This is a tasting not to be missed, as we explore some of the greatest Riesling producers in the world, from the celebrated Mr 300-Points Markus Molitor whose top Auslese have earnt him a loyal following, to Clemens-Busch, one of the finest biodynamic and dry-Riesling producers in the Mosel. In the south-east is the smaller region of Nahe, where microbiologist and winemaker Dr Martin Tesch vinifies excellent-valued top-notch dry-Riesling from single-vineyards.
Outside of the traditional German styles however, are some very interesting Rieslings from lesser-known regions, such as Switzerland (Gantenbein) and Israel (Sphera). These are in stark contrast to the familiar German styles but the stories and the quality behind these wines warrant them to be in a tasting line-up such as this.
And how can we have a Riesling tasting without including Alsace? Two of the most legendary producers will be featured in this tasting, namely Domaine Zind Humbrecht where France’s first Master of Wine Olivier Humbrecht has been a longtime advocate of biodynamic winemaking, as well as being president of the governing body Biodyvin. Trimbach’s Clos St Hune, a monopole vineyard and jewel in the crown of this legendary winery, known for its exceptionally age-worthy Rieslings. We give you two mature statements in this exciting tasting this evening.
"Martin Tesch's Rieslings remain one of the best and most consistent value for money German Rieslings I have ever tasted. Based in the small village of Langenlonsheim in the Nahe region, these are bone dry and very mineral-driven Rieslings and at these prices, they represent a bargain.
At 4.9 grams per litre of residual sugar, the Krone is exhiliratingly dry, with very powerful mineral acidity. Gunflint, citrus, and yellowfruits on the nose translates into an intensely concentrated palate that displays the classic petrol, stone fruits and lemon zest notes. The acidity is a little on the high side which hides the restrained fruit, but given a few years to mellow out, it will blossom into a really fine, elegant Riesling. "
Tesch Karthauser Riesling 2012
The Karthauser is grown on iron rich soils in a south-west facing vineyard formed in the shape of an ampitheatre which collects and stores warmth efficiently. The result is a rich, full-bodied and powerful Riesling with very ripe fruit. The residual sugar is even less in this wine, at just 3.4 grams per litre, but there is a lot more richness making the palate feel sweeter than the Krone. There is a nice balance between the naturally high acidity and the ripe citrus fruit. Spicy, almost a little nutty, mineral-driven and biscuity with a lovely saline and petrol notes. This has aged well and is only just beginning to open up, but you can tell this wine still has a long life ahead of itself. Simply beautiful.
Sphera White Concept Riesling 2017
From the up and coming region of the Judean Hills, winemaker Doran Rav Hon studied winemaking in Beaune, and nurtured his skills with renowned Domaine Jacques Prieur. His winery Sphera only makes white wines, and has very quickly gained a loyal following. This is quite new world in style, with very bright, forward fruit. Quite rounded, with beautiful floral aromas, good balanced acidity, and ripe citrus fruit. Elegant and easy to drink.
Clemens Busch Marienburg Falkenlay Riesling Grosses Gewachs 2016
Clemens Busch is another great producer of dry Rieslings, based in the renowned Mosel Valley in a village called Pünderich, which lies between the Upper and Lower Mosel. Biodynamic since 2005, and considered the master interpreter of natural wines in Germany. Wines are delineated by soil type according to their original location which was lumped into one single appellation/vineyard called Marienburg by the German government, a "mistake" according to Busch. The Falkenlay is one of the five single vineyards delineated by Busch, and consists of 65-90 year old ungrafted vines planted on grey slate. Powerful, spicy, almost gingery, with biscuit and almond notes. The classic petrol notes are beautiful, with well balanced acidity. Gunflint, mineral-driven, with a very long saline finish. It has everything you could want in a dry German Riesling.
Clemens Busch Marienburg Rothenpfad Reserve Riesling Grosses Lage 2014
The Rothenpfad is one the highest rated vineyards in Pünderich, and is characterised by its red slate soils. Vines here are between 70-100 years old. Wild yeast and low temperature fermentations follow lees aging in very old oak barrels before bottling. There's a much richer, riper nose on this, with notes of white pepper, citrus and passion fruit, and powerful mienrality. Wet stones, gunflint and white jasmine flowers. A really beautifully made wine that speaks firmly of the terroir it is grown on.
Gantenbein Riesling 2016
"Switzerland is rarely on anybody's radar when it comes to fine wines, and especially for Riesling, but this was a beautiful expression. Founded in 1982. Gantenbein are widely considered to be one of the best wineries in the country, located in the Graubünden
(Grisons) district of the upper Rhine valley in eastern Switzerland, just at the foot of the Alps. "
Trimbach Riesling Clos Ste Hune 1986
Trimbach needs little introduction as one of France's greatest winemaking families, spanning three centuries of experience in Alsace. The single vineyard Clos Ste Hune is widely considered the finest dry Riesling in Alsace, and possibly even in the world. Located within the Rosacker Grand Cru village, the wine refers to neither Rosacker nor the words Grand Cru, it is beyond both. Cool calcareous clay with a high percentage of limestone on a gentle incline is what contributes so much to the distinct minerality found in a Clos Ste Hune. This was without any doubt the wine of the night. Despite its age, the color was still a bright pale gold, with the nose showing secondary aromas of ripe citrus fruit, dried flowers, honey and a tiny hint of petrol. It certainly tasted a lot younger than 1986, with the palate displaying waxy fruit, gunflint, powerful minerality, with mouth-watering acidity. Intense and very concentrated, with complex layers, this was a breathtaking experience and I am confident this will continue to age very well for at least another decade or even two.
Zind Humbrecht Riesling Rangen de Thann Clos Saint Urbain Grand Cru 2000
"It's very interesting to have Domaine Zind Humbrech included in a tasting with Clos Ste Hune due to their stark contrast in styles from one end of the spectrum to the other. Extravagent power vs the delicacy and restraint of Trimbach. Olivier Humbrecht MW leads the domaine today, and also sits at the head of Biodyvin, a syndicate of growers committed to biodynamic farming. The Rangen Grand Cru enjoys steep south facing slopes, and a mixture of volcanic rocks and ash with fine sandstone, adjacent to Thann.
Right away the light amber appearance of the wine is already in stark contrast to the much younger looking Trimbach. The nose is rich, honeyed, nutty, peppery, slightly petrolly and oxidative. With a residual sugar, of 17 g/l, Olivier Humbrecht commented that this wine fermented a lot more sugar than he expected in the beginning, resulting in a wine that was ""powerful, showing a smoky flinty nose, so typical of its volcanic origin"". The rich body accompanied a palate that wasn't completely dry, but thanks to the classic powerful acidity, it was very balanced leading to a dryish finish. Rich, complex, fantastic concentration, with a very nutty pecan character, gorgeous is probably the best way to desribe this. "
Markus Molitor Saarburger Rausch Auslese *** 2014
"Markus Molitor is always a G+C favourite, a very classic Mosel winemaker who has earned many accolades, and nicknamed Mr 300 Points by Wine-Searcher for 3 of this Auslese cuvees having scored 100 points by Wine Advocate for his 2013 vintage. Molitor color codes his capsules according to sweetness, with his white capsules generally the dryest, green capsules being off-dry and finally gold capsules being sweet.
Essentially an Auslese Trocken, this was fermented to complete dryness, with a powerful nose of white flowers, biscuity aromas, citrus fruit, with a hint of petorl. Complex, powerful, and a little spicy, this was beautifully made and extremely elegant. The richness of an Auslese without the sugar, but still retaining the classic acidity, the petrol character, with a very distinct minerality. "
Markus Molitor Wehlener Sonnenuhr Spatlese (Goldkapsel) 2015
For a Spatlese, this was a lot sweeter than expected, but still remained very elegant and balanced. Honey, nectarines, floral aromas, combined with a classic petrol nose. Powerful acidity that is so signature of Molitor's wines creates a beautiful balance and minerality that prolongs the fruit-driven finish.