Written By Martin Zwick www.berlinkitchen.com
Every year, in late August, journalists and wine merchants from all over the world gather in Wiesbaden for a sneak preview of the newest vintage and in particular the Grosse Gewächse (Grand Cru) organised by the VDP (Verband Deutscher Prädikatsweingüter).
It’s an opportunity to sample and evaluate wines from Germany’s top vineyards – Erste Lage – prior their official market release on the first of September. Around 300 wines, 2010 Riesling GG and 2009 Spätburgunder GG are presented giving you an idea on the 2010 German Vintage.
Weather – “It was a challenging, labor-intensive vintage for the german winemakers. The extremely small crop was some 30 – 50 percent below average in size, averaging about 40 hl/ha for VDP member estates. Growing conditions varied considerably from region to region in 2010. Periods of poor weather during blossoming were one reason for this year’s small crop. Uneven fruit set resulted in few and/or very small berries. Severe hail damage further reduced yields in some regions, such as the Pfalz and Rheinhessen. Rain and cold weather in the second half of the summer retarded growth and led to irregular ripeness levels within parcels or even within individual bunches, whereby unripe fruit and ripe or overripe grapes were hanging side by side.
For winemakers who have considerable holdings in ERSTE LAGEN (top sites), the growing season ended with a very labor-intensive harvest that required several rounds of painstaking selection by considerable numbers of motivated pickers. Such selective harvesting by hand was yet another factor that reduced overall yields. The estates profited from the excellent autumn weather that turned things around. Yet, without accepting this loss, it would have been impossible to have brought in a healthy and thoroughly ripe crop. The first cask samples in November show wines that are clear-cut, with a taut play of fine fruitiness and mineral notes. They are rich in extract and aromas. Refreshing acidity will doubtlessly be one of the hallmarks of vintage 2010 wines. Acidity levels are even slightly higher than in 2008. Due to this year’s growing conditions, the wines have somewhat less alcohol than their predecessors.”
One of the most important decisions that a winemaker could make in 2010 was when and how to de-acidify. There are several different methods to successfully de-acidify ; whether to take this step when the wine is still in must prior to the onset of fermentation, or rather to do so after the wine has completed its fermentation.
Convictions about which method is the best of course varied. Most people believe that de-acidifying the must was the preferable way to go without sacrificing any aromatic or flavor complexity in the final wines. I don’t care about this technical topic, whether the winemaker X used this technique or winemaker Y used this approach. At the end of the day, in vino veritas.
Tasting – I travelled with a lot of curiousity and awe to this tasting. It seems that the 2010 is not such an easy-drinking-style vintage like 2009 and I was curious how the winemakers would deal with the high acidity.
Surprisingly it turned out that it was a great joy taste these Rieslings. Fair to say, I am a big fan of minerality, acidity and a pure, crisp style of Riesling. Especially the regions Nahe, Rheinhessen and Pfalz offered wonderful, precise, pure, dynamic collection’s of Rieslings with a big aging potential.
On the other hand I had to taste very carefully, as there were a certain amount of GG-wann-a-be to find at this tasting in Wiesbaden or they had de-acidity too much and lost balance & flavors. Again like last year, several wines shouldn´t have been released as a GG, especially from the region Rheingau.
I wonder why the estates don´t declassify these wines or why the local wine authorities give them the GG status. The region Franken underperformed a little bit with their Rieslings, but I think in a few months they will show better, as the wines were bottled only a few days, weeks ago. The region Mosel is clearly an enrichment for the german GGs with their elegance&finesse. Regarding Spätburgunder, I have to say that I have never tasted before better German Pinot Noir than these stunning wines presented in Wiesbaden. I was deeply impressed by the overall quality of these wines. Never before they were such close in terms of finesse&complexity to their famous counterparts in Burgundy. I strongly recommend to buy these wines! Especially from the estates Stodden, Fürst and Becker.
The top wines from several top producers showed a stunning quality and I clearly prefer them to the 2009s. Best example is the estate Wittmann in Rheinhessen, last year the 09 GGs were quite good, but this year all 2010s are outstanding and clearly a notch better. Also the GGs from the region Pfalz were much better this year in comparison to last year. The hottest uprising estate at the moment was the young estate von Winning from the region.
Pfalz. – Despite the fact that the wines polarized the wine-journalists, some think the special use of oak is the wrong track, there are others who admired the high quality and special style of Riesling. But there is no doubt that it is an estate to watch for the future. Last but not least, the overall winner of the vintage is Tim Fröhlich from the estate Schäfer-Fröhlich. Best collection of the year and strong contender for best dry riesling of the year with 2010 Felseneck GG.
Note: the wines of the estate KELLER were not presented…
The following wines are my favourite’s from the tastings..
2010 Schäfer-Fröhlich Felseneck GG
2010 Schäfer-Fröhlich Felsenberg GG
2010 Schäfer-Fröhlich Halenberg GG
2010 Emrich-Schönleber Frühlingsplätzchen GG
2010 Emrich-Schönleber Halenberg GG
2010 Dönnhoff Dellchen GG
2010 Wittmann Morstein GG
2010 Wittmann Brunnenhäuschen GG
2010 Wittmann Kirchspiel GG
2010 Kühling-Gillot Pettenthal GG
2010 Kühling-Gillot Rothenberg GG
2010 Wagner-Stempel Heerkretz GG
2010 Battenfeld-Spanier Frauenberg GG
2010 Battenfeld-Spanier Schwarzer Hergott GG
2010 von Winning Pechstein GG
2010 von Winning Kirchenstück GG
2010 Bürklin-Wolf Kirchenstück GG
2010 A. Christmann Idig GG
2010 Basserman-Jordan Jesuitengarten GG
2010 Mosbacher Ungeheuer GG
2010 Rebholz Ganz Horn GG
2010 Fritz Haag Juffer-Sonnenuhr GG
2010 Geltz-Zilliken Rausch GG
2010 Dr. Loosen Würzgarten GG
2010 Clemens Busch Fahrlay GG
2010 Künstler Hölle GG
2010 Weil Gräfenberg GG
2009 Philipp Kuhn Kirschgarten GG
2009 Fritz Becker St. Paul GG
2009 Jean Stodden “Sonnenberg GG
2009 Jean Stodden “Herrenberg GG
2009 Jean Stodden Rosenthal GG
2009 Meyer-Näkel Pfarrwingert GG
2009 Meyer-Näkel Kräuterberg GG
2009 Huber Schlossberg GG
2009 Huber Sommerhalde GG
2009 Rudolf Fürst Hunsrück GG
2009 Rudolf Fürst Centgrafenberg GG
2009 Rudolf Fürst Schlossberg GG
Here are the impressions of an assistant of Jancis Robinson which are in line with the “Berlin Riesling Cup” and my personal impressions.
hi martin im sure you are right re wittmann mor 10 being a hair above his 09 im looking forward to tasting it but the brun gg 09 was a great sexy wine and la bourn a one off yes !
yes i agree 10 ggs electric crisp maybe i like the naturalness in general of 09 due to no de-ass in 10 were so little made so little great but great they were . i hope its not a forgotten vintage in 5 years . some of the spats in 10 iv never tasted better sexy crisp lively moody
i think in the round 09 can be compared to a 71 ore 59 but 10 may be unique the jury is out the high acid would surely suit the sweeter wines time will tell soon we will be onto 2011 i wonder what this has in store regards sy
P.S. on 4th september I hosted for the fourth time the “Berlin Riesling Cup”. I served blind 35 Grosse Gewächse (Dry Grand Cru Rieslings) of the vintage 2010 to a group of journalists, sommeliers, wine-dealers and Riesling lovers. Here is the result and a link to an article about the german vintage 2010 in general.
Winner: 2010 Wittmann “Morstein” GG
1. 2010 Wittmann “Morstein” GG
2. 2010 Emrich-Schönleber “Halenberg” GG
3. 2010 Schäfer-Fröhlich “Halenberg” GG
4. 2010 Keller “Morstein” GG
5. 2010 Keller “Hubacker” GG
1 Morstein Wittmann 94,55
2 Schönleber Halenberg 94,00
3 S-F Halenberg 93,86
4 Morstein Keller 93,73
5 Hubacker Keller 93,68
6 Pechstein Bürklin Wolf 93,23
7 Heerkretz Wagner Stempel 93,23
8 Wittmann Brunnenhäuschen 93,18
9 Jesuitengarten Bassermann-Jordan 93,18
10 Pettenthal Kühling-Gillot 93,05
11 IDIG Christmann 92,91
12 Battenfeld-Spanier Am schwarzen Herrgott 92,82
13 Kirchenstück Bürklin Wolf 92,77
14 Pechstein von Winning 92,68
15 Dellchen Dönnhoff 92,00
16 Felseneck S-F 91,90
17 Keller Abtserde 91,73
18 Dönnhoff Hermannshöhle 91,68
19 Fritz Haag Juffer Sonnenuhr 91,41
20 Frühlingsplätzchen E-S 91,27
21 Rothenberg Kühling-Gillot 91,20
22 Jesuitengarten von Winning 91,14
23 Keller G-Max 90,64
24 Loosen Würzgarten AR 90,40
25 Rebholz Ganzhorn 90,36
26 Breuer Schlossberg 90,32
27 Eckhard Huff Rabenturm 90,09
28 Zilliken Saarburger Rausch 89,50
29 Mosbacher Ungeheuer 89,50
30 Domberg K-H. Schneider 89,44
31 Morstein Alte Reben Seehof 88,95
32 Leitz Schlossberg 88,95
33 Battenfeld-Spanier Frauenberg 88,82
34 Horst Sauer Eschdorfer Lump 88,64
35 Künstler Hochheimer Hölle EG 88,55
No doubt, 2009 is an outstanding vintage in Germany and in its entire scope maybe the better vintage than 2010. But on top level I clearly prefer the 2010 vintage. It also depends what style of Riesling you prefer, I prefer crisp&pure mineral driven Rieslings with a good acidity like the previous cool climate vintages like 2002, 2004 and 2008. As a result 2010 Wittmann “Morstein” GG is clearly better than 2009, in my humble view.
the wittmann 09 was outstanding and got higher marks so far than 2010 i thought morstein 10 did ace at keller i look fwd to tasting phillips burlin cup winning mor gg 2010. But 2009 was the greatest gg year in germany in my book compleatly brilliant !!
2010 Wittmann GG one notch above 2009 that is a bold statement. I like both vintages the same, although they are very different, I could not say that one is better than the other. Only Morstein is also to my palate better in 2010, the perfume is really intoxicating.
Thank you for the note. I will let Martin know about your post. Although, if you wish to discuss this in detail, it would be easier if you posted in the Wine Talk Forums.
I wish to say thank you for the article. I look forward to tasting the wines.