Monday, April 30, 2012

Terry Theise’s Top German Wines of the 2011 Vintage, Germany, USA

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller with Stefan Rumpf, Weingut Krueger-Rumpf, at a Winemaker Dinner at Weinstube Krueger-Rumpf in Muenster-Sarmsheim

Terry Theise just returned from Germany and has published his “back-to-office” report on the web site of Skurknik imports, including a listing of his top wines in various categories. Of course, it is not a comprehensive review of German wine, but focuses on Terry Theise’s portfolio of winemakers, which is large and exceptional.

Terry Theise is one of the leading experts of German Wine in the US. Among the vast number of his followers, he has gained something like a cult status. He publishes a thick catalogue once a year with extensive comments. In addition to the compendium of exciting wine reviews, the Terry Theise’s annual catalogue is a very good introduction to German wine, both to the basics and to the current trends and issues.

If you want to learn more about Terry, the Washington Post carried an excellent article about him some time ago. See here.

2008 James Beard Outstanding Wine and Spirits Professional
2005 Food & Wine Magazine Importer of the Year

His wines are imported by Michael Skurnik, an importer and distributor of fine wines based in Syosset, New York. Terry also imports Austrian wine and Champagnes, including excellent grower Champagnes.

For previous years, see:

Terry Theise's Top German Wines of the 2009 Vintage

2011: Terry Theise’s Top German Wines of the 2010 Vintage

Terry Theise's Top Wines

A few comments. First, there are no red wines, although they now account for 1/3 of the German wine output. Terry is clearly focusing on Germany’s white wines. Second, nor have I seen a category for sparkling wines; for sparklers, you have to go to his excellent portfolio of Champagnes, including many grower Champagnes. Third, his list does not include any noble-sweet wines (Beerenauslese, Trockenbeerenauslese, Eiswein). Fourth, as mentioned above, this is not a list based on a comprehensive review of German wine, but is limited to Terry Theise’s portfolio of winemakers, which is large and exceptional.

Here is Terry Theise in o-tone. I have added a couple of pictures of the winemakers I have met personally, including references to relevant postings on schiller-wine.


(bearing in mind that Mr. Dönnhoff’s number has been retired, as it were)….oh, again it’s a bitch to choose just one. It can seem to consign the others to insignificance, but promise me you’re smarter than that. OK? So, the winery of the vintage is clearly Willi Schaefer, for an astonishingly brilliant collection surpassing anything I’ve ever tasted from this already stellar domain. Each wine, from the littlest to the grandest, showed an achingly clear line of pure terroir, both specific to Graach and somehow also talking to some ur-Mosel eternity, and no matter how rich the wines became, the clear line was always there.

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller and Helmut Doennhoff in Mainz, Germany


Strub has their second consecutive excellent collection. Kruger-Rumpf took a big step up from their normal level, with a strong across-the-board showing from dry and not-dry wines alike. Leitz remains steadily superb, establishing a three-peat of great years that started in 2009. Schlossgut Diel is outstanding even by their standards, a euphoric collection marked by silky charm and irresistible fragrance.

Weingart, whose name you’ll be reading a lot in this section, seems to have come from another world in 2011.  Our hero in Dhron Adam continues to delight and dazzle. And by no means an afterthought, my most deeply beloved friends at Selbach-Ostergive us (yet) another steadily delicious and keenly well-crafted group, culminating in the great trio of en-bloc picked micro-parcels that now must stand among the Mosel’s most important wines.


Adam: Hofberg Riesling Spätlese


Leitz: Rüdesheimer Berg Roseneck Riesling Spätlese (yet again)

Weingart: Spay Riesling Spätlese Feinherb

Schaefer: Graacher Domprobst Riesling Spätlese #5

Selbach-Oster: Anrecht


Schaefer: Graacher Domprobst Riesling Auslese #14


Kruger-Rumpf: Scheurebe Spätlese, challenging the hegemony of Catoir and Diel, this is the best Scheu I’ve ever tasted at Rumpf.

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller with Georg Rumpf, Weingut Krueger-Rumpf, in Muenster-Sarmsheim: Visiting Georg Rumpf and his VDP Weingut Kruger-Rumpf in the Nahe Region, Germany


Schlossgut Diel: Riesling Kab (non-vineyard) for its remarkable expressiveness and value vis-à-vis its fellow Kabs from the Grand Crus.

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller and Armin and Caroline Diel at Schlossgut Diel: Visiting Armin and Caroline Diel and their Schlossgut Diel in Burg Layen in Germany

Adam: Hofberg Kabinett – big surprise, right?

Von Othegraven: Kanzemer Altenberg Kabinett (which comes ethereally near to the supernal 2008).


Kruger-Rumpf: in general, for their ascent to a new level of polish.

Kerpen: Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Spät, maybe the most impressive and delicious Graach wine I’ve yet tasted at Kerpen.
Von Winning: Sauvignon Blanc. Come again? Oh yes, a weighty serious wine challenging the top bottlings from Südsteiermark (themselves among the world’s greatest SB).


Donnhoff: above all, for the jaw-dropping soul-stirring Hermannshöhle GG, perhaps the greatest dry Riesling I’ve ever tasted from Germany.

Leitz: He’s become a steadily stellar producer of a trifecta of great dry Rieslings from Katerloch (in the Roseneck), Hinterhaus (Rottland) and Terassen (Kaisersteinfels).

Picture: Visiting Weingut Josef Leitz in Ruedesheim – Johannes Leitz is Germany’s Winemaker of the Year, Gault Millau WeinGuide 2011

Schlossgut Diel: Pittermännchen GG is enticingly promising!

Von Winning: Pechstein GG is an explosive terroir-lover’s dream.

Minges: 2010 Froschkönig, still in cask (!), and the closest a German wine has ever drawn to the murmuring depths of the greatest wines of Nikolaihof.

Kerpen: Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese Alte Reben, a model for success in a genre that seldom succeeds – balanced, delicious Mosel Riesling with depth.


Stub: Soil to Soul, which is becoming absurdly good and remains absurdly attractively priced.


Weingart: one after another after another, but none more than the virtually perfect Spay Riesling Spätlese Feinherb. Somms: if you only bought one single wine from this entire offering, this is the one I’d suggest. (Whereupon I’d suggest you buy about thirty more, but whatever….)

Schneider: Niederhäuser Kertz Riesling Spätlese Feinherb.

Hexamer:‘Porphyr’ Riesling Feinherb.


Reuscher-Harrt: Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Riesling Kabinett, which I don’t remotely need to “sell,” but which is just ridiculously charming in 2011.

Darting: Dürkheimer Feuerberg Riesling Kabinett Halbtrocken. Drink it and try not to grin, I dare you.”

schiller-wine - Related Postings

Terry Theise's Top German Wines of the 2009 Vintage

2011: Terry Theise’s Top German Wines of the 2010 Vintage

German Spaetlese Wines Can Come in Different Versions. I Have Counted Five.

Phil Bernstein’s Third Annual German Riesling Tasting with the German Wine Society, Washington DC Chapter - Rieslings With a Touch of Sweetness

When Americans Drink German Wine - What They Choose

Impressions from the Riesling and Co World Tour 2010 in New York

German Wine Basics: Sugar in the Grape - Alcohol and Sweetness in the Wine

JJ Pruem Goes Supermarket: Meeting Katharina Pruem and Tasting the Incredible JJ Pruem Wines at Wegmans

1st International Riesling Symposium, Rheingau, Germany

The Wines of the Roter Hang (Red Slope) in Nierstein, Rheinhessen, Germany

Germany’s Best Dry Rieslings – Feinschmecker Riesling Cup 2011

Best German Wines – Gault Millau WeinGuide Deutschland 2012

Germany’s Top 100 Winemakers – Handelsblatt online and Vinum 2011

The Doctor Made a House Call - A Tasting with Ernst Loosen, Weingut Dr. Loosen, at MacArthur Beverages in Washington DC, USA

One of the Fathers of the German Red Wine Revolution: Weingut Huber in Baden

German Riesling and International Grape Varieties – Top Wine Makers Wilhelm Weil and Markus Schneider at Kai Buhrfeindt’s Grand Cru in Frankfurt am Main, Germany

The Wines of Franz Kuenstler from Hochheim, Rheingau, Germany

Best German Wine and Winemakers – Stuart Pigott’s Favorites (2011)

Germany's Top 16 Winemakers - Feinschmecker WeinGuide 2012

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