German Wines:  A Review of  New and Past Releases, Part 2 

In this article devoted to some of the world’s best white wines especially, D’Agata tackles both famous and less famous producers analyzing strengths and weaknesses of German wines, of which there are, both, plenty.
by Ian D’Agata

I have always been one of the biggest, hugest fans of German wines, especially the country’s delicious, unbeatable, off-dry and sweet Riesling and Silvaner wines. Indeed, my desert island wine would most likely be a high-quality German Riesling Beerenauslese. German wines were also the first truly great wines I ever tasted in my life and spurred me, still in my teens (yes, I started early) to learn more about wine, to collect bottles, and ultimately to become a professional wine writer. So you might say I owe German wine a big thank-you. For sure, some of my favourite wines in the world are German, and they represent by far the biggest part of my cellar along with those of Italy and France. That much admitted, not all is well with German wine today. Though there were many disappointing wines being made thirty and forty years ago, it strikes me that many of the much-hyped wines of today give very little pleasure compared to the best of the part. And when it comes to the country’s Spatburgunders (Pinot Noirs) and dry Rieslings such as the GGs, it really seems to me that we have entered a world of the “Emperor’s new clothes” where everybody jumps on the bandwagon of supposed greatness, but the truth is really another.

A brief overview of Germany’s wine regions

Germany boasts thirteen wine regions, each with its own climate and soil specifics, allowing a great variety of wine grapes to grow. There are some truly wonderful, amazing white wines made in Germany, and some of the sparkling and red wines can be noteworthy too. Germany is, of course, the best source in the world for off-dry to frankly sweet late harvest Riesling wines (only the Alsatians can compete for that tile), and not-so-arguably the best for Silvaner wines (spelled with an “i” here, as opposed to the “y”, as in Sylvaner, of Alsace and Italy). Other grape varieties are showing promise too. But at the current state of matters, Germany’s other wines (outside of Riesling and Silvaner wines) aren’t as interesting as the best from the rest of the world. For sure, such wines are improving compared to what was being churned out twenty years ago; for example, the Pinot Noir wines (called Spatburgunder in Germany) are showing signs of noteworthy improvement thanks to climate change and better viticultural research (see TerroirSense Wine Review: The Wines of Germany: New and Recent Releases, Part 1). But save for a few exceptions from ultra-talented and passionate individuals, at the present time wines made from the likes of Pinot Blanc (Weissburgunder), Pinot Gris (Grauburgunder), Sauvignon Blanc and other wine grapes, while good, aren’t really exciting enough to warrant being chosen over the best from many other parts of the world.

Germany’s wine regions and wines

Each one of Germany’s wine regions boasts at least one wine or wine style capable of turning heads. At roughly a little less than 600 hectares, the Ahr is one of Germany’s smallest wine regions, and is also one of the country’s most exciting areas relative to Pinot Noir (and red wines in general); it is not wrong to say that the Ahr is a German Pinot Noir/Spatburgunder specialist. Steep slopes covered with vines plunging down to the vineyards are everywhere. The Baden is Germany’s third largest vineyard area (more than 15,000 hectares planted) and runs in a north-south direction (from the Tauber in the north to Lake Constance in the south) for about 400 kilometers. The Baden is another German Spatburgunder specialist and in fact over half of the vineyard area is planted to the Pinot varieties. The region even has its own special Rosé wine, called Badisch Rotgold, made from a blend of Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. The Franken is in many ways Germany’s most exciting wine region today, characterized by its centuries old bocksbeutel bottle (short, flat and pudgy, it’s fun just to look at but it was given that shape for very logical reasons, as the flatter-sided bottles were easier to carry on horseback). Over 80% of its 6000+ hectares are planted to white grapes, and it is from here that some really amazing Silvaner wines are made, the best of which easily rival Riesling (and not just from the Franken). Müller-Thurgau and even Bacchus, grape varieties that have long been neglected and lambasted for poor-quality wines, are undergoing a renaissance of sorts thanks to talented and passionate, forward-thinking new generations of Franken producers that are making lovely wines from them. Clearly, getting some of the lazier importers out there to want to push grapes that aren’t the usual tried and true is another matter (“Chardonnay, yeah man, that’s where it’s at, I tell you man, what the world needs is yet more Chardonnaay, I can sell that!”), but that’s not on the producers. Not at all. The little-known Hessiche-Bergstrasse is only 463 hectares large and planted mostly to Riesling, although around twenty hectares are planted to Roter (red) Riesling too. It’s a slightly warmer vine-growing area of Germany, where the harvest will happen earlier than elsewhere (that is a warmer area is shown by the fact that almond trees are able to grow there). The Mittelrhein is located between Bingen and Bonn (once the capital of western Germany, before the unification). The very steep hard to work slopes have reduced the vineyard area here to less than 470 hectares but the wines are truly worthy of your interest and money. It is here that you find the famous Bopparder Hamm vineyard. Beautiful and picturesque, with medieval castles dotting the hilltops, the upper Middle Rhine valley was named a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 2002. What else is there left to say about the Mosel, one of the world’s most famous wine production areas and the home to some of the world’s greatest and most legendary white wines. Once referred to as the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer or MSR for short, the areas took and still takes its name from rivers, the Saar and Ruwer that are tributaries of the Mosel which is itself a tributary of the Rhine. And though I for one am all for progress, sometimes progress is too clever for its own good: keeping the three areas separate actually made a lot of sense given that the growing conditions and wines of each of those three river valleys are very different from each other. Today the “Mosel” area counts six different sections and boasts about 9000 hectares of vines, mostly steep and terraced (gradients usually run greater than 30 degrees, some reaching even as much as a truly mind-boggling 70 degrees). It has always been the realm of Riesling grown on slate, with different coloured slates (such as red, blue, black) giving recognizably different Riesling wines. Recently other wine grapes have been increasingly planted in the Mosel (frankly not the greatest of ideas, between you and me, given the place is so unique in its ability to gift amazing Riesling wines). Much like the Mosel, the Nahe region is named after a river that flows through it going towards Bingen on the Rhine; it is one of Germany’s most underrated wine areas, boasting some truly mythically famous vineyard crus, such as the Schlossbockelheimer Kupfergrube. At 4200+ hectares, the Nahe is hardly one of Germany’s biggest wine areas, but it boasts perhaps the greatest variation in geology, ranging from loess to sand, reddish clay, slate and loam and more still. The Riesling wines (about a quarter of the Nahe is planted to this variety) can be among Germany’s spiciest, especially when made with grapes grown on the reddish soils. Müller-Thurgau and Silvaner wines from the Nahe are also well-worth seeking out too. In many ways, the Pfalz (formerly Rheinpfalz) is Germany’s most interesting and unique wine production area. It is the country’s second largest vine are (almost 24,000 hectares large) and is generally warmer than most other places from where they make wine in Germany, so much so that citrus and even olive trees are not rare in the Pfalz. The region boasts some of the world’s most famous and best vineyards, such as the Forster Kirchenstück and the Forster Jesuitengarten, but great, if very different wines, especially Rieslings, can be made all over this vast region. In fact, the Pfalz can be divided into two sections, the Mittelhaardt-Deutsche Weinstraße and Südliche Weinstraße, and the wines of each are very different one from the other. The Pfalz is also the one region in Germany where other grape varieties do give consistently good results: Weissburgunder, Grauburgunder, Muller-Thurgau, Gewürztraminer (in Germany it is written with the two dots over the “u”), Dornfelder, and Spatburgunder can all give rather exciting wines. At almost 27,000 hectares, the Rheinhessen is Germany’s largest wine region. The fertile soils here have led too many other crops growing, not just vines, throughout the region, but winemaking has been alive and well in this region since ancient Roman times already 2000 years ago. In fact, Germany’s oldest documented vineyard is believed to be the Rheinhessen’s Niersteiner Glöck. Besides Riesling, the Pinots (Grau- and Weissburgunder) and Silvaner do very well in the Rheinhessen and many grapes derived from crossings do great too. The Saale and Unstrut river valleys give rise to yet another German wine region, the not yet too famous Saale-Unstrut. At less than 800 hectares, it is one of Germany’s smaller vine growing areas: it is also the northernmost and driest of all of Germany’s quality wine regions. Müller-Thurgau, the most planted variety, Silvaner, Pinot Gris and Riesling all do well here. I personally have not tried too many wines from Germany’s easternmost wine region, the Sachsen. Only about 500 hectares are planted to vines today, but wine was always historically very important here with as many as 5000 hectares planted back in the seventeenth century. Most of the wine nowadays is sold and consumed directly in the region, and you can find lots of them to try along the Sachsen wine route, from Pirna to Dresden, Radebeul and Meißen to the many wine villages around Diesbar-Seußlitz. This region benefits from a special continental climate, with over 1600 hours of sunshine and enough annual rainfall such that many perfumed wines are made. It may well be Germany’s most interesting region for Traminer, and the two white Pinot wines. Last but not least, the Württemberg (locally known as the Ländle) is Germany’s fourth largest vine-growing area, boasting about 11,500 hectares of vines over 70% of which are planted to red grapes. It is the home of some of the most delicious Trollinger wines in the world (Trollinger is called Schiava in Italian), but its wines made with Schwarzriesling (also known as Müllerrebe or Pinot Meunier), Lemberger and Pinot Noir are also noteworthy and delicious. Riesling is the most commonly grown white grape.

The problem with the desire to make dry wines

In today’s world, it is commonplace to lament that “wines are no longer what they used to be”. That statement applies in spades to Germany’s new wave of dry wines, many of which are nowhere as good as they are made to be. I understand that producers everywhere are a bit over the barrel presently given the worldwide fashion rampant right now for dry wines, but truth is that many such dry wines are unbalanced, herbval and frankly unpleasant. Just witness for example the many undrinkable, bitter sparkling wines, including Champagnes, being made everywhere today. The latest rage in German wine too is to make wines that are as bone-dry as possible (for example, those of the much-hyped Grosses Gewächs category) and that have been kept on the lees for a very long period of time. Quite often (though admittedly not always), the end-result of such activities is that the wines taste at best jarringly acid and needlessly overly-saline; at worst, wines that are not just unbalanced and bitter (in dire need of just a little more sugar) but so unbearably herbal that nobody outside of a cow would be happy to drink them.

Admittedly, not all was well with some German wines of the past; even some Pradikat wines held too much residual sugar and not even the piercingly high acidity the Riesling grape is famous for was able to bring the taste experience into balance, making for cloyingly dull wines. Yes, there were a lot of those bombs. But, even if in a different way, the fact is that many of today’s Grosses Gewächs wines are just as unbalanced and unpleasant to drink. What producer associations and government institutions are trying to do is to push the wines anyways, relying for sales on the message of their presumed superior quality and on the at times sheep-like behaviour of the wine-buying public that all too often proves Barnum right (“there’s a sucker born every minute”). Of course, you don’t have to listen to me: for another valid opinion, I refer to you to some truly enlightening, very useful, and eruditely written articles by David Shildnekt, one of the world’s top two or three German wine experts, on this very subject, who is also not a huge fan of these drier-styled wines. Clearly, my hope is that sooner or later, these ultra-dry white wines being made in Germany will one day be made in a slightlyn more balanced style. The Riesling grape, and aromatic grapes in general. Do not do so well in bone dry versions, because their terpenic molecules (that taste bitter) which give the wines their distinctive characteristics require a little sugar to offset that potential bitterness. All wine lovers who have their palates and brains turned on can only hope that day will come sooner rather than later.

The wines in this tasting report.

All the wines in this report were tasted mostly in China where I live and work and partly in Italy. In the third installment of this article out soon, famous estates such as Bassermann-Jordan, Markus Molitor and others are featured.


Adeneuer 2018 Rosenthal Spätburgunder Grosses Gewachs Ahr               90

Pal medium red with a faint orange tinge. Pungent red berries and flowers on the nose, with hints of talc, lees and smoky minerals. High acid red berry and citrus flavours follow through on the palate, and offer plenty of savouriness and energy. Closes with herbal notes and echoes of tangy minerals. Drinking window: 2024-2029.

August Eser.

August Eser 2019 Doosberg Riesling Auslese Rheingau            91

Bright straw-green with some gold. Guava, passionfruit and white peach on the nose and in the mouth. The finish is long clean and precise; not much noble rot presence but very harmoniously, elegantly sweet. The clayey-loess-loam and gravel Oestricher Doosberg vineyard is a rather famous site of the Rheingau region; while the heart of this vineyard is located on a small hilltop, a small south-facing section of the vineyard actually forms the eastern edge of the Oestrich commune. Drinking window: 2024-2035.

Baron Knyphausen.

Baron Knyphausen 2022 Riesling Kabinett Rheingau       89

Straw-green. Herbal notes of chamomile, forest floor, and cumin dominate faint orchard fruit aromas and flavours. Fresh, easygoing and fruity, the medium-long finish showcases very good acid/sugar balance and a curious rising note of bacon which detracts from my score. Drinking window: 2024-2032.

Baron Knyphausen 2022 Erbacher Hohenrain Riesling Spatlese Rheingau                        92

Lime, smoke and spice dominate the aroma and flavour profile, with a mineral tang and whisper of tangerine oil on the long finish. At once elegant and powerful, this is very much a wine of Erbach. Gorgeous stuff. Drinking window: 2026-2037.

Baron Knyphausen 2022 Roter Riesling Gutswein Rheingau  93

Now this is delicious. Bright golden-tinged pale straw colour. Ripe aromas and flavours of red apple, quince, sage, bay leaf and apricot. At once glyceral and dry-tasting, with its glyceral nature such that it creates an illusion of sweetness that is really not there. But that illusion is absolutely marvellous, and I dare say absolutely necessary, because it helps throw this into a beautiful balance that is sorely lacking in many of today’s drier-styled German wines. Unlike those wines, this is very pleasant to drink and totally recommendable. Well done. Drinking window: 2024-2034.

Baron Knyphausen 2020 Riesling 1141 Gutswein Rheingau    87

Simple aromas and flavours are dominated by herbs and chamomile, leaving a drying sensation in the mouth. Finishes short. Drinking window: 2024-2027.

Baron Knyphausen 2020 Riesling Kabinett Gutswein Rheingau       91

Luminous straw-green. Fresh, ripe aromas of apple, pear and a hint of jasmine for added complexity. Delicately sweet but lifted by a slightly jagged acidity emerging on the long back end. Very good balance and easy to drink. Drinking window: 2024-2032.

Baron Knyphausen 2019 Riesling 1818 Rheingau       90

Pleasant easy going, with floral and fruity notes that vie for attention. Not exactly the last word in complexity but classically dry and easy to like. The medium-long finish is lifted and offers repeating notes of white flowers and gentle orchard fruit. Drinking window: 2024-2028.

Baron Knyphausen 2019 Riesling Charta Gutswein Rheingau                91

Vivid straw-green. Pretty aromatic nuances on the nose (cloves, herbs) complement some pear and red apple aromas. Then broad and round, with good weight and length to its orchard fruit and herbal flavours. Nicely done. Drinking window: 2024-2029.

Baron Knyphausen 2019 Erbacher Hohenrain Riesling GG Rheingau                           91

Pale golden-tinged straw colour. White flowers, apple, pear and herbs on the nose and in the mouth. Big and broad, with a smooth tactile back end featuring very good length, but ultimately lacks the penetrating minerality and the nuanced, tense fruitiness of this winery’s 2018 Erbacher Steinmorgen (“only” an Erste Lage or Premier Cru wine, but so utterly delicious). This GG is an impressively thick and layered wine as many tend to be, but I just didn’t find it that much fun to drink (which in fairness to this very good wine, I find to be the case with many GG wines). Perhaps laying it down for a few more years will allow this to develop more gracefulness and easy-drinking charm. Drinking window: 2026-2038.

Baron Knyphausen 2018 Erbacher Steinmorgen Riesling Erste Lage Rheingau                        93

Light yellow. Offers ripe melon, pear and tangerine scents and a subtle anise quality complicated by white flower and steely elements. Juicy and round on entry, then steelier and nuanced in the middle, with fresh citrus, orchard fruit, exotic green cardamom and mace notes lingering nicely. I really liked this wine’s tension, focus, and nuance. Drinking window: 2025-2036.


Bercher 2020 Weissburgunder Sasbacher Limburg Haslen 1G Baden                          92

This is actually a really delicious Pinot Blanc/Pinot Bianco wine from Bercher. Pale yellow. Minerals, lemon, mint and quinine on the nose. Then tangy, racy citrus and green apple flavours that finish very clean, with excellent lift, clarity and persistence. I really like this wine’s balance and precision and faithful delivery of Pinot Blanc characteristics. Drinking window: 2024-2033.

Bercher 2020 Grauburgunder Burkheimer Feuerberg Haslen GG Baden                      88

Bright yellow with some gold. Slightly restrained nose displays pear, nectarine, honeysuckle and sweet butter, plus hints of spice and ginger but it is really too reduced. Then stony and taut, with tentative soft citrus flavours on the medium-long back end. Even this is a GG compared to Bercher’s Pinot Blanc wine that is only from GG site, I find the latter a more precise wine, not to mention more typical of the variety it is made with. Drinking window: 2024-2033.

Bercher 2016 Spatburgunder Burkheimer Feuerberg Kesselberg Eiswein Baden                          94

Medium pale, lively red. Piercing red flowers on the nose, with hints of stone fruits, sweet spices, nut oil flying out of the glass. At once suave and broad in the mouth, but with a whiplash of underlying acidity providing wonderful clarity and cut to the open-knit texture. Really sneaky intensity to its red fruit flavours and lots of early appeal, but with a touch of underlying minerality that will allow it to evolve further in a good cellar, but this is so delicious now, why wait?. I’m not normally the biggest fan of Eiswines made from red grape, but I admit this is both stunningly good. Drinking window: 2024-2033.


Bretz 2016 Sauvignon Blanc Rheinhessen             90

Lime green colour. Subtly complex aromas of exotic fruits, pear and sage. Ripe, sweet and fruit-driven but with sound acid cut lifting hints of gooseberry and lemon. Nicely bracing style of Sauvignon with its orchard and stone fruit fruit flavours perked up by a hint of lime on the fresh but ripe finish of average length. Drinking window: 2024-2027.

Bretz 2016 Gewürztraminer Eiswein Rheinhessen                  90

Full pale golden straw colour. Aromas of ripe pear, pineapple, orange zest and clove. Fat on entry, then honeyed, with good balancing acidity. Rich and ripe, with hints of menthol, but slightly edgy and with a light saline quality on the clove- and orange marmalade-accented finish of good length. Drinking window: 2024-2029.


Bürgerspital 2020 Würzberger Silvaner Trocken Franken     91

Vivid straw-green. White peach, yellow apple, minerals and fresh citrus fruits mingle with chamomile and quince on the showy, ripe nose. Slightly tactile and thick as Silvaner wines can often be, this boasts plenty of flavour with juicy herbal and orchard fruit flavours buoyed by lively acidity. Closes big, dense, rich and ripe. Even better than another bottle I tried and write about in the TerroirSense report on Germany’s amazing Silvaner wines last year. Drinking window: 2022-2027.

Bürgerspital 2020 Würzberger Stein-­Harfe Silvaner Grosses Gewächs Franken                              94

Clear full yellow. Herbs dominate the nose at first (coriander, chamomile, tarragon and cumin) but white peach, green apple and apricot emerge with aeration, all nicely lifted by jasmine and lemon verbena. This big strapping wine is still fairly backwards now and tightly wound on the palate, offering strongly mineral nuances to the flavours of grilled nuts and bacon complemented by fresh citrus fruit and minty notes. The finish is classic Franken Silvaner from a top site, that unique jagged minerality that lasts and lasts on the long palate-staining finish. Facing southeast through southwest in the warmest, most sunlit part of the Stein, the Stein-Harfe is one of the best sections of that very large famous site. The Stein-Harfe cru has always been extremely famous, and was mentioned already in the latter half of the seventeenth century. Drinking window: 2022-2040.

Bürgerspital 2020 Würzburger Pfaffenberg Grauer Burgunder Trocken Franken                             93

The Burgerspital 2020 Würzburger Pfaffenberg Grauer Burgunder Trocken is a very good German Pinot Gris: I was impressed. Pale greenish-yellow with some gold. High-toned aromas of white peach, pear and crushed stone. Rather reduced in the mouth, but with real precision and cut to its stone fruit, white pepper and spice flavors. Smooth and fine-grained, and not unlike a Riesling wine in some respects, the long finish hints at pineapple and pear. Drinking window: 2026-2032..


Burggarten 2019 Grauburgunder Trocken Ahr          88

Vivid straw-green. Apple, pear and even a hint of strawberry, but ultimately a little simple. Big juicy and a a touch sweet on the long back end, which features a touch of alcohol-derived heat (even though this clocks in at only 12.5%). Better with food. Drinking window: 2024-2029.

Burggarten 2018 Spatburgunder Classic Ahr              89

A really classic Pinot Noir nose and palate, with perhaps a hint of finishing residual sugar and a cherry nectar-like quality on the clan long and fresh finish. Not the last word in complexity but I liked it. Drinking window: 2024-2029.

Burggarten 2015 Spatburgunder Heimersheimer Trocken Ahr                              91

Very serious Spatburgunder, with a nice smoky note to the ripe dark berry and plum aromas and flavours. A little thinner on the palate than I expected after having sniffed the rich nose, but I’d say this is a very typical Ahr Spatburgunder. Very long on the mineral-etched finish. Well done. Drinking window: 2024-2029.


Erbeldinger 2022 Huxelrebe Spätlese Rheinhessen                 90

Rhubarb, caramelized apple tart and herbs. Rich and ripe with a hint of lime on the long aftertaste. This shows what a good Huxelrebe wine can be like: the grape is a 1927 Georg Scheu crossing of Chasselas and Courtillier Musqué (Muscat Précoce de Saumur) and it can be used to give dilute, non-descript but usually high-acid wine but then can give more concentrated beauties such as this one. Drinking window: 2024-2029.

Eugen Muller.

Eugen Muller 2021 Weissburgunder Trocken Pfalz                  89

Pale straw-yellow with some green. Simple and straightforward on the nose with aromas of mirabelle, flowers, and beeswax. Fresh, juicy, with noteworthy purity and breadth to the simple orchard fruit flavours. Closes brimming with simple early appeal and nicely framed by firm acidity. Drinking window: 2024-2028.

Eugen Muller 2020 Grauburgunder Trocken Pfalz             90

Bright yellow. Ripe but lively aromas and flavours of pineapple, herbs and crushed stone. Fat and plush but seriously dry. The strong pineapple quality carries through on the middle palate and on the medium-long saline, rising aftertaste. Drinking window: 2024-2028.

Eugen Muller 2020 Forst Riesling vom Basalt Volcanic Pfalz                           89

Pale straw-green. Clean, fresh aromas and medium-long flavours of apple, sweet spices and mienrals. Founded in 1767, the winery started life out as a cooperative but in 1935 began estate-bottling. Kurt Müller and his son Stephan (who joined in 2000) are now running the estate. Drinking window: 2024-2028.

Eugen Muller 2021 Dedeisheimer Riesling Pfalz                     91

Luminous straw green. Wonderfully nuanced nose offers aromas of white peach, citrus fruit, almond flower and earth tones. Broad yet minerally, but with more than enough verve to energize its white peach and sweet spice flavours. Boasts terrific inner-mouth energy and focus on the long finish, this is a really great wine for the money. Drinking window: 2024-2034.

Eugen Muller 2021 Forster Ungeheuer Pfalz                    92

Pale, green-tinged color. Classic aromas of lemon, lime and mint, with suggestions of ginger and white flowers. Dense, tactile and concentrated, with a strong mineral element and lovely sweet spice character. Finishes long and classically dry, with a mineral firmness and some basalt-derived heat. Lovely. Drinking window: 2024-2035.

Eugen Muller 2018 Riesling Pechstein Auslese Pfalz            94

Bright good full yellow. Exotic aromas of pineapple and mango, plus a higher-pitched grapefruit element and sweet spices adding complexity. Then sweet and dense but juicy and focused, with terrific clarity and cut to the lemony and spice character. Finishes long and aromatic, not to mention seriously young and dense. Lovely sugar-acid balance here too. Drinking window: 2024-2036.

Fritz Haag.

Fritz Haag 2021 Riesling Trocken            88

Simple herbal and slate nuances to this uncomplicated but well-balanced, approachable Riesling wine. Drinking window: 2024-2027.

Fritz Haag 2018 Brauneberger Juffer Riesling Trocken GG Mosel                        93

Luminous straw-green. Strong lemon verbena and lemongrass notes on the lively nose full of orchard fruit aromas. Then energetic and nicely focused, with flavours that are similar to the aromas. Very beautiful wine that finishes impressively long with a hint of peach, apricot and vanilla, and a creamy but vibrant mouthfeel. A rising peppery note adds further complexity. Lovely. Drinking window: 2024-2036.

Fritz Haag 2018 Brauneberger Juffer Riesling Spatlese Mosel                           94

Captivating aromas and flavours of flowers, quince, gooseberry, and lime cordial. Closes long, clean, and slightly off-dry, this is very light on its feet despite noteworthy concentration. The very high but harmonious acidity nicely focuses and extends the flavours on the back. Drinking window: 2024-2038.

Fritz Haag 2018 Brauneberger Juffer Riesling Auslese Goldkapsel Mosel                      95

Bright pale straw-yellow with some green. Wonderfully fresh and refined aromas of pineapple, coconut, mineral, lemon ice and lemon verbena lifted by a floral element. Juicy on entry, then dense but almost magically light on its feet, thanks to penetrating acidity that gives sharp definition to the impressively concentrated lemon, pineapple and apple pie flavours. Racy rather than thick, and still very young today. Finishes long with repeating floral and honeyed nuances. Drinking window: 2024-2045.

Fritz Haag 2013 Brauneberger Juffer-Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese Goldkapsel Mosel                        92

Golden-tinged straw yellow. Fresh citrus, honey and sweet spice aromas are complemented by a very caramelized botrytis. Then rich and ripe, with more caramel accents to the ripe orchard and citrus flavours present. The finish is long but a little too herbal and too ripe. This is certainly a lovely wine, but is richer heavier and a little less elegant than the best, most classic goldkapsel wines.  Drinking window: 2024-2036.

Fritz Haag 2012 Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr Mosel                       96

Wow, now this is strikingly good. Luminous straw-green with some gold. Pretty, dainty aromas and flavours of candied white flowers, apple, lemon ice, apple pie and sweet spices. The aftertaste is long and honeyed but above all lifted and beautifully precise with excellent lemony cut. I could drink this all night and day long. Clearly not as concentrated as the 2013 Goldkapsel, but more elegant and penetrating than that wine. Outstanding. Drinking window: 2024-2040.

Furst Lowenstein.

Furst Lowenstein 2022 Homburger Kallmuth Silvaner GG Trocken Franken                            93

Vivid straw-green. Notes of minerals, chamomile, quince and pear on the nose and in the mouth are complicated by hints of apple sherbet and honey. Finishes long and suave, with repeating mineral nuances that are very “Kallmuth”. This is an absolute joy of a wine, and one GG I could really drink all day long. Drinking window: 2024-2038.

Hans Wirsching.

Hans Wirsching 2020 Iphöfer Kalb Silvaner Franken                          93

Bright straw green. Intensely mineral with honeyed nuances complicating the aromas and flavours of yellow melon, quince, chamomile and hay. Beautifully fresh and long on the suave, strongly mineral finish. Another knockout Silvaner from Wirsching, but the low yields and a top site certainly don’t hurt any. Silvaner wines this good are in no way inferior to Riesling’s. Drinking window: 2024-2038.

Hans Wirsching 2019 Iphöfer Kalb Silvaner Kabinett Fruity Franken                  93

Deep straw-green. Lively but subtle aromas and flavours of quince, celery, green apple and minerals. Long and very focused on the finish that boasts noteworthy clarity and cut. The Iphöfer Kalb is a steep slope exposed to the south marked by a dark gypsum-rich soil that warms up easily and gives powerful but elegant wines. I love this noble vineyard’s wines. Drinking window: 2024-2038.

Hans Wirsching 2018 Riesling Trocken Franken        92

Light yellow-green. Green apple, pear, and yellow melon on the nose, with a subtle whiff of crushed minerals and of lemon verbena. Then pliant citrus and orchard fruit flavours showcase very good depth and lift thanks to juicy, harmonious acidity. Finishes long and classically steely, leaving behind echoes of minerals and steel. Drinking window: 2024-2035.

Hans Wirsching 2019 Iphöfer Julius-Echter-Berg Riesling GG Franken                            95

Luminous straw-green. White peach, cinnamon, fresh citrus, minerals and a panoply of white flowers on the knockout nose. Then similarly steely and floral in the mouth, with hints of green apple and minerals lingering nicely. A fantastic Riesling from a true grand cru site, this wine from Wirsching never disappoints. Drinking window: 2024-2038.

Gut Hermannsberg.

Gut Hermannsberg 2021 Rotenberg Kabinett Altenbamberg Nahe                    90

Straw green. Fresh aromas and flavours of herbs, peach, and apple, with a saline edge. Closes long and mineral. This is a new wine that as of 2021 vintage replaces the previous Kabinett wine that lacked a vineyard declaration. Only 9.5% alcohol but lots of flavour! Drinking window: 2024-2029.

Gut Hermannsberg 2021 Niederhausen Steinberg Spätlese Nahe             92

Apple and papaya dominate on the nose and in the mouth. Clean and focused with a tactile, fresh long finish. Nice. Drinking window: 2024-2032.

Gut Hermannsberg 2019 Traisen Bastei Nahe      91

Pale, bright yellow color. Orange, grapefruit, pepper and pungent herbs on the enticing nose. Dense, bright and juicy, with complex, intense flavors of grapefruit pith, lemon, oregano and spices. Finishes firm-edged and citrusy with outstanding length. The Bastei is a poor, stony site where water can be at a premium. Drinking window: 2024-2032.

Gut Hermannsberg 2018 Niederhausen Hermannsberg Riesling GG Nahe                       94

Very clean but powerful snd rich GG that reminded me of apple, pear, potpourri and flint. More than 110 years of history tells you Riesling is a serious matter at the estate; note that in the Priussian 1901 classification of Nahe vineyards, the Hermannsberg was presented as the top site of them all. Drinking window: 2026-2033.

Gut Hermannsberg 2018 Schlossböckelheim Kupfergrube GG Nahe                         95

Deep bright straw yellow. Grapefruit, smoke and minerals on the nose make for a very classic Kupfergrube wine, complicated by hints of spices and ferrous notes; very volcanic profile!. Finishes long, broad and powerful, and still quite young. Drinking window: 2027-2038.

Ewa Fricke.

Ewa Fricke 2019 Riesling Tocken Rheingau            90

This is lovely. Fresh lemon, mineral and white flowers dominate the nose and in the mouth. Very clean and very pure this finishes long clean and chiseled. Lots of wine for the money here. Drinking window: 2024-2028.


Gessinger 2019 Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Riesling Hifflay GG Trocken Mosel                   91

Bright straw colour. Intensely honeyed notes to the aromas of elderberry, tropical fruit and lime. Then more off/dry than classically dry, with more honeyed nuances in the mouth, with hints of white sesame, papaya and lime lingering nicely on the suave finish. Though it is Wehlen’s Sonnenuhr vineyard that is the most famous “sundial” one of Germany, insiders know that Zelting’s is actually, quality-wise, the more homogenous of the two. Drinking window: 2024-2030.

Gessinger 2019 Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Riesling Spatlese Rothlay GG Trocken Mosel                        93

Richer and obviously deeper than the 2019 Kabinett from the same site, this showcases a nuanced glyceral sweetness that makes this juicy long and citrussy wine extremely well-balanced, avoiding the unpleasant, un balanced and ultimately needless dryness for dryness’ sake of far too many GG wines made in Germany today. Drinking window: 2024-2034.

Gessinger 2018 Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese Trocken Rothlay Alte Reben Mosel                   94

Bright straw-green. An amazing floral note wafts from the glass along with hints of lime, passionfruit and peach.  Lovely, intense, penetrating lime, licorice and mineral flavours are clean and very long. A strong note of lavender rises on the long clean mineral finish. Better balanced than most Trocken Auslese wines I have tried over the years, a category of wine I almost never buy or recommend finding them always unbalanced. Not this beauty. Drinking window: 2024-2036.

Gessinger 2016 Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Riesling Spatlese Feinherb Alte Reben Mosel

Golden-tinged straw yellow. Some diesel and smoke on the nose and in the mouth to go along with orchard fruit nuances. Not so much depth or length here. Enters great but finishes abruptly if intensely. Drinking window: 2024-2027.

Gessinger 2019 Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese Alte Reben Caldo Infernale Mosel                 96

A rather amazing, delicious wine with a very un-German like name, but that gets its point across. Beautiful acid-sugar balance makes for a penetrating beauty where the harmonious acidity nicely extends the clean long stony, honeyed, spicy concentrated flavours that are long and precise. Knockout wine. Drinking window: 2024-2032.

Gessinger 2018 Zeltinger Himmelreich Pinot Noir Reserve Mosel                    88

Medium red-ruby. Stony and herbal nuances dominate the plummy aromas and flavours. Not too concentrated but balanced, with just a hint of residual sweetness on the medium-long back end. Drinking window: 2024-2029.


Gunderloch 2020 Riesling Trocken vom Roten Schiefer Rheinhessen                          91

Golden-accented deep straw yellow. Initially a bit reduced and obviously phenolic, this clears with aeration to offer pretty nuances of stone fruit and herbs. More of the same in the mouth, with a saline edge to the otherwise mellow, round white and yellow fruit flavours. Closes long and fresh. This lovely wine is usually made with grapes picked in less favourable parcels of the Rothenberg, Hipping and Petthenthal crus, but as they are all truly great sites, you know this baby never disappoints. Drinking window: 2023-2030.

Gunderloch 2020 Riesling Kabinett Jean-Baptiste Rheinhessen                      90

Bright straw with some green. Easygoing, approachable Riesling wine redolent of pineapple, peach and minty herbs. Closes log and fresh, the Jean-Baptiste is always a good value in German wine. Drinking window: 2023-2031.

Gunderloch 2020 Hipping Riesling Trocken GG Rheinhessen                     94

Deep straw-green. Mineral-driven, extremely refined Riesling wine that speaks of nuanced orchard fruit and plenty of flint, herbal and saline notes. Closes long and austere, this will age very well. Lots of tension here but also enough balance to make this a very pleasant GG to drink and hold onto. The portion of vines in the Niersteiner Hipping is Gunderloch’s smallest grand cru holding, and his grapes are sourced from an extremely steep portion of the vineyard. At Gunderloch they have been practicing organic farming since 2020. Drinking window: 2027-2044.

Gunderloch 2020 Rothenberg Riesling Trocken GG Rheinhessen                  93+

Luminous straw-green with some gold. Fresh and aromatic on the nose in the Rothenberg-usual way, offering a plethora of refined orchard and exotic fruit aromas complicated by sweet spices and minerals. Rounder and more mellow than usual, this finishes long and rich and smooth. Very different from the more austere saline 2019, but each wine will have its fans. Drinking window: 2028-2045.

Carl Gunderloch 2015 Nackenheimer Rothenberg Riesling Auslese Rheinhessen                     94

Pale golden yellow. Baked apple, cinnamon, fresh peach and apricot, even a hint of hioneyed raisins on the complex nose. Rich and suave but lifted by tangy acidity, this boasts beautiful clarity and cut, not to mention gorgeous acid-sugar balance. When Germany’s wines are not made to strive for dryness and then ultimately very little else, they have few competitors amongst the world’s greatest white wines, and this is a good example of why that is. Well done. Drinking window: 2023-2028.

Ian D'Agata

Editor-in-Chief of Terroir Sense Wine Review
President of Terroir Sense Academy
Vice President of Association Internationale des Terroirs
Chief Scientific Officer of TasteSpirit

Ian D’Agata has been writing and educating about wines for over thirty years. Internationally recognized as an distinguished expert, critic and writer on many wine regions, his two most recent, award winning books Native Wine Grapes of Italy and Italy's Native Wine Grape Terroirs (both published by University of California Press) are widely viewed as the "state of the art" textbooks on the subject. The former book won the Louis Roederer International Wine Awards Book of the Year in 2015 and was ranked as the top wine books of the year for the Los Angeles Times, the Financial Times and the New York Times, while the latter was named among the best wine books of the year by Food & Wine Magazine and the NY Times.

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  • At the moment there is an incomprehensible hype about GG from Germany. I bought several of them and was disappointed with all of them except for the Spätlese, which were convincing. For dry wines, I prefer South Tyrol, Verdicchio, Etna, Irpinia, or a dry Chenin blanc (where the semi-sweet wines are also world class, just like Verdicchio). Complimenti for your article!

    • Thank you, I wish that other people would also follow fads less and just realize what exactly is in their glass, and how frankly bad it is many stone, despite the hype.

  • Congratulations to Ian D’Agata for publishing the truth about many GGs. All the charm, delicacy, finesse of Riesling sacrificed to the gods of austerity. Yes some can be marvelous. But for the most part the trade off from sacrificing residual sugar for high alcohol dryness which actually diminishes terroir subtlety is just too high. Why not simply taste various fuders and make some in a dry style but with enough RS to enliven the wines> The VDP has dome more harm than good in my opinion

Ian D'Agata