In the end of October, MW lined up some German Riesling Grosses Gewächs – on the labels usually written GG for short – from a number of excellent producers and from the likewise excellent vintage 2012. Grosses Gewächs/GG is a designation for top-class dry wines from selected vineyards (that are now referred to as “Grosse Lage”), and was introduced by the German top producers’ organisation VDP.
When I posted my notes from a tasting of 2005 vintage Grosses Gewächs wines I arranged last summer, I wrote some more about the GG designation and the various changes that VDP made in the 2002-2012 period. The most recent trend is that VDP producers in Rheingau, where the Erstes Gewächs designation exists (and is available also for non-VDP producers), also have started to call their dry top wines GG, just like their VDP colleagues in other German wine regions. Two Rheingau GGs were included in the lineup of this tasting.
In my opinion, the German 2012s I’ve tasted so far are characterised by pure aromas, high acidity with accompanying firmness, as well as elegance. The vintage hardly saw any noble rot, so there isn’t very much of the higher Prädikat sweet wines (Auslese and above). This means that conditions were particularly well suited for lighter off-dry wines (Kabinett) and the dry wines. To me, the dry 2012s are to some extent similar to the excellent 2010s, but perhaps with more power in some of the 2010s. The “heavier” and more ripe vintages 2009 and 2011 are stylistically further removed. If we leave the dry wines, though, the similarity between 2012 and 2010 isn’t that great since 2010 also provided excellent sweet wines with both concentration and very fine balance, due to the high acidity.
The wines were served blind, as the custom is in the wine tasting club in question (AuZone), and this time there were no “ringers”: all eight wines were 2012 German Riesling GGs.
2012 Schloss Johannisberg Silberlack Riesling GG
Citrus-dominated nose with both lemon and zest, other yellow fruit, some smoke, discrete flowery notes, and elegance. Dry palate that is medium-bodied (+) with citrus, noticeable minerality, high acidity, and a very mineral-dominated aftertaste. This wine comes across as elegant, young, firm and mineral-dominated with potential for further development, and it is not a heavyweight for being a GG. 91+ p
0 best and 1 worst votes.
Since age immemorial, Schloss Johannisberg (the winery where the Spätlese was introduced back in 1775) uses a number of different capsule colours for the different Prädikat levels. The all end with …lack, a word related to lacquer, but also used as a German term for various other paint-like coatings. A word of advice is to pay attention when buying wines from the “lower” part of their range since the colour indicates the Prädikat, i.e., the level of ripeness of the grapes, and not the sweetness of the finished wine. The red (Rotlack), yellow (Gelblack) and previously also green (Grünlack) exists in both off-dry and dry versions, with the designation trocken used as the indication of a dry wine – as is usually the case in Germany. When Erstes Gewächs was introduced above their Spätlese trocken (Grünlack + trocken on the label, has later been discontinued) in the 2005 vintage, silver was one of the colours that hadn’t been used before, so these wines became Silberlack. Since then, the dry top wine has changed name to GG with its colour unchanged. Some of the previous vintages have come across as more powerful than this 2012 Silberlack, and the same goes for Schloss Johannisberg wines in general: they tend to be powerful for being Rheingau wines. Given that this is the only 2012 Schloss Johannisberg I’ve tasted so far, I don’t know if they have modified their style or it is just an impression caused by the comparison with slightly more southern German colleagues.
2012 Robert Weil Kiedrich Gräfenberg Riesling GG
Nose with citrus and ripe yellow fruit, hints of vanilla, somewhat deeper fruit notes than the Johannisberg and rather elegant. The palate is dry and shows powerful concentration with loads of citrus, high acidity, minerality, and a very citrus-dominated aftertaste. A young wine with quite a lot of potential but also one that drinks reasonably well now. 93+ p
0 best and 1 worst votes.
To me the second best wine, which isn’t reflected in the collective vote. Also when we tasted 2005s this summer, I liked the Robert Weil Gräfenberg GG better than many of the other participants. Some people just don’t know what’s good for them, but I leave it up to the readers to figure out if I’m referring to myself or to those other people. 🙂
2012 Gut Hermannsberg Schlossböckelheimer Kupfergrube Riesling GG
Nose with some green notes that weren’t at all disturbing, citrus, some apple, smoke, and mineral. The palate is dry with mineral, some apple, pear and citrus, hints of asparagus, high acidity, and some mineral bitterness in the aftertaste. A firm wine that compared to most of the rest shows some “Sauvignon Blanc style”. A good wine but not as charming as many of the others, and bit more disjointed on the palate than the very best ones. 90-91(+) p
1 best and 4 worst votes, including my “worst” vote (definitely a “least good” vote this time). Ended up tied for the last place in a very strong lineup.
2012 Diel Dorsheimer Pittermännchen Riesling GG
Nose with blackcurrant buds, asparagus, citrus and some flowery notes. An elegant nose but with quite a lot of Sauvignon Blanc feeling. The palate is dry with citrus, some apple, mineral, high acidity, and a very mineral-dominated aftertaste. Young, with rather much substance. Rather similar to the Kupfergrube, but in this case the Sauvignon Blanc feeling is even more pronounced. 91+ p
I don’t know if it was just a coincidence that the two Nahe wines both came across as Sauvignon Blanc-styled. This is not something that I associate with Nahe Riesling in general.
2012 Kühling-Gillot Niersteiner Pettenthal Riesling GG
Nose with ripe yellow fruit, smoke, some botrytis?, and some honey. The nose definitely shows a sweetish component. Palate with citrus, loads of mineral, high acidity, and a firm aftertaste. Firm but has potential, changed quite a lot in the glass. 92+ p
2 worst votes.
2012 Battenfeld-Spanier Zeller Am Schwarzen Herrgott Riesling GG
Nose with citrus and a focus on citrus juice aromas, just a faint hint of botrytis and zest, a hint of green notes, and some flowery aromas. Palate with a lot of citrus, mineral, high acidity, and a citrus-dominated aftertaste. More citrus-dominated and less mineral-dominated than many of the other wines. Young, has potential. 92(+) p
2 best votes, so was voted the second best wine.
2012 Philipp Kuhn Laumersheimer Kirschgarten Riesling GG
Nose with pronounced citrus notes including zest, smoke, noticeable minerality, hints of honey and flowery notes – very elegant. Palate with citrus, good concentration, quite a lot of mineral, noticeable firmness and a completely mineral-dominated aftertaste. Good substance in the background! Young, has a rich nose but a firmer palate. 93+ p
8 best votes including mine, and therefore voted the best wine. Philipp Kuhn is a producer with which I’m not too familiar, but this should obviously change!
2012 von Winning Deidesheim Kalkofen Riesling GG
Mineral-dominated nose with a discrete fruit component including citrus, apple and pear, some pear candy notes, and hints of flowers. A discrete but elegant nose. The palate is dry, citrus-dominated, hints of green notes, quite a lot of mineral, high acidity, and a very mineral-dominated aftertaste. Young, has a lot of potential, the palate is more mineral-dominated than the nose. 91+ p
1 best and 4 worst votes, so tied for the last place in a very strong lineup.