Can a wine exist on tension alone? If its name is Gräfenberg, then apparently yes. This GG occupies the rare air between the poles of fruit and texture. Crisp white pears, young apricot, lemon peel and a delicate white, nearly almond-blossom floral character. Grip, concentration, power, pedigree. So. Much. Pedigree. Yet despite the obvious power, a blinding clarity carries the wine from intense first to final sip. The renowned site has in 2020 forsaken the sinew and muscle of many vintages for a sleeker, stonier and saltier grip, a nearly burgundian noblesse. Exceptional balance and presence, even in its youth. Hard to find something to criticise, other than that it was opened far too soon.
Drink 2024 - 2040
Paula Sidore, jancisrobinson.com (May 2022)
Entirely vinified in large, partly renewed oak, the 2020 Kiedrich Gräfenberg Riesling Trocken GG opens deep, pure, refined but also very intense and complex on the highly attractive nose that is full, generous and aromatic and reveals more oak aromas than the premiers crus Klosterberg and Turmberg. On the palate, this is a very elegant, refined and balanced Riesling with a sweeter or rounder taste than the Turmberg (although it's analytically less sweet), but it reveals a similar saline vibrancy. The richer and rounder sensation might be due to the loess-loam components of the Gräfenberg phyllite terroir compared to the shallower terroir of the Turmberg, but richness and power are the nature of the Gräfenberg, which is still fresh and refined enough to represent its coolish terroir character as well. Since the 2020 will be released only in September 2022 (so 12 months later than former vintages), I assume it will become brighter, finer and purer over the next 12 months. Tasted in August 2021.
Drink 2030 - 2060
Stephan Reinhardt, Wine Advocate (Sep 2021)
About this WINE
Weingut Robert Weil
This 3,205 ha Rheingau region extends from Hochheim on the River Main to the evocatively-named Lorch on the River Rhein. The Rheingaus vineyards are located along one long hillside with the thick forests of the Taunus Hills to the north and the Rhein River to the south. They form a single district known as Bereich Johannisberg. This beautiful region, rich in tradition, evolves as you go east to west, from a fairly flat, dimpled landscape to progressively steeper and more impressive slopes. It is on the latter that the finest wines are made.
The names of many Rheingau vineyards are legendary: Schloss Vollrads, Schloss Johannisberg, Jesuitgarten and Marcobrunn to name but four. Many hint at ecclesiastical origins and indeed, like many other regions of Germany, for centuries these vines were tended by monks. As with the Mosel, the Rhine has a moderating effect on local temperatures, protecting the vines from extreme lows but also, when the temperatures peak in mid-summer, providing a welcome cooling effect. The southern-facing exposure, moisture from the river, clay-dominated soil and the almost Mediterranean-style climate combine to produce dense, rich flavours and for Germany anyway - full, masculine wines.
The Rheingau is the spiritual home of the Riesling grape; it accounts for almost 80% of plantings and yields elegant wines typically with a lovely, spicy fragrance, rich, ripe fruit and pronounced acidity. Although far less important, some reasonably full-bodied, distinctive red wines with blackberry fruit are made here from Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir). The best examples come from the steep vineyards around Assmannshausen. The region also makes some divine sweet Riesling; indeed Schloss Johannisberg was reputedly the first vineyard in Germany to have harvested nobly rotten grapes for this purpose.
In 1994 the Rheingau was the first German wine region to be given a (semi) official vineyard classification. Drawn up by the Charta organisation and the VDP growers association, the best sites were designated as Erstes Gewächs (First Growths). The use of this classification is optional but if it is used the wine has to be dry in style or at Auslese level or above. The region is also home to the world-renowned oenological research and teaching institute at Geisenheim which has contributed significantly to the high level of technical competence in the German wine industry today.
Recommended Producers: J. Leitz
Riesling's twin peaks are its intense perfume and its piercing crisp acidity which it manages to retain even at high ripeness levels.
In Germany, Riesling constitutes around 20% of total plantings, yet it is responsible for all its greatest wines. It is planted widely on well-drained, south-facing slate-rich slopes, with the greatest wines coming from the best slopes in the best villages. It produces delicate, racy, nervy and stylish wines that cover a wide spectrum of flavours from steely and bone dry with beautifully scented fruits of apples,apricots, and sometimes peaches, through to the exotically sweet flavours of the great sweet wines.
It is also an important variety in Alsace where it produces slightly earthier, weightier and fuller wines than in Germany. The dry Rieslings can be austere and steely with hints of honey while the Vendages Tardives and Sélection de Grains Nobles are some of the greatest sweet wines in the world.
It is thanks to the New World that Riesling is enjoying a marked renaissance. In Australia the grape has developed a formidable reputation, delivering lime-sherbet fireworks amid the continental climate of Clare Valley an hour's drive north of Adelaide, while Barossa's Eden Valley is cooler still, producing restrained stony lime examples from the elevated granitic landscape; Tasmania is fast becoming their third Riesling mine, combining cool temperatures with high UV levels to deliver stunning prototypes.
New Zealand shares a similar climate, with Riesling and Pinot Gris neck to neck in their bid to be the next big thing after Sauvignon Blanc; perfectly suited is the South Island's Central Otago, with its granitic soils and continental climate, and the pebbly Brightwater area near Nelson. While Australia's Rieslings tend to be full-bodied & dry, the Kiwis are more inclined to be lighter bodied, more ethereal and sometimes off-dry; Alsace plays Mosel if you like.