Rheinhessen

Trip to Germany

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Germany, Riesling, Travel

Sorry I haven’t posted for a while. Due to unfortunate family circumstances, I decided to take a trip to Germany just last week. Apart from rapid driving and good food, I also got to taste a bunch of German wines, specifically from the Nahe and Rheinhessen regions. Allow me to leave you with my impressions:

Tasting Format:
When one tastes in Germany, there is no limit to how much you can taste. In all the tastings I have conducted so far, I have been free to taste as much as I could. This makes it easy to taste first and buy only what you really like. It takes the guesswork out of the equation.

General Comments:
Trocken and Halbtrocken are what the German vintners seem to sell to the German consumers. And I must say that I by now vastly prefer the trocken editions from virtually all wineries I’ve been to. As far as I understand, these wines are not meant for ageing, but immediate pleasure and I would agree based on my tasting experience. In speaking to the vintners, it is clear that the importers for the US market dial in on the sweet and off-dry wines. It’s a shame that not more dry wines are exported to the US market as I believe they would do well here.

Red vs. White Varietals:
With the many varietals that are being planted in Germany, my experience is that the red varietals, even from the best producers (like Meyer Naekel from the Ahr) are not in step with their “neighbors” from France. The German whites though are far superior to the German reds with Riesling leading the way. I would recommend readers to try Sylvaner, Grauburgunder (Pinot Gris) and Gewuerztraminer though as these wines can be equally spectacular.

Prices:
German wines are incredibly inexpensive in Germany. Hard to believe just how inexpensive wine is there, even very good stuff. The best vintners sell their best wines at usually less than $25, which is barely more than the entry level semi-sweet wines here in the US are available for from some of the same or at least similar producers. Spending more than $10 per bottle for really good wine seems nearly impossible.

Availability:
Well, the 2005 vintage has been much hailed in Germany and thus the availability of the wines from top estates is very thin already. In trying to get an appointment with Emrich-Schoenleber in the Nahe region, I was informed they were already sold out of the 2005 trocken and halbtrocken wines, and I assume the same is/will be true for the other top estates like Doenhoff, Schaefer-Froehlich, etc.

Weingut Hexamer:
We went tasting at Weingut Hexamer in Meddersheim on Tuesday afternoon, and it was a very interesting tasting. The cheap whites ($4-$6) were all very good quaffers that were certainly more than worth their tariff. The higher end whites were spectacular IMO. In particular the Rheingrafenberg and Altenberg Riesling Spaetlese Trocken were absiolutely outstanding and for me, the highlight of the tasting. The other remarkeable wines were the Grauburgunder Spaetlese Trockewn and the “Fruehburgunder” red wine from 2005. A very solid red wine, although for local price levels, quite steep at about $20. Mr and Mrs Hexamer and their kids were terrific hosts and I couldn’t imagine nicer folks to taste with and support. If you are in the Nahe region, I believe Hexamer is worth the effort of a visit.

Tomorrow I’ll be back with some more normal tasting notes, but please do let me know of your experiences tasting German wines. I’d love to know…

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I am not a professional wine taster, nor do I have any professional training in the wine trade. I am a wine enthusiast who has spent countless hours tasting wines of many different styles. My palate is not aligned with a single wine critic, and I call all wines "as I taste them". My site is a source of tasting notes and wine recommendations as well as warnings without conflict of interest. You'll just have to figure out how your palate aligns with mine. My palate generally tends to veer towards Old-World wines that put a premium on terroir and lovely balance and finesse, rather than raw power...please keep that in mind as you read my notes.

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