2010 Vintage Germany and Austria: Terry Theise & WineWise/The Vienna Wine Company Trade Tasting

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Johannes and Sebastian Selbach

The 2010 vintage in Germany was hardly ideal from a grower’s perspective. The cold winter conditions extended all the way into May, leading to late budding and mid-June blossoming. June was also cold and rainy, so fruit set was poor, bringing yields way down. Yields were, on average, a reported 25% lower in 2010, with many growers claiming a 30 to 50% drop in production. Ripening started in mid- to late-August. September was rainy too, retarding the decline of acidity, but fortunately conditions cleared up for a relatively warm October, which brought up sugar levels without much impacting acid levels. In sum, the generally cold weather, low yields and long hang time contributed to record high levels of extract and very high acidities. Austria’s weather was quite similar, and extracts are high there as well, but acidities there were reportedly only higher than normal, not freakishly higher, as in Germany.

In his current German wine catalog, Terry Theise quotes winemaker Carl Loewen as follows, “I never experienced a year like this one. Must-weights like the best years, and acidity like the worst years.” Theise himself describes it as the most concentrated German vintage in his experience, and in his eminently quotable way claims, “Forget ‘vinosity;’ these babies are as dense as paperweights.” Acidities were also so searing that, in Theise’s estimation, 90% of 2010 German Rieslings are de-acidified (“closer to 100% for the dry ones”). I happen to be a fan of high acid wines, as long as they’re balanced. The acidity levels on many of the sweet wines in this tasting were high, but gave the wines tremendous vibrancy. The Selbach-Oster wines–stars of this tasting for me–particularly benefited from this combination of high extract, sweetness and high acidity. Many of the dry wines, however, even after deacidification (“D-ass,” as Theise dubbed it), are a bit too much for this lover of high acid whites.

I tasted 161 wines at this well organized and enjoyable tasting, which was probably 97% of what was poured. The vast majority of what I tasted was from the 2010 vintage–117 wines. The rest were 2009 (24 wines), 2008 (7), 2007 (6), 2003 (1) and non-vintage (6). Germany was the source of the bulk of what I tasted, 98 wines; the remaining 63 were from Austria. A plurality of the German wines, 39 of them, were from the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer. These averaged 90.4 points for me. The 18 Nahe wines I tasted averaged the highest for me of the German regions, at 90.6 points. The 17 wines from the Pfalz averaged only 88.6 points. The 13 wines from the Rheingau averaged 88.7 points, while the Rheinhessen was the lowest averaging region–11 wines at 88.3 points. Nearly all the wines I tasted were from white grapes, 145 of the wines; the rest were either red (10 wines) or spirits distilled from a variety of fruits (6). Riesling was, by far, the primary grape represented, with 102 wines; Grüner Veltliner was the second most represented variety with 25 wines.

Besides the high extract levels and high acidity, another feature of this vintage, for me, is the floral character of the noses of many of these 2010s, which I found quite appealing. I think if one chooses carefully, one can find some really good wines from this vintage that should age quite beautifully. (Theise is avoiding making promises on longevity, though, as this is such an unusual vintage, there aren’t really precedents to use to predict how these are going to age.) My favorite wines in this tasting came from not only some of my usual favorites–Dönnhoff, Joh. Jos. Christoffel, Hiedler, and Selbach-Oster–but also from a number of producers I’m less familiar with: Hexamer, Jakoby-Mathy, Kruger-Rumpf, Meulenhof and Setzer.

My top wines in this tasting, which I rated 92 points or higher, were:
2009 Willi Bründlmayer Grüner Veltliner Ried Lamm – 92 points
2010 Joh. Jos. Christoffel Erben Erdener Treppchen Riesling Spätlese – 92 points
2010 Joh. Jos. Christoffel Erben Erdener Treppchen Riesling Auslese ** – 92 points
2010 Dönnhoff Kreuznacher Krötenpfuhl Riesling Kabinett – 92 points
2010 Dönnhoff Norheimer Kirschheck Riesling Spätlese – 93+ points
2010 Dönnhoff Oberhäuser Brücke Riesling Spätlese- 94 points
2010 Dönnhoff Oberhäuser Brücke Riesling Auslese Goldkapsel – 94 points
2010 Hexamer Schlossböckelheimer In den Felsen Riesling Spätlese – 92+ points
2010 Hiedler Riesling Urgestein – 92+ points
2010 Hiedler Riesling Steinhaus – 93 points
2010 Jakoby-Mathy Kinheimer Rosenberg Riesling Auslese “Eulenlay” – 92 points
2007 Kracher/Schrock Ruster Ausbruch – 93 points
2010 Kruger-Rumpf Scheurebe Spätlese – 92+ points
2010 Weingut Josef Leitz Geisenheimer Rothenberg Riesling Eiswein – 92+ points
2010 Meulenhof Erdener Treppchen Riesling Spätlese Alte Reben – 92+ points
2010 Meulenhof Erdener Treppchen Riesling Auslese – 92+ points
2010 Meulenhof Erdener Prälat Riesling Auslese – 93 points
2010 Selbach-Oster Zeltinger Schlossberg Riesling Spätlese – 92+ points
2010 Selbach-Oster Graacher Domprobst Riesling Spätlese – 93+ points
2010 Selbach-Oster Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese * – 94 points
2010 Selbach-Oster Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Riesling ‘Rotlay’ – 95+ points
2010 Setzer Grüner Veltliner 8000 – 92+ points

For my detailed tasting notes and more information on the producers whose wines I thought showed the best, see below.

A.J. Adam

Berger

Bründlmayer

This is a major Austrian producer, with 60 hectares of vineyards, and usually a reference point for me. They have some top vineyard sites, and are planted 33% to Grüner Veltliner, 25% to Riesling, 15% Pinot Noir, 10% Chardonnay, and 17% other varieties. It was the ’09 Ried Lamm Grüner that showed best in this lineup with a very attractive floral nose and lovely peach palate. The 2010 Rieslings were good but rather steely.
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Christoffel

This is regularly one of the great producers of the Mosel. Joh. Jos. Christoffel’s wines are based on only 4 hectares of vines, all devoted to Riesling. The Ürziger Würzgarten sits on red slate, and the Erdener Treppchen on blue slate. These were all good and poised, with minerality, but I particularly liked the Erdener Treppchens with their even greater extract and depth.

Darting

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Dönnhoff

The Nahe’s greatest estate always produces magnificent wines, and these 2010s are no exception. The wines come from 25 hectares, 80% of which are planted to Riesling.
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Dr. Deinhard

Ecker

  • 2010 Ecker Grüner Veltliner Von Stokstal – Austria, Niederösterreich, Donauland
    Very light yellow color; light grapefruit nose; tart grapefruit, citrus palate; medium-plus finish 88+ points (88 pts.)
  • 2010 Ecker Roter Veltliner – Austria, Niederösterreich, Donauland, Wagram
    Very light yellow color; light green apple, lime nose; tart green apple palate; medium-plus finish 87+ points (87 pts.)

Geil

Glatzer

  • 2010 Weingut Glatzer Grüner Veltliner – Austria, Niederösterreich, Carnuntum
    Very light yellow color; tart peach, apple nose; very tasty green apple, lime, mineral palate with medium acidity; medium-plus finish (89 pts.)
  • 2010 Weingut Glatzer Grüner Veltliner Dornenvogel – Austria, Niederösterreich, Carnuntum
    Very light yellow color; floral, tart peach nose; tasty, tart peach, mineral, tart green fruit palate with heightened definition; medium-plus finish 90+ points (90 pts.)
  • 2009 Weingut Glatzer Zweigelt Riedencuvée – Austria, Niederösterreich, Carnuntum
    Medium dark cherry red color; lifted red berry, herbal nose; tart red berry, herbal palate; medium finish (88 pts.)
  • 2009 Weingut Glatzer Blaufränkisch – Austria, Niederösterreich, Carnuntum
    Dark ruby color; red berry, oak, cinnamon nose; red berry, oak, cinnamon palate; medium-plus finish 87+ points (87 pts.)
  • 2009 Weingut Glatzer St. Laurent Altenberg – Austria, Niederösterreich, Carnuntum
    Dark ruby color; roasted plum, charcoal nose; tart red berry, tart plum, juicy palate; medium-plus finish 88+ points (88 pts.)

Gysler

Hexamer

The wines of Harald Hexamer, pictured below, were basically new to me, as I’d only tried one of his luscious ’07 Spätleses prior to this tasting. Hexamer’s 18.5 hectares of vineyards are located in the upper Nahe. I like a quote from him in Terry’s German catalog, which I think gives a sense of his conscientiousness and personal investment in his wines: “When I have to deacidify I hate myself for a whole week beforehand.” He’s the biggest owner of the Rheingrafenberg vineyard, and particularly excels at sweet wines, like the delicious Schlossböckelheimer In den Felsen Riesling Spätlese.
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Hiedler

As mentioned above, Hiedler is a producer whose wines I regularly admire, and collect. Hiedler owns 16 hectares in some of the Kamptal’s finest vineyards, including Thal, Heiligenstein, and Gaisberg. These vineyards are planted 45% to Grüner Veltliner, 15% to Riesling, 10% Weissburgunder, 10% Chardonnay, 3% Frühroter Veltliner, and 17% red grapes: Zweigelt, Pinot Noir and Sangiovese. These tend to be complex, highly mineral and contemplative wines. The Steinhaus Riesling in this lineup was particularly intense and fascinating.

  • 2010 Hiedler Grüner Veltliner Thal – Austria, Niederösterreich, Kamptal
    Pale yellow color; tart white peach nose; tart white peach, mineral palate with a sense of salinity; long finish 91+ points (91 pts.)
  • 2010 Hiedler Riesling Urgestein – Austria, Niederösterreich, Kamptal
    Light yellow color; tart peach nose; spicy, tart peach, pepper palate; medium-plus finish 92+ points (92 pts.)
  • 2010 Hiedler Riesling Steinhaus – Austria, Niederösterreich, Kamptal
    Light yellow color; tart peach, apple nose; intense, spicy, savory, mineral, pepper nose; intense, spicy, mineral, savory, pepper palate; medium-plus finish (93 pts.)

Hirsch

Hofer

Jakoby-Mathy

This Mosel estate, of which I’d only had a couple of samples before, is changing its name to Jakoby pur. They have 4.5 hectares, planted to Riesling and Pinot Noir. Erich Jakoby Mathy was cellar master at Selbach-Oster, until his father became ill. The Auslese was particularly gorgeous.

Kerpen

Kruger-Rumpf

This producer was totally new to me. The winemaker/owner is Stefan Rumpf, and his son Georg is pictured below. The wines are produced from 22 hectares of well sited vineyards in the lower Nahe (and grand cru Scharlachberg across the river in Rheinhessen). The vineyards are planted to Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, and Scheurebe. I’m a Scheurebe fan, and I particularly enjoyed the Scheurebe Spät, but the rest of the lineup was solid and delicious as well. Definitely an up and coming producer to keep track of.
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Lehrner

Leitz

This Rheingau producer controls 40 hectares, all planted to Riesling. I am not as big a fan of this producer as Terry is, but I recognize that Herr Leitz was the 2010 Gault-Millau “Vintner Of The Year.” His 2010s are generally steely and minerally. I did, however, very much like the intense and rich Eiswein.

Loewen

Merkelbach

This was another very strong lineup, even though I didn’t quite rate any of these three wines 92 points or higher. Alfred Merkelbach works with less than two hectares of Mosel vineyards which are planted totally to Riesling.

Meßmer

Meulenhof

Stefan Justen is the owner/winemaker here (and acting mayor of Erden). His wines were new to me in this tasting, but I was quite impressed. They come from seven hectares in the Mosel, planted 85% to Riesling, 10% to Rivaner, and 5% to Kerner. I loved the rich extract and the balancing acidity. The two Ausleses were particularly stunning. These are relative values as the producer is not widely known. I’m sure that will change.
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Minges

Müller

Müller-Catoir

Nigl

  • 2010 Nigl Grüner Veltliner Freiheit – Austria, Niederösterreich, Kremstal
    Very light green-tinged yellow color; focused, tart apple, green fruit nose; very tart green fruit, lime palate with medium-plus acidity; medium-plus finish 88+ points (88 pts.)
  • 2010 Nigl Grüner Veltliner Alte Reben – Austria, Niederösterreich, Kremstal
    Light green-tinged yellow color; aromatic, light white pepper, tart peach nose; tasty, very tart peach, light white pepper, mineral palate; long finish (91 pts.)
  • 2010 Nigl Riesling Dornleiten – Austria, Niederösterreich, Kremstal
    Very light green-tinged yellow color; very tart apple, light citrus nose; crisp, tart citrus, very tart apple, mineral palate with medium-plus acidity; medium-plus finish (89 pts.)
  • 2010 Nigl Riesling Senftenberger Piri – Austria, Niederösterreich, Kremstal
    Very light green-tinged yellow color; ripe green apple, floral nose; tart green apple, citrus, mineral palate with medium-plus acidity; medium-plus finish 90+ points (90 pts.)
  • 2010 Nigl Riesling Senftenberger Piri Privat – Austria, Niederösterreich, Kremstal
    Light green-tinged yellow color; light white peach, mineral nose; tasty, focused, tart white peach, mineral palate; medium-plus finish (91 pts.)

Nikolaihof

  • 2010 Nikolaihof Grüner Veltliner “Hefeabzug” – Austria, Niederösterreich, Wachau
    Light yellow color; mineral, tart apple nose; very tart apple, mineral, light pepper palate; medium-plus finish 88+ points (88 pts.)
  • 2009 Nikolaihof Grüner Veltliner Smaragd Im Weingebirge – Austria, Niederösterreich, Wachau
    Very light yellow color; light pepper, tart peach nose; light pepper, tart peach palate; medium-plus finish 89+ points (89 pts.)
  • 2008 Nikolaihof Riesling Smaragd Vom Stein – Austria, Niederösterreich, Wachau
    Light yellow color; peach, mineral nose; tart peach, mineral, savory palate; medium-plus finish 89+ points (89 pts.)
  • 2010 Nikolaihof Muskateller – Austria, Niederösterreich, Wachau
    Very light yellow color; spicy, grapefruit nose; tart grapefruit, grapefruit rind, floral palate; medium-plus finish 88+ points (88 pts.)
  • 2010 Nikolaihof Neuburger – Austria, Niederösterreich, Wachau
    Green apple nose; tart green apple, mineral palate; medium-plus finish (89 pts.)

Prieler

Reisetbauer

  • N.V. Hans Reisetbauer Williams Pear – Austria
    Clear; intense, pear nose; tasty, tart pear palate; long finish (91 pts.)
  • N.V. Hans Reisetbauer Apricot – Austria
    Clear; rich, intense, floral, peach, almond nose; intense, oily textured, tart peach, almond palate; long finish 90+ points (90 pts.)
  • N.V. Hans Reisetbauer Raspberry – Austria
    Intense, almond, floral, raspberry nose; intense, rich, almond, floral, raspberry palate; long finish (91 pts.)
  • N.V. Hans Reisetbauer Plum – Austria
    Clear; appealing, cherry, red plum, smoke nose; softer, berry, plum palate; long finish 90+ points (90 pts.)
  • N.V. Hans Reisetbauer Wild Cherry – Austria
    Clear; nice tart cherry, intense raspberry nose; intense, oily textured, tart raspberry, light cherry palate; long finish (89 pts.)
  • N.V. Hans Reisetbauer Rowanberry – Austria
    Clear; intense, almond, Frangelico liqueur nose; almond, Frangelico liqueur palate; long finish 90+ points (90 pts.)

Reuscher-Haart

Sattler

  • 2009 Sattler St. Laurent – Austria, Burgenland, Neusiedlersee
    Medium dark ruby color; red plum, berry, apricot nose; tart red plum, currant, apricot palate; medium-plus finish 88+ points (88 pts.)
  • 2009 Sattler Zweigelt – Austria, Burgenland, Mittelburgenland
    Dark ruby color; deep red berry, blueberry nose; plush, tart berry, red berry palate; medium-plus finish 88+ points (88 pts.)

Schloss Gobelsburg

Schlossgut Diel

Schmitt-Wagner

Schneider

Schröck

Heidi Schröck took over her parents’ winery in Rust 20 years ago, after gaining experience making wine in South Africa and Germany. Her intense and flavorful wines come primarily from eight hectares of vineyards planted as follows: 30% Weissburgunder, 20% Zweigelt, 10% Furmint, 10% Muscat, 10% Grauburgunder, 10% Welschriesling and 10% Blaufränkish. She began a project with the late Alois Kracher and continued with his son Gerhard, which resulted in a first vintage in 2006 of Welschriesling based wines from Neusiedlersee. The ’07 version of the Ruster Ausbruch from this collaboration was one of my favorite sweet wines of the day.

  • 2010 Heidi Schröck Gelber Muskateller – Austria, Burgenland, Neusiedlersee-Hügelland, Rust
    Very light yellow color; mineral, grapefruit rind nose; intense, tart grapefruit, grapefruit rind, mineral palate with high acidity; medium-plus finish (89 pts.)
  • 2010 Heidi Schröck Sauvignon Blanc – Austria, Burgenland, Neusiedlersee-Hügelland, Rust
    Light yellow color; ripe grapefruit nose; tart grapefruit, mineral palate; medium-plus finish (88 pts.)
  • 2007 Kracher/Schrock Welschriesling halbtrocken – Austria, Burgenland, Neusiedlersee
    Very light yellow color; rich lime cream, floral nose; tasty, intense, lime, mineral, pepper palate; medium-plus finish (91 pts.)
  • 2007 Kracher/Schrock Ruster Ausbruch – Austria, Burgenland, Neusiedlersee-Hügelland
    Light medium yellow color; lovely floral, lifted, ripe peach, apricot nose; tasty, rich, poised, tart peach, mineral, ripe green fruit palate; long finish (93 pts.)

Schwarzböck

Selbach-Oster

There was no doubt that these gorgeous wines from Johannes Selbach were the wines of the tasting, and it was a treat to have a chance to meet him and his son Sebastian. I’ve been a fan of these reliable Mosels for years, and have plenty in my cellar, but I was unprepared for just how breathtaking and perfectly balanced these 2010s from this estate turned out to be. I think it has something to do with Johannes’s admirable pragmatism as a winemaker. He doesn’t hold to doing anything just one way; he adapts his style to the vintage and the vineyard, and seems to bring out the intrinsic beauty in everything he touches, especially judging from this stellar lineup. Selbach-Oster controls 21 hectares of vineyards, planted predominantly to Riesling, with 1.5% Pinot Blanc.

Setzer

Hans and Uli Setzer run this 15 hectare estate in the Weinviertel DAC, and also source an additional six hectares worth of contracted grapes. My favorite in this lineup was the intense and spicy Grüner 8000. The “8000” refers to the fact that their Riede Laa vineyard is planted 8000 vines to the hectare. This wine is fermented and raised in steel tanks, on its fine lees. Weinviertel is gaining a reputation for peppery Grüner, and these Setzers were great examples.

Spreitzer

Strub

von Othegraven

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2 Responses to 2010 Vintage Germany and Austria: Terry Theise & WineWise/The Vienna Wine Company Trade Tasting

  1. T Klonoski says:

    Thanks for the massive amount of work this must have been. Hope you didn’t lose too much tooth enamel.

  2. Salil says:

    Interesting notes Richard. I had the chance to taste through many of these in New York and had similar impressions for the most part, though my experiences with the Christoffels were very different.

    Selbach-Oster’s wines are truly outstanding – again. Johannes Selbach was also pouring the 2-star Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Auslese and the Zeltinger Himmelreich Eiswein, both of which were incredibly pure, focused and well balanced.

    Re. Kruger Rumpf and Meulenhof, they’ve been making some great wine for some time. I liked their 2010 collections, but thought their 2009s were even better.

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