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German Rieslings, mostly 2001

by Tom Cannavan, 09/03

Some notes on German Rieslings tasted recently. Most of these come from the exceptional 2001 vintage. UK distributors and approximate retail prices are given (£5=$7.50US/€7.50). The tasting was not blind.

Schloss Saarstein, Serrig, Saar
UK agent: Charles Taylor Wines Ltd.

Riesling Trocken 2001 QbA - £8.50
Crisp, fresh apple and melon nose. Lovely clarity and balance between lush, sweet fruit and a slaty minerality. Stays very fresh, with palate-cleansing citrus fruit and fine acidity. Very good indeed.

Riesling Kabinett 2001 - £9.50
Lovely sweet, vaguely floral nose, with gently tropical fruit. Nice development of sweet tangerine fruit, which is very ripe but balanced by racy mineral acidity. Good purity and length. Very good indeed.

Riesling Spätlese 2001 - £11.75
There's a fine ripe pear, almost slightly caramel note on the nose here. The palate is cool and lissome, but with plenty of clean orchard fruits, lovely acid balance and good length. Very good indeed.

Riesling Auslese 2001 - £17.50
Adding a sweeter, slightly confectionery note with notes of blossom and fresh pear. There's a taut lemony core to this wine on the palate, but wrapped in sweetness. Great knife-edge balance of acidity too. Very good indeed/excellent.

Riesling Beerenauslese 2001 - £POA
Remarkably light nose; a fragrant, floral aromatic, with some sherbetty minerality, but no obvious botrytis. The palate is gorgeous, with scintillating minerality keeping a beautifully honed edge on luscious tropical fruit, orange, mandarin and pineapple. Long and delightful. Excellent.

Lingenfelder, Pfalz
UK agent: Charles Taylor Wines Ltd.

Grosskarlbacher Burgweg Scheurebe Kabinnet Trocken 2001 - £7.99
The only non-riesling in this line-up. Lovely big nose of juicy peaches, ripe melon and a tropical note, with floral highlights. Palate is off-dry, with lychee and mango fruit that is perhaps a little washed-out after the promise of the nose. Very good.

Freinsheimer Goldberg Riesling Spätlese Trocken 2001 - £8.60
Adds much more leafy and mineral complexity. This has an elegant palate, with a sweet attack of quite rich apple and pear fruit, then crisp acidity takes hold to leave this off-dry again. Very good indeed.

Grosskarlbacher Osterberg Riesling Spätlese Halbtrocken 1999 - £8.60
Nice tropical fruit nose, with a pleasant suggestion of waxiness and plenty of peach and apricot fruit. There is a silky lightness about the palate, with moderate sweetness and a long, pure finish. Very good indeed.

Freinsheimer Goldberg Riesling Auslese 2001 - £9.99 (37.5cl)
Lovely honeyed nose showing good botrytis. Masses of lush figgy character that is round and rich, almost caramelly. Weighty palate with an immediate impression of limpid, nectarine and guava juice fruit. Good acid balance here too, and a long and very delicious wine. Very good indeed/excellent.

Karthäuserhof, Ruwer
UK agent: Charles Taylor Wines Ltd.

Eitelsbacher Karthäuserhofberg Riesling Kabinett 2001 - £10.50
Fine, leafy, herbal nose. Lots of gooseberry and nettles. The palate has plenty of schisty, smoky quality with minerals backed up by grapefruit and citrus fruit flavours. Nice balance here, with lengthening acidity. Very good indeed.

Eitelsbacher Karthäuserhofberg Riesling Spätlese 2001 - £12.95
More delicate herbal notes on the nose, with plenty of crisp orchard fruit and a cutting edge of minerality. Fine stuff this; the palate has plenty of verve with stylish white fruit and balanced acidity into a long finish. Very good indeed/excellent.

Eitelsbacher Karthäuserhofberg Riesling Auslese 2001 - £16.50
Delicate nose once again with a fragrant perfume suggesting flowers, orchard fruit and some slaty notes. Racy palate, with plenty of citrus and crunchy green apple acidity. Shimmering quality, and very good indeed/excellent.

Peter Jakob Kühn, Rheingau
UK agent: Charles Taylor Wines Ltd.

Oestricher Lenchen Riesling Kabinett Graziosa 2000 - £9.79
Nice herbal notes; gently nettly with a light orchard fruit character. The palate has weight and plenty of fruit: passion fruit and a suggestion of tropicality. Finishes well, with good length and balance. Very good indeed.

Oestricher Lenchen Riesling Kabinett 2001 - £9.99
Much sweeter nose, with lots of sherbetty sweetness and a deal of ripe pear and pear-drop character. More pear fruit on the palate, and very sweet in style for a Kabinett. Big, but perhaps lacking a little acidity. Very good.

Oestricher Lenchen Riesling Spätlese 2001 - £13.99
Reasonable nose, but perhaps a little characterless? The palate seems a bit syrupy too, with plenty of thick, juicy peach and tinned apricot fruit and decent acidity. I may be judging this a little harshly, but only good/very good.

Rheingau Riesling Beerenauslese 2000 - £99.99 (37.5cl)
Huge, honeyed, deeply botrytised nose. There's a complex set of caramel, nuts, oats (meusli?), fudge and deep-set, peachy fruit. Nice lemony edge too. The palate is all honey and lemon at first, with a rich, mouth-coating texture. Unctuously sweet, this powers through to the finish with enough acidity. Absolutely delicious, but too expensive.

Schloss Vollrads, Rheingau
UK agent: Liberty Wines.

Castle Label Vollrads Riesling 2000 - £7.99
Minerals, sherbet, and slightly leafy notes on the nose. The palate is crisp and quite fruity; citrus and gentle apple character. Moderate, if balanced finish. Good.

Crest Label Riesling 1999 QbA - £9.95
This has a nice sense of minerality on the nose, with citrus fruit and little hints of something riper. Really quite elegant. The palate is quite full and lush, with a streak of orange acidity over apricot fruit. Good mineral acidity extends the finish, and this is delicious and very good indeed.

Riesling 1996 QbA - £8.99
This has developed a gorgeously smoky nose suggesting dust and gravel, with a hint of wax and rich fruit. The palate is very attractive, with crisp apple and pear fruit, just showing nuances of honey and nutty flavours. Good balance and length. Very good indeed.

Riesling Kabinett 2000 - £10.95
This has a fine nose; elegant orchard fruits and a mealy quality, with a little waxy note. The palate is peachy, with a sour green apple edge. Quite savoury, with a mineral kick of acidity into the finish. Very good/very good indeed.

Riesling Spätlese 2000 - £15.95
Wonderfully unctuous nose, loaded with mango and guava fruit. Rich and fat, there are subtle mineral notes adding an edge. The palate is full and has a mouthfilling texture, with lovely density, but perhaps this just lacks a little complexity in the final analysis? Very good/very good indeed.

Riesling Auslese 2000 - £31.50 (50cl)
Delicately perfumed, with floral notes atop light, sweet, tropical fruit notes. Lighter and very fine. Scintillating palate, with crisp, fresh acidity over pure, sweet fruit. Medium bodied and with excellent length, this is very good indeed/excellent.

Joseph Leitz, Rheingau
UK agent: Walter Siegel Ltd.

Rudesheimer Drachenstein Riesling 1999 QbA - £6.75
This has a distinct paraffin edge on the nose, and a pronounced pithy minerality, with juts a background of cool apple fruit. Lightly mineral palate too, with citrus flavours and a tiny waxy edge. Cool and crisp, this is drinking well. Very good indeed.

Rudesheimer Magdalenenkreuz Riesling Kabinett 1998 - £7.99
Still has that minerality on the nose, but less overt paraffin. The palate is rather flat, and lacking a sense of vitality. Moderate.

Rudesheimer Klosterberg Riesling Eiswein 1998 - £50 (37.5cl)
Lovely big super-concentrated nose on this. Plenty of honey and nutty notes. The palate has thick, sweet nectarine fruit, with a tingle of spice and fine acidity. Long and very good indeed.