Riesling Tasting

31st December 1999

All in 750 ml bottles except where noted

1. Germany, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer 1997 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett, Dr Loosen

Purchased ex cave 29/9/1998


Extremely pale, almost clear with the merest hints of green tinges. A fairly fresh nose with hints of malic greenness. Very good attack: very fresh with lots of fruit. Nice richness on middle. Somewhat richer than might expect for a Kabinett. Finishes very cleanly with nice fruit and style. Very elegant. Perhaps a hint more acidity might give it even more finesse.

2. Germany, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer 1997 Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Riesling Kabinett Halbtrocken, Reinhold Haart

Purchased ex cave 28/9/1998


A very dry nose, singularly lacking in fruit. Rather dull on palate. Fairly rounded. There’s a bit of acid on the finish which helps it along. But all in all, not very impressive at all. Why did I buy this? Let’s try a second bottle.

The second bottle was pretty much the same, so probably a purchasing mistake! It is improved, however, by being a bit colder.

The wine has a more pronounced colour than No. 1 – the greenish tinges are more apparent. Improves considerably with a bit of exposure to air (and markedly so the next day). A richer, much less austere wine than No. 1, but completely lacking No. 1’s elegance and finesse.

3. France, Alsace 1993 Riesling, Rolly Gassmann

Purchased from Byrne’s, Clitheroe


Very sparkling clear – crystal clear – pale to medium straw with greenish tinges. Very attractive full nose, though a bit lacking in Riesling character. Remarkably fresh & green on the nose.

Stunning attack – really fruity, with real varietal character. Then fills enormously and very quickly. V. rounded. Hints of peppery spice on finish. Very long. Finished with a bit of acidic harshness – just a bit too harsh on finish, which tends to unbalance it a bit. After a while, the harshness tends to dominate the middle too. So not entirely satisfactory. Perhaps it would improve with age?

4. New Zealand, Marlborough 1997 Elstree Brut Reserve Riesling, Highfield Estate

Purchased from Tesco, 5/4/1999


An attractive pale gold with a hint of pinkishness. Some legs. Gorgeous fruity nose. Hints of apples and spirity tones, with just a trace of petrol starting to show through. Nice clean attack. Fairly full with good fruit. Quite rich and mouthfilling on middle. Bit of spice on finish, but unfortunately also a rather hard acidic streak on back of throat at finish. Improves dramatically with being open 15 minutes – loses its harsh finish.

5. Germany, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer 1989 Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Spätlese, Max Ferd. Richter

Purchased from Byrne’s, Clitheroe, 23/1/1999


Nice pale to medium gold. Very good Riesling nose with lots of fruit, but also developing some still rather reticient kerosene notes. Very soft attack. Lots & lots of fruit. Very rounded. Very full, but with a good streak of acidity at front of palate. Finishes with a slightly different acidity at rear of mouth. Very fine and elegant, though not the greatest.

6. France, Alsace 1988 Riesling Jubilee, Réserve Personnelle, Hugel

Purchased from Wine Society, Feb 1999


Really quite pale straw with greenish hints. Quite a fragrant nose. Developing clear keroseney tones. Very interesting on palate. Marked older, slightly smoky Riesling notes. Really quite full, with rich fruit flavours, like the Rolly Gassmann example contrasting with the German examples. Nicely rounded. Finishes well with marked length. Fairly distinguished, though perhaps a little uni-dimensional.

7. Germany, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer 1983 Erdener Treppchen Riesling Spätlese, Dr Loosen

Purchased ex cave 29/9/1998


Pale gold with just the odd hint of greenness. Fairly powerful Riesling nose. Beautiful attack. Fills marvellously. Lots of creamy Riesling fruit, like whipped cream on apple pie. Beautiful ultra-clean finish. Like No. 1, maybe a little hint more acidity would lift it into the sublime. But as it is, a clear winner in the sub-Beerenauslese stakes.

8. Germany, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer 1992 Uerziger Würzgarten Riesling Spätlese, Mönchhof, Robert Eymael

Purchased from Morrisons Supermarket in late 1998


Good, attractive pale gold. Powerful nose – lots of kerosene-y tones (especially with exposure to air), but with a marked undertone of Riesling fruit and elegant acidity. Nice clean attack. Good fruit flavours. Clean and rounded with an attractive fruity richness on the palate. Good length and a v. clean refreshing finish. Quite full on attack, but almost completely dry on finish. Not at all a bad example of a maturing Riesling.

9. Germany, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer 1983 Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Auslese, Peter Jos. Hauth

Purchased from Willoughby’s, Manchester, May 1999, bin end

700 ml, alcohol content not shown

Deep luscious gold. Very full, very ripe Riesling nose: a few hints of pepper but a dominant rather oxidised smoky diesel. Very odd attack. Very ripe flavours, overripe even. A bit over the hill. Clear Riesling taste, quite concentrated initially, but then tastes apparently diluted. Odd. Very smoky. Lacking in character, but interesting nonetheless.

10. Germany, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer 1983 Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Auslese, Cardinal Cusanus Stiftswein, St. Nikolaus Hospital

Purchased from Willoughby’s, Manchester, May 1999, bin end


A very marked gold, but bright and clear. Really quite intensely yellow-gold. Very intense nose, blending lots of honey scents with a fairly strong keroseney structure. Very smooth on attack. Fills dramatically. Good v. marked Riesling character. Lots and lots of flavour and depth of flavours. Just a slight trace of very elegant acidity on finish. Nice example of a fairly mature Mosel Riesling. Perhaps a bit sweeter and flabbier than the norm, lacking some of the elegance of the finest examples.

The colour is quite remarkable and the honeyed sweet scents on the nose (which outweigh the kerosene) are more than balanced by the acidity of the wine in the mouth. Very well rounded, clean, long and attractive.

11. France, Alsace 1986 Riesling Kirchberg de Ribeauvillé, Cuvée Particulière, AC Alsace Grand Cru, Louis Sipp

Purchased from Willoughby’s, Manchester, 21/8/1999, bin end.

700 ml, 13%

An even gold with just a few tinges of green. Legs very very slow to develop and then very solid indeed. Nice reasonably mature Riesling nose with just a few minerally tones. Nose perhaps a bit dull. Very full attack. Rich and full on middle. Just a hint of pepper on a remakably long finish. Very rounded, but deeply unexciting.

12. Germany, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer 1964 Brauneberger Juffer feine Spätlese, Max Ferd. Richter

Purchased from Ramsbottom Victuallers in the first half of 1998

No bottle size or alcohol content shown.

Very sound cork, despite its age.

Medium to deep rich gold, fading to transparency at the edges. An old Riesling nose with very strong, intense paraffin, pepper and smoky notes, together with a touch of honey. The nose even has overtones of whisky – vaguely reminiscent of a very light Islay single malt.

Quite light on the attack. Then it fills enormously. Massive length. Very dry – almost tannic on middle and finish. Very much the flavours of the nose – very intense, little noticeable fruit, hints of pepper and hints of spice.

A feeling that it might not be entirely Riesling.

Very full, and by no means over the hill, despite its advancing years, bit like myself. The wine has clear signs of finesse and breeding, though possibly not the most elegant product of the Mosel.

13. Germany, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer 1995 Mülheimer Helenenkloster Riesling Eiswein, Max Ferd. Richter

Purchased from Ramsbottom Victuallers in the first half of 1998

375 ml, 8.5%

Remarkably pale. A very pale gold with a markedly watery rim. Real wow! of a nose. Quite out of what might expect from the colour. Very rich. Loads of fruit. A very smooth nose, which doesn’t suggest any great sweetness.

Real nectar attack. Incredibly intense, but not really very sweet. I had expected something sweeter. Very clean, with a massive blast of rich fruit on finish.

But really quite thin – not thin on flavour, but thin on body. Which of course gives it immense elegance.

14. Germany, Rheinhessen 1983 Oppenheimer Herrenberg Riesling Eiswein, Louis Guntrum

An odd little 250 ml bottle of unknown provenance, but which has been lying around for about 10 years. A screw top bottle, though with lead capsule.

250ml, 9%

Fairly deep gold. Very raisiny nose with hints of acid. Sweet attack. Quite full in middle. Very full and very long on finish. V. full and rounded, though with intense flavours. Still a hint of acidity there. Quite remarkably different to Richter’s No.13. Perhaps more intense, but perhaps not quite as refined.

15. France, Alsace 1976 Riesling Vendange Tardive, Hugel

Purchased from The Wine Society, November 1999

700 ml, 13%.

Re-corked 1989 (says the Hugel cork)

A rich deep lush honeyed gold with almost orange tinges. Very pronounced legs. Fruit cake and petrol on the nose. Rich, mineral-laden attack. Lots of rich, ripe fruit with honeyed hints of botrytis. Very dry. A powerful, dominant wine. Very up-front, but finished with remarkable clarity.

16. Germany, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer 1976 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Beerenauslese, Weingut St Johannishof – Dr Loosen

Purchased ex cave 29/9/1998

375 ml, alcohol content not shown.

Deep, deep yellow gold. Immensely powerful nose. Lots of botrytis/honey blended with just a little kerosene. Nectar! Lots of fruit – dried fruits, maybe apricots. Rich, rich, rich. Finesse stamped all over it. Just the right hit of acidity on finish. Pretty bloody good.

A clear winner in the sweetie stakes.

17. Germany, Pfalz 1992 Nussbacher Eselshaut Rieslaner Trockenbeerenauslese, Müller-Catoir

Purchased from Oddbins, 1996

375 ml, 9.5%

I think I’ve got the name right, though my reading of German Fraktur script is not all that it might be!

A bit of an interloper, as it is Rieslaner, a Riesling cross.

A deep honeyed yellow, though not especially sticky looking. No legs. Gorgeous ripe, honeyed nose of perfumed raisins. Very interesting on palate. Quite sweet on attack, but not overwhelmingly so. Very elegant – nice fruits and a nice backbone with some acidity. Ver full. A heavy, quite syrupy texture, but by no means too sweet or cloying. The perfume continues on the palate, with hints of tropical fruit. The overall impression is of elegance.

Significant tartaric deposits in the bottle.

18. Australia, Coonawarra 1997 Lindemans Coonawarra Botrytis Riesling

Purchased from Oddbins, early 1999.

375 ml, 11.5%

Nice pale to watery gold. Powerful honeyed apricots & tropical fruit nose. Rich attack. Very full. V. v. v. intense and luscious. Great body. Quite an elegant sweetness, but nowhere near as refined as Mosel examples. Marred by having virtually no acidity. Almost apricot and banana flavours on finish. Good, but not great. Might be interesting to see how it ages.


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Last updated: 15 December 2005 13:48