A few weeks ago, two chaps from the UK importer, ABS, took five of us, myself and Martin included, on an expedition through some of Germany’s great estates; expectations were high and anticipation, greater still.
Some of these folk have grown up exposed to fine wines, and hence have a honed focus on what’s right. This is evident in the wines we had the privilege to try, most of which us mere mortals would be hard pressed to find just one of, let alone a selection as thrilling as this.
Amongst the wine makers we visited, many were eager to demonstrate their lifetime of skills, and really show what German wine had to offer. In a stone walled cellar, beneath one of several great vineyards we were set to come across, Ernie Loosen, a spirited man, with rounded spectacles and a devilish grin repeatedly scampers off deeper into his vast cellar and returns with “great wine” from around the world to try on his eager guests – the subtext being that his wines are AT LEAST as good. “Try this Wehlener Sonnenheur I barrel-aged for 24 years before bottling” – OUCH!
Our second winemaker, Furst (excuse any bad puns) is homed in an equally picturesque setting, framed by low mountains and overlooking the towns of Miltenberg and Bürgstadt, which would be as at home in a Bavarian folk tale as 21st-century winegrowing Germany. Vines inhabit every available square foot of the steep slopes in this historic site, Centgaffenberg, producing truly breathtaking sites and wine, as expected, equally so. The Pur Riesling was dazzlingly good, focused, precise and sparklingly clear. Perfect to scoff it on its own or with any manner of nosh – what a star! We then tried the Burgstadt Burg Premier Cru, just bottled, and already showing great potential, but in need of a little time to open up.
The 2015 and 2009 Centgrafenberg are both, already, beautiful. The 2009 came from a double Magnum, meaning more potential for aging, however, Sebastian was not yet happy with its development under a larger cork. In our Harrogate store, we have a little stock of the 2005 and 2006, which are glorious at the moment! Make sure to grab a bottle, before I have the chance to scoff the lot.
Next up we visited Gunderloch; Johann was on holiday so one of the team leads the tasting over the courtyard from their large, renovated house. The Hipping GG 2015 was a sin to open, still in its pram, barely holding its own head, however, is in fine lineage. Gunderloch have over the years been responsible for an immaculate set of wines. If you come across their name, do not hesitate!
In the vineyard, we tried 5 wines from 2015 and 5 from 2016, ranging all the way from Trocken to Beerenauslese. My star, the Pettenthal 2015 GG, was already much richer, fuller and, for lack of a better word, sexier than some of the other Trockens tried. A big nose, with great detail, floral, yet maintaining lean, pointed acidity, and only 2015? Excellent already. It must be said, however, all the wines tried were individual, pure, exact and examples of truly great wine making, with some of the 2016's showing better than their predecessors already.
Finally, to Guntrum – Konstantin, a charming aristocrat, finely adorned in his red trousers, presents us with at least 17 fine wines. Despite his finery, Konstantin is producing what could possibly be the best value wines of the trip, producing wines at least as good as some of the others, but a third of the price.
Lots of delicious wine was had, along with what can only be described as “Too Much Fun” – so much fun, in fact, I lost my tasting notes and can scarcely remember getting back to the hotel - Ask Martin! Even for us “professionals” there comes a time in the day, when you start to just drink good wine, reveling in what it was made for.