In Germany, the 2007 vintage is marked by an exceptionally long ‘hang time’, that is to say the time between flowering and harvest. This was a result of an early bud-break after the mild winter (the earliest since the legendary 1921) and then the memorably forgettable mid-summer, temperature-wise, and then the redemption of an Indian Summer, thankfully with far less rainfall than in the vineyards of Bordeaux. The season was three weeks longer than usual, the majority of the grapes being harvested in the early part of October, with a few holding out until the beginning of November.
2007 yielded healthy and clean grapes, much to the delight of the wine-makers. The wines in turn, are marked by poise and purity and an intensity of flavour; all in all a very attractive proposition for early and, of course, longer-term drinking.
The wines are marked by a pin-point precision between sugar and acidity, a poised balletic pas-de-deux between purity of flavour and ripeness of fruit. Johannes Selbach comments, somewhat whimsically, that “in 2007 a Kabinett tastes like a Kabinett and a Spätlese like a Spätlese”, all made from pure and healthy grapes, with no de-classifications artificially engineered in the name of a potentially out-dated system of classification.
Indeed Helmut Dönnhoff, the Nahe’s top winemaker, rates 2007 alongside 2005, 2001, 1998 and 1990 as one of the top five years of his long career. Erni Loosen agrees about the 2007; for him it combines the powerful ripeness of 2005 with the firm and racy acidity of 2004. Others underline a similarity with 1997 and some advance 1990 as the definitive rôle model. Be that as it may, it is a matter of record that there was less botrytis (noble and especially ignoble) than the humid 2006 and resultingly small but finely formed crop of late harvest wines.
Marked by their purity, precision and intensity of flavour, 2007 German Rieslings are charming now but have the concentration and structure to be wonderful for years to come.