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.
Weingut Josef Leitz is located in Rüdesheim, at the western end of the Rheingau. It is run by Johannes Leitz, who took over the 28 hectare family property in 1985, when he was just 21. He grows only riesling.
Rebuilding a reputation takes time, and Johannes said “I found my real way in 2000 after 15 years. Since 2000, we really do a lot in the vineyard. We cut the bottom of bunches, we de-leaf. Then we press very gently.”
The Rheingau is a small region, accounting for just 3% of Germany’s vineyard area. It runs for 30km in an east-west direction on the south-facing right bank of the river Rhine as it flows between Mainz and Rüdesheim. At Rüdesheim, which eyeballs Bingen on the other bank, the river hits the Hünsruck mountains and turns north.
Also at Rüdesheim is the Germania monument, which commemorates the re-establishment of the German empire after the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71. It overlooks the river from the top of the slope at 320m above sea level, just below the forest above, which protects the vineyards from the cold chills of the night.
Leitz put Rheingau riesling into context against those from other German regions, saying “In Hessen and Pfalz they are richer and heavier. The Mosel is colder, the Devonian slate bringing a special minerality. The Rheingau is in-between: it has softer acidity than the Mosel, it is lighter than Hessen and Pfalz. People say yellow fruit aromas, peaches, is typical of Rheingau riesling.”
Read here for a review of the 2009 rieslings from Weingut Hermann Dönnhoff in the Nahe.
Read here for a review of the 2009 rieslings from JL Wolf in the Pfalz.
Read here for a review of the 2009 rieslings from Weingut Gunderloch in Rheinhessen.
Read here for a review of the 2009 rieslings from Dr. Loosen in Mosel.
Tasting notes, in situ, April 2010
2009 Eins-Zwei-Dry, Riesling Qualitätswein trocken
12%. Dry, lemongrass, easy to drink, approachable with a bit of layering. Good fruit flavours that are long in the mouth. Good.
2009 Rudesheimer, Riesling Qualitätswein trocken
12%. All fruit is from Berg Rottland,
Lime zest, quite full body, rich and opulent, big flavours, citrus and white stone fruit.
2009 Rüdesheimer Bischofsberg Riesling spätlese trocken
12%. 8g/l RS. >8g/l TA. Mostly sandy loam, clay and quartzite
Lime; taut. Steely, upright, racy, good intensity of fruit and focus
2009 Rüdesheimer Berg Roseneck, Riesling Qualitâtswein trocken
On quartzite, which “gives it spiciness and saltiness”
Limegrass, hint of sweet fruit on attack which gives nice balance, slight tingle on the tongue, lovely freshness and depth, with whirlpool-prickle in the core. Long finish.
2009 Rüdesheimer Berg Rottland, Riesling Trocken, alte reben
12.5%. 60 years old. Leitz said “We can our best wines alte reben.”
Lifted apple blossom, piercing rapier lime attack, steely, almost herbal note, followed up by rich ripe soft fruits with big mouth-feel. Finishes very clean and fresh. Good. Very long.
2009 Rüdesheimer Kirchenpfad Riesling Kabinett feinherb
11% 18g/l RS. ‘Church path’. Sandy loam and clay. Leitz “the perfect summer wine.”
Lifted, floral, elegant and light, good simple juicy intensity, decent length. Perception of taste is pretty dry
2009 Rudesheimer Riesling Kabinett
9%. 45g/l RS
Fresh, fruity, citrus. Everything is in its place but I find this slightly less appealing.
2009 Rüdesheimer Magdalenenkreuz Riesling Spatlese
8.5%. 65g/l RS. ‘Cross of Mary Magdalene’. Sandy loam and clay.
Sweet, lime cordial, linden leaf, plush, easy to drink, finishing fresh and clean.
2009 Rüdesheimer Berg Roseneck Riesling spätlese
7.5%. 106g/l RS.
Lime leaf, sweet, honeyed, crystalline citrus fruits, with layers, and purity. Precision acidity, and focus. Delightful, with razor sharp clarity. Layered and surreptitiously complex. Very long.
2009 Rüdesheimer Drachenstein Riesling Eiswein
8%. 11g/l TA. 200 Oechsle. Picked in December at -14°C. Previous eiswein vintage was 2001.
Dense sweetness, barley sugar, spicy complexitiy. Almost so dense it’s savoury, in big and powerful style. Lifted fresh peach and nectarine fruits.
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.