Friday, April 22, 2016
Therry Theise’s Best German Wines and Winemakers – Vintage 2015
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.
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, Terry is known for having a preference for sweet-style wines, although his portfolio increasingly includes also dry wines (more on this see below). Fifth, 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.
For previous years, see:
Therry Theise’s Best German Wines and Winemakers – Vintage 2014
Terry Theise: German 2013 Vintage Wines - Highlights and Superlatives, Germany
Terry Theise: 2012 Vintage Wines - Highlights and Superlatives, Germany
Terry Theise’s Top German Wines of the 2011 Vintage, Germany, USA
2011: Terry Theise’s Top German Wines of the 2010 Vintage
Terry Theise's Top German Wines of the 2009 Vintage
Terry Theise’s Portfolio and ombiasy WineTours
My wife Annette Schiller organizes wine tours to Germany (This year: 3 tours – Germany-North, Germany-South and Germany-East). Many of the winemakers we have visited or will visit this year, are represented in the US by Terry Theise: Diel, Dönnhoff, Spreitzer, Von Winning, Kruger-Rumpf, Künstler, Selbach-Oster, Müller-Catoir, etc. I have added pictures from some of these visits, including references to relevant postings on schiller-wine.
Weingut von Winning in Deidesheim, Pfalz – Germany-South Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2015), Germany
Therry Theise’s Best Germany Wines and Winemakers – Vintage 2015
Here is Terry Theise in o-tone.
How is 2015? It is the perfect vintage for its moment. The quick-and-dirty headline is, 2015 is very good, and it contains many great wines. 2015 presents as a strong, even robust vintage, muscular and ripped. It’s easy to see into, easy to grok, but while the wines are sturdy they are rarely brutish. As a rule they aren’t lacy or filigree, though they are often seriously complex.
So does 2015 favor dry wines or sweet ones? Neither! There are stunningly good dry wines and stunningly good sweet wines. We had been alerted that the vintage was “crunchy,” and yes, its acids are prominent across the board. Geezers will remember the 1990 vintage, to which 2015 compares, though ’15 benches an extra 75 pounds. Considering the climactic extremes of 2015, the wines are surprisingly heterogeneous. Each time a sort of hypothetical “vintage norm” was identified there’d be an entirely exceptional and atypical collection that left me shaking my idiot head. Catoir, Dönnhoff, Spreitzer, Diel, Selbach – how did they make such wines?”
There are a lot of really fucked-up great wines in this vintage. I’ll try desperately to remain disciplined.
THE WINERY OF THE VINTAGE IS:
It could be any of half a dozen names. Seriously. If we take Dönnhoff ’s name out of “retirement” then it is clearly him, and I think this is really Cornelius’ ascension-vintage, the one where he starts to work a tactile alchemy. Similarly I can make a strong case for Selbach-Oster, but they’re scooped the kudo so often of late that it may be time to retire their number also. Still, one stands in mute awe when faced with what they’ve both achieved.
German Wine and Culture Tour by ombiasy, 2013
Yet no one would be surprised if they see Dönnhoff and Selbach-Oster’s names again. Yet again. Oh them again. Yes the wines are great, but we already know this.
I have a surprise for you. It was a surprise for me too. It’s not as big a winery, and so the achievement doesn’t denote the same degree of virtuosity or craftsmanship, and yet it was at least as miraculous and maybe even more so, especially following two very difficult crops. It’s a sentimental beloved of mine, and I allow for that when I taste. But even then I was overcome. So, sybarites, give it up for the teensy little estate of Merkelbach, who slipped into some sort of apotheosis in 2015.
Weingut Selbach-Oster in Zeltingen, Mosel, with Johannes Selbach – Germany-North Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2014)
OTHER MARKED SUCCESSES:
(In the order in which I tasted them)...
Diel was incisive, articulate, gorgeous, craftsmanlike, and the dry wines were the best I’ve tasted there.
Spreitzer keeps improving, and one wine in particular was among the most profound they’ve ever shown me.
Müller-Catoir was markedly strong in the RS-segment, especially with two toe-curling Rieslaners.
Minges showed me their best-ever vintage for white wines.
von Winning almost goes without saying now, having become one of the most significant estates not just in the Pfalz, but in all of Germany.
Adam was supreme in the dry and Feinherb idioms.
Picture: Christian Schiller with Armin and Caroline Diel at Schlossgut Diel. See: Germany-South Wine Tour by ombiasy, 2014
THE WINE OF THE VINTAGE IS:
(With Dönnhoff and Selbach included....)
Dönnhoff Hermannshöhle Riesling Grosses Gewächs
Selbach-Oster Riesling Schmitt
(Without those two)...
Adam Sängerei Riesling Feinherb, an explosive and classic example of the future of German Riesling, endowed with every possible complexity and concentration.
Schneider Niederhäuser Kertz Riesling Feinherb
Goldatzel Johannisberger Hölle Riesling Auslese
Spreitzer Winkeler Jesuitengarten Alte Reben Riesling Feinherb (this represents an apex both of the domain and the Rheingau in general, as great as it can be in its particular way.)
Müller-Catoir Gimmeldinger Schlössel Rieslaner Spätlese
von Winning 2015 Sauvignon Blanc “I”
Merkelbach Uerziger Würzgarten Riesling Spätlese #10
Selbach-Oster Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese 1-star
Weingut Spreitzer in Oestrich, Rheingau, with Bernd Spreitzer – Germany-North Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2015)
HIGH SPOTS AMONG ROSÉS:
(insofar as more and more growers are producing rosés, these are the conspicuous successes among them, YEAR-ROUND rosés with stuffing and vinosity.)
Diel Pinot Noir Rosé (best vintage ever for this perennially classy wine.)
Schneider Spätburgunder Feinherb (mind-blowing!)
von Winning Pinot Noir (the most intense and driving wine among this category.)
Adam Pinot Noir (the most interesting and improbable.)
Weingut Hexamer in Monzingen, Nahe – Germany-North Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2015)
THE GREATES TROCKEN WINES
(In a category whose successes continue to grow both in number and in stature, which makes me very happy...)
Diel Goldloch “GG”
Dönnhoff Höllenpfad (not to mention Felsenberg “GG”)
Spreitzer Rosengarten “GG”
von Winning Langenmorgen (subjectively; I adore this vineyard) and/or Kirchenstück (objectively, as this is clearly hors classe among their range.)
Weingut Künstler – Germany-North Wine Tour by ombiasy (2014)
THE GREATES FEINHERB WINES
(The most versatile, useful and ridiculously delicious dry enough wines, demonstrating the principle that “The perfect dry wine is often not perfectly dry.”)
Schneider Niederhäuser Kertz Riesling Feinherb
Dönnhoff estate Riesling
Müller-Catoir “MC” Riesling
Selbach-Oster Graacher Domprobst Riesling Spätlese Alte Reben Feinherb
Weingut Kruger-Rumpf in Münster-Sarmsheim, Nahe, with Georg Rumpf – Germany-North Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2015), Germany
THE VERY GREATEST VALUES
(In various price ranges, the wines that most impressively punch above their weight.)
Schneider Riesling Kabinett LITERS
Dönnhoff estate Riesling (in my opinion, the greatest white-wine value ON EARTH)
Minges Rieslaner Spätlese (a truly insane value for a total masterpiece!)
Merkelbach simply put—Every. Single. Wine.
von Winning “Winnings”
THE GREATEST AMONG AN EXCELLENT VINTAGE FOR SCHEUREBE:
Minges Gleisweiler Trocken
Minges (estate) Feinherb (This man is becoming the wizard of Scheurebe, and seems to go from strength to strength.)
THE GREATEST AMONG THE MANY GREAT AUSLESEN:
(In essence any Auslese I offer had to surmount my reluctance to clutter the portfolio with unsalable wine. But these were the utter best, and if they don’t curl your toes you should check your feet to make sure you actually still have toes.)
Diel Dorsheim (and the Pittermännchen is equally good)
Hexamer Schlossböckelheimer In Den Felsen
Dönnhoff both Brücke and Hermannshöhle show this category at its most sublime.)
Müller-Catoir Haardter Herzog Rieslaner (the very best of them all!)
Minges Rieslaner (almost as stunning as the Catoir.)
Eugen Müller Forster Kirchenstück
Merkelbach Uerziger Würzgarten Riesling #8 (The single greatest wine I have ever tasted from Rolf and Alfred.)
Selbach-Oster Zeltinger Schlossberg (A thrall of meditative Mosel perfection.)
Weingut Müller Catoir – Germany-South Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2015)
schiller-wine: Related Postings
Tour and Tasting at Weingut von Winning in Deidesheim, Pfalz – Germany-South Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2015), Germany
German Wine and Culture Tour by ombiasy, 2013
Cellar Tour and Wine Tasting at Weingut Selbach-Oster in Zeltingen, Mosel, with Johannes Selbach – Germany-North Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2014)
Germany-South Wine Tour by ombiasy, 2014
Tour and Tasting at Weingut Spreitzer in Oestrich, Rheingau, with Bernd Spreitzer – Germany-North Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2015)
Wine Tasting at Weingut Hexamer in Monzingen, Nahe – Germany-North Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2015)
Vineyard Walk, Cellar Tour and Wine Tasting at Weingut Künstler – Germany-North Wine Tour by ombiasy (2014)
Wine Dinner with Tour at Weingut Kruger-Rumpf in Münster-Sarmsheim, Nahe, with Georg Rumpf – Germany-North Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2015), Germany
Vineyard Tour, Cellar Tour and Tasting at Weingut Müller Catoir – Germany-South Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2015)