Friday, March 19, 2010

The 13 Top German Dry Rieslings – Feinschmecker German Riesling Cup 2009 (Vintage 2008)

The 13 Top German Dry Rieslings – The Feinschmecker German Riesling Cup 2009

The February 2010 issue of the German Food and Wine Magazine Feinschmecker presented the winners of the "Deutscher Riesling Cup 2009". The price is awarded every year by The Feinschmecker for German dry Rieslings. All wines were from the 2008 vintage. For last year's Riesling Cup, see here.

The Winners

Again, a winemaker from the Nahe region, a smaller wine region, got “Gold”: Tim Fröhlich vom Weingut Schäfer-Fröhlich in Bockenau. The Jury felt that his 2008er Bockenauer Felseneck Riesling trocken "Großes Gewächs" is the best German dry Riesling des Jahrgangs 2008.

Already last year, the Weingut Kruger-Rumpf, also from the Nahe, had topped the list, followed by Weingut Hermann Dönnhoff, also from the Nahe.

The tasting took place in November 2009 and 348 wine makers had submitted their wines, ranging from simple QbA wines to Grosse Gewaechs wines. The following 13 wines made to the finals.

Deutscher Riesling Cup 2009

1. 2008 Bockenauer Felseneck Riesling QbA trocken "Großes Gewächs", Weingut Schäfer-Fröhlich, Bockenau (Nahe)
2. 2008 Markgräflerland Riesling Spätlese trocken, Weingut Martin Waßmer, Bad Krozingen (Baden)
3. 2008 Dorsheimer Goldloch Riesling trocken, Weingut Joh. Bapt. Schäfer, Rümmelsheim (Nahe)
4. 2008 Meddersheimer Altenberg Riesling trocken "S", Weingut Bamberger, Meddersheim (Nahe)
5. 2008 Lieser Riesling Spätlese trocken, Weingut Schloss Lieser, Lieser (Mosel)
6. 2008 Forster Ungeheuer Riesling Spätlese trocken, Weingut Eugen Müller, Forst an der Weinstraße (Pfalz)
7. 2008 Neuweierer Schlossberg Riesling Spätlese trocken, Baden-Baden (Baden)
8. 2008 Halenberg Riesling "Großes Gewächs", Weingut Emrich- Schönleber, Monzingen (Nahe)
9. 2008 Graacher Riesling trocken, Weingut Willi Schaefer, Graach an der Mosel (Mosel)
10. 2008 Pölicher Held Riesling Spätlese trocken, Weingut Kanzlerhof, Pölich (Mosel)
11. 2008 Hattenheim Hassell Riesling Erstes Gewächs, Weingut Barth, Hattenheim (Rheingau)
12. 2008 Birkweiler Kastanienbusch Riesling "Großes Gewächs", Weingut Ökonomierat Rebholz, Siebeldingen (Pfalz)
13. 2008 Lorcher Pfaffenwies Riesling Kabinett trocken, Weingut Graf von Kanitz, Lorch (Rheingau)

Nahe, Rheinhessen, Baden and Mosel

The strong showing of the Nahe region is impressive. The Nahe is a very small wine region between the Mosel in the North and Rheinhessen and the Rheingau in the South.

Rheinhessen is absent from the list this year. Rheinhessen is the largest viticultural region in Germany. Every fourth bottle of German wine comes from Rheinhessen. The high-yielder Mueller-Thurgau accounts for about 1/5 of the vineyards, and Silvaner and Dornfelder both for 1/10. Rheinhessen also has the rather dubious honor of being considered the birthplace of Liebfraumilch. At the same time, Rheinhessen is among Germany’s most interesting wine regions. A lot is happening there. This is not because of the terroir, but because of the people. There is an increasing group of young, ambitious and dynamic winemakers who want to produce and indeed do produce outstanding wine and not wines in large quantities. But none of them made it to the Riesling Cup list this year.

Baden is a surprise. It is famous for its red wines and not a well known for Rieslings. Baden is the most southerly and warmest German wine-growing area in Germany's southwestern corner, across river Rhine from Alsace. It is known for its Pinot wines - both red and white. The Pinot Noir is the most widely grown grape variety in Baden. But the white wines from Baden are also very respectable. The main wine variety grown in the Tauber valley is the Müller-Thurgau, a resilient grape which produces very notable wines with a fine bouquet and an earthy-flowery scent. The Grauburgunder also deserves mention. But this time, Baden did very well in the Riesling Cup with its rarely planted Riesling wines.

Another surprise is the Mosel region. The Mosel region is well known for producing sweet Kabinett and Spaetlese wines that are made sweet and low in alcohol by stopping the fermentation. They are very special and very popular in the American market. They have their followers in the German market. But the Mosels region can also produce excellent dry Rieslings, as this contest shows.

Grosses Gewaechs Wines

Four of the wines are Grosses Gewaechs wines. Grosses Gewaechs is supposed to indicate an exceptional dry wine, like a French Grand Cru. It is a label invented by the exclusive club of VDP winemakers for their best wines and cannot be used by the other 99% of German winemakers, who are not a member of this club. Not only for that reason is the Grosses Gewaechs label a strange animal. By law, they need to have the sugar level in the grape of a Spaetlese wine. Spaetlese wines are not allowed to be chaptalized. At the same time, Grosse Gewaechs wines are by law sold as QbA wines and thus can be chaptalized. The purpose of the chaptalization, however, is not to add sweetness to the wine, but to increase the alcohol level. As a rule, a Grosses Gewaechs wine needs to be a least Spaetlese level at harvest, but is always declassified as a QbA wine. Finally, the concept of Grosses Gewaechs excludes VDP winemakers from the Rheingau region, which went on a separate route and uses the “Erstes Gewaechs” label instead. In the Rheingau, any, and not only VDP winemakers, can produce Erstes Gewaechs wines.

Tim Froehlich from the Nahe

Tim Froehlich from Weingut Schaefer-Froehlich, 1th place, is also year’s Gault Millau winemaker of the year. Tim Frohlich took over Weingut Schäfer-Fröhlich in 1995. He has impressed Gault and Millau with his dry, sweet and noble sweet white wines.

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