Thursday, December 10, 2009

Wine ratings: Mosel and Pfalz regions dominate German Wines on Top 100 Wine Enthusiast Lists in 2009

The Wine Enthusiast has published its Top 100 wines lists - Top 100 Best Buys, Top 100 Cellar Selections and Enthusiast 100. Only Seven of the 300 selected wines come from Germany. All seven wines are either from the Mosel or the Pfalz regions. They are all Rieslings, and, except for one wine, all sweet or noble-sweet wines.

There is a distinct disconnect between the Top 100 Wine Enthusiast lists and what the two leading German wine guides - Gault Millau and Eichelmann – say. This should not come as a surprise. Different markets are assessed. What counts for the German wine guides is what is produced and consumed in Germany. What counts for the Wine Enthusiast is what comes to the American market and is consumed in the US. And there is a huge difference between the two.

Take Ernst Loosen’s Dr. L. A hugely popular German wine in the US, which made it to the Top 100 Wine Spectator list this year, one of two German wines. The Loosen wine is very well regarded in the US, but unheard of in Germany. When you go to the web site of the Dr. Loosen Estate in Germany, you will not find it. A wine, produced only for the export market. A Top 100 wine in the US, an unknown wine in Germany. In general, Dr. Ernst Loosen is a rising star in the US, hugely popular, while in Germany the Estate has just been downgraded in the Gault Millau Guide.

Against this background, here are the Top 100 lists of the Wine Enthusiast.

The Top 100 Best Buys are wines that carry a suggested retail price of no more than $15 and whose quality is outstanding in comparison to its price. Low-cost producers and producing regions dominate the list. There is 1 German wine on this list.

Gräflich von Hohenthal’scher 2005 Erdener Treppchen Riesling Kabinett (Mosel-Saar-Ruwer); $12; 89 point.

At $12 for a single vineyard Kabinett, this is an excellent value, delivering exotic honey, apricot and spice notes. The texture is creamy and silky; the finish is lush and soft. Drink it over the next few years. Imported by Scoperta Importing Co. Inc

The Top 100 Cellar Selections are wines that require time in a temperature- and humidity-controlled cellar to reach their maximum potential. These are often among the highest-rated wines of the year, and price is less important in compiling this Top 100 list than for any of the others. Three German wines made it to the list.

Joh. Jos. Prüm 2007 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese (Mosel-Saar-Ruwer); $60; 94 points.

Prüm’s 2007 Sonnenuhr Auslese shows a typical youthful yeasty-leesy-sulfur funk, but also layers of ripe pear and citrus fruit lurking underneath. It’s sweet but wonderfully balanced, plump and creamy in texture and long on the finish. Imported by Valckenberg International

Ökonomierat Rebholz 2007 Kastanienbusch, Riesling Grosses Gewächs (Pfalz); $90, 93 points.

Like the Im Sonnenschein, this wine shows a touch of green on the nose, but there are also some riper notes that bring to mind tangerines. This is almost too intense and minerally; fans of fruity Rieslings will likely be underwhelmed, but if you like the flavors of wet salty stones that extend almost indefinitely on the finish, this wine is a winner. Imported by Cellars International, Inc.

Geh. Rat Dr. von Bassermann-Jordan 2007 Ruppertsberger Reiterpfad Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese (Pfalz); $333/375ml.; 95 points.

The numbers on this wine are amazing (380 g/l residual sugar, 17 g/l TA), but even more impressive is how such an extremely sweet wine can remain reasonably drinkable, complex and harmonious. It’s musky and spice-laden, filled with dried apricot and honey flavors that linger on the incredibly long, citrusy finish. Should age indefinitely. Imported by Valckenberg International, Inc.

The Enthusiast 100 represent the most diverse and dynamic wines available. They are wines that offer extraordinary quality at prices that still represent affordable luxury. They are mostly wines that can be consumed over the near term, although some will undoubtedly benefit from cellaring. Three German wines are on the list.

Grans-Fassian 2007 Trittenheimer Apotheke Riesling Spätlese Goldkapsel (Mosel-Saar-Ruwer); $38; 93 points.

This striking Spätlese comes across as lush and decadent, yet without losing any focus. Crushed stones impart a sense of minerality on the nose, palate and finish, while the roundness comes from notes of honey, apple blossom and orange marmalade. Long and pristinely pure on the finish. Drink now–2030. Imported by Valckenberg International, Inc.

Dr. Loosen 2007 Erdener Treppchen Riesling Auslese (Mosel-Saar-Ruwer); $42; 93 points.

This thrilling Auslese starts off with intriguing spicy, musky aromas, then moves easily into flavors of pear, melon, pineapple and even red berries on the palate. It somehow comes across as plump, yet crytalline and pure, with a long, fruit-driven finish. Drink now–2030. Imported by Loosen Bros. USA.

Mönchhof Estate 2007 Mosel Slate Riesling Spätlese (Mosel-Saar-Ruwer); $25; 92 points.

With 3,000 cases imported into the U.S., consumers should still be able to track down some of this sweet, luscious Spätlese. Citrus and custard notes mark the nose, followed by rich, tropical elements, even some hints of banana. Despite the sugary richness, the wine ends clean and refreshing, thanks to a burst of lime on the finish. Imported by Cellars International, Inc.

In addition, two German/American wines made it to the list, with the wine being a joint venture of an American and a German wine maker. The German wine makers are Dr. Loosen (Mosel) and Diel (Nahe).

Chateau Ste. Michelle & Dr. Loosen 2008 Eroica Riesling (Columbia Valley); $24; 93 points.

The 10th vintage of Eroica may be the best ever. It’s supremely fresh, spicy, and mineral-driven. The well-textured mouthfeel runs the gamut from celery, chervil, and other fresh herb into melon, citrus and stone. Though technically offdry, this is a low pH, high acid wine with plenty of length and depth.

Poet’s Leap 2007 Riesling (Columbia Valley); $20; 94 points.

Loaded with honeysuckle, melon, pear, peach and hints of sweet grapefruit, this juicy wine perfectly captures the intensity of a Washington Riesling and the complexity of German wines. Buoyant and precise, with notes of chalk and limestone in the finish, this is a stunning achievement in a challenging vintage.

Schiller Wine – Related Posting

Wine ratings: Two American/German wines – Eroica and Poet’s Leap – on Top 100 Wines from Washington State list for 2009

Wine ratings: Top 100 of the Wine Spectator 2009 include Wittmann and Loosen Rieslings

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