It was practically unavoidable in the wine world last week not to be confronted with Grosses Gewächs. On the first of September traditionally starts the sale of these wines and at the same time this week was also the presentation of the Grosses Gewächs wines of the VDP in Wiesbaden. The bottles of wine with the two Gs and the eagle on the neck scrolling almost endlessly past me in my Instafeed and appearing in stories have made me want GG as well. The choice falls on a bottle of Felsenberg from 2016 by Dönnhoff. I like 2016 quite a bit and the winery is certainly one of the bigger names when talking about Riesling, but we’ve never tasted anything from them before. The family has been making wine on the Nahe for over 250 years. And anyway, this is also the first wine from the Nahe here on the blog. So we are slowly but surely filling the white spots at least on the German wine map. On 28 hectares, the winery grows mainly Riesling. The wine this time comes from the site Schloßböckelheimer Felsenberg, also a name that often crosses one’s path when talking about Riesling. The vines stand there on the slope on volcanic weathered soil. The grapes, which grow in plots around the little rock tower, called Felsentürmchen, pictured on the label, are hand-picked and matured in stainless steel and large wooden barrels.
Immediately upon opening, one smells deep, dark yellow fruit. There’s also minerality and a touch of creamy butteriness with citrus notes and herbs. There’s a lot going on and it continues on the tongue as well. The wine is dense, powerful, with lots of structure and really clings to the tongue. Again, it lingers stony and herbaceous. The length is brutally impressive from the first sip, as is the power. Combined with the creamy fruitiness of the nose, it makes for a great combination. And when it does decide to disappear from the tongue, it does so juicily and with so much salivation that you’re right back on the glass. There’s no hint of the few years on the bottle at all. It’s just getting started. With air, the wine becomes brighter in aromatics. The minerality turns more in the direction of flint. The fruit seems fresher. It gets off to a good start.
One day in the fridge brings back the darker fruit and significantly more spice than it had on the first day. More herbs than fruit now in the aroma. The acidity is crisp and as on the first night, the length is tremendous. While the last sip is still lingering on the tongue you are already putting your nose in the glass again. The fruit between the stones is quite nice. Peach is there, some pit fruit too. I’m sticking with it, it’s just getting started and will be a lot of fun for many years to come, and at the same time it confirms that I really think 2016 is pretty good for Riesling from Germany right now.
Towards the end of the evening and with plenty of air, the butteriness comes out more strongly, which then suggests that it is indeed a few years in the bottle now. No problem though, because this also suits the wine perfectly. If you ask yourself sometime, why actually Riesling and why actually Riesling GG: This is why.