Vintage 2009 is a startlingly super riesling vintage, if a recent tasting of wines in Germany is anything to go by.
A combination of ripeness with retained, relatively high acidity are cited as the defining parameters of the 2009 in the main riesling regions of Mosel, Rheingau, Nahe, Pfalz and the Rheinhessen. This was defined as a year of long ripening and good structure. But volumes are down across the board.
Some have said 2009 is as good as 2007. By comparison 2008 was not so warm, on average. There is enough ripeness in 2008 but the acidity is crispier and more pronounced. The wines are perhaps less concentrated than the 2009s.
The Pfalz accounts for nearly a quarter of Germany’s total vineyard area. Coincidentally the region has a quarter of the country’s riesling plantings.
Most of the vineyards are in the foothills of the north-south orientated Haardt mountains, where they are more protected from the winds. These mountains are a geological continuation of the Vosges mountains which lie to the south, home to France’s Alsace vineyards.
At the JL Wolf estate, in Wachenheim, which is the property of Ernie Loosen, owner of the Mosel’s Dr. Loosen, an ‘entry’ range of wines is made under the varietal ‘Villa Wolf’ label. The fruit for these wines comes from growers contracted to the estate.
Above this range lie the estate wines under the label ‘JL Wolf’, which are labelled, in ascending order, (a) village name only, (b), village name plus vineyard name, and (c) just the vineyard name. This is JL Wolf’s personal following of a Burgundian nomenclature. The back label contains all the legally-required German labelling.
The estate produces more than riesling, for example, pinot noir, pinot blanc and pinot gris, but just the riesling notes are below.
Read here for a review of the wines from Weingut Hermann Dönnhoff in the Nahe.
Read here for a review of the 2009 rieslings from Gunderloch in Rheinhessen.
Tasting notes, in situ, April 2010
2009 Villa Wolf Riesling dry
12.5%, 8g/l RS, ~6.8TA
Apple puree, green apple attack, tight, with a hint of lime zest. Refreshing, with good intensity, and some density of length.
2009 JL Wolf Wachenheimer Riesling trocken
12.5%, 8g/l RS. Labelled with village name only
Firestone and apricots on the nose, some honeyed complexity; quite intense palate attack. Warm hint of aromatic spice, with attractive note of richness. Dense and flavoursome.
2009 JL Wolf Wachenheimer Belz Riesling Spatlese trocken
8g/l RS. Belz is a monopole of JL Wolf. Labelled with village and vineyard name.
Apple and honey nose, spritz. Savoury note to attack, rich.
2009 JL Wolf Forster Pechstein Riesling (spatlese trocken)
Labelled just with vineyard name – Pechstein – to denote single vineyard wine.
12.5 to 13%, 8g/l RS. Black basalt soil.
Apricot, firestone, yellow peach, steeliness, sweet-savoury dichotomy. Intense, with big concentration, demands attention in the mouth. Delicious, with long, exotic-spice finish.
The UK agents, ABS Wine Agencies, flew me, and a group of UK importers, to Germany to taste the 2009s from the producers they represent.