Commentators and winemakers are in agreement that 2009 is an outstanding vintage in Germany. In truth, Germany hasn’t experienced a really poor vintage in the past 25 years or so. Mosel magician, Ernst Loosen, describes weather conditions for winemaking as “the new normal“, by which he means less severe winters, warmer springs and earlier flowering. In the past Loosen felt his luck was in if he got 2 or 3 fully ripe vintages in a decade. But, he says, Germany hasn’t had a disastrously cold, unripe harvest since 1987.
The JN Taste Team, this time in the form of lone ranger Derek Flack, visited Germany in early June 2010 with a group of fellow wine professionals. All were stunned by the quality of the wines, an impression since backed up by the wine press. Tastings at Loosen (Mosel), Leitz (Rheingau), Dönnhoff (Nähe) and Villa Wolf (Pfalz) confirmed that 2009 was a special year for winemakers in all parts of Germany.
Two of the wines of Joseph Leitz recently attracted the admiring attention of Jancis Robinson who awarded his Berg Roseneck Riesling Spätlese 17.5 points and theMagdalenenkreuz Riesling Spätlese, 17 points.
Modest but magnificent, Helmut Dönnhoff entertained us through a 3-hour tasting of many of his fabulous wines. Lauded throughout the wine world as one of the most influential figures in German winemaking, Helmut’s wines exude quality and integrity, with his Rieslings commanding an eminent position in the pantheon of German winemaking. From his QbA Riesling through to his Oberhäuser Eiswein, the wines were exceptional. Jancis Robinson’s comments on Helmut’s 2008 Eiswein following a German tasting (November 2010) of sweet Rieslings say a lot about the man and his wine:
“First Eiswein from this site in the 1960s. Picked on 30 Dec, Helmut’s daughter’s birthday. Low site where all the cold air falls into – generally relatively shaded. Very pale straw. Very youthful, embryonic nose. Lovely texture. So complete and clean. A model Eiswein – we all clap him and he looks almost expressionless and just slightly embarrassed.” Jancis Robinson
To wine buffs, Dr Ernst Loosen needs no introduction. To non-buffs, all you need to know is that he is Germany’s foremost ambassador for German Riesling. In the past, he has been Decanter Man of the Year and he remains one of the most energetic and colourful characters in the international wine scene. His 2009s are a delight beautifully expressing that light delicacy, allied to racy acidity, of Mosel Riesling.
Wine journalists have not been slow to recognise the quality of his 2009s with Neal Martin of Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate describing his Erdener Treppchen Riesling Kabinett 2009 thus:
“A very alluring nose with yellow plum, white peach, a hint of hazelnut and smoke, all very well defined and somehow, quite earthy. The palate is well defined, tightly wound at the moment with vibrant acidity and a crisp, apricot and Clementine tinged finish that revivifies the sense. Excellent.” Drink now-2020 Tasted May 2010. 90 pts.
At JN we have quite a broad range of German 2009s, but – a word of caution – demand was high from wine merchants and allocations were consequently lower than usual because of the exceptional quality of the vintage. Consequently, we have already sold out of various lines. For example, our supplies of Donnhoff’s QbA Riesling sold out in the first few weeks. Nevertheless, we still have ample quantities to allow customers to experience some of the most delightful, ethereal wines of the first decade of the 21st century.