German Riesling 2017 Heavy Hitters Round Two
Shine on you crazy diamonds: the top wines of the erratic 2017 vintage in Germany are dazzling
Although many of the best wines from the 2017 vintage in the Rhine Valley and the valleys of its major tributaries are still very young, they already make it clear that some kind of miracle occurred there. For many of the leading producers, the growing season brought multiple moments of despair as nature threw one major obstacle after another in their path, yet the best wines have ended up with great expressiveness and a diamond-like brightness.
“Right after the terrible frost damage in late April, none of my colleagues or I imagined that we would harvest such quality in 2017,” says Cornelius Dönnhoff of the Dönnhoff estate in Oberhausen, Nahe. He wasn’t alone either. A string of his colleagues in the Nahe, Rheingau, Rheinhessen and the Pfalz also received a slew of 95-point ratings and above. STUART PIGOTT
Welcome to German Big Guns round two. Against all odds 2017 has turned out to be a truly great vintage across all of Germany’s important regions. It didn’t look to be the case early on in the piece when many areas were plagued with horrendous weather but the wine gods were gracious and provided the just what the vines, and vignerons, needed to create a liquid gold again. This is the third super star vintage in a row in Germany, unheard of for areas that are traditionally very marginal.
What is perhaps most exciting is that while 2015, 2016 and 2017 have all produced wines of immense quality the styles are so different. The 2017s have an immediacy to them, not the overt flashiness and in your face character of the 2015s but just a rather joyful youthfulness. It was a warm year that followed horrendous frosts, so yields were drastically down. There is a mix of concentration of flavour and intensity but also a huge dollop of minerality. What is perhaps most surprising, also probably the key to what makes this such a great year, is the super fresh acidity which lends them a certain snap and energy.
As good as they seem now their inner core and that punchy acidity makes me think these will develop well over time, and they may outlive their 2015 siblings. Yet unlike the 2016s you wouldn’t feel bad if you pulled the cork out of one soon to see how it is. The big guns from 2017 seem to effortlessly combine the inherent power and verve of the year along with the unusually high extract. The resulting packages are unlike any other vintage I can recall.
This offer has some unmissable things. There are the wines from Loosen, who may be most famous for his off dry wines but in recent years his GG dry Rieslings have shot up in quality and now rest on the top of the pile with a group of other super stars and they remain the best value.
The wines of Wagner Stempel, these may not be a household name for Riesling fans in Australia but they should be. While the wines of Rheinhessen are classically thought to be richer and more accessible than some of their cousins Stempel somehow coaxes more raw energy and power out of his vines. They don’t lack the bolder fruit of the region but they have an extra measure of vitality. At their best these can rival anyone’s offerings and his 17s are certainly stupendous.
Von Hovel. Never heard of him? I certainly hadn’t until this year. It’s not a new story but one we love hearing and sharing. It’s an old family estate in the hands of a new generation who is making the best of their amazing sites which include the legendary Scharzhofberger, shared with the unquestioned king of the style, Egon Muller. These are utterly electrifying and completely convincing in every aspect. The reviews for the new batches of wines demonstrates just how far these wines have come so quickly and I can confirm that when we all tasted them we were absolutely gobsmacked at the quality. Everyone should buy these. If you are a fan of the style then you want them in your cellar and fridge at home.
Last but certainly not least there is the sweet wines of Keller. Klaus Peter is widely regarded as the greatest producer alive in Germany today. It is a big call I know but it’s not me making it, it’s the critics around the world. I am not sure if that’s the case but I can say if you haven’t tried some of his elixirs you owe it to yourself to do so.
This really is quite a special offer full of wines that I think are remarkable, every bottle here is worth having. At the end of the day German Riesling remains the best value of the worlds truly great wines.