2019 GGs HAVE LANDED!
We are proud to offer what is a thrilling but very tiny line up.
These 2019’s are the top dry wines of Germany – A.Christmann, Donnhoff, Wittmann and Gunderloch, and what an awesome set they are, these 2019s are just brilliant, every single one.
Sadly though, we are working with less than half the quantities of what a normal ‘GG’ release would look like; their harvest was tiny and the world’s appetite for these has not abated.
One other thing that should not be missed: Reinhard and Sara Lowenstein’s epic 2017s, of which we grabbed some earlier this year, including the mind-bending Uhlen Roth Lay and the crazy value Schieferterrassen. If you want to challenge your perception of Riesling, add some bottles of those, and we seriously recommend you do, as the term ‘cult producer’ could not be more apt.
Detailed notes on each of the producers and respective wines below.
ABOUT A. CHRISTMANN
Steffen Christmann is the current president of the VDP and his biodynamically produced wines are truly terroir-focused, clean and immense. A. Christmann’s history dates back to 1845 when Prof. Dr. Ludwig Häusser, professor of history at Heidelberg University and a member of the Vorparliament of the Pauluskirche together with his cousin Johann Martin, founded a small winery in Gimmeldingen as a hobby. During the next generation, winegrowing grew to become their main profession. In 1894 Eduard Christmann married Henriette Häusser, the granddaughter of the founder. Today the estate bears the name of her son Arnold, and Steffen runs it as seventh-generation custodian.
2019 A. CHRISTMANN IDIG RIESLING GROSSES GEWÄCHS $195 LIMITED
Idig was more or less forgotten until the early 1990s, when the Christmann family of Gimmeldingen purchased choice parcels of the original site and “put Idig on the map”, with recognition and awards by leading German and international wine critics for its top Rieslings. Idig is the cornerstone of the A. Christmann estate and one of the most highly-prized sites in the Pflaz. It's situated on top of solid limestone, deposited in the tertiary age from limestone deposits created during the break-up of the Upper Rhine Plain. The top layers of the site are made up of “terra fusca”, a combination of chalk, clay and red sandstone eroded from the Haardt hills over millennia and deposited on the slopes of Mittelhaardt. In the top layers of the soil there is a large amount of limestone but also a substantial amount of basalt. The GG grapes are selected according to strict criteria over one or two rounds of picking, taking only healthy fruit at the peak of ripeness, with yields generally around 40hl/ha.
Helmut Dönnhoff and son Cornelius make the best wines in the Nahe region and some of the finest anywhere in the world. We can't possibly overstate how much we cherish and revere these wines. They are sheer perfection in their elegantly defined structure and flawless harmony. The epitome of their meticulous winemaking is the Eiswein. Dönnhoff wines have such power and complexity that their signature weightlessness seems nigh on miraculous. One taste and you sense the magic. These wines are on a par with the best of Germany in a very unique way: the sweet wines rival those of Prüm, Loosen and Egon Müller and the dry wines are mentioned in the same breath as luminaries such as Wittmann and Weil. Very few - if any - have this degree of versatility...
2019 DÖNNHOFF ESTATE RIESLING FEINHERB $44 BUY NOW
Characterful Riesling from the steeply sloping vineyards of the middle Nahe region. The vines are 15 to 30 years old and grow in stony, weathered volcanic soils of porphyry and melaphyr in particular, with certain amounts of slate and quartzite. Fermented and matured in stainless steel vats, this is a delightful off-dry Riesling with nuanced natural sweetness and sophisticated acidity.
A very attractive, just off-dry Riesling with tons of fruit-salad character, but no hint of anything banal. Quite the opposite in fact, as this is precisely balanced and has a long, very clean finish. From organically grown grapes with Fair'n Green certification. Drink now. Screw cap. Stuart Pigott jamessuckling.com 92 points.
The 2019 Riesling (Estate) is bright, clear and fresh on the nose, even flinty. Round, pure and lush on the palate, this is a medium-sweet Riesling with great finesse and the typical Mosel lightness and piquancy. Beautifully straight and full of character. Tasted as a sample in Bremen, April 2020. Stephan Reinhardt Wine Advocate 90 points.
2019 DÖNNHOFF DELLCHEN RIESLING GROSSES GEWÄCHS $187
A historic steeply sloping vineyard which Dönnhoff awoke from its slumber. Steep terraces in a hollow with slate and porphyry soils. The vines are about 20 years old and yield about 35hl/ha. 100% selective hand harvest. The must is fermented and the wine matured in classic wooden barrels and stainless steel vats. Vigorously spicy and at the same time dancingly elegant with great depth and a fascinating charisma.
2019 DÖNNHOFF HERMANNSHÖHLE RIESLING GROSSES GEWÄCHS $187
A perfect, steep southern slope with soils consisting of blackish grey slate and volcanic elements, extremely rich in minerals. This legendary site is the best-rated vineyard in the entire Nahe region. The vines are up to 60 years old and give yields of about 40hl/ha. 100% selective hand harvest. The must is fermented and the wine matured in stainless steel vats and classic oak barrels. A very complex Riesling of noble elegance with a hugely intense, rich fullness of flavour and deep mineral tones. A great dry wine with a mysterious, aristocratic character.
Johannes Hasselbach has well and truly hit his stride after taking the winemaking reins from his late father Fritz a few years back. Warm, charming, modest and brilliant Fritz Hasselbach, who passed away from illness in October 2016, was the man who lifted the estate into the Rheinhessen's top flight. Johannes and the team are taking it even further, turning out stunning wines from top-rated vineyards of the Roter Hang, a steep hill of red slate overlooking the Rhine. The dry Rieslings are intensely concentrated and expressive of the red volcanic soil. The fruity wines are even more so, with their touch of sweetness that acts as a conduit for flavour and aroma. Nackenheimer Rothenberg is one of the great vineyards of Germany. Gunderloch was the first winery in Germany to put its entire range under screwcap and holds the ‘claim to fame’ of scoring a hat-trick of 100-point reviews in Wine Spectator. Named in honour of the late, great man himself, Fritz's Riesling adds a dimension to the line-up and may be the best-value wine in our entire portfolio.
2019 GUNDERLOCH JEAN BAPTISTE RIESLING KABINETT $37 BUY NOW
Fruit from the lower terraces of Gunderloch's top three grand-cru sites: Nierstein Hipping, Nierstein Pettenthal and Nackenheim Rothenberg. All red slate soils from Permian era. Johannes Hasselbach's Kabinett shows the minerality of the red-slate soil and the joy of ripe Rheinhessen Riesling fruit.
“Who cares what is for dinner, this wine will work with it (as long as it’s not pudding)! A very attractive and refreshing, medium-dry Riesling with so much wild-herb and tart-peach character. Long, dry, mineral finish with an attractive spritz that pulls you back to the glass. Drink or hold. Screw cap.” Stuart Pigott jamessuckling.com 92 points
2018 GUNDERLOCH ROTHENBERG RIESLING GRÖSSES GEWÄCHS $121
The Rothenberg vineyard encompasses about 20 hectares directly on the Rhine River on the north end of the “Roter Hang” between Nackenheim and Nierstein. Around five hectares of this comprise the heart of the Rothenberg. The vineyard has a slope of 30 to 80% and comprises 290-million-year-old red shale plates. The Hasselbach family of Gunderloch Estate own around 4.5 hectares of this prime vineyard made up predominantly of very steep parcels. The Nackenheimer Rothenberg is without question their most prominent vineyard mountain. It yields wines of striking mineral character paired with a broad spectrum of expressive spice and fruit aromas.
Philipp Wittmann was named Winemaker of the Year 2014 by the Gault Millau Wine Guide, with the judges praising him as "one of the pioneers of organic viticulture and a driving force behind quality developments" in the southern Rheinhessen. "For many years he has produced superb dry Rieslings with fascinating ageing potential," they went on. "Almost single-handedly he elevated the Morstein site to legendary status." Philipp’s ancestors have been winegrowers in the old market town of Westhofen since the mid-1600s. His father Günter put the estate on an organic footing, and it’s been a member of organic farmers' association Naturland since 1990. Philipp then took the step to go biodynamic in 2004. He lays the foundation for wines of exceptional quality through intensive, year-round vineyard maintenance, low yields and the uncompromising selection of bunches by hand. For the most part, the wines ferment in traditional, old oak casks or stainless steel and fermentation often continues into the year following the harvest. Already firmly established as one of Germany’s superstar producers, this young winemaker has a brilliant future ahead of him. Biodynamic producer
ABOUT PHILLIP WITTMANN
In 2003 he was named Newcomer of the Year by Germany’s Feinschmecker magazine. In 2014, he added to this by being named Gault Millau Winemaker of the Year. The judges praised him as "one of the pioneers of organic viticulture and a driving force behind quality developments" in the southern Rheinhessen. "Almost single-handedly he elevated the Morstein site to legendary status."
2019 WITTMANN MORSTEIN RIESLING GROSSES GEWÄCHS $212
The grand cru Morstein site is situated on the south-facing slope that stretches from Gundersheim to Westhofen. The subsoil consists of massive limestone rocks. The first documented mention of the site dates from 1282. Today, Wittmann owns about 4 ha (10 acres) in the best (southeastern exposure) parcel of this vineyard. The upper layer of soil is primarily heavy clayish marl interspersed with limestone. The subsoil is also heavy and marked by layers of limestone that help circulate water. This ensures that the vines are well supplied with nutrients and minerals, and may account for the mineral character of the Morstein wines.
While unfettered pleasure is the reflex response elicited by classic Mosel Riesling, the often overt power and disorienting range of Heymann-Löwenstein tends to be more thought-provoking. Reinhard Löwenstein views his craft as a creative interplay between climate, soil, vine and grower, culminating in wines that are singular, authentic and complex.
“The descriptor trocken is banned from his vocabulary and anybody foolish enough (not me!) to enquire about levels of residual sugar is duly and properly chastised. He probably considers the alcohol content another irrelevant detail in the greater scheme of things, but the law is an ass and requires that information to be given. What matters to Löwenstein is terroir, and tasting his wines from different plots within the same vineyard, his credo is convincing.” Michael Schmidt, jancisrobinson.com
2017 HEYMANN-LÖWENSTEIN UHLEN ROTH LAY RIESLING GROSSES GEWÄCHS $154
Uhlen wines tend to develop concentrated fruitiness with a characteristic echo of sturdy mineral content. Protected from wind in a depression of the cliffs and girdled by trees, the vineyard forms an open amphitheatre facing south. Uhlen Roth Lay measures only 4 hectares. The soil is quartzy, dark-red slate, streaked with a light red ochre layer.
Tasted as a sample ready to be bottled, the 2017 Uhlen R Terroir Roth Lay VDP Grosse Lage is fascinatingly wild and intense on the opening, with notes of iron, herbs and crushed stones. On the palate, this is a silky, crystalline, precise, intense and concentrated Roth Lay with a long, tight, intense, complex and very persistent dry finish. Highly promising. A mouth-filling yet precise and salty Roth Lay with warm, lush fruit and a coolish crystalline and flinty soul. This was filtered in early March and was set to be bottled at the end of March, about a week after my tasting on 20 March 2019. Stephan Reinhardt, Wine Advocate 95-97 points
Bottled in March 2019, this leads with pungent scents of thyme, lemon peel, crushed mustard and coriander seeds, struck flint and crushed stone. There is surprisingly bright juiciness of lemon and white peach on the silken, palpably lees-enriched palate, which also exhibits the sort of complex interplay between herbal and mineral elements that was anticipated on the nose. The finish is vibrantly sustained, bell-clear and, despite its justifiable grand cru aspirations, does not neglect its primary duty to refresh. David Schildknecht Vinous Media 94 points
2017 HEYMANN-LÖWENSTEIN RIESLING SCHIEFERTERRASSEN $66
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
* To secure any of the GG's get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org