Long-Lived Mosel Riesling Showing No Signs of Slowing Down

Today’s Story: Weingut Joh. Jos. Prüm

Joh. Jos. Prüm, situated in the village of Wehlen on the banks of the Mosel in Germany, is one of the most highly-regarded wine estates in the region and perhaps all of Germany. Though the Prüm family lived in Wehlen back to the year 1156, the estate as we know it today started to take shape during the 1800s under Sebastian Alois Prüm. Joh. Jos. Prüm itself, however, was established in 1911 when Johann Josef Prüm received part of the family estate which was split between him and his siblings. Joh. Jos. Prüm wasn’t in the greatest of health when his son Sebastian took over in 1920, and it again passed to Sebastian’s son Dr. Manfred Prüm in 1969. Joh. Jos. Prüm remains a family estate to this day, as Manfred’s oldest daughter Katharina now runs the show with minimal but ready input from her father.

The Joh. Jos. Prüm estate consists of about 14 hectares (35 acres) of vineyards, with important holdings in Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Graacher Himmelreich, Zeltinger Sonnenuhr, and Bernkasteler Badstube. The Prüms exclusively produce Riesling in a range of styles, and an amazing 70% of their vines are ungrafted. The winemaking style here is rather traditional and harvest occurs on the later-end, ultimately resulting in wines that are delicate and restrained yet incredibly long-lived. Annual production typically hovers around 13,000 cases, and these are highly prized and collectible wines once they hit substantial levels of bottle age.

Today’s Wine: 2003 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese Goldkapsel

100% Riesling; 7% ABV

The 2003 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese Goldkapsel is medium gold in color. The aromas are gorgeous and of pronounced intensity, with the nose showcasing apricot, peach, yellow apple, pear, honeysuckle, petrol, dried herbs, and slate. Flavors are also of pronounced intensity, and the palate displays notes of mango, peach, apricot, dried pineapple, chamomile, honey, vanilla cream, almond, and saline mineral. This sweet Riesling is medium- to full-bodied with high acidity, low alcohol, and a long finish. Outstanding bottle of wine that has at least 10 years left to improve and probably another decade after to drink.

Price: $120 (I got it for $75). This actually offers very, very solid value given the age, intensity, balance, and length of the wine. It’s an absolutely beautiful bottle, and I got it for a steal of a price.

Fun and Easygoing Riesling From Northwest Italy

Today’s Story: Oddero

Oddero is one of the great, historical producers of Barolo and Barbaresco, with the family owning property in Piedmont dating back to the 18th century. This being said, Giovanni Battista Oddero started producing wines in the commune of La Morra sometime between the 18th and 19th centuries, kicking off what today marks seven generations of winemaking for the Oddero family.

As Oddero’s wines found their way into the world, first by small barrels, bottling began in 1878 under Giacomo Oddero and the winery recently discovered that their Barolo was exported to the Americas via small barrels as early as the late 19th century. This is in stark contrast to today’s winery, which is impacted immeasurably by another Giacomo (grandson of the above).

The second Giacomo worked tirelessly during the 1950s to renovate the farm and winery, meanwhile fighting to demonstrate the quality of Piedmont wines to the world. In doing so, Giacomo helped lay the foundation for DOC and DOCG certifications for wines of the Langhe and guided agricultural regulation for products such as cheese, nuts, and vegetables.

Today, Oddero is led by his daughter Mariacristina and two grandchildren, Isabella and Pietro. Together they work 35 hectares (about 86 acres) of vineyards of which 16.5 hectares are planted to Nebbiolo in Barolo and Barbaresco. Oddero started experimenting with organic farming practices in 2008, ultimately becoming certified organic in their Nebbiolo, Barbera, and Dolcetto vineyards while the Moscato and Riesling vineyards are still sustainably farmed.

I previously reviewed a couple of Oddero’s wines, first the 2010 Oddero Barolo and then the 2012 Barolo Riserva Bussia Vigna Mondoca.

Today’s Wine: 2016 Langhe Riesling

100% Riesling; 13.5% ABV

The 2016 Langhe Riesling is pale yellow in color. Aromas are of medium intensity, showcasing notes of tropical citrus, tangerine, white peach, yellow apple, white floral blossom, petrol, and stony mineral. Meanwhile the flavors are also of medium intensity, with the palate displaying notes of white peach, pineapple, lemon zest, stone fruit, honeysuckle, and crushed rock. This dry Riesling is medium- to full-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium alcohol, and a medium (+) length finish. This is a very easy-drinking wine, quite enjoyable for patio sipping. It’s not too complex and not as intense as other Rieslings, but it’s a fun wine. Roughly 333 cases produced.

Price: $25. I think this is pretty fairly priced, but there are better values out there in terms of complexity and intensity. It’s a fun wine with an uncommon variety in its region, and as I mentioned a great patio sipper.

Legendary Alsatian Riesling With a Long Life Ahead

Today’s Story: Maison Trimbach

Maison Trimbach is one of the most notable winemakers in Alsace, established in 1626 by Jean Trimbach. Today Trimbach is under the guidance of Hubert Trimbach and his nephews Jean and Pierre, rounding out 12 generations of family ownership and shared knowledge. Pierre’s daughter Anne, the oldest of the 13th generation, also now works in the family business. Though Trimbach’s world recognition greatly expanded in 1898 when Frédéric Emile Trimbach earned the highest marks at the International Wine Fair in Brussels, Trimbach is largely famous for the legendary Clos Sainte Hune vineyard. Located in the Rosacker Grand Cru vineyard, Clos Ste Hune has belonged to the Trimbach family for over two centuries and produces some of the most exquisite Alsatian Riesling in existence.

The Trimbach estate consists of 40 hectares (about 100 acres) encompassing 50 parcels across six villages that include Bergheim, Ribeauvillé, and Hunawihr. Trimbach also operates as a négociant business to produce additional non-estate wines. All of Trimbach’s winegrowing practices are sustainable and they try to preserve the natural environment of the vineyards. Trimbach practices close pruning and soil tilling while encouraging moderate yields and rigorous fruit selection come harvest which is accomplished entirely by hand. When the grapes are gently crushed at the winery, juices flow via gravity and Pierre vinifies and matures the wines adhering to centuries of tradition with both finesse and focus on the terroir. After being bottled each spring, the wines are released by maturity with some spending 5 to 7 years in the cellars to achieve balance before release.

I previously wrote about Trimbach when I reviewed their 2016 Gewurztraminer, so feel free to check that out if you missed it!

Today’s Wine: 2014 Clos Ste Hune

100% Riesling; 14.5% ABV

The 2014 Clos Ste Hune is pale yellow in color with greenish hints. Aromas are of pronounced intensity and laser-focused, with the nose showcasing lemon, crisp green apple, tropical citrus, white peach, honeysuckle, petrol, a hint of smoke, and crushed rock mineral. Meanwhile flavors on the palate are also of pronounced intensity, displaying notes of green apple, lemon zest, pineapple, white peach, white florals, petrol, mild smoke, and saline mineral. This Riesling is bone dry and full-bodied with razor-sharp high acidity, high alcohol, and a long finish. Outstanding with a long, long life ahead but this is already showing incredible precision and balance.

Price: $300. This is another wine with a value proposition that’s difficult to discuss, simply because there are better “values” out there for significantly less money. That being said though, these wines are truly legendary and perhaps the greatest Riesling the Alsace region has to offer. It’s certainly the best Riesling I’ve had to date, by a mile.

Gorgeous Mosel Riesling to Stock up on for the Summer

Today’s Story: Weingut Fritz Haag

Weingut Fritz Haag is a historic family-owned wine estate established by the Haag family in 1605 in Brauneberg of the Mosel winegrowing region of Germany. In its more recent “modern” history, Fritz Haag was under the leadership of Wilhelm Haag beginning in 1957 when he returned to help his ill father. An expected one-harvest stay turned into full-time winemaking for Wilhelm, ultimately resulting in exceptional quality wines being produced by the estate which garnered international acclaim and earned Wilhelm the German Winemaker of the Year title in 1994 by Gault Millau’s Guide to German Wines. Wilhelm passed the reins onto his son Oliver in 2005, and he runs the estate to this day with his wife Jessica.

The Fritz Haag estate consists of 19.5 hectares, with the vineyards planted entirely to the Riesling variety on very steep slopes along the Mosel River. As part of their holdings, Fritz Haag owns substantial holdings in the highly regarded Brauneberger Juffer and Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr vineyards which produce their highest quality fruit for the Grosses Gewächs wines and Prädikatswein. Fritz Haag produces a range of Rieslings, going from dry all the way to sweet wines made with botrytis-affected grapes but they keep production to around 5,500 cases per year with mild fluctuations due to vintage conditions.

To preserve the pronounced aroma and flavor characteristics of their wines, Fritz Haag utilizes stainless steel and some old oak during the winemaking process. Fermentations occur only with indigenous yeasts, and the name of the game is to produce exceptionally pure wines that show true sense of place.

To explore Weingut Fritz Haag further, you can check out their website here.

Today’s Story: 2019 Riesling

100% Riesling; 11% ABV

The 2019 Riesling is transparent pale straw in color. This wine leaps out of the glass with pronounced intensity, offering up aromas of green apple, lime zest, white peach, white florals, petrol, jasmine, and slate. Meanwhile the palate is also of pronounced intensity, showcasing notes of lemon, lime, white peach, crisp green apple, elderflower, a hint of beeswax, and saline minerality. This slightly off-dry (feinherb style) Riesling is light-bodied with gorgeous high acidity, medium (-) alcohol, and a medium (+) length finish. A perfect summer bottle with great balance and just a touch of sweetness to help balance the mouthwatering acidity.

Price: $22 (cheaper in Europe). I think this offers very solid value for Mosel Riesling and it was an absolute pleasure to drink. The acidity is gorgeous, the style is beautifully balanced, and the aromas and flavors mesh seamlessly into a refreshing wine. I’ll be buying more of this.

Fantastic Riesling From Eden Valley’s Oldest Vineyard

Today’s Story: Pewsey Vale Vineyard

Pewsey Vale Vineyard was first established in the Eden Valley wine region of South Australia in 1847 by Joseph Gilbert. After arriving from England, Gilbert sourced his vines from Macarthur Vineyards at Camden in New South Wales which were originally sourced from Rheingu, Germany in 1837. Importantly, Pewsey Vale Vineyard is not only Eden Valley’s first ever planted grapevines, but the first successful recorded importation of the Riesling variety to Australia as a whole. Though the vineyard fell into disrepair during the global financial crisis of the late 1920s and 1930s, it was rediscovered in 1961 and vigneron Wyndham Hill Smith started revamping the site. Today, Pewsey Vale produces 4 bottlings of Riesling from this historic site.

The vineyard itself sits on average around 485 to 500 meters above sea level and is planted entirely to the Riesling variety. Difficult to manage due to its high altitude, rocks, and varying microclimates, the vineyard demands constant care from winemaker Louisa Rose and viticulturist Darrell Kruger. In 2013, the Contours block of the vineyard (where my wine today comes from) received organic certification, though Kruger farms it adhering to biodynamic practices.

Today’s Wine: 2013 The Contours Museum Reserve Riesling

100% Riesling; 12% ABV

The 2013 Contours Museum Reserve Riesling is transparent medium straw in color with greenish-yellow hues around the rim of the glass. This is gorgeous on the nose, with aromas of lemon, lime, green apple, white florals, petrol, wet stone, and rubber. On the palate, I get notes of lime zest, grapefruit, underripe pear, lemongrass, honeysuckle, toast, and rocky mineral. This dry Riesling is light- to medium-bodied with vibrant high acidity and a long finish.

Price: $34. This is a very nice wine with only untapped potential with more bottle age, and one that I find to be a great value. Definitely give this a shot if you come across it.

A Truly Special Riesling

Today’s Story: Weingut Reichsrat von Buhl

Reichsrat von Buhl was established in 1849 by Franz Peter Buhl, and the estate quickly became a benchmark of quality for Forster Riesling. Thanks to uncompromising quality, von Buhl Rieslings became some of the most expensive in the world and even filled the glasses of those toasting the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869. Even Otto von Bismarck became a loving fan of von Buhl wines and praised their Ungeheuer which is sourced from the best plot of the 29 hectare Grand Cru Ungeheuer vineyard.

In 1909, Franz Eberhard Buhl (the son of Armand von Buhl and Juliane Schellhorn-Wallbillich) orchestrated the marriage of the von Buhl and Schellhorn-Wallbillich wineries, establishing one of the largest privately owned German wine estates at over 200 hectares. At this point, Franz Eberhard changed the winery name to Reichsrat von Buhl (adding his title as a member in the house of Lords in the kingdom of Bavaria). Franz Eberhard passed away young in 1921 and his widow Frieda Piper von Buhl adeptly ran the estate until her death in 1952. With no familial heirs to the estate, Reichsrat von Buhl went to Georg Enoch Freiherr von und zu Guttenberg who was a political friend of Franz Eberhard.

Over time, Reichsrat von Buhl decreased in size to about 52 hectares of vineyard land thanks to financial challenges, though they maintained ownership of some of the greatest sites in Deidesheim and Forst. From 1989 to 2013, von Buhl was leased to Japanese business man Toyohiro Tokuoka but changed ownership in 2005 to a local businessman named Achim Niederberger. When Tokuoka’s lease ended in 2013, von Buhl went back to being a family-run estate and winery.

All vineyards owned by Reichsrat von Buhl are certified organic and the current team is unified behind natural and sustainable viticulture. All white wines from von Buhl are Riesling (except for two noble sweet wines) and all red wines and rosé are made from Pinot Noir. Of all the land planted to vine that von Buhl owns, 45% is classified as either VDP.Erste Lage® (Premier Cru) or VDP.Grosse Lage® (Grand Cru) – source. For more on this historic German estate, check out the website here.

Today’s Wine: 2014 Forster Ungeheuer Riesling Großes Gewächs

100% Riesling; 13% ABV

The 2014 Ungeheuer Riesling GG is transparent medium yellow in color with medium to deep straw hues. As the wine opens up, it constantly evolves and showcases its complexity transitioning from dominant aromas of dried gravel, petrol, and pineapple into apricot, peach, white florals, exotic Asian spice, honey, and smoke. Once in the mouth, this gorgeous Riesling displays notes of white peach, lemon zest, green apple skins, apricot, saline and crushed rock minerality, honeysuckle, beeswax, flint, and dried herbs. This is medium-bodied and bone-dry with gorgeous high acidity and a lush mouthfeel into an incredibly long finish.

Price: $70 (but looks like there is some in bond for ~$40/btl in 6 packs). To be honest I would buy the 6 packs in bond from Europe if I could, because this is absolutely worth every penny of the $70 I paid. Riesling is a variety I am trying to explore further, but this is certainly the greatest example I’ve had to date. Pair with chicken Pad Thai, roasted pork, or sushi.

Delicious Entry Level Alsatian Riesling

Today’s Story: Domaine Weinbach

Domaine Weinbach was established in 1612 by Capuchin friars and is named for the stream meandering through the property. Located at the foot of a hill called Schlossberg in Alsace, France, the property has been planted to vine since as early as the 9th century and the vineyards are surrounded by ancient walls named Clos des Capucins. During the French Revolution, the domaine sold as national property though came into the Faller family when two brothers acquired it in 1898. Domaine Weinbach remains in the family today and passed to Théo who expanded and improved the winery; then Colette (Théo’s wife), Catherine, and Laurence; and finally to Eddy and Théo who currently work alongside their mother Catherine. The domaine now totals 28 hectares which, since 2005, are entirely farmed according to biodynamic principles. All harvesting is accomplished by hand, and minimal intervention takes priority in the cellar.

Today’s Wine: 2016 Riesling Réserve Personnelle

100% Riesling; 13% ABV

The 2016 Réserve Personnelle is transparent and medium straw in color with water-white near the rim. On the nose, I get aromas of melon, lemon citrus, stone fruit, green apple, honeysuckle, petrol, saline minerality, and vanilla. Once in the mouth, the wine showcases notes of white peach, pear, pineapple, apricot, white florals, petrol, crushed rock, mineral, cream, and straw. This is medium- to full-bodied with high acidity and a long, mouthwatering finish.

Price: $30. This is a great entry price to explore Alsatian Riesling, which alongside Mosel, Germany produces some of my favorite wines with the variety. Pair this with smoked whitefish, Thai food, or charcuterie with goat cheese.

My Favorite Riesling Thus Far

Today’s Story: Bioweingut Johannes Zillinger

Bioweingut Johannes Zillinger is a roughly 350 year old winery located in Niederösterreich, Austria. Though Johannes took over the winery in 2013 from his father Hans, he started learning about winemaking at a very young age and grew an early appreciation for organic winemaking. Somewhat of a pioneer in Austrian winemaking, Hans turned organic in 1983 and this helped lay the foundation of Johannes’ view of the vineyards as a habitat that should not be “poisoned” with chemicals. In 2013, Johannes also turned to biodynamic farming which is much more strict than organic farming. For instance, all of his wines are spontaneously fermented, lightly filtered or unfiltered, and little or no sulfur is added only at bottling if needed.

Johannes Zillinger produces a broad range of natural wines, with annual production numbers coming in right around 100,000 bottles. With vineyards covering 18 hectares, Johannes makes everything from Cabernet Sauvignon to Riesling to Zweigelt with several blends and NV bottlings in between.

Today’s Wine: 2017 Numen Riesling

100% Riesling; 13% ABV

This Riesling, like all of Johannes’ wines, is spontaneously fermented. Further, the Numen Riesling is unfined, unfiltered, and there are no added sulfites. Though many people seem to be unfamiliar with natural wines, anything from Johannes Zillinger seems to be a great place to start.

The Numen Riesling is medium to deep gold in color, which kind of surprised me as most that I’ve tried are lighter. The nose is incredibly aromatic with aromas of peach, golden pear, yellow apple, meyer lemon, white florals, white pepper, petrol, and cream. Overall the nose provides a very exotic, slightly spicy and complex experience. Once in the mouth, the wine showcases notes of apricot, peach, lemon citrus, green apple, white spice, jasmine, and mineral. The wine is medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity and a long, dry finish.

Price: $50. This is quite possibly my favorite Riesling to date and I highly recommend trying it. Pair this with Chinese or Thai food, roasted pork, or Cajun food.

Rare Riesling from Napa

Today’s Story: Palmaz Vineyards

Palmaz Vineyards, as it exists today, was founded in 1997 by Julio and Amalia Palmaz. Julio is a medical doctor by trade, credited with being a co-creator of the heart stent, though he and his wife Amalia always believed that close attention and care to their land can produce superior quality wines for generations to come.

Before I get too far, I’d like to take a step back to the origin of winemaking on their plot of land. In 1852, a man by the name of Henry Hagen moved to the West Coast in pursuit of Gold Rush treasures. Though he originally lived in San Francisco, in 1881 he purchased a plot of land at the southeastern edge of Napa Valley against Mount George and founded Cedar Knoll Vineyard and Winery. At that time a pioneer in Napa Valley, Hagen produced high-quality wines served throughout San Francisco high society and even won a silver medal for his brandy at the 1889 World’s Fair in Paris.

Fortunes changed, however, with Hagen’s death in 1895 and, as many wineries of the time experienced, the onset of Prohibition in 1919. With 450 acres of land in the hands of Hagen’s kin who didn’t share his passion for wine, winemaking ceased and the estate fell into disrepair.

Circling back to the Palmaz family, Julio and Amalia purchased, restored, and modernized the long-lost winery while building an estate totaling 600 acres with 64 acres under vine. One of the coolest features of the winery is their caves, which total 100,000 square feet and are listed as the largest in Napa Valley. The winery is built into an 18-story cavern behind Mount George, allowing for gravity-flow production of wine while also providing a naturally cool environment. The crowning achievement, in my opinion, of the Palmaz renovations is in their “fermentation dome” where the ceiling showcases high-tech data points and charts for easy monitoring of the wine during fermentation. This thing looks like it could control the Starship Enterprise so I highly suggest you take a look at pictures online and on their website here.

Today’s Wine: 2009 Louise Riesling

100% Riesling; 13.2% ABV

Palmaz is known for their Cabernet Sauvignon, particularly the Gaston which is produced from the best lots and only in certain vintages, several of which I’ve been able to enjoy. If you find a bottle of their Cabernet on a shelf, I suggest you give it a shot (though it is not cheap at about $130-150 per bottle). All this being said, I was unaware Palmaz produced a Riesling and I am excited to review it today.

Almost perfectly clear, this Riesling is pale straw/yellow in color with rim variation of water white. The nose is classic Riesling with aromas of petrol, green apple, and lime zest as well as pineapple, white florals, and slight nutty notes. Once in the mouth, this light- to medium-bodied white showcases notes of tangerine, peach, green apple, lemon peel, beeswax, and slight white spice. This is a creamy textured Riesling and not as dry as I prefer, showing medium acidity and a rounded medium length finish. 150 cases produced.

Price: $95. This is high in my opinion, though I think the rarity of this bottling plays into the price. I’d say skip this one and look toward Alsace or Mosel if you’re spending that kind of money. Pair this (like most Rieslings) with Chinese food, spicy Thai food, or even Tex-Mex.