Thursday, March 28, 2019

Top 100 German Wines of 2018 - James Suckling/ Stuart Pigott

Pictures: Cornelius Dönnhoff, David Schildknecht and Annette Schiller in New York. See: Rieslingfeier 2018 in New York City: Gränd Tasting and Gala Dinner

On December 13, 2018, James Suckling released a list of his top 100 German wines of 2017. The list was put togather by Stuart Pigott, Senior Editor, a leading German wine and Resling expert.

A few months later, Stuart Pigott announced that for personal and other reasons (he wanted to spend more time with his new wife) was leaving the James Suckling team, effective March 1.

Most likely, the 2018 list was the last Top 100 German Wnes List of James Suckling put togather by Stuart Pigott. 

For last year's list, see: Top 100 German Wines of 2017 - Stuart Pigott/ James

Picture: Annette and Christian Schiller with Wine Journalist Stuart Pigott

Stuart Pigott: This was a great year for German wines, but also one dogged by problems. The most important news is the sensational quality of the best dry rieslings from the 2017 vintage. Nine of the top 10 places in our list of best German wines for 2018 go to wines in that category, all rated 98 points or higher.

The Dellchen GG 2017 from Dönnhoff in the Nahe region with a perfect 100 points is the best wine from the best vintage for dry Riesling in Germany in modern times. Winemaker Cornelius Dönnhoff’s masterpiece marries mind-blowing concentration and brilliance with enormous minerality, pushing the 2017 vintage to its limits.

James Suckling: "I knew back in 2016 what would be the Wine of the Year in 2018. Or at least, I had a pretty fair idea. I tasted 800 barrel samples in Bordeaux in March 2016, and I was blown away by the superb quality of the 2015 vintage. It was a superlative year producing classically structured reds with incredible beauty, structure, freshness, and finesse. They were neo-classical wines reminiscent of great young Bordeaux of my career such as 1982 and 1989. I gave potential perfect 100-point ratings to eight wines. About two years later (January this year), I tasted the 2015 Bordeaux again, and I rated 14 wines 100 points. It was the largest number of perfect wines in a single vintage of Bordeaux in my nearly four decades as a wine critic.

Picture:  Annette Schiller, Helmut Dönnhoff and daughter Christina Dönnhoff (Weingut Dönnhoff) and Didier Cuevlier (Chateau Leoville Poyferre) at Weingut Dr. Robert Weil

Pictures: An ombiasy WineTours Afternoon with Riesling Star Winemaker Helmut Doennhoff at Weingut Doennhoff in Oberhausen in the Nahe Valley, Germany

Steffen Christmann, owner of Christmann estate in Pfalz, who’s Riesling Pfalz Idig GG 2017 is our number 2 German wine of 2018.

Not every wine in the top 10 is from famous producers though. The breathtakingly beautiful Schönell GG 2017 from Prinz made 5th place with 99 points and the super-mineral Krone trocken 2017 from Eva Fricke made 6th place with 98 points. Both of these rising winemakers are based in the Rheingau, a region dogged by quality issues during recent decades. Clearly something has changed there for the better.

Picture: Annette Schiller, Christian Schiller and Steffen Christmann at the 2. Internationale Riesling Symposium in Hattenheim, Germany

Pictures: Winery Tour and Wine Tasting at Weingut A. Christmann, with Steffen Christmann – Germany-South Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2014)

The challenge the best German wines of 2018 had to overcome was the combination of spring frosts and late summer hail that devastated the size of the 2017 crop in many places. This means many wines that would have qualified for this list in a normal year, for example most of the amazing dry Riesling GGs from Keller in Rheinhessen, didn’t this time because quantities were so small you would have great difficulty tracking them down.

Our Top 100 lists are not designed to frustrate you, rather to point you in the direction of the most exciting wines currently available in the market. Of course, this is a bitter pill for the affected producers, also in terms of reduced sales and income. Germany may be one of the main beneficiaries of climate change, but that doesn’t mean the weather no longer throws rocks into the road for the winemakers!

Pictures: Annette and Christian Schiller with Gunter Künstler, Weingut Künstler, at Weingut Robert Weil

Pictures: Vineyard Walk, Cellar Tour and Wine Tasting at Weingut Künstler – Germany-North Wine Tour by ombiasy (2014)

Another striking feature of this year’s list is the handful of reds from the spätburgunder, aka pinot noir, grape of the 2015 vintage, most notably the super-concentrated but equally refined Schlossberg GG 2015 from Bernhard Huber in Baden that took 8th place with 98 points.

The Schlossberg GG 2015 from Fürst in Franken (from a completely different vineyard to Huber’s, also called Schlossberg) that placed 17th, the Spätburgunder 2015 (labeled “Pinot Noir”) from Shelter Winery in Baden in 19th position and the 2015 Spätburgunder Pinot Noix (yes, that really is the name!) in 22nd place are all stunningly distinctive expressions of this grape that rated 96. Try putting them up against top red Burgundies costing several times their comparatively friendly prices to see what we mean.

Pictures: Cellar Tour and Wine Tasting with Philipp Wittmann and Eva Clüsserath-Wittmann at Weingut Wittmann in Westhofen – Germany-South Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2014)

There’s even more value to be found in the dry riesling category. This is partly the result of improved viticulture and selective harvesting, but the excellent ripening conditions in 2017 (the fine fall stretched into late November) combined with the small crop also played an important role in cranking up the quality.

Some wines below the single-vineyard category that we normally expect to rate 91 or 92 scored a couple of points higher as a result. Look out for dry rieslings like the Magic Mountain 2017 from Leitz in the Rheingau and the Haardt 2017 from Müller-Catoir in the Pfalz that both rated 94 and took 85th and 84th positions in our Top 100 German Wines of 2018. — Stuart Pigott, Senior Editor

Top 100 German wines of 2018 - James Suckling/ Stuart Pigott

1Dönnhoff Riesling Nahe Dellchen GG 2017
2Christmann Riesling Pfalz Idig GG 2017
3Künstler Riesling Rheingau Hölle GG 2017
4Wittmann Riesling Rheinhessen Morstein GG 2017
5Prinz Riesling Rheingau Schönhell GG 2017
6Eva Fricke Riesling Rheingau Krone Trocken 2017
7Müller-Catoir Riesling Pfalz Bürgergarten Im Breumel GG 2017
8Bernhard Huber Spätburgunder Baden Schlossberg GG 2015
9Gut Hermannsberg Riesling Nahe Kupfergrube GG 2016
10 Dönnhoff Riesling Nahe Hermannshöhle GG 2017
11Emrich-Schönleber Riesling Nahe Halenberg GG 2017
12Schäfer-Fröhlich Riesling Nahe Felseneck GG 2017
13Dr. Wehrheim Riesling Pfalz Kastanienbusch GG 2017
14Wagner-Stempel Riesling Rheinhessen Heerkretz Auslese 2017
15Carl Loewen Riesling Mosel 1896 (Gray Label) 2017
16Peter Lauer Riesling Mosel Schonfels GG 2017
17Fürst Spätburgunder Franken Schlossberg GG 2015
18Heymann-Löwenstein Riesling Mosel Uhlen Laubach GG 2017
19Shelter Winery Spätburgunder Baden 2015
20Egon Müller-Scharzhof Riesling Mosel Scharzhofberger Spätlese 2017
21Bergdolt Riesling Pfalz Reiterpfad Achtmorgen GG 2017
22Daniel Twardowski Spätburgunder Mosel Pinot Noix 2015
23Dr. Bürklin-Wolf Riesling Pfalz Ungeheuer GG 2016
24Fürst Riesling Franken Centgrafenberg GG 2017
25Schlossgut Diel Riesling Nahe Burgberg GG 2016
26Wagner-Stempel Riesling Rheinhessen Heerkretz GG 2017
27Ökonomierat Rebholz Riesling Pfalz Kastanienbusch GG 2017
28Dr. Loosen Riesling Mosel Erdener Prälat GG Reserve 2014
29Georg Breuer Riesling Rheingau Berg Schlossberg Trocken 2016
30Markus Molitor Riesling Mosel Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Auslese *** Green Cap 2016
31August Kesseler Riesling Rheingau Berg Schlossberg GG 2017
32Maximin Grünhaus (von Schubert) Riesling Mosel Abtsberg Superior 2017
33Kühling-Gillot Riesling Rheinhessen Rothenberg Wurzelecht GG 2017
34Willi Schaefer Riesling Mosel Graacher Domprobst Kabinett 2017
35Emrich-Schönleber Riesling Nahe Halenberg Spätlese 2017
36Schloss Johannisberg Riesling Rheingau Auslese Rosalack 2017
37A. J. Adam Riesling Mosel Hofberg Kabinett 2017
38Robert Weil Riesling Rheingau Kiedrich Gräfenberg Auslese 2017
39Keller Riesling Rheinhessen Hubacker GG 2017
40Zilliken Riesling Mosel Rausch Spätlese 2017
41von Othegraven (Günther Jauch) Riesling Mosel Altenberg Spätlese Alte Reben 2017
42Markus Molitor Riesling Mosel Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Spätlese Gold Cap 2016
43A. J. Adam Riesling Mosel In der Sängerei Feinherb 2017
44Tesch Riesling Nahe St. Remigiusberg Trocken 2017
45Pfeffingen Riesling Pfalz Herrenberg GG 2017
46Hexamer Riesling Nahe Meddersheimer Rheingrafenberg Spätlese 2017
47Ratzenberger Riesling Mittelrhein St. Jost GG 2017
48Flick Riesling Rheingau Nonnberg Vier Morgen GG 2017
49Gunderloch Riesling Rheinhessen Rothenberg GG 2017
50Joh. Jos. Prum Riesling Mosel Wehlener Sonnenuhr Spätlese 2016
51Eva Fricke Riesling Rheingau Seligmacher 2017
52Vollenweider Riesling Mosel Wolfer Goldgrube Spätlese 2017
53Katharina Wechsler Riesling Rheinhessen Kirchspiel trocken 2017
54Immich-Batterieberg Riesling Mosel Batterieberg 2016
55Dr. Wagner Riesling Mosel Rauch Spätlese Josef Heinrich 2017
56Selbach-Oster Riesling Mosel Rotlay Auslese 2017
57Winter Riesling Rheinhessen Kloppberg GG 2017
58Grans-Fassian Riesling Mosel Trittenheimer Apotheke Auslese 2017
59Müller-Catoir Scheurebe Pfalz Mandelring Spätlese 2017
60Dr. Crusius Riesling Nahe Felsenberg GG 2017
61Battenfeld-Spanier Riesling Rheinhessen Krichenstück GG 2017
62Groebe Riesling Rheinhessen Kirchspiel GG 2017
63Thörle Riesling Rheinhessen Hölle trocken 2017
64Gut Hermannsberg Riesling Nahe Hermannsberg GG 2016
65Winzerhof Stahl Chardonnay Franken Edelstahl Fass 500 Grand Reserve 2016
66Schloss Johannisberg Riesling Rheingau Spätlese Grünlack 2017
67Bergdolt Weissburgunder Pfalz Mandelberg GG 2017
68Chat Sauvage Pinot Noir Rheingau Rüdesheim Drachenstein 2015
69Knipser Riesling Pfalz Steinbuckel GG 2017
70Riffel Riesling Rheinhessen Scharlachberg trocken 2017
71Wittmann Riesling Rheinhessen Kirchspiel GG 2017
72Maximin Grünhaus (von Schubert) Riesling Mosel Abtsberg GG 2017
73Haart Riesling Mosel Ohligsberg GG 2017
74Schlossgut Diel Nahe Cuvée Mo Sekt Brut Natur 2008
75Martin Müllen Riesling Mosel Trarbacher Hühnerberg Spätlese Trocken ** 2016
76Schäfer-Fröhlich Weissburgunder Nahe Reserve Trocken 2017
77Ökonomierat Rebholz Riesling Pfalz Frankweiler Bienengarten EL 2017
78Luckert Riesling Franken Maustal GG 2017
79Koehler-Ruprecht Chardonnay Pfalz Spätlese Trocken 2017
80Thörle Spätburgunder Rheinhessen Hölle 2016
81Hofmann Riesling Rheinhessen Hundertgulden trocken 2017
82J.B. Becker Riesling Rheingau Wallufer Walkenberg Spätlese Trocken Alte Reben 2016
83Wwe. Dr. H. Thanisch, Erben Thanisch Riesling Mosel Bernkasteler Doctor Kabinett 2017
84Müller-Catoir Riesling Pfalz Haardt Trocken 2017
85Leitz Riesling Rheingau Magic Mountain Trocken 2017
86Korrell Riesling Nahe Von den Grossen Lagen Trocken 2017
87von Oetinger Riesling Rheingau Tradition Trocken 2016
88Ansgar Clüsserath Riesling Mosel Trittenheimer Apotheke Trocken 2017
89Joh. Bapt. Schäfer Riesling Nahe Goldloch GG 2017
90Ökonomierat Rebholz Weissburgunder Pfalz Vom Muschelkalk Trocken 2017
91Gutzler Riesling Rheinhessen Morstein trocken 2015
92Fritz Haag Riesling Mosel Juffer-Sonnenuhr GG 2017
93Theo Minges Riesling Pfalz Schäwer GG 2017
94Van Volxem Riesling Mosel Gottesfuss GG 2017
95Bernhard Eifel Riesling Mosel Alex E. Feinherb 2016
96Spreitzer Riesling Rheingau Wisselbrunnen GG 2017
97Dr. Fischer Riesling Mosel Kupp GG 2017
98Wegeler Riesling Mosel Doctor GG 2017
99Aldinger Spätburgunder Würrtemberg Lämmler GG 2015
100Winzerhof Lüttmer Frühburgunder Saale-Unstrut S 2015

schiller-wine: Related Postings

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Ombiasy Wine Tours 2018: 3 x France and 3 x Germany - Ombiasy Newsletter December 2017

Rieslingfeier 2018 in New York City: Gränd Tasting and Gala Dinner

An ombiasy WineTours Afternoon with Riesling Star Winemaker Helmut Doennhoff at Weingut Doennhoff in Oberhausen in the Nahe Valley, Germany

Winery Tour and Wine Tasting at Weingut A. Christmann, with Steffen Christmann – Germany-South Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2014)

Vineyard Walk, Cellar Tour and Wine Tasting at Weingut Künstler – Germany-North Wine Tour by ombiasy (2014)

Cellar Tour and Wine Tasting with Philipp Wittmann and Eva Clüsserath-Wittmann at Weingut Wittmann in Westhofen – Germany-South Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2014)

Top 100 German Wines of 2017 - Stuart Pigott/ James 

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