Wines from Germany’s 2020 harvest are starting to flow a little more fully into Australia, with Riesling from Mosel, Rheingau, Rheinhessen and Pfalz arriving now from some of your favourite growers. These include your first chance to taste Eva Clüsserath’s wares since she was crowned Germany’s Winemaker of the Year.
And from Baden, we have taken possession of the ripping 2019s from Weingut Bernhard Huber, the nation’s greatest exponent of the Burgundy varieties.
Fun times all round…
MOSEL – Including newly crowned Winemaker of the Year Eva Clüsserath!
2020 Ansgar Clüsserath Vom Schiefer Riesling $40
The dry Riesling “Vom Schiefer” (literally, from slate) provides an introduction to the world of steep-site Rieslings from the Middle Mosel. The grapes for this wine are sourced from two individual sites. Trittenheimer Altärchen, on the left bank of the Mosel, with weathered, shale-based soils, brings forth Rieslings with aromas of citrus, grapefruit and orange peel. Neumagener Rosengärtchen, located north of Trittenheim, has loamy, weathered, shale-based soils.
This cuvée is a sleek, sophisticated Riesling with a delicate minerality born of the internal dance between its two vineyards of origin. A spectrum of fruit flavours is on display here, from green apple to peach to grapefruit.
Excellent herbal, apple and lime freshness, married to impressive substance and very bright acidity that lifts this beautifully. Super-clean finish. Drink now. Screw cap.92 points. Stuart Pigott, jamessuckling.com
2020 Ansgar Clüsserath Trittenheimer Kabinett $43
The fruit for this village-designated Kabinett comes from the Apotheke grand cru, Trittenheim’s finest individual vineyard site. It lies on the right bank of the Mosel, opposite the village of Trittenheim. ‘Apotheke’ literally means ‘pharmacy’ but the vineyard’s name doesn’t refer to the medicinal properties of its wines. It in fact derives from a foundation established by the “Abtsberg” Abbey of Trier.
With its extreme slope of up to 78%, Apotheke ranks among the top sites on the Mosel. The southwest-facing hillside benefits from direct sunlight well into late evening, a lengthy time during which the slate soils store heat, which extends the ripening period. Weathered slate slopes with subterranean water veins ensure an optimal supply of nutrients and allow the vines to develop deep roots.
The grapes yield wines with great aging potential and complex minerality. In their youth, the wines show finesse; as they mature, they display rich fruitiness reminiscent of apricot and peach. 8% alcohol.
A shining jewel of a Mosel Riesling with the sleek, racy and filigree personality that you associate with this category. What power there is behind this playful exterior! Drink or hold. Screw cap.93 points. Stuart Pigott, jamessuckling.com
2020 Heymann-Löwenstein Schieferterrassen Riesling $64
The Schieferterrassen is a cuvée of premier cru vineyards in Heymann-Löwenstein’s home village of Winningen, supplemented by a small proportion from the grands crus. These vineyards all have the strong character and identity of the Terrassenmosel. The composition of the wine is the same every year: parcels in “Erste Lagen” Hamm and Brückstück, combined with declassified grand-cru fruit. The vineyards are all terraced, steep and slate-driven, all farmed purely by hand with exceptionally low yields. Then you have the individual site’s contribution, such as Hamm’s floral characters but also earthy, slaty touch.
What follows after the sorting table is similar every year. The main point is that the fruit has to be perfect. If this is guaranteed, then there’s not much that can go wrong later on. The quality of each plot is designated by the old classification map. All plots from the same terroir get pressed together, until we’re able to fill up a barrel.
So the fruit gets crushed and macerates for about 12 hours in the cooling room. Then we do quite long press cycles – about nine hours with very gentle pressures, always taking it up very gradually. So you can say that the grapes macerate even longer in the press. The juice can free run downstairs, no pumping needed, which is also quite an oxidative way of treating the juice. After a rough filtration we settle the musts once again. We taste regularly to check on phenolic reactions. After a certain amount of time, because of the contact with air, the harsh phenolics polymerise and settle. By racking off we can separate this nicely and get rid of undesirable phenolics. After racking the musts go into big (2600L+) “Dopppelstück Fässer” and stainless steel (about 30-50%). The wines ferment with their own yeasts, usually over four to five months. We’re not able to control the temperatures in the barrels, but fermentation doesn’t usually go crazy anyway with these natural yeasts.
Towards the end of fermentation we taste to start understanding the vintage. As soon as we see the wines are in good balance we stop the fermentation. We don’t look at the numbers for it, because it doesn’t really matter, and the numbers don’t tell us the truth anyway. It’s the palate that matters.
The barrels stay separate as raw material until around May. We taste them all regularly but this is the time when we start doing the cuvées for each wine. This is also the moment when we decide what is good enough for the grand cru and what is not. Those decisions may take a few months because the wines are very young to evaluate. They don´t necessarily already show their true character. In total the wines stay in barrel for 12 months before being bottled unfined. – Heymann-Löwenstein
Very flinty and slightly funky with a whirlpool of dried-herb, spice, citrus and stone-fruit aromas. Excellent concentration for a “basic” dry Riesling, an impressive tannin structure supporting the animating fruit. Long, salty mineral finish. From organically grown grapes with Fair’n Green certification. Drink or hold. Screw cap.93 points. Stuart Pigott, jamessuckling.com
Pungent nose and a delightful, accessible combination of minerals and fruit on the palate. Thoroughly satisfying with a particularly stony, long finish. What a very high standard for an entry-level wine! Though, like all the wines from this stable, it’s no shy, retiring flower. Bone dry.17/20 Jancis Robinson, jancisrobinson.com
2020 Georg Breuer Rüdesheim Estate Riesling $54
Georg Breuer’s village Rieslings represent different attributes of the vineyard sites in Rüdesheim and Rauenthal through character and palate. Rüdesheim brings strong minerality and stone fruit aromas from steep slate and quartz soil.
A juicy and elegant dry Riesling for the Rheingau with tart, peachy fruit and delicate white-currant and floral aromas. Quite some elegance and sophistication. Long, silky finish. From organically grown grapes with Fair’n Green certification. Drink or hold. Screw cap.93 points. Stuart Pigott, jamessuckling.com
2020 Georg Breuer Terra Montosa Riesling $82
The grapes for this wine are sourced from the second-best parcels of the grand cru-classified vineyard sites in Rüdesheim and Rauenthal. Here deep phyllite, clay and quartzite slate soils prevail. The Latin name “Montosa” hints at the mountainous earth of the steep vineyard sites.
A very sophisticated and super-mineral, racy Riesling that is diamond-bright and very filigree at the long finish, which is simultaneously earthed and delicate. Very long, complete finish. From organically grown grapes with Fair’n Green certification. Drink or hold.95 points. Stuart Pigott, jamessuckling.com
2020 Wittmann Westhofener Riesling $82
Selected fruit from the best vineyards of the Westhofen hills. The typical limestone minerality of the grand-cru sites shines through.
Only just opening up on the peach and fresh-herb nose and the front palate is also refined and delicate. Then the chalky minerality builds and builds like the Eiffel tower to a narrow point that’s precisely delineated. From organically grown grapes. Drink or hold.94 points. Stuart Pigott, jamessuckling.com
2019 Koehler-Ruprecht Pinot Noir $43
Dominik Sona aims for a light-bodied, traditional Pfalz Spätburgunder here – ripe but with modest alcohol and good acidity. The fruit is destemmed and then wild fermented in stainless steel. After 3-5 weeks they drain the tank and press the skins, then blend it into Doppelstück and Halbstück barrels (pretty much no new wood). Natural malolactic conversion. After 20-26 months the wine is racked, given a light filtration and bottled, with free SO2 down at 40ppm.
A light and fruity Pinot Noir that does what we expect a Bourgogne rouge to do, that is delight with bright cherry fruit that is married to a supple body and lively but not tart acidity. With a little aeration, nice, rooty complexity develops and some healthy tannin shows its hand. Moderate length, but very good harmony at the finish. Drink now.90 points. Stuart Pigott, jamessuckling.com
2019 Bernhard Huber Malterdinger Weiss $75
This wine is built upon our best Pinot Blanc plants from the Bienenberg vineyard in an assemblage with the finest selections from our Chardonnay vineyards. The grapes grow on weathered limestone soils. The Pinot Blanc vines are more than 60 years old, while the Chardonnay vines are up to 10 years old.
The blend is 70% Chardonnay with 30% Weisser Burgunder. The must is spontaneously fermented in small French oak barrels and matured on the yeast lees for 16 months. It is bottled without filtration. For us, the origin is more important than the grape varieties. Therefore we call this local wine as “Malterdinger” white. – Julian Huber
2019 Bernhard Huber Malterdinger Pinot Noir $75
More than 700 years ago, Cistercian monks brought Pinot Noir to Malterdingen. The monks’ estate, called “curia”, was in the Mönchhofmatten district where the Huber winery is located today. In Malterdingen the monks encountered the same terroir – the weathered “shell limestone” soil – as in Burgundy. And they brought with them cutting-edge experience on how to grow Pinot Noir. In vine variety books and wine encyclopedias, the terms “Pinot Noir” and “Malterdinger” are synonymous.
The 2019 Bernhard Huber Malterdinger Pinot Noir is a VDP village wine grown on weathered shell limestone soil with a thin layer of loess clay. These grapes come from vines that are between 8 and 25 years old. After the traditional must fermentation, this wine is mainly aged in first-, second- and third-use barriques and is bottled without filtration. – Julian Huber
You could easily mistake this Baden pinot noir for a Chambolle-Musigny! Still very youthful, yet it has wonderful fragrance on the nose and is both silky and filigree on the medium-bodied palate. Very long, seamless finish that pulls your hand back to the glass for more. Drink or hold.93 points. Stuart Pigott, jamessuckling.com
2019 Bernhard Huber Alte Reben Pinot Noir $128
Our Malterdinger Spätburgunder Alte Reben is labelled as old-vine VDP Ortswein but we think of it as a village 1er cru from our home in Malterdingen. The Pinot Noir grapes grow on weathered shell limestone, with the vines aged 20 to 45 years. After the traditional must fermentation, the 18-month maturation takes place in small first-, second- and third-use French oak barrels filled with first, two and thirds. The wine is bottled without filtration. – Julian Huber
At once concentrated and filigree, this is a stunning pinot noir for a village wine. The beautifully integrated, fine tannins and lively acidity lift this far above the crowd of wines in this category. Very long and mineral finish. Drink or hold.94 points. Stuart Pigott, jamessuckling.com