With more than their share of stormy weather, both literally and figuratively, the Rheingau and Mittelrhein yielded significantly varying quality in 2017, with some exciting successes.
Rheinhessen Riesling vines that escaped devastation by late April frost and a savage August 25 hailstorm were still exposed to punishing May-July drought. But growers soldiered on and, with help from subsequent meteorological breaks, were rewarded with impressive results.
The Nahe suffered significant crop losses to April frost. But when unseasonably chilly weather arrived once again after mid-September, it proved a blessing, allowing the creation of wines that combine aromatic finesse and textural allure with invigorating energy and infectious sheer juiciness.
Following a growing season that their 20th-century predecessors would have considered an impossible dream come true, Pfalz vintners took nothing for granted – and were handsomely rewarded.
cellar favorite, Cellar Favorites, germany: Mosel
I have not drunk many 1971 Rieslings, but whenever the occasion does arise, I tend to be blown away, which is what happened when Egon Müller IV poured a birth-year gem in Beaune last November.
featured, Austria, Germany
In canvassing Germany’s precarious vintage 2000 for The International Wine Cellar in early 2002, I led off by observing: “The decade of the 1990s was an extraordinary one for German vintners. At its midpoint (back in Issue 64), I wrote: ‘We are in the midst of a streak of vintages utterly unprecedented in the history of German viticulture.’ And I hadn’t seen or tasted the half of it....!"
While I lack Neal’s talent or experience in this genre, I was invited to address one or more personal highlights of my year. If you and I are lucky, the recitation might pleasantly distract us from the symptoms of social and governmental dysfunction that have been so conspicuously in evidence. There was one vinous event in which I participated that could conceivably be set alongside the year’s many cultural calamities as “historic.”
We all have favorite wine estates. Von Schubert is one of mine. I don’t know exactly how many bottles I have amassed from Carl Von Schubert over the last 30 years, but frankly, I never get tired of anything I taste from the Von Schubert family.
germany: Mosel, featured
The 2016 growing season in the Rheingau and Mittelrhein set weather records. But the resulting Rieslings, while variable in quality, are often impressive thanks to their balance and understated character, which stand in contrast to the vintage's meteorological extremes.
Like their counterparts from Rheinhessen, the top Pfalz Rieslings of 2016 are wines of delicious and animating complexity that managed to benefit from the growing season’s chilly October.