White, 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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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)

375ml
In stock, 1 available

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…

375ml Half Bottle | In stock, 1 available
$695.00
$1044.00
Save $349.00 (33%)1044.00
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95 points Joel B. Payne (Vinous): Rich golden-yellow. Enticing aromas of pineapple, acacia honey and lime waft over a bed of brown spice botrytis. The sweet peach preserve fruit and salty minerality are very well balanced: more elegant than rich and tantalizingly light on the palate. Both delicate… ...
V 95
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Keller Riesling Westhofen Brunnenhauschen BA Abtserde E 2013  (#324422)

375ml
In stock, 10 available

Riesling from Rheinhessen, Germany

95 points Joel B. Payne (Vinous): Rich golden-yellow. Enticing aromas of pineapple, acacia honey and lime waft over a bed of brown spice botrytis. The sweet peach preserve fruit and salty minerality are very well balanced: more elegant than rich and…

375ml Half Bottle | In stock, 10 available
$299.95
$396.00
Save $96.05 (24%)396.00
Save $96.05 (24%)
96 points John Gilman (View From the Cellar): ...The bouquet is pure, still fairly primary and utterly classical in depth and proportion, delivering a superb constellation of white cherries, delicious apple, a touch of the yellow plum to come in time, a gorgeous signature of slate minerality and a… ...
JG 96
WA 96
WS 95
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Prum/JJ Riesling Auslese Wehlener Sonnenuhr GK 2016  (#330467)

750ml
In stock, 8 available

Riesling from Mosel, Germany

96 points John Gilman (View From the Cellar): ...The bouquet is pure, still fairly primary and utterly classical in depth and proportion, delivering a superb constellation of white cherries, delicious apple, a touch of the yellow plum to come in time…

750ml Bottle | In stock, 8 available
JG 96
WA 96
WS 95
$109.95
$150.00
Save $40.05 (27%)150.00
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96 points Stephan Reinhardt (Wine Advocate): ...displays a discreet bouquet that needs its time to open up. It's pretty reductive at this early stage (March 2018). The attack on the palate is racy and fresh, and the wine is filigreed and precise, very clear and fresh in the well-structured finish.… ...
WA 96
JG 95
WS 94
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Prum/JJ Riesling Auslese Bernkasteler Lay GK 2016  (#330465)

750ml
In stock, 12+ available

Dessert Wine from Mosel, Germany

96 points Stephan Reinhardt (Wine Advocate): ...displays a discreet bouquet that needs its time to open up. It's pretty reductive at this early stage (March 2018). The attack on the palate is racy and fresh, and the wine is filigreed and precise,…

750ml Bottle | In stock, 12+ available
WA 96
JG 95
WS 94
$104.95
$142.00
Save $37.05 (26%)142.00
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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)

750ml
In stock, 11 available

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…

750ml Bottle | In stock, 11 available
WA 97
JG 95
WS 94
$99.95
$135.00
Save $35.05 (26%)135.00
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95 points James Suckling: Lemon curd and mint on the nose. Stunning combination of concentration and brilliant acidity with wave after wave of spice and minerals at the long, super-clean finish. Better from 2019, but this is a long term wine that needs a lot longer than that to reach its peak. (6/7… ...
JS 95
JG 94
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Schaefer/Willi Riesling Auslese Graacher Domprobst #14 2016  (#329522)

750ml
In stock, 8 available

Riesling from Mosel, Germany

95 points James Suckling: Lemon curd and mint on the nose. Stunning combination of concentration and brilliant acidity with wave after wave of spice and minerals at the long, super-clean finish. Better from 2019, but this is a long term wine that…

750ml Bottle | In stock, 8 available
95 points Fine Wine Review: The Dellchen GG is from a combination of slate and volcanic soils. The nose is a bit smoky and has dust elements. The mouth is austere and deep with clarity, excellent acidity, and great penetration. (Issue #142; 2014) ...
FWR 95
JG 94
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Donnhoff Riesling Norheimer Dellchen Grosses Gewachs Trocken 2012  (#317585)

750ml
In stock, 8 available

Riesling from Germany

95 points Fine Wine Review: The Dellchen GG is from a combination of slate and volcanic soils. The nose is a bit smoky and has dust elements. The mouth is austere and deep with clarity, excellent acidity, and great penetration. (Issue #142; 2014)

750ml Bottle | In stock, 8 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)

750ml
In stock, 7 available

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,…

750ml Bottle | In stock, 7 available
JS 95
JG 93
WS 93
$71.95
$85.00
Save $13.05 (15%)85.00
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94 points Wine Spectator: Expressive and opulent, yet with vibrant acidity. Flavors of nectarine, kumquat fruit and toasted herbs mingle at the core. Best from 2020 through 2032. 250 cases made. (3/31/18) ...
WS 94
FWR 94
JS 94
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okonomierat Rebholz Riesling Pfalz Im Sonnenschein Ganz Horn GG 2016  (#330802)

750ml
In stock, 8 available

Riesling from Pfalz, Germany

94 points Wine Spectator: Expressive and opulent, yet with vibrant acidity. Flavors of nectarine, kumquat fruit and toasted herbs mingle at the core. Best from 2020 through 2032. 250 cases made. (3/31/18)

750ml Bottle | In stock, 8 available
WS 94
FWR 94
JS 94
$69.95
$100.00
Save $30.05 (30%)100.00
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94-95 points Stephan Reinhardt (Wine Advocate): This wine is very clear, precise and very deep on the stony and smoky--or rather flinty--nose. There are ripe stone fruit aromas that come along as more discreet and spicy, with crushed slate notes. On the palate, the minerals buffer the lively acidity… ...
WA 94-95
JS 94
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Gunderloch Riesling Rothenberg Grosses Gewachs 2015  (#327960)

750ml
In stock, 1 available

Riesling from Rheinhessen, Germany

94-95 points Stephan Reinhardt (Wine Advocate): This wine is very clear, precise and very deep on the stony and smoky--or rather flinty--nose. There are ripe stone fruit aromas that come along as more discreet and spicy, with crushed slate notes. On…

750ml Bottle | In stock, 1 available
95 points John Gilman (View From the Cellar): For several decades, Helmut Dönnhoff has been of the opinion that an Auslese is a wine that needs botrytis and every example here has been a botrytized wine, at least to some degree. So, it is a great rarity to find not one, but two completely clean… ...
JG 95
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Donnhoff Riesling Auslese Gold Cap Oberhauser Brucke 2018  (#335121)

750ml
In stock, 1 available

Riesling from Nahe, Germany

95 points John Gilman (View From the Cellar): For several decades, Helmut Dönnhoff has been of the opinion that an Auslese is a wine that needs botrytis and every example here has been a botrytized wine, at least to some degree. So, it is a great…

750ml Bottle | In stock, 1 available
94 points Stephen Reinhardt (Wine Advocate): The 2016 Rheingau Riesling Kiedrich Gräfenberg Spätlese opens with a deep, intense and flinty bouquet of tropical fruits as well as lovely raisin and grapefruit aromas. On the palate, this is a mouth-filling and lush yet highly elegant and delicate… ...
WA 94
JS 94
WS 93
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Weil Riesling Spatlese Rheingau Kiedricher Grafenberg 2016  (#331474)

750ml
In stock, 6 available

Riesling from Rheingau, Germany

94 points Stephen Reinhardt (Wine Advocate): The 2016 Rheingau Riesling Kiedrich Gräfenberg Spätlese opens with a deep, intense and flinty bouquet of tropical fruits as well as lovely raisin and grapefruit aromas. On the palate, this is a mouth…

750ml Bottle | In stock, 6 available
WA 94
JS 94
WS 93
$59.95
$86.00
Save $26.05 (30%)86.00
Save $26.05 (30%)
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