VDP Riesling GG 2021: Walking a Fine Line

The VDP has made around 450 wines from 2017 to 2021 available for tasting. Of the 629 GGs that will be released from September 1, 2022, 380 are Rieslings. The 2021 Riesling vintage does not come close to the great 2019 vintage, nor to 2020. However, top wineries from Rheinhessen, Nahe and Pfalz offer numerous highlights. Sascha Speicher describes his impressions.

Reading time: 6m 10s

VDP.GG Wiesbaden 2022 (Photo: Peter Bender)
VDP.GG Wiesbaden 2022 (Photo: Peter Bender)

The fact that there are numerous highlights is mainly thanks to the overall strong Nahe region and three top wineries in Rheinhessen. In the Pfalz, Dr. Bürklin-Wolf excelled, and on the Mosel, Clemens Busch took the top spot for the first time.
 

Lean and Acid-rich Vintage

How to react to the lean and high-acid vintage? Puristically, according to the motto "eyes tightly closed"? That worked, especially when there was enough lime and clay (slate) to buffer the acidity. Or, to balance the acidity, turn up the sweetness, resulting in a series of Kabinett Rieslings in disguise. Nice, but not a worthy dry Grand Cru. Correcting the acidity also proved challenging, as it was not uncommon for a small portion of the already less than lush structure to be lost in the process. These wines became flat on the palate from the middle and ended short. The use of wooden barrels (perhaps with acid reduction), working with full lees or a little extra tannin to pad the body produced the most convincing results.
 

Outstanding Wine Estates

H.O.Spanier, (Photo: Spanier-Gillot)
H.O.Spanier, (Photo: Spanier-Gillot)

The second winery or the third - depending on the reading - is Philipp Wittmann, whose Brunnenhäuschen perhaps most consistently exploited all that 2021 had to offer in terms of delicacy and piquancy in conjunction with vibrating tension. The result is an almost weightless, dancing and yet contoured wine. The 2021 vintage also played right into the cards for the Aulerde, giving the otherwise rather lush site a lot of tension, so that we still place the Aulerde just above Morstein and Kirchspiel.

Sascha Speicher (Photo: Peter Bender)

"Many of the best 2021 Rieslings detach themselves somewhat from the character of the vintage and bring origin and signature to the fore. Philipp Wittmann's Brunnenhäuschen most consistently exploits all that 2021 offered in terms of delicacy and piquancy combined with vibrant tension. The result is an almost weightless, dancing yet contoured Riesling."

Sascha Speicher
Editor-in-Chief Meininger's Sommelier

Nahe Surpasses All

As a growing region overall, the Nahe is in the lead. Just two Rieslings were rated with less than 93 points. An unbelievable score across all wineries.

Equally amazing is that the problematic characteristics of the 2021 vintage hardly show themselves in the Nahe: no steely, painful acidity, no sweet and sour, disguised ‘kabis’ (Kabinett wines), no lean, emaciated linear wines. On the contrary, the Rieslings are on average more beautiful than in 2020.

Tim Fröhlich and Mats Genheimer Weingut Schäfer-Fröhlich
Tim Fröhlich and Mats Genheimer Weingut Schäfer-Fröhlich

This is especially true of Schäfer-Fröhlich and Emrich-Schönleber. The sites such as Halenberg, Stromberg or Felseneck show a lot of character of origin and signature style with little vintage influence. The same is true for Dönnhoff's Hermannshöhle, while his Höllenpfad in Mühlenberg has a lot of 2021 typicity. A surprise was the mineral-flinty, focused and tight Felsenberg from Dr. Crusius. Is there a hint of a change in style here? From our side, this would be very welcome. Both Gut Hermannsberg and Schlossgut Diel put their biggest emphasis on older vintages.
 

Pfalz: Mixed Picture

Bettina Bürklin-von Guradze (Photo: Dr. Bürklin-Wolf)
Bettina Bürklin-von Guradze (Photo: Dr. Bürklin-Wolf)

Two exceptions: Georg Mosbacher has clearly gained in tension and balance. The large wooden barrels are getting older, the Rieslings drier, less fruit-sweet smoothness, and accompanied by more character of origin. Karl Schäfer is also back on the scene with a timeless, self-contained style, albeit with the 2020 vintage.

Mosel: New Leader

In recent years, the question has always been: does Van Volxem, Schloss Lieser or Maximin Grünhaus von Schubert produce the best collection? Although all three were convincing this year as well, Clemens Busch came out on top. A series of crystal-clear, very herbaceous Rieslings, dense, with fine, slatey spice and perfectly measured fruit, mineral tension and finely buffered acidity. It is that little extra grip, pressure and texture in the mid-body that lifts his wines above the other top collections.

Only Gottesfuss and Volz achieved this level of tension at Van Volxem this year. The wines seem a bit more technical overall, with less slate flavour. From Schloss Lieser: Goldtröpfchen and Niederberg Helden, from Maximin Grünhaus: Abtsberg and Herrenberg also scored 95 points. Overall, the wines on the Mosel are also somewhat leaner and with less extract than in the previous years since 2014.

THE 2021 COLLECTIONS

Tim Fröhlich showed the strongest collection with 97 points once, 96 points twice and 95 points twice, at least if you consider Kühling-Gillot and Battenfeld Spanier as two wineries (side note: for the first time both labels are adorned with the signature of H.O. Spanier, although he has of course been responsible for the winemaking for many years). This was very closely followed by Dr. Bürklin-Wolf with 97 and 96 points once each and 95 points three times. Also outstanding are the Riesling collections of Philipp Wittmann (once each 97 and 96 points and twice 95 points) and Clemens Busch (once 96 and three times 95 points). With one exception, these are all bio-dynamically working enterprises. Probably no coincidence.

Late Starters

For some years now, more and more wineries have been holding back their Rieslings for a year. What is almost without exception for Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris in order to achieve maximum complexity, can also make sense for Riesling. But it doesn't have to, depending on the method of vinification.

Gut Hermannsberg does not introduce the winery's two designated top sites until after five years. The 2017 Hermannsberg was perhaps the most balanced, certainly the most beautiful Riesling of the entire sample to drink at this point in time. One point below that was the 2017 Kupfergrube and three other Rieslings from 2020: Kirchenstück from Reichsrat von Buhl, Steingrüben from Dautel and the natural Hipping from Schätzel.

With two times 95 points for Doosberg and Sankt Nikolaus, Peter-Jakob Kühn presented the two best Rheingau Rieslings - even across vintages. Wisselbrunnen by Kaufmann, Schloss Johannisberg and Balthasar Ress with Berg Rottland follow one point below.

With the convincing 2020 Karthäuserhofberg, the question is whether this typical Mathieu Kauffmann style will continue in the coming years. In any case, the jump in quality is clear. But Dominik Völk has also proven to be a master of his craft - and has a distinctly different signature. It remains exciting on the Ruwer.

Nahe

97 points

  • 2021 STROMBERG Riesling GG Schäfer-Fröhlich
     

96 points

  • 2021 HALENBERG Riesling GG Emrich-Schönleber
  • 2021 HALENBERG Riesling GG Schäfer-Fröhlich
  • 2021 FELSENECK Riesling GG Schäfer-Fröhlich
     

95 points

  • 2021 FRÜHLINGSPLÄTZCHEN Riesling GG Schäfer-Fröhlich
  • 2021 HERMANNSHÖHLE Riesling GG H. Dönnhoff
  • 2021 KUPFERGRUBE Riesling GG Dr. Crusius
  • 2021 FELSENBERG Riesling GG Gut Hermannsberg
  • 2021 FELSENBERG Riesling GG Schäfer-Fröhlich
  • 2021 HÖLLENPFAD IM MÜHLENBERG Riesling GG H. Dönnhoff
  • 2021 PITTERMÄNNCHEN Riesling GG Schlossgut Diel
Rheinhessen

97 points

  • 2021 ROTHENBERG Riesling GG Kühling-Gillot
  • 2021 PETTENTHAL Riesling GG Kühling-Gillot
  • 2021 BRUNNENHÄUSCHEN Riesling GG Wittmann
     

96 points

  • 2021 AULERDE Riesling GG Wittmann
  • 2021 FRAUENBERG Riesling GG Battenfeld Spanier
  • 2021 ZELLERWEG AM SCHWARZEN HERRGOTT Riesling GG Battenfeld Spanier
     

95 points

  • 2021 ROTHENBERG Riesling GG Gunderloch
  • 2021 PETTENTHAL Riesling GG Gunderloch
  • 2021 ÖLBERG Riesling GG Kühling-Gillot
  • 2021 KIRCHSPIEL Riesling GG Wittmann
  • 2021 MORSTEIN Riesling GG Wittmann
Pfalz

97 points

  • 2021 PECHSTEIN Riesling GG Dr. Bürklin-Wolf
     

96 points

  • 2021 SAUMAGEN Riesling GG Rings
  • 2021 UNGEHEUER Riesling GG Dr. Bürklin-Wolf
  • 2021 IDIG Riesling GG A. Christmann
     

95 points

  • 2021 SCHWARZER HERRGOTT Riesling GG Philipp Kuhn
  • 2021 SAUMAGEN Riesling GG Philipp Kuhn
  • 2021 WEILBERG Riesling GG Rings
  • 2021 PECHSTEIN Riesling GG Geheimer Rat Dr. von Bassermann-Jordan
  • 2021 JESUITENGARTEN Riesling GG Georg Mosbacher
  • 2021 LANGENMORGEN Riesling GG Dr. Bürklin-Wolf
  • 2021 HOHENMORGEN Riesling GG Geheimer Rat Dr. von Bassermann-Jordan
  • 2021 HOHENMORGEN Riesling GG Dr. Bürklin-Wolf
  • 2021 GAISBÖHL Riesling GG Dr. Bürklin-Wolf
  • 2021 VOGELSANG Riesling GG A. Christmann
  • 2021 IM SONNENSCHEIN Riesling GG Ökonomierat Rebholz
Mosel

96 points

  • 2021 VOLZ Riesling GG Van Volxem
  • 2021 MARIENBURG FAHRLAY Riesling GG Clemens Busch
     

95 points

  • 2021 GOTTESFUSS Riesling GG Van Volxem
  • 2021 ABTSBERG Riesling GG Maximin Grünhaus Familie von Schubert
  • 2021 HERRENBERG Riesling GG Maximin Grünhaus Familie von Schubert
  • 2021 GOLDTRÖPFCHEN Riesling GG Schloss-Lieser - Thomas Haag
  • 2021 JUFFER SONNENUHR Riesling GG Fritz Haag
  • 2021 NIEDERBERG HELDEN Riesling GG Schloss-Lieser - Thomas Haag
  • 2021 MARIENBURG FAHRLAY TERRASSEN Riesling GG Clemens Busch
  • 2021 MARIENBURG ROTHENPFAD Riesling GG Clemens Busch
  • 2021 MARIENBURG FALKENLAY Riesling GG Clemens Busch
Riesling VDP.GG 2020 and older

97 points

  • 2017 HERMANNSBERG Riesling GG Gut Hermannsberg
     

96 points

  • 2020 HIPPING Riesling GG Schätzel
  • 2020 KIRCHENSTÜCK Riesling GG Reichsrat von Buhl
  • 2017 KUPFERGRUBE Riesling GG Gut Hermannsberg
  • 2020 STEINGRÜBEN Riesling GG Dautel
     

95 points

  • 2020 KARTHÄUSERHOFBERG Riesling GG Karthäuserhof
  • 2020 DOOSBERG Riesling GG Peter Jakob Kühn
  • 2020 SANKT NIKOLAUS Riesling GG Peter Jakob Kühn
  • 2020 STEIN Riesling GG Am Stein - Ludwig Knoll
  • 2020 BASTEI Riesling GG Gut Hermannsberg
  • 2020 BURGBERG Riesling GG Schlossgut Diel
  • 2020 PECHSTEIN Riesling GG Karl Schaefer
  • 2020 PULVERMÄCHER Riesling GG Aldinger
  • 2020 GÖTZENBERG Riesling GG Rainer Schnaitmann
  • 2019 FELSENECK Riesling GG Prinz Salm

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