signature…

750ml Bottle | In stock, 12+ available
91 points Wine Spectator: An opulent spätlese, with a lush, mouthcoating texture framing its peach, sweet corn, vanilla pastry and lemon notes. It's firm in structure, with the acidity emerging on the finish. Tasty now, this will be a beauty in a decade. Drink now through 2020. 1,000 cases made. (4… ...
WS 91
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Schloss Schonborn Riesling Spatlese Graflich Eigenbau 2004  (#328873)

Riesling from Rheingau, Germany

[ 91 points Wine Spectator: An opulent spätlese, with a lush, mouthcoating texture framing its peach, sweet corn, vanilla pastry and lemon notes. It's firm in structure, with the acidity emerging on the finish. Tasty now, this will be a beauty in a decade. Drink now through 2020. 1,000 cases made. (4/30/06) ] 91 points Wine Spectator: An opulent spätlese, with a lush, mouthcoating texture framing its peach, sweet corn, vanilla pastry and lemon notes. It's firm in structure, with the acidity emerging on the finish. Tasty now, this will be a beauty in a…

750ml Bottle | In stock, 12+ available
94 points John Gilman (View From the Cellar): ...shows a bit more of a tropical fruit edge than the AP #10... The bouquet is pure and totally captivating... fresh pineapple, tangerine, a touch of pear, complex slate minerality, bee pollen and a discreet floral topnote redolent of lilacs... pure,… ...
JG 94
JS 94
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Schaefer/Willi Riesling Spatlese Graacher Domprobst A.P. #5 2016  (#329520)

Riesling from Mosel, Germany

[ 94 points John Gilman (View From the Cellar): ...shows a bit more of a tropical fruit edge than the AP #10... The bouquet is pure and totally captivating... fresh pineapple, tangerine, a touch of pear, complex slate minerality, bee pollen and a discreet floral topnote redolent of lilacs... pure, fullish and utterly complete, with a superb core, great focus and grip, impressive backend mineral drive and a very long, dancing and filigreed finish. This exudes the elegance of the 2016 vintage, but retains an extra element of energy to unfold with bottle age that will help it just outpace the very lovely AP #10 Domprobst Spätlese. Gorgeous wine. 2022-2055+. (Nov/Dec 2017) ] 94 points John Gilman (View From the Cellar): ...shows a bit more of a tropical fruit edge than the AP #10... The bouquet is pure and totally captivating... fresh pineapple, tangerine, a touch of pear, complex slate minerality, bee pollen and a…

750ml Bottle | In stock, 10 available
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