Riesling Rediscovered: Bold, Bright, and Dry 9780520962163

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Table of contents :
Contents
List of Maps
Acknowledgments
Introduction
Part I
One. The Riesling Predicament
Two. Riesling Behaviors, Typicity, and Terroirs
Three. A History of Riesling, Reviewed and Amended
Four. Sweet and Dry Wine Styles
Five. How Dry Riesling is Made
Six. What Differences Do Clones Make?
Seven. Riesling Habitats in Western Europe
Eight. Riesling Habitats in North America
Part II
Introduction to Sites and Producers
Rhine Basin
Danube Basin: Lower Austria
Adige Basin: Alto Adige
Eastern North America
Western North America
References
Index
Recommend Papers

Riesling Rediscovered: Bold, Bright, and Dry
 9780520962163

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SIMPSON IMPRINT IN HUMANITIES The humanities endowment by sharon Hanley Simpson and Barley Simpson honors MURIEL CARTER HALEY Whose intellect and senstivity have enriched the many lives that the has touched.

The publisher gratefully acknowledges the generous support of the Simpson Humanities Endowment Fund of the University of California Press Foundation, and the General Endowment Fund of the University of California Press Foundation.

RIESLING REDISCOVERED

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RIESLING REDISCOVERED Bold, Bright, and Dry

John Winthrop Haeger

UNIVER SIT Y OF C A LIFORNIA PRE SS

University of California Press, one of the most distinguished university presses in the United States, enriches lives around the world by advancing scholarship in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. Its activities are supported by the UC Press Foundation and by philanthropic contributions from individuals and institutions. For more information, visit www.ucpress.edu. University of California Press Oakland, California © 2016 by The Regents of the University of California Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Haeger, John Winthrop, 1944- author. Riesling rediscovered : bold, bright, and dry / John Winthrop Haeger. -- First edition. pages cm Includes bibliographical references and index. isbn 978–0–520–27545–4 (cloth : alk. paper)—isbn 0–520– 27545–4 (cloth : alk. paper)—isbn 978–0–520–96216–3 (ebook) -ISBN 0–520–96216–8 (ebook) 1. Wine and wine making. 2. Riesling (Wine) I. Title. tp548.h223 2015 663′.2—dc23 2015005475 25 24 23 22 21 20 19 18 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

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The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of ansi/niso z39.48–1992 (r 2002) (Permanence of Paper).

contents

List of Maps / viii Acknowledgments / ix Introduction / 1

part i 1 • THE RIESLING PREDICAMENT / 7

Box 1: How Is “Dry” Defined? / 13 2 • RIESLING BEHAVIORS, TYPICITY, AND TERROIRS / 21

7 • RIESLING HABITATS IN WESTERN EUROPE / 81

Box 7a: Making Sense of Vineyard Names, Perimeters, and Reputations / 83 Box 7b: Viticultural Appellations and Subappellations in Alsace / 85 Box 7c: Prussian Tax Maps and Vineyard Names in Germany / 89 Box 7d: Regions, Rieden, and 1öt w in Austria / 102 Box 7e: Wine Styles and Grape Harvest Dates: Germany versus Austria / 104

Box 2: What Is Balance in Riesling? / 25 8 • RIESLING HABITATS IN NORTH AMERICA / 115 3 • A HISTORY OF RIESLING, REVIEWED AND AMENDED / 31

Box 3: A Closer Look at Early “Riesling” / 40

Box 8a: American Viticultural Areas and Designated Viticultural Areas in North America / 117 Box 8b: Chateau Ste. Michelle / 130

4 • SWEET AND DRY WINE STYLES / 42

Box 4: A Rhenish Bias in Favor of “Natural” Wines? / 46 5 • HOW DRY RIESLING IS MADE / 60 6 • WHAT DIFFERENCES DO CLONES MAKE? / 68

Box 6a: Tasting Clones in Oregon / 76 Box 6b: The Relative Popularity of Riesling Clones / 78

part ii INTRODUCTION TO SITES AND PRODUCERS / 147 RHINE BASIN / 150

Alsace / 150 Altenberg and Thalberg de Bergbieten / 150

Engelberg / 153

Klaus / 233

Geisberg, Osterberg, and Kirchberg de Ribeauvillé / 155

Viesslinger Bruck / 237

Grafenreben de Zellenberg / 158

Wösendorfer Kirchweg / 241

Kastelberg and Wiebelsberg de Andlau / 162

Schütt / 243

Kitterlé, Saering, Kessler, Spiegel, and Belzbrunnen de Guebwiller / 165 Muehlforst de Hunawihr / 169 Rangen de Thann and Clos SaintUrbain / 170 Rosacker and Clos Ste-Hune / 172 Schlossberg / 178 Schoenenbourg de Riquewihr / 181 Sommerberg / 185

Dürnsteiner Kellerberg / 239

Loibner Steinertal / 245 Tributary Valleys of the Danube / 248 Senftenberger Ehrenfels / 248 Getzersdorfer Engelreich and Berg / 250 Gaisberg / 252 Steiner Grillenparz / 255 Heiligenstein / 257 Gedersdorfer Mosburgerin / 259 Senftenberger Pellingen / 261

Clos Windsbuhl / 187 German Rhine Regions / 190 Rüdesheimer Berg Schlossberg / 190 Haardter Bürgergarten / 194

Silberbichl / 263 Langenloiser Steinmassl / 264 ADIGE BASIN: ALTO ADIGE / 267

Oestricher Doosberg / 197

Kaiton / 267

Nieder-Flörsheimer Frauenberg / 200

Unterortl / 269

Monziger Frühlingsplätzchen and Halenberg / 202

Untersteiner / 271

Freinsheimer Goldberg / 205

EASTERN NORTH AMERICA / 274

Kiedricher Gräfenberg / 208

Argetsinger Vineyard / 274

Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle / 210

Bowers Harbor Vineyard Block II / 276

Königsbacher Idig / 212

Cave Spring Vineyard / 277

Laubenheimer Karthäuser / 215 Birkweiler Kastanienbusch / 218

Dr. Konstantin Frank’s Keuka Lake Vineyard / 279

Pündericher Marienburg / 220

Falling Man Vineyard / 282

Westhofener Morstein, Aulerde, Kirchspiel, and Brunnenhäuschen / 223

HJW Vineyard / 284

Niersteiner Pettenthal / 226

Rosomel Vineyard / 292

Meddersheimer Rheingrafenberg / 228

Sheldrake Point Vineyard / 294

Kallstadter Saumagen / 231

Terminal Moraine Vineyard / 296

DANUBE BASIN: LOWER AUSTRIA

Molly Devine Vineyard / 287 Nadja’s Vineyard / 290

233

Wachau / 233 Weissenkirchener Achleiten and

WESTERN NORTH AMERICA / 298

Okanagan and Similkameen / 298 Mulberry Tree Vineyard / 298

Schales Family Estate / 300

Claiborne Vineyard / 326

Stoney Slope Vineyard / 302

Corda Ranch / 328

Tantalus Estate Vineyards / 304

Greenwood Ridge Vineyards / 330

Washington and Oregon / 306

Kick-On Ranch / 333

Brooks Estate Vineyard / 306

Paragon Vineyard / 337

Corfu Crossing Vineyard / 309

Platt Family Vineyard / 340

DuBrul Vineyard / 311

Smith-Madrone Estate Vineyard / 342

Elk Cove Estate Vineyard / 313

Stony Hill Vineyard / 344

Evergreen Vineyard / 315

Ventana Vineyard / 346

Figgins Estate Vineyard / 318 Hyland Vineyard / 320 Solstice Vineyard / 322 Wascher Vineyard / 324 California’s Coastal Valleys / 326

References / 349 Index / 355 MAP SECTION FOLLOWS PAGE 114.

list of maps map section follows page 114

Riesling in Western Europe Riesling in North America Alsace Nahe, Rheingau, and Rheinhessen Pfalz Lower Austria Alto Adige Finger Lakes Niagara Peninsula Okanagan and Similkameen (British Columbia) Willamette Valley (Oregon) Columbia Valley (Washington) San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara (California) Salinas Valley and Adjacent Areas (California) Napa and Sonoma (California) Mendocino (California)

viii

acknowledgments

Virtually all wine books depend on the generous cooperation of winegrowers. Without the product of their work, plus their insights, savvy, and dedication, there would, of course, be no wine to taste, enjoy, describe, or analyze. Without their sympathetic interest, time, and goodwill, it would be difficult for those who write about wine to assemble the information that must stand behind whatever we write. I am deeply grateful to all the vintners and viticulturists who are mentioned in this book, and to many others, in both hemispheres, who have provided useful background and comparative perspectives on grape varieties, terroirs, vine farming, cellar practices, and wine styles. For hospitality of many kinds during the course of research, I am grateful to the many vintners in Austria, Germany, France, Italy, Canada, and the United States who have made time to walk me through their vineyards and cellars, explain what they do and why, and taste with me through multiple vintages. A few have offered hospitality so exceptionally generous that they must be mentioned here by name: Ludwig Neumayer at Weingut Neumayer in Herzogenburg; Willi Bründlmayer and Fred Loimer in Langenlois; Hans-Oliver Spanier and Carolin Spanier-Gillot in Hohen-Sülzen

and Bodenheim; Steve Di Francesco and Gene Pierce at Glenora Wine Cellars and Inn on Seneca Lake in New York; Milla Handley at Handley Vineyards in California’s Anderson Valley; Wilhelm Weil at Weingut Robert Weil in Kiedrich; Marc Hugel at Hugel et Fils in Riquewihr; the late Colette Faller at Domaine Weinbach in Kaysersberg; and Lynda Eller, Bob Bertheau, and Wendy Stuckey at Chateau Ste. Michelle in Woodinville, Washington. Ingo Grady and Mission Hill Family Estate in West Kelowna, British Columbia, and Sean O’Keefe and Chateau Grand Traverse on Michigan’s Old Mission Peninsula were not only generously hospitable with their own resources, but also functioned as organizers and ambassadors for their regions, escorting me to visit their neighbors as well as their own estates. Some vintners also dug deeply in their family and business records, or in their libraries, to help me understand their local histories and the history of Riesling in their regions; in this connection, I am especially grateful to Michael Moosbrugger at Schloss Gobelsburg, to Toni Bodenstein at Weingut Prager in Weissenkirchen, and to Rainer Lingenfelder at Grosskarlbach in the Pfalz. Additionally, Lingenfelder’s photograph of Riesling grapes in the Freinsheimer

ix

Goldberg vineyard was kindly made available for the book’s dust jacket. Wine trade and marketing organizations in six countries have provided essential and indispensible assistance, not only with transportation, accommodations, visits, and appointments, but also with research and fact-checking: Willi Klinger and his exceptionally talented colleagues at the Austrian Wine Marketing Board in Vienna; Thomas Augschöll and the Export Organization South Tyrol in Bolzano; the Deutsches Weininstitut in Mainz and Wines of Germany in New York; Léna Martin, Richard Kannemacher, and the Conseil interprofessionel des vins d’Alsace in Colmar; several regional chapters of the Verband Deutscher Prädikats- und Qualitätsweingüter; Chandni Patel and the Washington State Wine Commission; Jim Trezise, Jennifer Cooper, and the New York State Wine and Grape Foundation; Magdalena KaiserSmit and the Wine Council of Ontario; Kristy Charles, Janis MacDonald, and the Anderson Valley Winegrowers Association; and Harry Peterson-Nedry, Sheila Nicholas, and Janie Brooks Heuck, the principal animators behind the informal Oregon Riesling Alliance. Wearing another hat, several of the aforementioned individuals also play key roles in the International Riesling Foundation, the organization of which has given new visibility to Riesling in recent years, especially in North America, and which has kindly provided data from commissioned market research to inform some of this book’s first chapter. Thanks for help with technical and historical issues are owed to numerous individuals and research institutions. Individuals have provided copies or off-prints of published work, lent copies of unpublished presentations, written long emails to summarize available information, and assisted with transcription or translation: Hans Reiner Schultz, Monika Christmann, and Ernst Rühl at Geisenheim University; Joachim Eder at Dienstleistungzentrum Ländlicher Raum Rheinpfalz in Neustadt; Heike Platter and Barbara Raifer at

x

acknowledgments

the Laimburg Research Centre for Agriculture and Forestry at Ora in the Alto Adige; Deborah Golino and Nancy Sweet at Foundation Plant Services at Davis; Laurent Audeguin at ENTAV in Montpellier; Erich Landsteiner at the University of Vienna; Jon Haupt at the Sonoma Country Wine Library in Healdsburg; Annegret Wenz-Haubfleisch at the Hessisches Staatsarchiv in Marburg; Patricia Bowen at Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre in Summerland, British Columbia; Marcella Pickelein and the management team at Die Ente vom Lehel in Wiesbaden; Wolfgang Haupt at the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture in Bonn; Roger Waite at the Spokesperson’s Service of the European Commission; Kathryn Starkey and Molly Taylor-Polesky at Stanford University; and Nik Weis at St. Urbans-Hof and Weis Reben. The help and friendship of my longtime colleagues Knut Dorn, Claudia Dorn, Margherita Spinazzola, and Hans Rütimann were indispensable. Friends and colleagues across the world of wine have helped with introductions or pointed me toward missing information, especially Christy Canterbury, MW, and Jane Carr, the managing editor of the Journal of Wine Research. Several importers in the United States and the United Kingdom, all with long and encyclopedic knowledge of Riesling, have made themselves available for long conversations. Freddy Price, a lifelong wine merchant who is also the author of Riesling Renaissance, was kind enough to share recollections of covering half a century; American importers Terry Theise and Rudi Wiest gave me their ref lections on the Trockenwelle. I owe special thanks to Dan Fredman, Jonathan Pey, Lisa Granik, MW, David Schildknecht, Caro Maurer, MW, Stephan Reinhardt, and Joel Butler, MW, for reading overviews, early proposals, and/or parts of the manuscript for this book at various points during its gestation. Their comments, suggestions, corrections, and critiques have certainly made this a better book than it would otherwise have been.

The usual caveat still applies, however: for the errors and shortcomings that inevitably remain, the responsibility is mine alone. At home in California, I owe thanks to my wife, Julianne Frizzell, for patience and forbearance as the research for this book extended

first across two years, and then three, and as writing it took longer still, filling evenings and weekends and preempting vacations, and for the many dinners planned to showcase dry Rieslings when she would really have preferred something red!

acknowledgments

xi

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Introduction

I

n the 1960s and ’70s, when I had just

begun reading and tasting my way through wines, first as a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley, and then as a young faculty member in Southern California, German Rieslings did not escape my attention. They were respectably covered in the first edition of Alexis Lichine’s Encyclopedia of Wines and Spirits (1967) and were treated very solidly by Lichine’s onetime mentor and collaborator, the eminent Frank Schoonmaker, in The Wines of Germany, which was first published in 1966. A collection of labels soaked from bottles I purchased or consumed in restaurants during these years is evidence of my tasting trail. It includes a few wines from the 1960s, such as a 1966 Hattenheimer Stabel Spätlese from Schloss Reinhartshausen, a 1969 Canzemer Altenberg Spätlese from the Bischöf liches Priesterseminar in Trier, and a 1969 Rotlack from Schloss Johannisberg. From 1971, a legendary vintage in Germany, there was a Kiedricher Sandgrub Kabinett from Weingut Robert Weil and a Niederhäuser Hermannsberg

Auslese from the State Domain at Niederhausen in the Nahe, among many others. I was especially impressed with a simple Qualitätswein from the Moullay-Hof berg vineyard in Reil, just downstream from Bernkastel; of that I bought an entire case. All these wines were sweet in varying degrees, which was the almost universal style of the day. My notes show that I served them when smoked trout or salmon was a first course, or with quiche lorraine, which I made then more often than I do now. As far as I can tell from memory and notes, I did not encounter a dry Riesling until I spent time in Alsace in May 1982, when the legendary Serge Dubs, then the impossibly young chief sommelier at the Haeberlin family’s three-star Auberge de l’Ill, recommended the 1979 vintage of Trimbach’s Cuvée Frédéric Emile. Then as now, the Trimbach winery was passionate about dry Riesling, and this wine was an epiphany. Riesling could be dry, I learned that day, and totally delicious, and it could work with any food that might otherwise be paired with a White Burgundy or a Graves from Bordeaux.

1

About the same time, a few revolutionary dry Rieslings from Germany, initially from Rheingau producers associated with Charta, began to appear on the American market, with the telltale word trocken, German for “dry,” always evident on their labels. My notes on these wines seem to have been lost, but I remember that I liked at least the idea of dry German Riesling quite a lot, and I was disappointed that, after a few f lickers of attention, the category virtually disappeared from merchant shelves and from American restaurant lists, at least in California, where I lived. I should confess from the outset that I do not have a sweet tooth. I have never been much interested in ice cream, cake, Kool-Aid, sugarsweetened carbonated drinks, maple syrup, or rum. For a time, my wine tastes did include some very sweet wines such as Sauternes and Monbazillac, but these love affairs, such as they were, passed rather quickly. The German Rieslings that I encountered in the early 1980s were not like these “dessert” wines, of course; they were much closer to middle C on the scale of sweetness. They were noticeably but not formidably sweet, and some even tasted almost dry, especially with a few years of bottle age. Some were unquestionably seductive high-wire acts, full of tension among modest sweetness, high acidity and low alcohol, as the best German Kabinette and Spätlesen are still, though both have become sweeter rather than drier with the passage of time. Some of my wine friends were filled with passionate enthusiasm for these wines. For better or worse, however, I could not match their enthusiasm. For my palate, perceptible sugar simply got in the wine’s way, decreasing its bandwidth of food suitability, unnecessarily amplifying the variety’s natural tendency toward bright, fruity flavors, and, alas, often obscuring the wine’s reflection of the site from which it came. In the 1960s and ’70s, Germany defined an essentially worldwide style for Riesling, qua variety, as surely as Bordeaux defined Cabernet and Burgundy defined Pinot Noir. It is true that Alsace offered an alternative expression of Ries-

2

introduction

ling then, as Austria did, too, a decade later, but this expression was so dwarfed by the sheer volume of German Riesling; by the mistaken assumption that whatever wine was white and German was Riesling, when a large fraction of it was actually made from other varieties, including Müller-Thurgau; and by the prestige that German white wines enjoyed among connoisseurs that the German style dominated worldwide, even in California and South Australia. In the 1960s and ’70s, almost everywhere Riesling was grown, it was made into a light and sweetish wine. Then, late in the 1970s, the prevailing German style changed fundamentally, and the change gained steam through the 1980s and ’90s until the volume of German Riesling made dry or off-dry peaked at about three-quarters of total production in 2003. There it has remained since. The story of this sea change, and of earlier style wars, is told in chapter 3. Essentially the same change, albeit with different dynamics, later transformed Riesling in Austria and in Australia, too; both jurisdictions now make dry Riesling almost exclusively, save for necessarily miniscule quantities of naturally very sweet late-harvest wine. North America is now the surprising exception to this picture. On the one hand, most Riesling made today in both the United States and Canada is loyal to the sweet style that prevailed everywhere 40 years ago; on the other, the United States has emerged as the world’s second-largest Riesling producer (after Germany) and is home to the world’s single largest Riesling brand, Washington’s Chateau Ste. Michelle. This disconnect between the U.S. market and the rest of the world is something of an awkward background for this book. Yet Riesling is now a bona fide international variety grown in at least 26 countries, both north and south of the equator, and it enjoys a stellar reputation among wine professionals. The Best White Wine on Earth is the title of a 2014 book by Stuart Pigott, a British wine writer who has lived and worked in Germany for most of the past 20 years and has emerged as the most

knowledgeable student of what he calls Planet Riesling, searching it out in nooks and crannies where it was unknown just a few years ago. His book, along with Freddie Price’s Riesling Renaissance (2004) and Christina Fischer and Ingo Swoboda’s Riesling: Die ganze Vielfalt der edelsten Rebe der Welt (2005), is the closest we have to comprehensive coverage of Riesling in all countries and both hemispheres. For this book, however, I have set myself a different task. First, I seek to interrogate as precisely as possible what sets Riesling apart from other white wine-grape varieties. Second, I reexamine the history of Riesling as a variety, since that has not been done seriously since Friedrich von Bassermann-Jordan’s Geschichte des Weinbaus in 1907, and what we know, or think we know, has changed dramatically since that time. Third, I focus on the idiom of Riesling— dry—that is simultaneously dominant worldwide and least known in North America, and I explore what must happen, both in the vineyard and in the cellar, to produce very good Riesling with little or no perceptible sugar. Emphatically, such Riesling is not made simply by ensuring that fermentations consume most or all of the grapes’ sugar; on the contrary, it requires farming for f lavors and a new definition of ripeness, one that does not depend primarily on sugar to balance acidity. Finally, more than half the book is devoted to profiles of individual vineyard sites. Here I look at those parameters of site that are expressed in finished wine and especially those parameters that bear on success with Riesling made dry. Since dry Riesling today is an overwhelmingly European story, a majority of these profiles concern sites in Germany, the Alsace region of France, Austria, and Italy. However, because this is a book written primarily for a North American audience, it makes as much as possible of the small stable of sites in New York, Michigan, Washington, Oregon, and California

from which very good dry Riesling is now made, and of producers working seriously in that idiom. With regret, I have confined coverage to the Northern Hemisphere, omitting sites and producers in several Australian states, New Zealand, Chile, Argentina, and South Africa whose experiences would have been comparatively fascinating. This decision, compelled by considerations of time, distance, and expense, has made it possible to finish this book within five years of its beginning but, alas, not to finish the story, in which important chapters remain to be written. Riesling, made in any idiom, is a cocktail of minerality and fruit with flavors so varied and intense that some wine writers have wondered out loud if it might not sometimes be too flavorful for its own good. Its aromas and flavors are clean and linear and are delivered with élan and verve. It is delicious on its own, yet arguably is the most versatile of all varieties with food. These virtues arrive free of excessive ripeness and are propelled by natural acidity, and Riesling often has a degree or two less of alcohol than is normal for most of the world’s Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, and Viognier. So-called secondary fermentation (actually malolactic conversion) is unnecessary—though not necessarily problematic if and when it occurs—in Riesling, and the flavors of milled oak, whether as chips or as toasted new barrels, are almost always counterindicated. Riesling is the joy of every chef who works with seafood and the so-called white meats, and it works even with notorious food foes such as asparagus and artichokes. As the late, great Chicago chef Charlie Trotter (1959–2013) put it in his seafood cookbook of 1997, “It gives purity and focus to all the flavors on the table.” When Riesling is made dry, the variety’s profile is especially precise, bright, tense, and lively. Riesling tastes of many things, depending where it was grown, but no other wine in the world tastes like dry Riesling.

introduction

3

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part i

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ONE

The Riesling Predicament

very very good wine is a trifecta of

E

variety, place, and style. Variety, of course, refers to the wine’s varietal composition. Place denotes the wine’s geographic origin. And style is shorthand for most other factors, such as whether the wine was made still or sparkling, heady or light, sweet or dry. These three parameters are kaleidoscopically interwoven and subtly interdependent, but in the end they all determine a wine’s individual properties—from color, strength, structure, taste, and smell to reputation, cost, price, and suitability. The pages that follow discuss one wine grape variety, Riesling, made as monovarietal wine, grown in dozens of different sites across the Northern Hemisphere, and vinified so that the finished wine is dry. Before we begin this exploration of specifics, a bit more attention to the wine’s background is appropriate.

VARIETY In the universe of wine grapes, varieties are in fact cultivars—natural seedling progeny of cross-pollinated parent vines chosen and propa-

gated by human intervention. Varieties have been with us more or less as long as people have made wine and cultivated grapes, but they were not an object of systematic attention or a key element in wine nomenclature until fairly recently. Familiar as varietal names now appear to wine consumers around the world, ranging through the alphabet from Albariño to Zinfandel, most varieties were not segregated in vineyards, made monovarietally, or featured on wine labels until the past 150 or so years. And the science that has finally begun to make sense of the large universe of varieties, and to reveal parental and sibling relationships among them, developed only in the 1990s. Today at least 1,400 wine grape varieties are known to be present in the world’s commercial vineyards, and each has been genetically fingerprinted and is distinguishable from all others. While this number seems enormous at first blush, the count would be considerably higher if varieties grown noncommercially or experimentally were added in, along with varieties present only in conservatory collections or known to have existed in the past but not to have survived. 7

And this figure does not include the varieties— not cultivars—that existed only for the lifetime of a single vine plant that was never chosen or propagated by a curious farmer. On the other hand, the number of varieties that have attracted widespread, significant, and sustained interest from winegrowers and therefore are grown today in many corners of the global vineyard—varieties generally known as classic, major, or international—amount to only a few dozen. This list, largely a product of European immigration to the New World in the 19th century, expands from time to time as European varieties of hitherto only local interest are discovered by New World vintners and transplanted. Consider the sagas of Vermentino and Grüner Veltliner, for example, barely known 20 years ago outside their habitats around the Tyrrhenian Sea and in Austria, respectively, but now looking suspiciously international. But the converse trend is stronger: already-dominant varieties such as Chardonnay are more widely planted everywhere, largely because nothing succeeds like success and thus these varieties make eminent economic sense. Meanwhile, less-visible varieties are abandoned and disappear.

PLACE If our contemporary preoccupation with grape varieties, our growing knowledge of varieties and their relationships, and our increasing reliance on varietal names for the taxonomies of wine have made variety seem to be the primary element in the trifecta of excellent wine, place deserves at least as much attention, and arguably more. Until the past century, wine taxonomies were overwhelmingly geographical, not varietal, because as early as Roman times, we had recognized that regions and sites differ from one another, even if our understanding of the science of differences was imperfect. The names of wines were the names of vineyards or vineyard blocks, themselves often derived from physical, cultural, or ecological features of the landscape or chosen as references to nearby vil8

chapter one

lages, towns, administrative districts, or ports of embarkation. In this context, no feature of the land where grapes are farmed is, or ever was, prima facie irrelevant to the wine produced. Certainly, a site’s latitude and climate are relevant, as well as its elevation, orientation, aspect, proximities, and exposures; the physical and chemical properties of its dirt and even the microf lora in it; and the uses imposed on neighboring land. As the legendary English wine writer Hugh Johnson is supposed to have summarized it, “In the case of wine, where it comes from is the whole point” (quoted in Blanning 2009). In recent decades, much of the conversation about place and wine has invoked the French word terroir. Print appearances of the word are now so ubiquitous that it is rarely italicized in English; whole books have been written about terroir by geologists and plant scientists, and no issue of any wine magazine, in any European language, is terroir-free. Never mind that the word itself, in anything approximating its current meaning, is younger than the Industrial Revolution and has been used to denote the “somewhereness” of individual wines for barely a century. Individual commentators and winegrowers have permitted themselves personal and sometimes idiosyncratic redefinitions of the word. Grosso modo, terroir is modern shorthand for the imprint of site-specific properties on individual wines. The word has evolved into an umbrella term that subsumes everything mysterious about the properties of wine, and it is now a touchstone for everyone who contends, as many do, that all very good wine is made in the vineyard, not in the cellar.

STYLE Style, the third part of the trifecta, is less familiar to wine consumers than variety or terroir. It is also more troubled territory, but no less important for its handicaps. It has recently attracted attention in spite of itself as ultraripe f lavors and concomitant increases in alcohol content, especially in New World red wines,

have provoked pushback from many sommeliers and some wine writers, and as barrel-fermented Chardonnays, redolent of oak, butter, and vanilla and kissed with residual sweetness, have become so ubiquitous that many consumers erroneously think of these attributes as properties of the grape variety itself. The pushback is illustrated by the creation, in 2011, of an organization called In Pursuit of Balance, which focuses on encouraging “balance” in California winemaking, especially as it affects Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and by the publication of a book by former San Francisco Chronicle wine editor Jon Bonné celebrating winemakers who are “rewriting the rules of contemporary winemaking by picking grapes earlier and seeking to reduce alcoholic strength” (Bonné 2013). Although the object of attention in both cases is wine style, the s-word itself is barely mentioned in language that concentrates instead on the “promotion of varietal characteristics” and on varieties as “vehicles for the expression of terroir,” per In Pursuit of Balance’s website. Winemakers themselves seem uncomfortable with the idea that style is an essential parameter of wine, endlessly repeating the catechism that very good wine “makes itself” as long as the grapes have been properly grown. In these pages, I argue the converse: style is everything about wine that is neither terroir (mediated by viticulture) nor variety, and it is the outcome of a long list of winemaking choices. Some relationship always exists, of course, both logically and empirically, between the expression of place and the way a wine is made; winemaking is critical to very good wines, and it is a conscious, thoughtful, and usually beneficial symbiosis with raw material. Nevertheless, style is different from both variety and terroir. Style begins with the protocol that governs the harvest. This includes such factors as whether the vineyard is picked in a single pass, for example, or several times to segregate fruit of different maturities; how mature the grapes are when they are picked; and whether grape clusters are pressed directly, partially crushed, destemmed, or even partially dried before

pressing. Whether botrytis is present, and whether botrytis-affected clusters are kept separate from the rest. Whether the juice is clarified before fermentation or afterward, or both. Whether the fermentation environment is heated, chilled, or otherwise modified. How much contact is permitted between juice and skins and between new wine and lees. Whether the fermentation is deliberately interrupted, left to itself, or encouraged to consume all available sugar. Whether anything is added to the wine, brief ly or permanently, to f lavor it, alter its natural chemistry, deactivate bacteria, or prevent secondary fermentation. And, in the time since distillation was “invented,” whether the wine is fortified, or, in very recent years, whether some of the alcohol produced by fermentation was removed. Style-based choices have been part and parcel of viniculture at least since classical antiquity, ceaselessly ref lecting the status of wine among other drinks, the ebb and f low of consumer tastes, and the determinative effect of consumer preferences and valuations on markets.

RIESLING Vintners and wine writers widely agree that Riesling, the object of attention in these pages, is an important international variety. It occupies a total of more than 50,000 hectares worldwide, overwhelmingly in the Northern Hemisphere, but it is also solidly anchored in the antipodes. It is grown on every wine-producing continent, in at least a dozen European countries, and in no fewer than nine American states and three Canadian provinces. While Chardonnay, a variety that has become almost synonymous with white wine in much of the wine-drinking world, beats Riesling in terms of surface planted almost four to one, Riesling is almost as widespread as Pinot Gris and more than three times as widely planted as Chenin Blanc. Its desirable varietal properties, wherever it grows, include late budding and late ripening, high tolerance for cold winters, considerable

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drought resistance, good concentration, truth to variety even at relatively high yields, high adaptability to a wide range of mesoclimates and soil types, a large and brilliant f lavor palette, and wines that age astonishingly well. David Schildknecht, the eminent American wine writer, summarizing Riesling for the Internationales Riesling Symposium held at Eltville, in the German Rheingau, in 2010, called attention to Riesling’s “fragrance, finesse, freshness, elegance, and ref lection of vintage and terroir.” Riesling underwent a period of quantitative decline during the middle of the 20th century owing to the passing infatuation with the highyield variety Müller-Thurgau—a Riesling cross with an earlier cross of uncertain parentage called Madeleine Royale—in cool-climate parts of Europe and losses to the Chardonnay tsunami in Australia, California, and parts of South America. But it has been on the rebound since the 1990s: its planted surface increased by 14 percent in Germany between 1985 and 2012 and by 16 percent in Austria between 1999 and 2009; doubled in California between 2004 and 2011; and surged 60 percent in Washington State between 1997 and 2006. In the United States, the market for Rieslingbased wines has been impressively strong, although only as compared to their earlier, very weak sales. Point-of-sale data, primarily from large supermarkets, shows a 54 percent increase in Riesling sales between 2005 and 2007, which established Riesling as the fastestgrowing varietal wine in American markets between 2006 and 2011, with increased sales at all price points. Wine imports to the States from Germany also nearly tripled between 1999 and 2007, rising from 1.2 to 3.2 million cases, of which Riesling was a substantial share. As early as 1990, Washington surpassed California as the area of greatest Riesling production in the States, and it is now home to the world’s largest Riesling producer, the formidable Chateau Ste. Michelle. The suitability of certain varieties to certain geographic locations, and of certain locations to

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certain varieties, has been studied for more than half a century, especially in the New World, where the earliest plantings of wine grapes often were an experimental jumble. The work done beginning in the 1940s at the University of California, Davis, by Maynard Amerine and A. J. Winkler on “heat summation” (measured in degree-days) and on regions then classified by heat summation is well known and has been widely used to align macroclimates with appropriate varieties. Their essential insight—that temperature alone controls the botanical process that ripens wine grapes— has been confirmed by subsequent research and experience and is summarized in a book by the insightful Australian agricultural scientist John Gladstones (Gladstones 2011). Yet generally, viticulturists now focus less on the minimum heat accumulation necessary to ripen any individual variety, primarily because most wine regions now accumulate more heat than they did a generation ago, making excess heat more problematic than heat deficit. As vine-trellising systems have also changed, the microconditions surrounding grape clusters have replaced macroclimatic air temperature as an object of attention, drawing interest to berries’ f lesh or juice temperature and therefore also to factors such as clusters’ exposure to direct or dappled sunlight, the effect of topsoil color on the wavelength of light ref lected from the ground, and on enzymatic responses to specific light frequencies. A generation ago, ripening itself was construed as a single biochemical process measured by sugar accumulation. Now viticulturists, winemakers, wine writers, and even consumers talk about ripening as multiple concurrent, but not entirely simultaneous, processes, and they routinely distinguish so-called flavor or physiological ripening from sugar ripening. Much of the recent professional literature relevant to Riesling was summarized by Hans Reiner Schultz, the president of Geisenheim University, in his presentation to the 2014 Internationales Riesling Symposium: he said that Riesling needs “cool to intermediate climates to ripen its crop properly,” but that it may

tolerate high maxima, albeit with attendant stylistic differences, if the maxima are offset by “cofactors in quality formation” such as diurnal temperature variation, sunshine hours, or water availability. And, although the climatic differences among Riesling-friendly areas are “relatively large,” the impact of such differences on wine styles are quite imperfectly understood (Schultz 2014). For all its plasticity, however, Riesling is scarcely insensitive to environments. On the contrary, it is widely appreciated for its great transparency to site, a property it appears to share especially with Pinot Noir. In other words, the expression of Riesling varies quite perceptibly from one vineyard location to the next, responding to very subtle differences in meso- and microclimate, altitude, aspect, slope, proximity to water, air circulation, and many properties of soil. Key soil properties are not limited to the usual suspects, vigor and water retention, but also include porosity, granularity, depth, capacity for heat retention, color, and chemical composition. If the whys and wherefores of terroir are still very imperfectly understood, empirical differences among sites are still clearly evident: dark, slate-based soils are warmer at midday than loess or limestone, hastening ripening, but the wavelength of reflected light affects the activity of enzymes in grapes, which respond to the ratio of red to far-red light. Thus reddish surface soils, usually red because iron oxides are abundant, tend to correlate with faster sugar accumulation—helpful in cooler climates but not in warmer spots—and with increased content of anthocyanins in grape skins. The latter is not hugely important for Riesling but could be important for a red variety such as Pinot Noir. Riesling, as a variety and as a vehicle for the expression of terroir, is almost universally exalted by wine professionals. David Schildknecht’s summary, quoted above, is complemented by the general critical opinion that, if Chardonnay made from vines in Corton-Charlemagne, Montrachet, or Valmur in Chablis constitutes the gold standard for great white

wine of “table” strength and commands the highest prices for such wines worldwide, Riesling is not far behind, except as to price. The late Steve Pitcher (1945–2012), a San Francisco–based wine writer with a special affection for German wines, explicitly compared Riesling to White Burgundy in 1997, calling it “qualitatively equivalent” (Pitcher 1997). A 2006 book by a fellow San Franciscan, Master Sommelier Evan Goldstein, called special attention to Riesling’s “balanced acidity” and its “capacity to explode on the palate with a bevy of flavors that scream fruit . . . while being firmly underscored by slatey and petrol-like earth notes” (Goldstein 2006). For Jancis Robinson, MW, Riesling “could claim to be the finest white grape variety in the world on the basis of the longevity of its wines and their ability to transmit the characteristics of a vineyard” (Robinson 2006). “A star,” she adds on jancisrobinson.com, “and one of my great wine heroes.” The consensus about Riesling begins to crumble, however, when the focus turns from variety and terroir to style. Here Riesling’s persona is almost unique among wine grape varieties, though it shares some properties with Chenin Blanc, another international white variety that originated at high latitudes. Riesling’s many styles differ primarily in their levels of residual sweetness, although other parameters, notably alcoholic strength, are also important. The differences in residual sweetness span virtually the entire range of possible sweetness in wine, from dry-as-a-wine-can-be-fermented to sweet-as-a-wine-can-be-made-naturally, which translates analytically as anything from less than 3 grams per liter (g/L) of unfermented sugar to more than 300 g/L, a differential that spans a mind-boggling two orders of magnitude. At the low end, the wine is lean, brilliant, and even electric, worthy of raw oysters; at the high end of the scale are Rieslings of luscious sweetness that are often described poetically and are usually best enjoyed in lieu of dessert. Between these extremes is a virtually infinite range of wines whose sweetness ranges from

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barely perceptible to dominant. When the wine has been made from grapes grown in very cool sites, often at especially high latitudes, where it barely ripens, the middle registers of sweetness can be associated with alcoholic strength not much greater than that of most stout. From warmer sites, Rieslings typically are stronger, hovering between 12 and 14 percent alcohol unless winemaking choices have intervened. (Note: This book expresses both potential and finished alcohol percentage with the degree symbol: e.g., 14°.) This picture is prima facie difficult to describe, and the array of Riesling expressions confounds most attempts at taxonomy. English terminology for wines that are neither dry nor lusciously sweet—off-dry, medium-dry, and semisweet, for example—are typically inadequate, while the German words lieblich and feinherb, the first haplessly rendered in English as “fruity” and the second generally left untranslated, are not much better. Other German terms properly associated only with the potential alcohol of grape juice before it is fermented—Kabinett, Spätlese, and Auslese— are sometimes also used to describe styles of Riesling, but they correlate imperfectly. To further complicate the picture, Riesling (like Chenin Blanc) is a so-called high-acid variety, meaning that the grape retains more acid than most varieties when it is physiologically ripe. Because most grape acid is stable, it remains in the finished wine. While acid does not react with unfermented sugar, it does offset the sensory perception of sugar, and vice versa. More acid makes the same sugar content taste less sweet, and vice versa, all other things being equal. Independent of other variables, higher alcohol usually gives an impression of sweetness by itself or by enhancing the impression of sweetness that derives from sugar alone. Multiple styles of Riesling have been made in the Rhine Basin for as long as Riesling has been made into monovarietal wine, and multiple styles of blended white wine, dependent on combinations of Elbling, Gouais, Savagnin, Orleans, Muscat, Silvaner, and Riesling have been made there for much longer—at least

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since the 11th century. By the end of the 19th century, and probably earlier, the dominant Riesling style—albeit one among several—was an occasionally dry but typically off-dry wine, fermented until the fermentation stopped naturally, usually with concurrent malolactic conversion. It was held in large casks for several years before it was sold, and it was racked multiple times. It was not bottled until three to five years after the vintage (if it was bottled at all; most was sold in barrels or kegs). This was the style most associated in most markets with German white wines at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries, when these were Europe’s most respected light and elegant white wines. They were praised especially for being made “naturally,” without reliance on dried berries, addition of sugar before or after fermentation, dilution with water, or fortification with brandy, unlike most European white wines and many red wines at the time. Between the 1930s and the 1970s, this style virtually disappeared from the Rhine Basin, the victim of a political history that disrupted traditional markets for German wines, the renewed taste for sweeter wines, the advent of cellar technology that enabled mass production of stable wines with an infinite range of sweetness, and pressures to make German viticulture efficient and successful, along with the rest of its agriculture and the balance of its economy, beginning in the 1950s. The wine styles birthed in this period, although they reflected sweeter styles that had coexisted with dominant naturally off-dry and longélevage wines for several centuries, were essentially new. (Élevage denotes the time that a new wine spends in tanks between fermentation and bottling.) These wines dominated the German wine scene and represented German wine exports to all markets for a generation, until another sea change washed across postwar Germany, birthing dry German Riesling as we know it today. This is the wine now legally known as trocken, fermented to fewer than 4 g/L of residual sugar regardless of acid content, or to fewer

BOX 1 HOW IS “DRY” DEFINED? In wine, sweetness is determined by the presence of some amount of sugar. Dryness is the absence of sugar. In theory, a completely dry wine should contain no sugar at all, but some sugars are unfermentable, some yeast perish in low-sugar environments, and the human palate cannot perceive sugar in very low concentrations. Thus, in practice, wines are generally considered dry if they contain less than 3 or 4 g/L of sugar. However, sensory perception of sweetness is substantially affected by the amount of acid that coexists with sugar in the wine. Within certain thresholds, more acid makes the same amount of sugar taste less sweet. The sugar-versus-acid parameter makes little difference when total acidity in the wine is low, but it can be important when acidity is high, as often happens with naturally high-acid varieties such as Riesling and Chenin Blanc and when grapes of any variety are grown in very cool sites. The consensus about dryness, expressed as a 4-g/L sugar ceiling, was incorporated into a resolution passed by the General Assembly of the International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV Resolution no. 18) in 1973 as part of its historic work toward an international code of enological practice and associated terminology. Three years later, much the same definition passed into the European Commission rulebook as Regulation 1608/76, with an exception to cover high-acid wines: the terms sec, trocken, secco, asciutto, and dry may be used only if the wine concerned has a maximum sugar content of 4 g/L irrespective of acidity, or 9 g/L maximum if sugar does not exceed acidity by more than 2 g/L. This sounds more complicated than it actually is. Basically, a wine can be considered dry with 8 g/L of sugar if it also contains at least 6 g/L of acid, or it can contain 9 g/L of sugar if it also contains 7 g/L of acid, neither of which is unusual in Riesling from cool regions or cool years. Ergo, as a practical matter, most European Riesling with fewer than 9 g/L of sugar has been legally dry since 1976, except in the case of jurisdictions that imposed, consistent with European

law, more stringent definitions of dryness, as Austria did until it joined the European Union in 1995. Both the 4-g/L ceiling and the 9-g/L exception were supposedly based on the opinion of expert OIV committees, filtered upward in the OIV and thence to the European Commission, but neither the OIV nor the Spokesperson’s Office of the European Commission has been able to explain how either parameter was decided upon. Scientists outside both organizations say they do not believe that the present provisions have any specific basis in sensory science. Outside the European Community, for better or worse, no relevant definitions for dryness in wine exist. In the Unites States, before Prohibition, the term dry referred to unfortified wine under 14° while sweet denoted any wine richer than 14°, whether fortified or not. Light has replaced dry legally, and dessert has replaced sweet when the wine is fortified, leaving dry undefined in the United States, as it is in Canada. However, in the United States, unlike Europe, what is not prohibited is permitted, so dry can appear on any wine label, irrespective of sugar or acid, more or less at the whim of the producer. There are numerous examples of dry American Riesling that are not legally dry by European standards. A greater problem is that, on both sides of the Atlantic, some legally dry Rieslings do not taste dry, often (but not always) because substantial alcoholic strength has contributed to an impression of sweetness. Others that are not legally dry taste brilliantly dry regardless, usually owing to a combination of modest alcohol, very high acidity, and lean structures. Worse, at least for the consumer, is that mentions of wine style on labels are entirely optional throughout the European Union, so many wines go to market with alcoholic degree the only visible clue to their style. To mitigate this problem, at least in theory, schemes with no official basis have emerged and appear on the back labels of wine bottles, in producer catalogues, and in importer lists when the wines travel outside their countries of birth. (continued on next page)

(BOX 1 HOW IS “DRY” DEFINED? Continued) Many are the invention of individual vintners, especially in Alsace, where Bott-Geyl, Zind-Humbrecht, and Dirler-Cadé, to name just three, have embraced producer-specific sweetness indexes (indices de sucrosité) that aspire to express sweetness or dryness with single-digit numeric values, generally varying between 5 and 10 degrees. American importer Terry Theise has devised his own avowedly intuitive sense-of-sweetness (SOS) scale for German wines only, also composed of single-digit values that in his case extend from –2 to +4 as his perception of sugar increases. The International Riesling Foundation’s Taste Profile, a voluntary set of computational guidelines for producers, begins with a

than 9 g/L in the presence of high acidity. The grapes are pressed to minimize contact between skins and juice, malolactic conversion is interdicted, and new wine is bottled very young, just months after the vintage, and almost invariably is sterile-filtered before bottling. These wines were first promoted in the late 1970s as an alternative to the sweet wines that had, in the view of some producers, become a national albatross that threatened to shrink the market for German wines to those suitable only as an aperitif or with dessert and to isolate Germany from its neighbors exactly when a leadership role in the “new” Europe had become a national priority. Initially not very successful, dry wines finally acquired traction in the second half of the 1980s. Across the state of Rheinland-Pfalz, which encompasses most major areas of Riesling production except the Rheingau, the share of total Riesling production that was dry increased from 23 percent in 1985 to 38 percent in 2003, while the share that was sweetish declined in the same period from 53 to 25 percent. Similar data for the Rheingau shows that the share of dry wines there rose from 40 to 55 percent between 1989 and 2007, while the share of sweet or sweetish wines fell 14

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wine’s content of unfermented sugar, adjusted for pH, which can then be used to localize a caret along the length of a short horizontal bar divided into dry, medium-dry, medium-sweet, and sweet segments. It has gained significant acceptance among American producers and a few German ones and now appears on several million bottles annually. The profile’s main problem, however, is the discretion it leaves to individual vintners. They are permitted to adjust the outcome of the computation to reflect their personal perceptions, and they may also place the telltale caret in the middle of the appropriate bar segment or skew it toward one end or the other of that segment. Caveat emptor.

from 35 to 16 percent. These numbers are more than statistically significant; they represent a new balance point among styles and ref lect a consumer taste that has fundamentally changed. In most German regions, dry wines are the new norm, the preference of most GenXers, and a raison d’être for many members of the new generation of vintners, born after 1970 and professionally trained, who built their reputations on dry wines made from low-yielding vines sourced from sites so challenging that their parents’ generation had neglected or abandoned them. Despite persistent controversy, dry is the f lagship style for most members of the Verband Deutscher Prädikatsweingüter (VDP), Germany’s most visible association of qualityoriented producers. There remains significant support for sweeter, “traditional” styles, however. In early 2014, the impressive wine list of Wiesbaden’s Michelin-starred Ente vom Lehel restaurant, just beyond the borders of the Rheingau, comprised more than 300 German Rieslings, and was rich in sweetish bottlings from top producers in all regions and only slightly biased in favor of dry wines. And most producers, even those specializing in dry wines, are happy to pour something with a bit of residual

sugar for tasting-room visitors who seem open to the idea. “The glory of Riesling is the multiplicity of styles,” reads the headline at the top of a extensive list of Rieslings on offer at Paul Grieco’s Hearth Restaurant in New York. Just below those words, however, is a second sentence, in only marginally smaller type: “The problem of Riesling is the multiplicity of styles.” Indeed. While the spectrum of styles associated with Riesling is regarded by many Riesling champions as prima facie evidence of its greatness—as American importer Terry Theise put it in a recent blog post, “Its signal genius is to be successful over a wide continuum of sweetnesses”—the fact of continuum distribution is also problematic, not least because small differences in acid or residual sugar are nonetheless perceptible and can impact a wine’s suitability for specific uses, seasons, food pairings, and wine sequences. Neophyte consumers are obviously most disadvantaged by unsignposted stylistic continua, but the hazard is also great for serious professionals. Consider the 2011 experience of Benjamin Lewin, MW, recounted in his blog, Lewin on Wine. Dining at the Setai restaurant in Miami, Lewin sought to identify a dry Riesling suitable, in his opinion, for Setai’s Asian-inspired cuisine. He and the restaurant’s sommelier first agreed on an Alsatian Riesling that both imagined was dry, but then made another choice after doubts arose. The replacement choice, which came from the German Pfalz, turned out to be “palpably sweet” to Lewin’s palate. At this point, Lewin and the head sommelier examined the other Riesling options on the list but found none that was likely to be “completely dry,” leaving Lewin to opt instead for a Grüner Veltliner from the Wachau. The experience confirmed Lewin’s view that Riesling, in restaurants, is “a pig in a poke.” I can testify to similar experiences, even in fine restaurants with well-trained staff and award-winning lists. Occurrences of this sort probably underlie recent survey findings that more than a third of American Riesling consumers had bought a bottle that they thought

was dry but which tasted sweet, while a similar fraction of American wine retailers admitted to difficulty in recommending Riesling to their customers, owing to “staff uncertainty” about whether a given wine was sweet or dry (Wine Opinions 2013). Outside Germany, across the rest of its habitat, multiple styles of Riesling coexist with varying degrees of tension or comfort. In Alsace, just across the Rhine, Rieslings were as reliably dry a generation ago as they were reliably sweet in Germany, except for a homeopathic production of lusciously sweet wine known locally as Vendange Tardive or Sélection de Grains Nobles. This picture changed bit by bit through the 1980s and ’90s, with slowly rising alcoholic strengths and an increasing incidence of off-dry wines containing 12 or more g/L of unfermented sugar. Although most vintners ascribe this change to riper grapes caused by global warming, the style change is probably better understood as a perverse “elbow” effect of Alsace grand cru appellations, the first 25 of which were implemented in the late 1970s. Wines from these new appellations, which were generally sites with long-established reputations for high quality, were made subject to lower maximum yield limitations. Since lower yields led vintners to charge higher prices and simultaneously increased ripeness, and since consumers of Alsace wines already associated high prices with the aforementioned lusciously sweet wines, many producers chose to implement a slightly sweet, off-dry style for grand cru bottlings. In essence, they bet that wines a tad richer and sweeter than the main run of Alsace product would be acceptable at the necessarily higher price points. All this, however, was done without any on-label signposting. The consequence was a circumstance that other winemakers and some sommeliers likened to Russian roulette: the consumer could not know if a wine labeled as grand cru would be traditionally dry or newly off-dry. In his 1999 book, published by the influential Revue du vin de France, superstar chef Alain Senderens cautions readers to avoid drinking Alsace Rieslings with “too much residual sugar” with

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some of his signature dishes, such as asparagus, leeks, and shellfish with Maltese sauce, suggesting that the reader might be well advised to choose wine from a producer “who lives by the creed of dry Riesling” (Senderens 1999). Now the Alsace trend seems to be turning dry again for even the best wines, at least as far as Riesling is concerned. Gewürztraminer and Pinot Gris are another matter. Diagonally across the Alps in Austria, a howling scandal involving the addition of diethylene glycol to already sweet wines made almost entirely for the German market—done to make these wines even sweeter and fuller-bodied— effectively eliminated sweet white wine production in Austria after 1985, save for a tiny quantity of lusciously sweet wines. It also established the country as a benchmark producer of serious, classy, and reliably dry Rieslings, alongside its signature Grüner Veltliners, which (see above) were also made dry. Austrian vintners, however, usually pick grapes for their best wines in several passes several weeks apart, harvesting the last fruit in late October or even early November and thus putting some upward pressure on alcoholic strength. Some producers also tolerate significant botrytis in grapes destined for nominally dry wine. The combination can produce wines that taste off-dry, either because the botrytis stops the fermentation before the sugar has been fully consumed or because high alcohol makes the wine taste slightly sweet. In North America, the meteoric growth of the wine industry in Washington, from a handful of producers and barely 7.5 million liters of wine in 1981 to more than 400 producers and 76 million liters in 2010, combined with the state’s enthusiasm for Riesling, which was deemed well suited to the state’s cold winters, has driven a renaissance of consumer interest in the variety across North America. This interest was, and remains, stylistically anchored in relatively sweet segments of the variety’s stylistic bandwidth. A similar preponderance of relatively sweeter styles characterizes Oregon and California, where the variety has rebounded a

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bit from massive losses to Chardonnay in California and to Pinot Gris in Oregon. Viniferabased wine industries are younger in New York and Michigan and in the Canadian provinces of Ontario, British Columbia, and Nova Scotia, but Rieslings from these areas also tend to follow Washington’s pattern of preponderantly sweetish wines. Across the Northern Hemisphere in the second decade of the 21st century, a style map of Riesling by market, if such existed, would look rather like a crazy quilt. In German regions save the Mosel, as we have seen, Riesling is assumed to be dry and most consumers expect it to be so, even as sweeter styles persist alongside dry ones. In Alsace and Austria, the next most significant Riesling-producing regions, production styles and consumption patterns are well aligned. In Italy, where demand for Riesling is increasing and a bit more is planted nearly every year, the taste is for dry wines, as it is in Austria and Alsace. In the rest of Western Europe, where Riesling is little grown, Riesling is generally desired and expected to be dry, which was not the case half a century earlier. In Britain, by contrast, the “informed consumer recognizes Riesling as a low-alcohol, fruity wine of natural sweetness,” as Neil Fairlamb summarized the situation for the Circle of Wine Writers, contrasting this picture with “German drinkers of their own wine who believe their best wines are dry with alcohol levels of 12–13°” (Fairlamb 2009). Although only the tiniest dribble of Riesling is actually grown in England, and that only in East Sussex as far as I know, the British market ref lects British consumers’ preference, which remains overwhelmingly sweetish—exactly what they liked a generation ago. They do seem to make an exception for Alsace, whose genuinely dry Rieslings from houses such as Hugel et Fils, Léon Beyer, and F. E. Trimbach sell rewardingly in England. The U.S. market for Riesling is difficult to parse reliably, but it is enormously important, if only because the United States, since 2010, has been the single largest wine market in the

world, consuming more than 3.2 billion liters of wine, or about 14 percent of all wine consumed worldwide. About 90 percent of this is varietal table wine, a category in which a large percentage of so-called off-premise consumption is tracked by Nielsen, an international company that studies what consumers watch and buy. Chardonnay is the kingpin in this category, accounting for 21 percent of total dollar sales; Pinot Gris distantly trails Chardonnay at 8 percent. All other varieties, including Riesling, command just tiny market shares. There is considerable anecdotal evidence, however, and some data suggesting that the American market for Riesling is anomalous in important ways. Nielsen data reveal that Riesling consumption is skewed geographically away from the overall large U.S. wine markets. Overall, the big markets are the northeastern and middle Atlantic states, Florida, Texas, and California. By contrast, most Riesling is sold in the Pacific Northwest, with Seattle and Portland each consuming more Riesling than the entirety of California. Data from a 2013 survey commissioned by the International Riesling Foundation (see Wine Opinions 2013) appear to show that the U.S. Riesling drinker is younger than the average wine drinker—that is, less likely to be a baby boomer and more likely to belong in the Gen-X or millennial groups, but also more likely than the average U.S. drinker to buy relatively higher-priced wines. Abundant anecdotal evidence, gathered at all points of wine sale nationwide—supermarkets, wine stores, wine bars, restaurants, and winery tasting rooms— suggests that consumer interest in Riesling is disproportionately inf luenced by the consumer’s image of Riesling’s style, especially its sweetness. Overwhelmingly, the American consumer expects Riesling to be sweetish or sweet and seeks or shuns the wine as a function of that expectation. Variations on “No, thank you, I don’t like Riesling, it’s sweet” are repeated in tasting rooms and wine bars across the country, unless the prospective consumer likes, or thinks he or she likes, a sweetish or

off-dry wine, in which case the Riesling is embraced instead. This impression is consistent with real data about Riesling by style and inferences that can be drawn from the survey’s additional findings. Consider, for example, that the best-selling Rieslings in the States are the so-called Columbia Valley tier of wines produced by Chateau Ste. Michelle and that the sweeter wine in this tier, sold as Columbia Valley Riesling, outsells the dry wine, sold as Columbia Valley Dry Riesling, 10 to 1, with no price difference between them. The most successful American-made “premium” Rieslings, each produced in a partnership with a respected and high-profile German vintner, namely Long Shadows’ Poet’s Leap Riesling and Chateau Ste. Michelle’s Eroica, are an off-dry wine and a sweetish wine respectively, and both have attracted very favorable attention from critics. Finally, the two largest wine producers in America, Constellation Brands and E. and J. Gallo, have both launched Riesling brands since 2000, both of them grown and made in Germany with catchy English-language names and both of them sweetish. There is, in short, little reason for the American consumer not to assume that Riesling is sweet, since a huge fraction of what is offered in the American market is sweet in some degree. The image of Riesling as a sweet wine is further reflected in the offerings of restaurants. At the Melting Pot, a chain of restaurants specializing in fondue with more than 140 locations in 38 states, two of the top-selling wines in 2012 were German Rieslings from the Mosel, and the chain’s vice president for branding explained that these were fruit-forward, sweeter wines that appealed to the restaurants’ core demographic. Sweetness and consumer preference also coincide in more affluent demographics. At Canlis, one of Seattle’s most reputed restaurants, there were almost 150 Rieslings on offer early in 2014, of which just 8 were dry. All of this appears to confirm findings of the 2013 consumer survey done on behalf of the International Riesling Foundation. The American Riesling “fan,” the survey found,

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self-avowedly prefers wines that are “sweet,” “light,” and “delicious,” gravitates toward Gewürztraminer or Muscat (marketed as Moscato) as alternatives to Riesling, and is “less likely to drink Chardonnay than the average” wine consumer. Meanwhile, 55 percent of staff in U.S. bars and restaurants agreed that “Riesling is most useful by-the-glass when you need a sweet or off-dry wine, while 45 percent agreed that “Riesling is useful as an aperitif or cocktail wine” (Wine Opinions 2013). These findings are consistent with the picture painted for an audience of his trade colleagues in 2002 by Dennis Martin, who was until 2005 the chief winemaker for Hopland-based Fetzer Vineyards, the sixth-largest U.S. wine producer and the second- or third-largest U.S. producer of Riesling. Martin said that Riesling is “marketed to a consumer with a sweeter palate who is looking for something that is not white zinfandel” (Martin 2002). This picture has its roots as far back as the 1950s, when more Riesling than Chardonnay was grown in California, when table wine was just beginning to outsell dessert wine in the American marketplace, and when Riesling was virtually synonymous with soft, fruity, slightly sweet, and inexpensive table wine. It may also be reinforced, in some U.S. markets that are also important regions of domestic Riesling production, by local habits and taste preferences. In Michigan, for example, the state’s producers concentrated on sweet wines made from native American grape varieties and hybrids, and on similarly sweet “wine” made from berries and tree fruits, until the 1990s. Even today, the state’s largest and most successful Riesling producer, the pioneering Chateau Grand Traverse, still relies on cherry wine for a significant share of its in-state revenue. Dry styles of Riesling sell poorly in Ontario, where all wine must be marketed either directly by the wineries or via the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, a corporation operated by the provincial government, which is one of the largest buyers of alcoholic beverages in the world. Ontario’s young vinifera-based wine industry also has

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strong ties to the German Mosel, relying on Weis Reben, the nursery owned by the Weis family of Weingut St. Urbans-Hof in Leiwen, for a majority of the plant material used for Riesling throughout the province. Although dry styles of Riesling have slowly begun to account for a larger share of production in upstate New York around the Finger Lakes, most vintners still find sweeter versions easier to sell in their tasting rooms and to local restaurants. Notwithstanding this sweet and sweetish picture, however, there are now signs that dry Riesling is slowly making inroads and gaining traction in the North American market. On the production side, a noticeable cohort of serious winegrowers and winemakers have made significant investments in dry Riesling, occasionally as the focus of a tiny brand and otherwise as a sidebar project, in New York’s Finger Lakes and Ontario’s Niagara Peninsula, on the shores of Michigan’s Grand Traverse Bay, around Okanagan Lake in British Columbia, and in several areas of California and Oregon. Many of these producers are profiled in part II of this book. At the same time, a few larger producers have seen sales of dry Riesling increase substantially in just the past few years. Notwithstanding that Chateau Ste. Michelle’s sweetish Columbia Valley Riesling outsells its dry sibling, as noted above, sales of its dry wine quadrupled from 2005 to 2012, from fewer than 20,000 cases annually to more than 80,000, largely because Chateau Ste. Michelle decided to market the wine nationally instead of regionally. Meanwhile, a handful of restaurants with special enthusiasm for Riesling, especially in markets known for receptivity to trends and discoveries, have made good room for dry cuvées. At San Francisco’s ocean-oriented Farallon Restaurant, which has an exceptionally serious wine director, an innovative seafood-based cuisine, and a savvy clientele, 54 Rieslings were on offer early in 2014, of which 35 were dry— including wines from Germany, Austria, Alsace, and California. Embrace of Riesling’s dry idiom is even more impressive in New York City. In 2014, Eleven Madison Park, originally

created by the legendary restaurateur Danny Meyer in 1998 and now among the city’s most respected tables, greeted guests with a wine list that offered an astounding 235 Rieslings, of which at least 100 were dry. Not far away as the crow flies, in New York City’s Tribeca neighborhood, Paul Grieco’s Hearth offers 11 pages of Rieslings, including three pages headed “German Trocken,” two dedicated to Austrian Rieslings that are dry almost without exception, and a page each for Alsace and New York State, offering additional dry options alongside sweeter wines. American wine writers, who are often tastemakers, have taken dry Riesling more than seriously. Steve Pitcher, previously mentioned, was an early champion of dry styles, observing approvingly that “completely dry wines made from Riesling are regarded by some connoisseurs as being among the finest dry wines on earth” (Pitcher 1997). Syndicated wine columnist Dan Berger, long a fan of Riesling, was another early adopter, embracing dry Rieslings with enthusiasm when German and Austrian exemplars first became visible in American markets. Although New York Times wine columnist Eric Asimov confesses to longtime affection for the “distinctive” and “beautifully balanced” German Rieslings made with substantial residual sugar, he has also enthused about dry editions of German Riesling, the best of which he describes as “complex, layered and bold, with great energy, texture and depth” (Asimov 2013a). In 2012, Asimov anointed a very dry Riesling from New York’s Finger Lakes—the 2009 Argetsinger Vineyard bottling from Ravines—as “the best Finger Lakes Riesling ever made.” Although there are no data, as far as I know, documenting a quantifiable flight of Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc drinkers toward dry Rieslings, it makes sense to suppose that this happens occasionally, at least in restaurants such as Hearth, Eleven Madison Park, and Farallon and in scores of modest establishments in wine-savvy markets, where a dry Austrian or even a California may be one of a half-dozen white wines offered by the glass, and the only Riesling.

The most striking thing about the Rieslingstyle map of Northern Hemisphere wine markets is not how it first appears: one sees an overwhelming contrast between most of Europe, where the prevailing style and preference are dry wines, and virtually all of North America and Britain, where prevailing style and preference are exactly reversed. Yet the most striking thing about this map is its revelation of changing consumer preferences in these markets, especially Germany. Put succinctly, the sea change that has transformed German preferences and production since the 1980s has aroused passions and furious debate across the land, attracted considerable attention from national media, and put winemakers on television to debate the alleged merits or demerits of various wine styles. Nothing analogous has ever happened in the States with respect to any style of wine or any grape variety, unless it was Prohibition between 1919 and 1933 (which was certainly not about style or variety). Periods of vogue for individual grape varieties have come and gone in North America, but these changes have had little impact beyond the style and fashion pages of a few newspapers and newsmagazines. The European context is different. As we will see in subsequent chapters, wine was an essential piece of the European economy as early as the 12th century and was a focus of attention for the burgesses of new towns and cities across Northern Europe. At least as early as the 14th century, merchant and political authorities recognized important interests in the authenticity and purity of wines, which necessarily involve wine styles, and they did so with heightened urgency when dubious technical interventions affected winemaking. Wine was hotly debated by German governments at the end of the 19th century, giving rise to a tradition of extensive and prescriptive wine law after 1891. Seen against this background, the passions aroused in the 1980s, when advocates appeared on both sides of the so-called Trockenwelle (“dry wave”) issue, arguing for and against a fundamental “redesign” of German white wine, become more understandable than they

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first appear, especially from the perspective of the United States, where wine is a matter of more recent concern, little cultural ramification, and scant political involvement. On the one hand, some German vintners assert that Riesling is intrinsically flattered by a dry style, that drier wine styles are a more transparent expression of wines’ geographic origins and therefore friendlier to terroir, that the persistence of a predominantly sweeter style would have consigned German Riesling to niche use as an aperitif and dessert accompaniment, and that a drier style is necessary to maintain an international market for Riesling as global tastes shift broadly toward dry interpretations of many grape varieties. On the other side are vintners who believe passionately that Riesling is better and more deliciously expressed in a sweeter idiom, that many of the newly dry wines are unpleasantly lean, and that a unique, important, and organoleptically superior expression of Riesling is in danger of disappearance. Brickbats have f lown in both directions, with loyalists of sweeter styles reviled as lemonade makers and the proponents of dry wines criticized as architects of a dogmatic taste prison in which any wine that is not analytically dry is deemed unworthy of a sophisticated palate and inappropriate for consumption with any foodstuff. Especially in the Mosel, vintners have deplored what they perceive as threats to the survival of sweeter styles and have cited anecdotal evidence to support their argument that if the word trocken (dry) had not emerged as an misguided imprimatur of quality, most consumers, given a blind choice between an analytically dry wine and a dryish-tasting wine with more residual sugar, would choose the latter.

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The combat has put many respected vintners in uncomfortable positions. Annegret RehGartner, director of the Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt winery in Trier, interviewed in February 2000 for Wine Business Monthly, confessed that “the whole subject of trocken vs. fruity wines” seemed to her “very contradictory. “We do not like our sweet image,” she told the Monthly’s Lisa Shara Hall, “but I love the wines we produce on the Mosel with residual sugar and a perfect balance. However, the image of being sweet has always hurt us and has to be changed. For the Mosel, I hope that we can maintain our classical style.” For “the other regions,” she confessed, “the trend goes trocken.” And so the situation remains in 2015. Riesling carries more stylistic baggage than any other major international variety. In North America, it is presumed to be sweet to some degree and is avoided by consumers who prefer, or think they prefer, dry wines, even when some wines they consume constantly are not dry in fact. Conversely, consumers who like some sweetness are Riesling’s best friends, blissfully unaware that it can be and is made dry. In Germany, Austria, and Alsace, a plurality of consumers presume that Riesling is and should be dry, often shunning wines not labeled as trocken, even when a touch of residual sugar might pair better with their tandoori shrimp. Meanwhile, Riesling goes undiscovered by millions of wine drinkers whose white wine repertory consists entirely of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc and who are unaware that greater organoleptic pleasure awaits them with dry Riesling if only they could control their fear of tall, flute-shaped bottles. This book is for all of the above.

TWO

Riesling Behaviors, Typicity, and Terroirs

n the vineyard, most grapevines look

I

to the untrained eye like, well, grapevines. If differences are visible, they are usually apparent only as the contrast between a scrawny young vine and a gnarled and older one, or between vine-training systems. Nearly everyone can see that a head-trained vine—which, with its canes protruding from a nexus, resembles a porcupine on a stake—is quite different from a vine with long canes attached to horizontal wires or vines on a pergola that covers the space between vine rows. But discerning differences among grape varieties requires careful examination of vine plants, especially leaf sizes, shapes, structures, and textures; berry colors, sizes, and shapes; the architecture of grape clusters; and the various properties of the vine’s wood. The leaves of a Riesling vine are relatively small and round, not much longer than they are wide, with five or seven lobes. The lobes can overlap, increasing the overall impression of a roundish shape. The petiole sinus, where the leaf joins its stem, typically appears closed, leaving a small aperture shaped like a teardrop.

The Riesling leaf is quite unlike a leaf of Sauvignon Blanc, where a wedge-shaped open space surrounds the stem. Leaf edges are often also variety-specific. Riesling’s is serrated, with only slightly rounded teeth, unlike Gewürztraminer’s, whose leaf-edge teeth are so “worn” that they appear more like bumps than teeth. The top surface of the Riesling leaf has a bumpy, slightly quilted look, while the bottom surface shows a sparse distribution of short hairs. This differentiates it visually from Chenin Blanc, whose top surface looks crinkly, almost cracklé, by comparison. Riesling’s clusters are small, compact, and cylindrical and therefore are suitable to the head-trained systems that prevailed in medieval and early modern periods. Its berries are small and nearly spherical, with relatively thick skins, but detach easily from their stems. Berry color is white-green until color change begins about five weeks before harvest. Then—although all grapes deepen in color as they ripen—Riesling puts on an especially polychromatic show, its berries turning first straw yellow, then golden, and finally a brilliant yellow-brown that can appear pinkish before 21

shriveling as the now super-ripe fruit dehydrates. One producer in the Pfalz (KoehlerRuprecht; see page 232) picks grapes for several distinctly different cuvées of Riesling from the Saumagen vineyard based on berry color changes through the harvest season. Shoots naturally grow fairly upright, making Riesling vines relatively easy to tend horticulturally. Unusually, Riesling’s stems and shoots can be red or streaked with red, and the mature wood is exceptionally hard. Some sources have suggested that the etymology of Riesling, whose first syllable was spelled with an o or u before its pronunciation was unrounded to i and ie, is somehow related to the German words for “red” (rot) and dark wood or lampblack (Russ), but these literally colorful suggestions seem highly unlikely. Riesling buds late, about five days after Chasselas, the variety used as a yardstick for all others by French viticulturists. (Although it seems hard to imagine today, Chasselas was once among the most widely planted of varieties and therefore is a natural benchmark.) It also ripens very late, about three weeks after Chasselas, making Riesling the last variety to be picked almost everywhere it is grown. It is rarely harvested before mid-October, and in especially cool years, the harvest at some sites can extend through November. Late budding helps the variety to avoid catastrophic damage in years when hard frosts hit as late as April or early May—a clear advantage in high-latitude regions, but it seems that Riesling also recovers well from spring frosts. Daytime temperatures between 10°C and 15°C are also sufficient to restart photosynthesis, even if the previous night’s low was close to freezing; Michigan growers, who often battle frosty weather well into the spring, have found that Riesling fares much better in such circumstances than, for example, Cabernet Franc. Perhaps most significant for Riesling’s persistent appeal over centuries of grape growing and economic vicissitudes is its capacity to make high-quality, true-to-variety wines even when a relatively large crop is natural or economically necessary.

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Brilliant Riesling has always been made, and is made today, from poor, stony soils incapable of more than parsimonious yields. But the converse is also true: very good wine can be made from vigorous sites farmed to give as much as 70 hectoliters of wine per hectare of vineyard. This chapter gives principal attention to four of Riesling’s varietal properties: first, it is a relatively tough variety that tolerates environmental stress uncommonly well; second, it retains acidity throughout the ripening process, transmitting vibrant structure and bright flavors to the finished wines; third, it is an aromatic variety well suited to the production of wines with immediate and wide olfactory appeal; and, fourth, it seems to display enormous transparency and plasticity to various properties of the site where it is grown without losing varietal identity. Since it differs intrinsically from virtually every other major white wine grape variety in one or more of these ways, the sum of these properties can be taken, at least provisionally, as its varietal fingerprint. The fingerprint is worth attention from vintners, observers, and consumers with a sympathetic interest in the variety.

STRESS TOLERANCE “Riesling is like a donkey,” explains Geisenheim’s Hans Reiner Schultz. It tolerates stress of many kinds, notably very low-vigor soils, winter cold, drought conditions, and many kinds of disease pressure. Visitors to the Middle Mosel, between Trittenheim and Traben-Trarbach, are invariably amazed to see Riesling vines and not much else on the vertiginous slopes that rise from the riverbank here, and to notice that the soil appears to consist of little besides slate, sometimes in slabs, sometimes broken into small bits. The Danube Valley in Austria, between Melk and Krems, makes a similar impression, though there Riesling and Grüner Veltliner vines grow in gneiss and granite rather than slate. And while no landscape looks less like the Middle Mosel and the Austrian Wachau than the rocky riverbed south of Monterey (California) called Arroyo

Seco, it is a third example of ultra-low-vigor terrain where vines must grow almost without benefit of natural organic matter but where Riesling performs very well. (In nutritionally stressful sites, Riesling may not, however, always make wines that age well; see “Terroir,” below.) Grape varieties differ in their tolerance for drought, whether it is the consequence of soil with little water-holding capacity or low rainfall or both. Schultz cites Silvaner as a variety with low stress tolerance, while Riesling, he confirms, falls at “the other end of the spectrum.” Throughout Lower Austria, where Riesling and Grüner Veltliner are often grown almost side by side, Riesling is the variety of choice for drier sites where the soil retains less moisture or is shallower, leaving the vines to struggle a bit more. And Riesling’s cold tolerance is almost legendary, making it suitable for regions with quite bitter winters, such as upstate New York. Cold tolerance also explains much of its appeal in Washington State, which now grows more Riesling than any other American region. Riesling vines have been known to survive temperatures as low as –25°C. Without pushing extremes, Riesling also seems well suited to sites in more temperate regions that are relatively cooler, or colder at night, than adjacent land—the topmost terraces in a terraced vineyard, for example, or a north-facing slope in California, as on Spring Mountain, where a bit of old Riesling grows happily 300 meters above the f loor of Napa Valley. Riesling also seems relatively resistant to various pests and diseases, including downy mildew, a scourge that attacks grapes and vegetables that grow as vines, and Riesling is only slightly susceptible to powdery mildew. Its record with botrytis is mixed. European growers believe Riesling is moderately resistant to early-onset botrytis unless the growing season is exceptionally humid; California growers, working primarily in coastal valleys, report much higher susceptibility to botrytis, perhaps owing to the slow, gradual, and humid onset of autumn that prevails in areas affected by ocean fog.

ACID The juice in all unripe grapes, regardless of variety, is high in acid. An essential part of ripening is the decline of that acid endowment while sugar gradually accumulates. Some varieties, however, tend to retain acid longer, and in greater concentrations, than others as sugarripening and physiological ripening proceed, environmental factors being equal. Riesling is the poster child for this behavior among major varieties. It is common to see between 6 and 9 g/L of total acid in Rieslings grown across the Northern Hemisphere, while analogous numbers for Chenin Blanc—another variety that holds acid well—fall between 5 and 7 g/L. Chardonnay loses so much acid, especially when it is grown in warmer-than-average sites, that a good deal of Chardonnay must be reacidified during winemaking. Data for the 1983 vintage in Alsace, collected by the Institut national de la recherche agronomique (INRA) in Colmar, are instructive. Of the seven white varieties grown in Alsace, Riesling posted the highest average total acid at maturity (9 g/L) while ranking third-highest in potential alcohol (12.6°). Silvaner fell just below Riesling in acid content (7.4 g/L) but had decisively lower potential alcohol; Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Auxerrois, Muscat, and Gewürztraminer all clocked in with fewer than 7 g/L of acid. This is also consistent with the behaviors of other white varieties, including Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Sémillon. When Riesling is used to produce very late-harvest wines, often described as dessert wines, the variety’s atypically high acid retention is almost universally regarded as an asset. If Riesling is picked when vines have lost some or all of their leaves and the grapes have begun to shrivel, a very lateharvest wine made from it will typically still be bright and lively despite an enormously high concentration of sugar, because Riesling’s strong acidity provides a more effective and attractive counterbalance to sugar than is usually possible in Sémillon- and Sauvignon-based wine from Sauternes and Barsac. Wines made

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from Riesling grapes harvested at normal maturities are a more complicated case, however. In a good vintage, when the weather has been warm enough to fully ripen the fruit physiologically, Riesling’s natural endowment of acid is generally a huge asset, creating naturally balanced wines with full f lavors, bright structures, and lively palates irrespective of residual sugar. If, however, cool weather has interfered with complete ripening, Riesling’s naturally high acid can turn from a blessing to a curse, threatening thin, tart wines or compelling interventions in the cellar. Such cool weather occurred with alarming frequency in the 19th and early 20th centuries, especially in the highest-latitude areas of the Rhine Basin, but this mini–ice age coincided with the availability of techniques to compensate for incomplete ripeness and high acidity by manipulating sugar during fermentation. This certainly explains why chaptalization became an important parameter of winemaking in some sectors during the 19th century, and it may also be related to the emergence of “a balance of acid and residual sugar” as a central tenet of German winemaking, one taught and repeated for decades in the 20th century (see “What Is Balance in Riesling?” on page 25). A technical aspect of acidity is worth mentioning before we move on. All acid is not created equal. Acid in grapes and in finished wine takes overwhelmingly two forms: malic and tartaric. Of the two, malic, or apple, acid is the stronger and makes wine taste harder than an equal concentration of tartaric acid will. But the two acids behave quite differently in hanging grapes. Malic is plastic and responds to environment, especially temperature, both in the long first half of the growing season, before color change (veraison), and in the short second half, from the point of color change to maturity. Since it is metabolized faster at higher temperatures, it decreases as a share of total acidity in warmer vintages, making such vintages taste softer. Tartaric, by contrast, is little affected by temperature; it can be diluted (if berries swell with water owing to abundant rain, for exam-

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ple) but is not metabolized. All this is relevant to the balance of acid and residual sugar because warmer vintages are not only loweracid vintages overall, but are also vintages with a lower ratio of malic to tartaric acid than cool vintages, making what acid there is taste softer. A lower level of malic acid also reduces the winemaker’s need to rely on residual sugar to balance the wine’s acid, and it can make good dry editions of Riesling easier to produce. It is also relevant that tartaric acid exists in wine grapes primarily as compounds of potassium, which bind with lees and other by-products of fermentation and precipitate during winemaking, making insufficient acid a greater problem than excess.

AROMATICS Nothing is more characteristic of Riesling than the family of aromatic signatures that virtually all Riesling drinkers notice, and some attempt to describe. The Oxford Companion to Wine cites Riesling’s “powerful, rapier-like aroma[,] variously described as f lowery, steely . . . [and] honeyed” (Robinson 2006). This description echoes S. F. Hallgarten, writing in Rhineland Wineland a half century earlier, who described “the riesling fragrance” as a fusion of “incomparable aroma” with “entrancing taste [that is] somehow reminiscent of all the best in other kinds of fruit” (Hallgarten 1957). Stuart Pigott, when summarizing his own tasting experience across Rieslings, included a list of more than 20 descriptors ranging from gooseberry, honeysuckle, apricot, apple, pineapple, and mango to marzipan, rhubarb, marmalade, lanolin, jasmine, chutney, and spice (Pigott 1991). There is also the controversial matter of a petrochemical note common in Riesling that is variously described as petrol, diesel, or kerosene, though some tasters feel this note overlaps with “wet stoniness” and “minerality.” Most observers regard this aroma as a marker of the variety and a signal of typicity, but for others it is a flaw. In between are winemakers, consumers, and commentators who sometimes

BOX 2 WHAT IS BALANCE IN RIESLING? It is axiomatic (and true) that sugar and acid have a complementary relationship in wines and comestibles. Acid offsets the perception of sweetness produced by the sugar, and vice versa. Because Riesling retains acid better than other varieties, the axiom that Riesling needs sugar in order to be balanced has become reflexive for many makers and is recited as if it were catechism. For some makers, this orientation means that genuinely dry Riesling is the illegitimate child of a perverse market that has been misled by mass media; for others, it means that they must carefully watch even nominally dry Riesling during the final days of fermentation and intervene to stop it before the wine goes too dry. In Europe, where making wine that can be labeled sec or trocken is often important for commercial reasons, this intervention tends to mean arresting the fermentation when just under 9 g/L of unfermented sugar remain. In North America, where the term dry is not regulated, arresting the fermentation when 10 or more g/L remain is fairly common. Both the axiom and the reflex to halt fermentation have 19th-century roots. Winemakers working at high northern latitudes have tended to regard acid as a problem ever since chemists discovered how to measure acidity in the first half of the 19th century, and research published in professional journals at that time found a general correlation between high acid and low value in wine. The belief that acid was problematic was also reflected in German textbooks on winemaking; see, for example, Gerhard Troost’s Technologie des Weines, first published in 1955 and reportedly a standard text at Geisenheim University into the 1970s. Troost prescribed between 10 and 20 g/L of residual sugar in Rieslings containing 7 to 9 g/L of acid to make the wine “well-balanced” (ausgeglichen); in other words, wines that meet today’s legal definition of dry would have been unbalanced for Troost. Many Mosel winemakers still believe something like Troost’s formula. Nik Weis of St. Urbans-Hof told me that “a bit of sugar is as necessary to Mosel Riesling as bubbles are to Champagne.” He did not define “a bit,” but other Moselaners do, putting it about

where Troost did or even higher, at around 35 g/L. There are at least two problems with this view of Riesling. First, it originated in a cold period of European climate history when seriously underripe vintages were common and when the “searing” acid in Riesling was actually acid from partially or completely unripe grapes. Incomplete ripeness was often exacerbated by crop loads that were too high and by unfamiliarity with viticultural practices that could have managed cold vintages more successfully. Second, as long as the grapes are ripe, balance can and should be redefined as a happy equilibrium among at least four properties of wine: not only sugar and acid, but also alcohol and texture. Texture involves factors that can be measured, such as nonsugar extract, but it also includes sensory properties such as minerality, leesiness, white wine tannins, grip, and length. This multifaceted definition of balance is critical for good dry Riesling. Without it, too much “dry” Riesling ends up barely dry, deliberately pushing the upper threshold of legal dryness and also sporting more alcohol than Rieslings from a generation earlier did, making no one happy. Again and again, over the four years of research for this book, makers in all regions told me that balance is essential and that intervention to stop fermentations before they go too dry is usually essential to ensure it. Yet again and again, over the same period, I tasted Rieslings from high-acid vintages that were allowed to ferment completely, finishing with less than 3 g/L of sugar and more than 9 g/L of acid and at under 13°, that were compelling and delicious. It is true that some consumers talk “dry” when they actually respond better to wines with very noticeable quantities of residual sugar, which more than a few makers of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc have been happy to leave them. But it is equally true that other consumers are put off by nominally dry Riesling that tastes lightly sweet from a combination of (too much?) sugar and alcohol. See Kuen Hof in Italy’s Eisacktal (page 268) for the story of one winemaker’s struggle to decide if a wine that he liked personally would be too extreme for his customers.

enthusiastically accept the petrol scent as typical of older Riesling but believe a young wine ought not to show it. As we will see below, however, this is an aroma strongly affected by plant nutrition and horticultural practices. The main chemistry behind Riesling’s aromatic signatures is a large, heterogeneous class of potentially strong-smelling organic compounds called terpenes that occur widely in nature, notably in conifers, where they are responsible for the smell of resin and pine needles, and in hops, which contributes distinctive aromatic and flavor properties to various kinds of beer and ale. Terpenes also occur in most wine grapes in varying amounts, concentrations, and combinations, manifesting as aromas and f lavors of nongrape fruits, f lowers, and spices. The first research to establish a connection between terpenes and wine aromas was done in the 1940s using gas chromatography. It quite naturally focused on Muscat, the single variety more precisely known as Muscat à Petits Grains—widely grown around the Mediterranean for at least 25 centuries—which is so plainly, strongly, and inescapably aromatic that it has given its name, represented adjectivally as musqué, to the aromatic mutations of many unrelated varieties. Unsurprisingly, the research established that Muscat was indeed the world’s most aromatic wine grape variety, and the richest in terpenes. Among white varieties, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, and Gutedel fall at the other end of the spectrum and are usually regarded as nonaromatic. Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Silvaner, and numerous crossings fall between these poles, accepted as “aromatic varieties,” albeit less aromatic than Muscat. Terpenes are not the whole story of varietal aromatics, however; relatively recent research (Schultz 2010) has shown that norisoprenoids, which are produced when very large pigmentrelated molecules called carotenoids degrade, are also important components in wine flavors and aromas. They produce fruit and f lower impressions of their own, enhance the expression of others, and sometimes generate aromatics that are neither fruity nor floral, such as the

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smell of diesel in Riesling. Among norisoprenoids, ß-damascenone is especially important to the perception of quality in Riesling, correlating strongly in sensory studies with tasters’ impression of overall quality. Further complicating the picture, no terpene is odiferous when it is bound to molecules of sugar, which means that the aromatic expression of terpenes may not occur until the grapes have grown very ripe or have been crushed and fermented, or until the new wine has spent additional time in contact with fermentation lees or even time in bottle. All of these processes free terpenes from their bonds to sugar molecules. When multiple terpenes and norisoprenoids are copresent in grapes, juice, or wine—which is normal—they also seem to inf luence one another’s expression, producing f lavors and aromas not associated with any of the coexisting compounds by itself. The basics of terpenes and their aromatic associations are now fairly well understood. In the case of Riesling, at least three terpenes known to play an important aromatic role are the same compounds that were found to be signatory for Muscat in the 1940s: geraniol, linalool, and nerol. Geraniol is involved with the scents of such things as roses, nutmeg, ginger, and mint; linalool with lavender, coriander, jasmine, and dried black pepper; and nerol with orangefleshed citrus and its flowers, basil, and cardamom. But other terpenes and nonterpinoid compounds not signatory for Muscat do seem significant for Riesling, including alphaterpineol, which can manifest as lilac or pine oil; citronellol, which is also present in geranium flowers and peppermint leaves; hotrienol, typical of linden flowers, camphor, and grapefruit peel; and eugenol (properly a phenylpropene, not a monoterpene), which plays a role in the smell of star anise and cloves. Some thiols, organic compounds involving sulfur that are often considered typical of Sauvignon Blanc, also correlate with typicity in Riesling, though they are less present in the latter. The chemical behind Riesling’s petrochemical note has been identified as TDN (1,16-

trimethyl-1,2-dihydronaphthalene), a norisoprenoid. In 2013, award-winning doctoral research by Armin Schüttler at the universities of Bordeaux and Giessen found that trans-ethylcinnamate, the ester of cinnamic acid and ethanol present in cinnamon essential oil, was an important and reliable signal for “typical” Riesling among tasters working blind with a range of white varieties including Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc, even though few wine professionals or consumers would put cinnamon itself on a list of Riesling’s descriptors (Schüttler 2013). A good argument can be made that Riesling occupies a sweet spot in this complex aromatic space. It is blessed with enough terpenes and norisoprenoids to be both interesting and distinctive, and enough variety of terpenes to display a wide range of aromatic personalities without crossing the line beyond which the terpene “load” is off-putting to a large fraction of consumers, hard to pair with food, or needing winemaking interventions to moderate. Compared to Gewürztraminer, which consumers usually either love or hate, and which winemakers often palliate to avoid excessive expression of geranium and citronella, Riesling seems well behaved and broadly approachable; it can be made without, as the American importer Terry Theise colorfully put it in a 2007 catalogue, “having to be tweaked or twiddled or eeked or diddled.” Compared to Chardonnay, which most observers describe as malleable, neutral, or easily f lattered by elements of winemaking technique, Riesling presents as an aromatically brilliant wine that is simultaneously appealing and kaleidoscopically fascinating without requiring much winemaking intervention. Although it is now rare to see Riesling and Muscat explicitly compared as varieties, as most Muscat has moved into the very late-harvest space that makes primarily dessert-suitable wines, there are several same-sentence mentions of both varieties in German sources of the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, when the wines were made in the same way or field blended. Consensus opinion has shifted over time from the view that Riesling’s good reputation reflects

its similarity to Muscat toward the view that Riesling is organoleptically preferable, since Muscat is “coarser” (grober) than the younger and now widely planted variety. If Riesling represents some golden mean of aromatic expression, part of the credit may go to its endowment of acid (see earlier). The British wine writer Tom Stevenson, whose books on Champagne and Alsace are widely regarded as benchmarks, looked carefully into published science about terpenes and the infamous TDN following discussions of both topics at Riesling Rendezvous 2008, a trade-oriented conference held in Seattle. In subsequent online posts, he speculated that “how the terpenes interact with each other,” rather than “total terpene content,” in Riesling’s “intrinsically high acid environment” might be key to its expression of aromas and f lavors. “Judging from gewürztraminer,” he wrote, “low acid increases the perception of terpenoid aromas,” whereas Riesling’s “high acidity leads to a more focused terpene profile” (Stevenson 2008). It may also be the case that Riesling’s terpenes and other aromatic compounds, many of which express fruit properties specifically, including citrus and tropical fruits, contribute to the sensation of “phantom sweetness” that some tasters find even in very dry Riesling; this property of Riesling may also constitute a good argument in favor of very dry Riesling. Rather than needing sugar to offset acidity, as German winemaking curricula typically hold, some Rieslings, well endowed with certain combinations of terpenes and norisoprenoids, may seem quite fruity and sweetish with only 2 or 3 g/L of unfermented sugar.

TERROIR Site, a fundamental parameter of all very good wine, seems exceptionally important in the case of Riesling. Lay wine literature frequently asserts that Riesling alone (if only whites are considered) or equally with Pinot Noir (if both reds and whites are discussed) is the terroirexpressive variety par excellence. It is empirically evident that Riesling grows well and makes

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very good wines in a wide range of environments; conversely, it is anecdotally obvious that Riesling wines from neighboring, not obviously dissimilar environments and made identically in the same cellar show palpably different organoleptic profiles, feeling, smelling, and tasting quite different from each other. This “puzzle of terroir,” seemingly endemic to at least the Mosel and Burgundy, has attracted growing attention over the past 30 or so years regarding many varieties and regions. The interest is propelled in part by the natural curiosity of winemakers, observers, and consumers whose approach to wine is increasingly cerebral, and in part by producers’ business-driven need to differentiate wine products in a complex global marketplace, especially when many of their products are dramatically more expensive, even adjusted for inflation, than they were in the 1970s. Quite understandably, a preponderance of the interesting research on Riesling has been done in Germany and has focused on German sites. The essential puzzle involves two questions: first, how to explain the palpable differences between wines from neighboring and generally similar sites, and, second, whether Riesling as a variety is a more sensitive reflector of such differences than other wine grape varieties. Research to date has begun to make progress with the first question; the latter remains adrift in a miasma of unquantified impressions and personal testimony. Some of the most interesting new work focusing on Riesling-producing sites, done by the Department of Viticulture and Enology at the Dienstleistungszentrum Ländlicher Raum in Rheinland-Pfalz in Neustadt, has sought to determine whether different geological substrates in vineyards could explain different flavor profiles in finished wines. Although the research was not published in English until 2011, some findings made their way into lay literature on wine as early as 2005 (Fischer and Swoboda 2005). In the study, participating wine estates made small wine lots and their regular bottlings from each of 25 sites spread across 5 regions, which were specifically selected to represent all major bedrock types on which German Riesling

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is grown. The finished wines were tasted by trained judges soon after the vintage and several years later, and they were characterized against a controlled vocabulary of sensory descriptors. The correlation between bedrock types and sensory descriptors was very strong. High intensities of cantaloupe, peach/apricot, mango/passion fruit, lemon/grapefruit, and smokiness were associated with wines from basaltic sites; high intensities of honey/caramel and rhubarb in addition to fruit-related descriptors were associated with wines from sites with a substrate of Rotliegend (red sandstone-siltstone); pronounced minerality and mixed fruit were associated with wines from sandstone sites; and strong lemon/grapefruit impressions and marked acidity were associated with wines from vineyards surmounting slate. Separately, the same wines were analyzed using gas chromatography and other protocols to assay for a range of the aromatic compounds discussed earlier in this chapter, and principal investigators concluded that at least one parameter of terroir expression involves differences in soil substrate, which are reflected in different combinations and concentrations of specific aromatic compounds. Meanwhile, other research has focused not on substrate, but on properties of surface soil. In one such study, Hans Reiner Schultz and his collaborators found that the color of surface soil is significant, affecting both the temperature of the soil itself and, via light reflection, the temperature of individual berries, which is known to be a driver for the single most consequential property of any site—namely whether and how the grapes ripen. Black- and red-colored surface soils produce the highest berry temperatures relative to soil temperatures, while light-colored surface soils produce the lowest ones. Even more interesting, however, is that differently colored surface soils change the wavelength of reflected light in different ways, affecting enzymatic activity in the berries. These changes in turn affect the rate of sugar production, the formation of pigments in the berry skins, and the plant’s supply of amino acids. Other things being equal, therefore, red and black soils pro-

duce grapes with higher sugars and wines with higher alcohol than light-colored ones do. Other research, by doctoral candidates at Geisenheim, has revealed correlations related less to intrinsic properties of the site than to viticultural practices. Concentrations of beta-damascenone (see above), measured over several years in three blocks of the same vineyard, both varied significantly and varied more in warmer vintages. They also varied inversely with water deficit; that is, beta-damascenone was present in lower concentrations when sites were naturally dry or unirrigated and in higher ones when moisture was abundant. Terpene concentration appears to behave the other way around: its concentration seems to increases when water is undersupplied. Available nitrogen, measured when the soils in adjacent blocks of the same vineyard were fertilized in varying ways, was found to have a significant impact on the expression of several aromatic compounds, including linalool and thiols, which are less expressed when nitrogen is scarce (Schultz 2010; 2014). The “petrol generator,” TDN, seems to be a special case. TDN is more expressed when nitrogen is scarce, so wines made from vines stressed by lack of nitrogen are likely to express more petrol at maturity than wines made from unstressed vines. TDN also responds to soil pH, so acid soils such as shale create petrolaffected wines faster than alkaline, limestonedominated soils do. Sunlight induces the formation of TDN precursor compounds, but in very complex and time-sensitive ways. Soon after bloom, in the late spring and early summer, sunlight causes no more precursor development than shade does, perhaps because berry development in this period is especially rapid, but sunlight on grape clusters a bit later in the growing season leads to more petrolaffected wines. It also appears that relatively hermetic closures such as screw caps accentuate TDN in bottle-aged wines; corks absorb some TDN, reducing the concentration of whatever has been naturally formed. Out of the laboratory and into the vineyard, at least two winemaker trios have combined forces

to create explicitly comparable demonstration wines designed to showcase both the effect of different winemaking protocols, philosophies, and tastes and the effect of different terroirs. Trials of this sort, generally known as 3x3 projects, have been done for more than a decade to explore the mysteries of Pinot Noir; now two such projects are under way for Riesling. The first, christened Wurzelwerk, involves Johannes Hasselbach of Weingut Gunderloch in Rheinhessen, Max von Kunow of Weingut von Hövel in the Mosel, and Alwin Jurtschitsch in the Austrian Kamptal, each working with a highly reputed site that he knows well: Wiltinger Scharzhofberg in the Saar, Nackenheimer Rothenberg in Rheinhessen, and the endlessly famous Heiligenstein in the Kamptal (see page 257). Since grapes for top-quality wines must be sourced in-country under European law, these tiny lots were declassified into a European Table Wine, and the vineyard names were expressed with aliases. The grapes were picked at the same degree of ripeness by the “local” vintner and divided among three equal lots. Two of these lots were then dispatched to the other partners; the result was nine wines made by three winemakers working with the same three sites in the 2012 vintage. In Oregon, a second 3x3 project debuted in 2013, this one involving the Trisaetum, Chehalem, and Brooks wineries (see chapter 8 and page 308) and specific vineyards that are part of each estate. It is too early to know what these projects will reveal about terroir and Riesling’s ability to reflect it regardless of winemaker, but earlier trials in Oregon and California with Pinot Noir almost invariably demonstrated that the imprint of terroir trumps the winemaker’s hand. Put another way, sensory evaluations by third parties could find the three wines among the nine that were made from the same site more easily than they could discern the three made by the same winemaker. All of this helps to solve the puzzle of terroir, but it is obviously only a beginning. Recent findings confirm the most fundamental truth: the way fruit ripens is the single most important determinant of structural, aromatic, and

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f lavor properties in finished wine, but many properties of site, beyond ambient temperature, indirectly control ripening. The findings also begin to paint a complex picture of factors largely independent of ripening that affect our sensory impressions of finished wine. We are still some distance, however, from being able to

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model, or even to identify, all relevant variables, and from being able to confirm (or deny) that Riesling holds special credentials as a terroirexpressive grape. For now, terroir expression remains a property of the variety that can be asserted—which this book will do repeatedly in part II—but not resolved.

THREE

A History of Riesling, Reviewed and Amended

The names of grape varieties are now the bedrock vocabulary of wine talk worldwide, allied to an enormous increase in the production of varietally designated wine, and so it is natural enough that wine drinkers should have become fascinated with the history of wine grape varieties. This fascination has, no doubt, been deepened by a few of the startling findings that have emerged from the genetic analysis of wine grape varieties since the late 1990s—that Syrah has nothing to do with the city of Shiraz in Iran but is instead a natural crossing of two RhôneAlpine grapes, and that California’s Zinfandel is actually Tribidrag, an ancient Dalmatian variety, for example. But stories have been part of the wine business forever, and stories about grape varieties have circulated for at least two centuries. When Friedrich von BassermannJordan wrote his landmark history of German viticulture (Bassermann-Jordan 1923) in the early years of the 20th century, many stories about the origins of Riesling were already on the table: that it was a Roman grape, that it was a French grape brought to the Rhine Valley from an earlier home in France by Charle-

magne’s son Louis the Pious; that it came to the Rhine from the Mosel; that it was indigenous to one or another region of the Rhine; and that it was a red grape from which a white mutation arose during the Middle Ages. When the city fathers of Rüsselsheim, a city now known primarily as home to Opel, the German automobile manufacturer, planted a “remembrance vineyard” in 1985 near the spot where something called Riesling had been documented in 1435, marking the vineyard with a bronze plaque five years later, they showed the attraction of stories about the “origins” of Riesling. So too did the German Post Office (Deutsche Bundespost) when it issued a commemorative stamp celebrating “500 years of Riesling cultivation in Germany” in 1990, the quincentenary of another document in which Riesling was mentioned, this one from Worms in 1490 (see box 3, page 40). Just a generation ago, the only place to look for information about the history of any variety was old documents, and in the case of old varieties, the older the better. But now, in view of recent work in grape genetics, it makes more 31

sense to begin with information that can be gleaned from the variety’s genetic fingerprint.

WHAT DNA FINGERPRINTING REVEALS ABOUT RIESLING Every wine grape variety is the progeny of a single vine produced from a single seed, itself the result of the cross-pollination of two parents. In the past century or so, grape breeders have known how to induce cross-pollination, but older varieties always stem from a natural seedling that was literally the work of wind, bees, and birds. That first seedling was necessarily unnoticed until much later, when some feature or features of the resulting vine plant (or pure happenstance) attracted human attention. Cuttings were then taken from the first vine to make copies, and the new variety was on its way, however fitfully. Naming the variety and recording the name came later, of course—several plant generations later at least, and perhaps several human generations as well. Grape genetics do not enable us to reconstruct the circumstances of the first vine, but they do provide information about the parents, and the aggregate of information about thousands of parents and siblings begins to paint a picture of relationships, properties, chronology, and geography. The same science that enables the identification of human individuals by profiling that individual’s DNA has been applied to grape varieties since the 1990s, with revolutionary effect. Because all members of each variety were propagated vegetatively, a grape variety is genetically analogous to a human individual. The basic work underpinning grape genetics was done in Australia, and in 1997 the technique was first used to establish the varietal parents of a grape variety—specifically Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc as the parents of Cabernet Sauvignon—at the University of California, Davis. The fact of parent-child relationships establishes some elements of chronology, and the habitats of parent varieties, when they are known from surviving physical evidence or

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documentary sources, help to establish the geography of a variety’s early history. Using the science and methods pioneered for Cabernet Sauvignon, one of Riesling’s parents was identified in 1998 by a team at Klosterneuburg in Austria (Regner et al. 1998). It is Gouais Blanc, a once widespread variety that is now little grown but figures importantly in the pedigree of many grape varieties, including some that are of great commercial and international importance today. So far, Riesling’s other parent has not been identified, which is to say that its DNA fingerprint does not match any reference sample in DNA libraries. But grape geneticists have established that it has a sibling relationship to Savagnin Blanc, a variety with many paranyms that is now most commonly known as Traminer. Gouais Blanc (this first word is also spelled Goix, Got, Goet, Gouls, Golz, and Gueuche, inter alia) has an interesting story in its own right, one worth summarizing here for its relevance to the history of Riesling. Jean-Michel Boursiquot, scientific director of the Plant Material Department of the Institut français de la vigne et du vin in Montpellier, calls Gouias “key” among European wine grape varieties (Boursiquot et al. 2004). Jean Bisson, an ampelographer who teaches at the University of Bordeaux, working within the outlines of research done in the mid-20th century by Louis Levadoux, argues that Gouais Blanc is part of an ampelographic group that may once have had roots in southeastern Europe but has now existed so long in France that it is effectively indigenous (Bisson 2009). In the Middle Ages and into the early modern period, it was widely cultivated across most parts of northeastern France, from Burgundy and the Jura across Champagne to Lorraine. It was a prolific breeder, and it is known to be one parent of at least two dozen extant varieties. With Pinot as the other parent, it is responsible for Chardonnay, Gamay Noir, and Romorantin, among others; with Savagnin Blanc, it spawned both Aubin Blanc and Petit Meslier, the latter once quite important in Champagne; with Chenin Blanc, its progeny include Colombard, the most widely

planted white variety in California’s Central Valley until the turn of the 21st century. With an unknown partner, it is also one parent of Muscadelle, an old variety (unrelated to Muscat) still grown in the Bordelais that plays an important if minor role in many white Bordeaux blends, especially Monbazillac. While we do not know exactly when or where any of these crossings took place, other information is consistent with a time in the Middle Ages and a place somewhere in northeastern France. In addition to its French habitat, however, Gouais seems to have grown quite widely on the German side of the longitudinal/linguistic boundary that has run through Western Europe since the Carolingian Empire was divided among Charlemagne’s three sons in the 9th century. What is known in French as Gouais is known in German as Heunisch, a name rendered variously as Hynsch and Heinisch. The “Heunisch” that grows today along the upper course of the Mosel River and the “Heunisch” that Weingut Georg Breuer in Rüdesheim recently planted in a parcel of its Schlossberg vineyard for experimental purposes are genetically identical to Gouais. But the German name poses a problem the French does not: it designates both the single variety that is identical to Gouais and a category of genetically unrelated varieties that were, like Gouais, not widely esteemed. Eero Alanne, who did exhaustive research on German winegrowing terminology in the period between 750 and 1350, says unequivocally that a generic distinction between Heunisch (“lesser”) and Fränkisch (“better”) varieties “prevailed throughout the entire Middle Ages and even beyond” (Alanne 1950). The former term applied to less-esteemed, albeit more productive and larger-berried, grapes; the latter term described more-esteemed and smaller-berried grapes. The dual use of the Heunisch name makes it impossible to define a German-speaking habitat for the variety that is analogous to the area that Levadoux and Bisson defined for Gouais in France. Put another way, it is difficult to know how much of the Gouais/Heunisch habitat fell on each side of

the linguistic boundary during the period when the variety was widespread. Turning to Riesling’s other parent, all we know with any reasonable confidence is its sibling relationship to Savagnin Blanc. Savagnin Blanc’s habitat, like Gouais’s, was broad in medieval times, covering a substantial slice of territory on both sides of the linguistic divide, from the Jura, Alsace, and Baden to Lorraine and Luxembourg. The habitats of its siblings could overlap any of that space and extend beyond it if the sibling traveled. We know that Savagnin Blanc crossed with Pinot to make Knipperlé, possibly in Alsace, probably in or after the 16th century but definitely before the 18th, but this activity occurred too late to have relevance to the origins of Riesling. Much earlier, and therefore more relevantly, Savagnin Blanc was at work in Lorraine, where it begat Aubin Blanc, and in Champagne, where it begat Petit Meslier. Savagnin seems also to have been active much farther east, in Austria, at least as early as the 14th century, suggesting that it may have traveled early. But it is in northeastern France and astride the linguistic divide that both Gouais and Savagnin show the greatest genetic diversity and the most numerous surviving progeny, which makes that area the most likely candidate for Riesling’s birthplace. In fact, in the 14th century, Savagnin Blanc and Gouais are known to have cohabited at Metz. Both are mentioned in the same document, Savagnin under the paranym “Fromentin,” which is also written as Formentin, Fourmenteau, and Fourmentans. Metz sits on the Mosel upstream of Trier, just west of the linguistic boundary. Here, in 1338, municipal authorities sought to ban “Golz” (a paranym for Gouais), “called Huntz by German speakers,” from the city’s vineyards. This last clause is evidence that in this case Huntz/Heunisch was identical to Gouais/Golz. “It is not at all desirable,” the sources said of Golz, because it was too “frost-sensitive” and produced “[too] abundant fruit.” In lieu of Golz, the authorities recommended “Fromentin” (quoted in Schneider 1950).

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If Riesling itself had been a good breeder, like Gouais, and had produced numerous offspring of its own, the geographic distribution of those offspring might establish additional clues about Riesling’s likely birthplace. But Riesling, alas, was a terrible breeder, producing only one natural seedling child, an almost unknown and barely documented variety called Elbling Blau. For now, the foregoing exploration of Gouais and Savagnin Blanc is as far as grape genetics can take us—unless or until someone finds a slightly mysterious vine in a corner of some neglected vineyard, somewhere near the likely overlap of Gouais and Savagnin Blanc, whose genetic fingerprint matches Riesling’s missing parent.

DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE AND THE “BIG PICTURE” Documents, which were the wine historian’s first recourse before varietal fingerprinting was developed, are now the second, but in truth the two must be exploited in tandem. Nineteenth- and 20th-century documents that mention Riesling are plentiful and approachable; for earlier periods, the record is vastly spottier, harder to read, and more difficult to interpret. Before looking at individual documents, it is best to start with a wine-centric “big picture” overview drawn from economic, social, and agricultural history, geography, paleoclimatology, and demography and based upon the intensive work executed over the past halfcentury by scholars on both sides of the Rhine, including Roger Dion (1959), Georges Duby (1968), Marcel Lachiver (1988), Franz Irsigler (1991), and Jean-Robert Pitte (2008). The High Middle Ages, spanning roughly 1000–1300, were a period of enormous activity across Northern Europe. Population grew dramatically; that of France is estimated to have tripled between 1100 and 1340. There was mass migration eastward, first from the Low Countries into what is now northern Germany, and then of German-speakers into lands beyond the Elbe and the Oder that previously had been

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Slavic. Agricultural colonization of these areas was the shared enterprise of soldiers, missionaries, and peasants. Very dense populations developed in the Low Countries and the Rhine Valley. Towns, controlled not by royalty but by gentleman merchants, emerged as the new centers of European culture and economy, reaching sizes not known since the fall of Rome. Commerce developed alongside agriculture and spread from towns into the countryside during the 12th century; farmers began to specialize, and an ensemble of market gardens, orchards, and vineyards thrived in the vicinity of every Northern European town (Lopez 1966). Wine was the beverage of choice among the well-to-do, while ordinary folk drank ale. Vineyards virtually blanketed Northern Europe, stretching from the outskirts of Flemish cities such as Bruges and Ghent to Altena, Iserlohn, and Hoexter in what is now Lower Saxony. Even Silesia, in what is now Poland, was planted to vines. Sizeable proportions of townsfolk were involved one way or another with wine and vines, whether they were producers, traders, brokers, investors, or owners of vineyards. Large shares of tax revenue depended directly or indirectly on wine, which was indispensible to daily life, the transaction of business, the reception of distinguished visitors, and the celebration of feasts. Viticulture and viniculture were undoubtedly the most lucrative segments of late medieval and early modern agriculture and suggest a well-differentiated labor force. Alongside wine growers and wine merchants, associated labor specialties had emerged, coopers of course, but also laborers whose specialty was to load casks onto boats. It also appears that the demand for plant material to develop new vineyards was so intense that a thriving grapevine nursery business evolved, at least in German-speaking areas, but this potentially fascinating angle on wine history has so far been little studied. Wine was an interregional commercial product as well as a regional commodity business, and Northern European wines were sold well beyond local markets. Via Hanseatic merchants based in Frankfurt and

Cologne, wine from the Rhine and its tributaries was sold as far afield as the Low Countries, England, and the Baltic states. Whether it was causative or merely circumstantial, relative climatic warmth marked the High Middle Ages across Northern Europe. Some paleoclimatologists estimate that average temperatures during the growing season may have been as much as 1.5°C higher than are found today, which is in turn warmer than any intervening period (Schultz and Jones 2010). The two following centuries, from 1300 to 1500, present a very different picture. In the middle of the 14th century, plague spread across most of Europe, dramatically reducing the population of many areas. Agriculture (including viticulture) shrank because of a decimated workforce and lower demand. Numerous mentions of bad grape harvests appear to substantiate that the long Medieval Warm Period gave way to much cooler weather. Certainly it is clear that vineyards planted substantially above 50°N latitude were almost categorically abandoned. A robust long-distance wine trade based at Bruges emerged in the 14th century, bringing wines from western France, Iberia, and the Mediterranean to Northern Europe via Atlantic shipping lanes, and the same wine entered Baltic markets after being transshipped at Bruges. Simultaneously, the introduction of hops to ale brewing seems to have changed the market for beer, making it more attractive as a wine substitute, irrespective of social class, and permanently altering patters of consumption in the Rhine drainage. At Trier in the 15th century, the city itself became involved with beer production for the first time, installing an agency to regulate it and attempt to adjust brew volume inversely as a function of vintage quality—the worse the wine vintage, the more beer was permitted to be brewed. Also at Trier in the 15th century, and apparently for the first time, documents show that wine was produced in multiple qualities, each priced differently and taxed at different rates, though the bandwidth of price variation was narrow compared to that of later centuries. Wine prices seems to have been tied

more to vintage than to color or chronological age; red wine was not consistently pricier than white, even though it was much less available (Matheus 1980). In and after the 16th century, the social, economic, and viticultural histories of Germanspeaking and far western Europe substantially diverged, and they remained separate until the 19th century. Dutch merchants turned their attentions to western France after 1500, reinventing themselves as entrepreneurs involved in wine production, establishing grape sources and processing facilities in the Charente and at the mouth of the Loire. Much of the resulting product was headier and eventually sweeter than wine made from septentrional grapes, and was eventually fortified. The Reformation and German Peasant Wars of the 16th century were precursors of the Thirty Years’ War from 1618 to 1648, one of the longest and most destructive wars in Europe to that time. It was fought primarily in the Rhine Valley, devastating agriculture and viticulture and depopulating vast areas. The population of German-speaking areas recovered partially at the beginning of the 18th century, adding a total of about five million persons between 1600 and 1800, but this increase still lagged France by a huge margin. In France, the population surged after 1750, and the percentage of urban dwellers soared. German towns remained small compared to French towns, reflecting the absence of central authority; German markets remained small, too, ref lecting the demise of the Hanseatic merchants as interregional brokers and the estrangement of the Low Countries as a significant market for Rhine Valley wines. The wine market evolved dramatically in France and Iberia during the 18th century, bifurcated between the production of very good wine for aristocratic and wealthy bourgeois consumption and large quantities of lesser product for ordinary townsfolk and peasantry, with order of magnitude price differentials between, for example, the best and most ordinary wines from Bordeaux. As capital was infused into the wine business in France, England, and the Low

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Countries, there were major innovations in wine production, including the invention of both Champagne and Port and, by extension, fortified wines of many kinds and styles. In the wake of the French Revolution and the ensuing Napoleonic Wars, however, German-speaking Europe became almost everything it had not been since the High Middle Ages. Its population exploded, increasing by 60 percent between 1815 and 1865. An increasing percentage of Germans moved to cities. Agriculture was modernized to feed the growing population; new crops, techniques, and interventions were introduced, some taken from the chemical industry, wherein Germany led the world. The Industrial Revolution transformed key regions. German universities became magnets for scholars from across the continent. Many vineyard properties changed hands, birthing a substantial class of peasant and bourgeois proprietors, some with substantial resources, which were invested to build impressive international reputations in the second half of the 19th century. Wine quality became an object of government concern. State wine domains were created to serve as model centers of production, and the first centers of viticultural research and teaching were established around 1870. Winegrowing areas were systematically mapped and vineyards classified for profitability. Harvest protocols focused on ripeness were embraced early in the 19th century, wine must weights were measured after 1830, and the first academic journals in the fields of viticulture and enology appeared in the 1870s. With the political map redrawn after 1815 and Germany unified after 1871, the tariff barriers that had constrained the wine market gradually disappeared, while new railroads facilitated wine transport throughout the country.

HOW THE “BIG PICTURE” AND THE HISTORY OF RIESLING INTERSECT The history of Riesling is part and parcel of the larger historical picture of the 19th and 20th centuries, but probably the variety was no more 36

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than a footnote before 1800. The 19th century was a golden age for Riesling, and almost certainly its first golden age. The profile we associate with Riesling today—a variety of aristocratic distinction, a cornerstone of great wines, an object of connoisseurship across Europe and not just on its native turf—is easily discerned in reports and commentary by serious early students of the vine such as Johann-Philipp Bronner (1792– 1864), the author of Der Weinbau in der Provinz Rheinhessen, im Nahetal und Moselthal and other works, who described Riesling in 1827 as “the most excellent vine” and proclaimed that “our most exquisite wines are derived from it” (quoted in Bassermann-Jordan 1923). Also in 1827, Christian Single, a Württemburg winegrower, identified the Rheingau and the Pfalz as the regions most invested in Riesling and those where it had displaced Elbling, Orleans, and Trollinger. He observed that “the longer and more extensively Riesling has been planted, the higher prices have risen [for wines from the Rheingau and the Pfalz] and the more their reputation has become known worldwide” (quoted in Bassermann-Jordan 1923). Visitors to the Rhine Valley, reporting on what they found there, expressly linked Riesling with Johannisberg, which was considered its benchmark producer. “The aroma of this grape is truly extraordinary,” wrote M. Pistor-Paillet from Metz around 1860, and he observed that the variety “produces Johannisberg” and that “the most celebrated wines of the Rheingau and Pfalz [also] owe their fame to it” (Bassermann-Jordan 1923). The 19th is the first century for which we can document a significant and growing Riesling footprint in Rhine Valley vineyards, the first period in which Riesling received sustained attention in Austria, the first period in which the viticultural and sensory properties we associate with Riesling today were well and truly present, and the first period in which the reputations of Riesling and the Rhine Valley wines were joined. For many reasons, this could not have happened earlier, not least because sifting Riesling out of vineyards that had been field blended for centuries depended on the emergence of ampelography as

a reasonably coherent discipline. A parenthetical but hugely significant observation was made by Bassermann-Jordan at the beginning of the 20th century: he wrote that Riesling had been slowly “purified” in the course of the 19th century (von anderen Bettischungen gereinigt), which reminds us that until ampelography became a well-established science, all mentions of individual grape varieties, and all claims to have planted one rather than another, should be accepted cautiously. Earlier instances of monovarietal planting, whether of Riesling or of any other variety, even when carried out with the best of intentions, were imperfect in fact. It follows that, when Riesling began to travel in the 19th century—to Australia, near Sydney, in the 1830s, carried by Johannes Stein, a German migrant; and to California in the 1850s, carried by Francis Stock, a German nurseryman at San Jose, and by Emil Dresel, a native of Geisenheim, who planted 15,000 vines near Sonoma in 1859—it is possible that not everything that carried the Riesling name was Riesling in fact, either. The infusion of capital into the German wine business was also important in Riesling’s rise to prominence. Johannisberg is an early example of a large wine estate built on generous investment made early in the 18th century; Kloster Eberbach, a monastic foundation like Johannisberg originally, was reinvented twice, first as a property of the Nassauer dukes in 1803, and then as a Prussian state domain in 1866. But there were many private investments in wine as well, which built international reputations in the second half of the 19th century as properties in regions inherently well suited to high-quality wine production were acquired by successful bourgeois families, notably Weil in the Rheingau, Gunderloch in Rheinhessen, and Jordan (later Bassermann-Jordan) and Buhl in the Pfalz. The crescent of elegant baroque townhouses along the Mandelring in Haardt, built toward the end of the 19th century, many surmounting excellent cellars, testifies to a new and extremely successful period for German wine, much of it relying on a growing preponderance of Riesling. Wealth and

investment also enabled estates to specialize in wine and to forego mixed agriculture; increased tolerance for risk was reflected in later harvests of more mature fruit. The 17th and 18th centuries were prologues to the 19th, of course, but the record of these centuries is much less Riesling-centric. It is mixed, with some evidence of early enthusiasm for Riesling, but also many reservations and confusions. Philipp Jakob Breuchel’s Be schreibung des edlen Weinstocks, published in 1781, placed Riesling second in the author’s personal list of “noble” varieties, behind Savagnin (“Traminer”), which he said yielded better and produced sweeter wine. He also noted Riesling’s late ripening as a disadvantage. Perhaps for the same reasons, the Riesling entry in Johann Heinrich Zedler’s giant encyclopedia, Grosses vollständiges Universal-Lexicon aller Wissenschafften und Künste, published seriatim between 1731 and 1754, reported that Riesling then ranked not first but fourth in extent and reputation among varieties grown in the Rheingau, behind Chasselas (“Gutedel”), Elbling, and Gouais Blanc (“Heunisch”). From the 17th century, two documents paint a more positive picture. The first is a 1669 “homage” (Huldigungsschrift) to the town of Trarbach on the Mosel written by one Johann Hofmann, apparently the acting principal (Rektor) of a local school. It compares Riesling explicitly with Muscat (“Muscateller”), saying that “Moselwohners award the prize [of excellence] to their Riesling [‘Ruesslingen’], which has small berries and a sweet smell and taste, similar to or even better than Muscat.” The same document also compares Riesling to Elbling (“Kleembeer”), which it says is “noticeably bigger” and “produce[s] much more wine” but “is no equal to Riesling in strength and excellence, which is the reason it is less grown around Trarbach” (quoted in Matheus 1989; italics original). Yet the author takes pains to clarify that Elbling remained the most widely planted variety in other Mosel towns. The Hofmann document is the earliest mention of Riesling that is in any way descriptive.

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An unrelated document dated 1688 concerns the planting of vineyards near Langenlonsheim, 8 kilometers south of Bingen. In it, a local official confirms permission previously granted to village residents to plant vineyards on the Löhrberg, a hillside just outside the village that is now known by the name of a vineyard (Einzellage) called Löhrer Berg. Six years were to be allowed for such planting in the case of parcels that were not forested; 12, if trees had first to be removed. In either case, the new vineyard “should not be planted with a mix of varieties, but only with Riesling” (Landeshauptarchiv Koblenz Bestand 33/1617; italics added). This document does not describe Riesling or cite reasons why Palatine authorities encouraged it above other varieties. Nor do we know, from this document or other sources, whether the permission to plant vines on the Löhrberg was taken up or if the prescription to plant only Riesling was followed. A great deal has been made about another instance of alleged monovarietal Riesling, documented in the account books of what is now Schloss Johannisberg from 1720 to 1722 (the books in question are numbered Marburg Rechn II Johannisberg Nr. 20 Jg 1720 and Marburg Rechn II Johannisberg Nr. 20 Jg 1721–22). We owe the claim of monovarietal planting here to research done by Josef Staab (1919– 2009), the respected administrator of Schloss Johannisberg from 1956 to 1967 and its board chair from 1967 to 1984. Staab was a Rheingau native and a local historian of great dedication (see Staab 1970; Staab et al. 2001). “The entire [Johannisberg] wine estate was planted between 1721 and 1722, and not as previously, as mixed plantings of a number of grape varieties together, but rather completely unmixed, with just one grape variety, Riesling” (Staab et al. 2001), noting especially the purchase of 38,500 Riesling cuttings from Johannes Rheinsiedler von Erbay on April 20, 1720. The account book for 1720–21 does in fact document this transaction, but relevant sections of the same book and the account book for the following year, if read in their entirety, scarcely paint a picture of

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monovarietal concentration on Riesling. In the first place, the estate made several dozen purchases of vine material in these years, many of which did not involve Riesling. At least three transactions in 1720 involved the purchase of Orleans, and one each involved Muscat (“Muscadeller”) and Pinot Noir (“Burgunder Holz”). More important, five transactions involved vine cuttings (Blindholz) or rooted vines (Reif ling or Reisling) that were not identified with the name of any specific variety. Staab’s assertion that the new planting was monovarietal, even in a part of the vineyard, may rely on a misreading of an entry for May 6, 1720, which records a payment made to “nine men who cleared the old vineyard [in den alten weingärten Rauten gemacht] and planted it with rooted vines [mit Reiff ling Durch sezt]” (Staab et al. 2001). It is very easy to read Riesling for Reiff ling when it is written in 18th-century script. Staab is certainly right that these years were very busy at Johannisberg: its new owner, Prince-Abbott Konstantin von Buttlar (1679–1726), was working to replace most of the former monastery’s remaining buildings with elegant baroque structures while he simultaneously redeveloped most or all of the monastery’s historic vineyards, which had apparently been neglected in the century and a half since the abbey’s dissolution. The picture that emerges from the account books does not seem compatible, however, with the conclusion that has been drawn from the evidence. The prince-abbott may have aimed to build the most impressive summer estate in the neighborhood and to make the best wine, but he did not base the latter uniquely on Riesling, nor were his managers carefully sifting sources to acquire only the best possible vine material. Instead the account books are a picture of mixed acquisitions from a host of sources, sometimes many in the course of a single day and apparently from sellers previously unknown to the estate, some involving Riesling and others not. Similarly, labor to plant to vines seems to have been opportunistic; the work was sometimes done by men and sometimes by women, paid in piecework fashion. Even if we assume that the

plant material that was identified as Riesling was in truth all Riesling, the evidence for these years is not consistent with careful and singleminded monovarietal planting. On the contrary, it testifies to hasty replanting with plant material of all sorts, both as rooted vines and as vine cuttings without discrimination. Johannisberg’s reputation for excellence and its identification with Riesling may have some roots in the 1720s, when the estate was replanted for the first time since the dissolution of the monastery, but both were primarily established later, at the end of the 18th century and in the course of the 19th. Earlier than 1600, the scent of Riesling is fainter, and potentially more fallible. During the 16th century, Riesling appears in two lists. The better known of these is found in the entry for cultivated grapevines (same Reben) in the plant encyclopedia (Kreuterbuch) of Hieronymus Bock (1498–1554), a work of considerable popularity that was printed several times in the course of the 16th century, both in Latin and in German. (Because some editions were illustrated and the woodcuts in the 1546 edition have evolved into collector’s items, the work has special visibility.) Although Bock’s text is often cited as evidence of special esteem for Riesling, the truth is that the list of varieties here is a list pure and simple, differentiating varieties one from another only by the regions in which Bock says they grew, and even that information is followed by the observation that so many varieties grow in so many regions that neither Bock himself nor anyone else was capable of making a comprehensive list. In addition to Riesling, Bock names 13 varieties, including Muscat (“Muscateller”), Savagnin (“Traminer”), “Fraenckisch,” “Drutscht,” “Gaenssfussel,” “Hartinsch,” “Gruen Fraenckisch,” and Gouais (“Hynsch”) (see Bock 1630). What is interesting about Bock’s book, however, is the plain evidence that, by the middle of the 16th century, Northern Europe had come a long way from the varietal anonymity of the High Middle Ages. In place of the simple distinction between Fränkisch and Heunisch (described early in

this chapter), which seems to have prevailed at least until the end of the 13th century, a 16thcentury man of learning, writing with apparently encyclopedic intent, had no difficulty in citing 13 subsets of the “cultivated grapevines” category by name and region. A similar familiarity with varieties appears in another 16thcentury text, this one a set of rhyming verses about the uses and misuses of wine that appears in the Gedenkbuch of Hermann von Weinsberg (1518–97.) Weinsburg was a prominent resident of Cologne and the son of a wine merchant. Here Riesling (“Roselink”) is one of seven named wine grape varieties; here again, however, there is no suggestion that Riesling held any pride of place. This brings us to the apparently seminal period between 1300 and 1600. Seminal because at some point during this period, Europeans became conscious of varietal distinctions more granular than Fränkisch-versus-Heunisch for the first time since the fall of Rome and for the first time ever in transalpine Europe. Names of wine grape subsets that were probably varietal or perhaps quasivarietal show up in many areas, including Burgundy, Champagne, and parts of what is now Germany. It was seminal also because this era seems to mark the end of the long Medieval Warm Period, which had enabled viticulture even north of 51°N and the gradual concentration of vineyards in some areas between 47°N and 50°N instead, where they still f lourish today. This is also the period during which something fundamental happened—probably near the beginning of the period—to alter the respective consumption patterns of wine and ale. And toward the end of this period, wine was reinvented as a relatively imperishable good for long-distance trade, which it had not been since the fall of Rome. The serious wine historian brings a lot of fundamental questions about hows and whys to this period, which must equally apply to the history of Riesling. For the period before 1600, only a few mentions of Riesling have so far been turned up (see “A Closer Look at Early ‘Riesling,’” page 40).

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BOX 3 A CLOSER LOOK AT EARLY “RIESLING” The earliest mention of Riesling currently known is found in the 1435 account book (Rechnungsbuch) for an estate in Rüsselsheim, near Frankfurt, which then belonged to the counts of Katzenelnbogen. The entry reads: “Item XXII ß umb sezreben riesslingen in die wingarten” (22 solidi for riesslingen vine cuttings for the vineyard) (quoted in Matheus 1980). A trio of transactions in the account book kept by the St. Jakobshospital, in Trier, for the 1464– 65 accounting year are the next-oldest mention of Riesling. St. Jakobshospital was a medieval foundation sustained in part by income from its vineyards. In the book, in addition to the fact of purchase, we are told that Riesling (“Ruessling”) was planted in a vineyard bearing the name of “meister Kirstgin” during the weeks before the Feast of St. Briccius; that additional vines were purchased from a man identified as Thornes Peter von Zeuen, who is said to have held them previously in his own vineyard with the intent of reselling them; and that an expenditure was incurred to plant the vines (transcribed, reported, and interpreted in Matheus 1980). Two other mentions of Riesling, in late-15thand early-16th-century promissory notes, have nothing to do with the purchase of vines or their planting, but instead address Riesling only as an attribute of real property used as collateral for loans. In 1490, “funff viertel wingart” (a vineyard area equal to about half of a modern hectare),

Of these, the two latest occur in late-15th- and early-16th-century promissory notes concerning the area around Worms. The others, from the middle of the 15th century and only recently discovered, are found in old account books. Unfortunately for the serious wine historian, both promissory notes and account books are notoriously terse and laconic genres, and neither was intended to document wine history. The mentions of Riesling in the promissory notes from Worms were made simply to identify land parcels, planted to vines and in particular to Ries40

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“hinder kirssgarten” (behind a cherry orchard) in Worms, described as “planted to russlinge,” was one of three pieces of real property pledged as security for a short-term loan made to an apparently upstanding Wormser named Velten Drudel and his mother (quoted in Matheus 1980). A few years later, in 1511, another note mentions Riesling in connection with loan collateral, namely one-half Morgen (about 0.15 hectare) of “rissling wingart in Funtdaill” (Riesling vineyard in Funtdaill) (quoted in Zilliken 2011). Funtdaill appears to be the spot known today as the vineyard of Sankt Georgenberg, on the north edge of Pfeddersheim west of Worms. Aha, local historians eager to associate Worms with early Riesling might say: Riesling is mentioned in these notes because parcels of Riesling vineyard were especially valuable. Evidence does not support this, however, since other parcels with no identified relationship to Riesling were used as collateral in the same area in notes dated 1494 and 1498. In the first case, a parcel is said to have been planted to red grapes, and in the second, a parcel is identified by neither berry color nor variety. It seems likely that these documents intended only to identify parcels being used as collateral and that the mentions of variety were more accidental than essential—just one device among many used to identify real property in an age before cadastral maps or property addresses existed.

ling, that were used as loan collateral. In the case of the account books (whose purpose was akin to an audit; they were year-end reconciliations of the estates’ receipts and expenses), we are told that the estates in question, one in Rüsselsheim near Frankfurt, the other at Trier on the Mosel, spent specified sums of money to purchase grapevines identified as Riesling. The transaction at Rüsselsheim took place in 1435 and those at Trier in 1464. For Trier, we have the further information that at least some of the vines were purchased from a named person,

who apparently planted them first in his own Trier vineyard before selling them to the St. Jakobshospital. The source of the vines purchased at Rüsselsheim is not given in the account-book entry. None of these early mentions is useful to the wine historian desirous of understanding how and why individual grape varieties emerged from medieval anonymity, whether what was called Riesling in 1435 or 1464 or 1490 was plausibly the same as what went by the Riesling name in later centuries, and if the properties of individual varieties were the basis for preferences or differences in valuation. Since none of them contains a shred of description, the true identity of the plant material is more hypothesis than fact. In truth, even if they did contain description, the case for “fact” would be only slightly stronger; a geneticist would find only DNA from surviving plant material conclusive. Historians might settle for less, however, especially since their worries about variant spellings of Riesling in these early documents (Scott 2002) have been largely laid to rest by recent work in historical dialectology, which has shown that Ruessling, Rüssling, Roselink, Rösling, Röslein, Rissling, and Risslynk—all of which appear between the 14th and 18th centuries—are plausibly the same word. Spellings in which the stem vowel is i or ie reflect the “unrounding” of earlier u and ü to i in various western German dialects. Stem-vowel variants o and ö, as in Rösling, are another issue, probably related to a folk etymology. In the Mosel, what was called Riesling was esteemed in the 16th century for its sweet aromas and flavors; this apparently reminded Moselaners of rosebuds (Rösling), so Rüssling sometimes became Roesling (Steffens 2006). Even so, we are left with no information that helps us to understand why Riesling was

acquired for planting at Rüsselsheim and Trier in the 15th century. Why Riesling and not something else, such as Savagnin, Elbling, or Orleans? Because Riesling was cold-hardy and late to bud in the spring? Was Riesling’s tendency toward lower yield remarked at the time but offset by the more distinctive wine, greater esteem, and higher prices associated with it? The sources provide, alas, no answers to any of these questions. On the evidence, all we can say of the period between 1300 and 1600 is that something called Riesling (variously spelled) was occasionally bought and planted by vineyard owners. Riesling was not alone in this regard: the acquisition and planting of other varieties are also recorded, as is the coexistence of numerous varieties. Riesling was an attribute of some parcels used as loan collateral, but parcels planted to other varieties were also thus used, as were parcels whose varietal composition is not documented. While it is possible that the early mentions of Riesling are the tip of an iceberg of special interest in this variety during the late medieval period, such a hypothesis seems very unlikely. Michael Matheus, now emeritus professor at the University of Mainz, to whom we owe many insights about the history of viticulture in general and of Riesling in particular, is closer to the mark when he says that current knowledge of the variety “does not point to an uninterrupted and splendiferous tradition . . . traced across centuries.” No “straight line” connects the early mentions of Riesling with “modern ideas about grape quality and modern tastes [in wine],” and Riesling’s modern reputation depends on “improved viticulture and cellar protocols informed by scientific insights” that were unknown and unavailable before the 19th century (Matheus 1989).

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FOUR

Sweet and Dry Wine Styles

n 1985, a bit less than 24 percent of all Riesling produced in the German state of Rheinland-Pfalz was legally dry. RheinlandPfalz, which includes all of the Mosel, Nahe, Rheinhessen, and Pfalz, produces three-quarters of German Riesling, and legally dry applies to wine containing less than 9 g/L of residual sugar. In the same year and the same area, more than twice as much Riesling was lieblich as was dry—lieblich is the German category for normal-harvest wines that taste sweet in varying degrees. Fifteen years later, in 2000, the tables had been dramatically turned. Dry Riesling had grown to almost 38 percent of Rheinland-Pfalz production while the percentage of lieblich wine had decreased by half. Germans call this turn of events the Trockenwelle, or dry wave. While other transformative style-based changes in consumer wine tastes are known— the wild exuberance with which the French aristocracy embraced Champagne at the end of the 17th century and the triumph of Port in the English market in the 19th century come to mind—but the Trockenwelle was a very big deal in Germany, within the wine trade, and across

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the marketplace for consumer goods generally. It was deeply and colorfully controversial during the period of greatest actual change, both welcomed and resisted, and it has remained controversial in some circles. Even today the debate occasionally resurfaces in English and German and on both sides of the Atlantic. The Trockenwelle, it is said, is the reason German wine has successfully returned to center stage after decades of marginalization. Conversely, it is blamed for having endangered the survival of a great and exhilarating and, yes, at least slightly sweet wine style of which Riesling is said to be uniquely capable. Although wine styles involve many parameters beyond degrees of sweetness and dryness, Riesling’s diversity, as Master Sommelier Evan Goldstein has put it, “comes predominantly from its range of sweetness” (Goldstein 2006). Style parameters that go beyond sweet-versusdry are discussed in chapter 5, in part because some have a crucial impact on the success of dryness or the need for sweetness, but this chapter confines its attention to sweetness and dryness per se. To gain perspective on the Trockenwelle,

which is further discussed at the end of this chapter, we will first address four themes. First, sweet wines have been made alongside drier ones more or less since wine’s beginnings and do not depend for their existence on modern technologies. Second, sweet and dry styles of white wine coexisted continuously in the Rhine drainage after the 14th century, although the methods used to produce them changed with time. Third, although long élevage was not intended to be a method to stabilize wines crafted in the midregisters of sweetness, it nonetheless had that effect in and after the 17th century. And, fourth, the history of relatively dry and relatively sweet styles from the middle of the 19th century to our own day is a much more complicated picture than many observers concede, reflecting political and economic evolutions, regional variations, and major changes in consumer tastes. All style history remains treacherous turf, however. Many aspects of style go unrecorded and must be deduced from exogenous evidence. Style terminology is also inconsistent across languages and time, making comparisons difficult. Wine styles are rarely autonomous, but rather change as a function of diet, climate, commerce, markets, availabilities, social preferences, and technologies, though the last of these is rarely causative.

SWEET WINES MADE SIMPLY Sweetness of varying degrees, and the relative absence of sweetness, is arguably the oldest and most persistent stylistic parameter of wine, though it is hard to untangle from aromatization, with which it coexisted for centuries. The earliest wine vessels so far unearthed by archaeologists and analyzed by paleochemists, found at Neolithic sites near Hajji Firuz in Iran, show evidence that many once contained wine that was sweetened with honey and high-sugar fruits and was resinated (McGovern 2003). The earliest wine in Egypt, from about 3150 bce, was sweetened with figs and perhaps also raisins and infused with savory herbs (McGovern 2014). Mago the Carthaginian, whose writings

about wine around the cusp of the 3rd and 2nd centuries bce survive as quotations in Roman texts, described a protocol for winemaking that normally would have produced a large number of incomplete fermentations and consequently sweet wines—for example, he advised that grapes be picked so ripe that the berries would be naturally scorched or shriveled, and then advised that the grapes be dried in the sun and pressed or trodden several times before fermentation. Around the beginning of the Common Era, Roman agricultural writers documented many techniques for achieving sweetness in wines, notably the addition of honey in large quantities, boiling unfermented juice to create a concentrate that was subsequently added to normally fermented wines to sweeten them, and fermentation in closed vats sufficiently deprived of oxygen that alcoholic conversion was checked. A protocol was also devised in ancient Rome to produce weak, sweet, inexpensive wine from a combination of rehydrated grape pomace and a concentrate made by reducing other pomace to a sort of jelly. These techniques, employed in various sequences and combinations and abetted by sulfur (the use of which was also documented in Roman texts), made possible sweet wines of many qualities that were also functionally stable, and did so long before modern techniques for stabilizing sweet wines were invented. Some of these practices persisted for many centuries: dried-grape winemaking, for example, spread around the Mediterranean and in still practiced in some places today, notably in Valpolicella and Jerez (Belfrage and Loftus 1993). Notwithstanding these techniques, however, a considerable amount of dry or dryish wine was also made more or less from the beginning. The residues in many amphorae reveal the presence of aromatizing materials without exogenous sweeteners, and some words used in Greek descriptions of wine, although generally translated as “sweet,” are said to more properly connote wines that were pleasant because they were made from fully ripe grapes (Ramsey 1875).

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New methodologies for obtaining sweet wines developed during the Middle Ages alongside variations upon the approaches devised earlier in Rome, Greece, and the ancient Near East. The most important relied in varying degrees on botrytis-affected grapes, with which Cistercian monks experimented as early as the 12th century, but sweet wine based on botrytisaffected grapes did not become commercially important until the 16th century, when such wines were produced at Rust on Austria’s Neusiedler See and developed an international profile. Yet much more important, because they were independent of Mother Nature, were distillation and fortification, which enabled wines to be made both sweet and strong. From the 16th century onward, Dutch wine merchants used the two techniques to transform a huge percentage of white wine production in western France into wine that was heady and sweet in varying degrees. During and after the 17th century, fortification was also responsible for sweet wines made at Jerez and in Portugal’s Duoro Valley.

SWEET AND DRY WINES IN THE RHINE BASIN Though we cannot know for sure, there are reasons to believe that most wine produced in the Rhine Valley during the High Middle Ages (1000–1300) was not sweet. It was overwhelmingly white wine made from normally ripe grapes, pressed promptly after picking, fermented without gross interventions, and crudely clarified. It may have been a bit like white versions of Beaujolais Nouveau. Normally ripe grapes were sufficient to make wine of ordinary alcoholic strength (9° to 11°) that was typically low in residual sugar. It was not always stable, but stability was not crucial since the wine was never bottled and generally was consumed within a year of the vintage. The evidence for this picture relies on several considerations. First, the High Middle Ages coincided with a warm period in climate history. Some reconstructions suggest that average growingseason temperatures around the 50°N parallel 44

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may have been at least 1°C higher than those in the same area today, resulting in an abundance of early harvests and good, ripe vintages (Schultz and Jones 2010). Second, the practice of commercializing and consuming Northern European wines within weeks of the vintage, often at wine fairs in October and early November (Pounds 1973), is inconsistent with styles involving long hang times, dried berries, extended fermentations, or complex clarifications. Third, when wines from Southern Europe began to appear in the Rhine Valley alongside local products during the 14th century, having been brought as far as Bruges by Gascon merchants and then transshipped by Hanseatic merchants based in Flanders, recorded mentions of such imported wine always contrast the two. Stylistically, the imports were described as strong and sweet, making the local wine light and dry by implication. We also know that imports arrived in Northern European markets much later than the new vintage of local wine did, generally in July or August, which was more than enough time for transport, as well as for late harvests of naturally dehydrated fruit and postharvest processes such as grape drying that were used to create a richer and sweeter product. Against this background, an apparently novel home-grown technology for the production of sweet wine appeared in the Rhine Valley in the 14th century, probably developed not only to compete with the expensive imports, but also to provide a sweet alternative to dry wines between the local harvest and the arrival of Mediterranean and Iberian imports the following summer. Called heat-treated wine (gefeuerte Wein), this technology has been almost entirely overlooked by wine historians, although it was mentioned brief ly by Bassermann-Jordan (Bassermann-Jordan 1923). Most of what is known about the heat-treatment technique is owed to Michael Matheus, emeritus professor of history at the University of Mainz, who studied it in the 1980s (Matheus 1991). Heat was not used to boil and concentrate musts; nor was it involved in any way with distillation meant to

concentrate alcohol. Instead, heat-treated wines were made sweet simply by arresting alcoholic fermentations in midcourse, which was achieved by heating the air around casks fast enough that fermentations first accelerated but then ceased altogether when the yeast perished from the heat. The process, which required no additives, yielded new wine that was sweet with residual sugar, stable, and immediately ready for market. To create heat-treated wines reliably, Rhine Valley winemakers constructed special fermentation facilities; evidence suggests that these were typically double-f loored spaces that could be heated quickly from the space between the twin f loors. The earliest mention of heattreated wine concerns a facility at Strasbourg in 1338. Other mentions follow later in the 14th century, both upstream of Strasbourg, in Alsace, and downstream, at Kaub and Bacharach in the Mittelrhein. In the 15th century, heattreated wine was also being made at several locations in Franconia, and by the 16th century, the technique had spread into the lower and middle reaches of the Mosel Valley. No fewer than two dozen heat-treatment facilities were built in the region: 12 in Alsace, two in Rheinhessen, 2 in the Nahe, 2 in the Mittelrhein, and 7 in the Mosel. The main actors in the heattreatment drama were not individual wine estates but well-capitalized entrepreneurs who processed juice that otherwise would have been fermented conventionally. The right to build and operate heat-treatment facilities was a valuable franchise, limited and apparently sometimes contested: a local official at Bingen complained to the cathedral chapter of Mainz in 1473 that unauthorized parties had erected heated fermentation chambers even though this right belonged exclusively to the chapter. There is also evidence that specialists were required to operate these facilities successfully; when the first facilities were built in the Mosel, technicians with prior experience in Alsace and Rheinhessen were enlisted to help. Some parameters of heat-treated wine are not clear. Its share of total wine production is not known, nor is the price premium associated

with the sweeter product. Nor do we know if some markets, local or extraregional, were especially fond of heat-treated wine or if others cleaved, whether for reasons of price or taste, to drier styles. Hanseatic wine merchants were actively involved in both the construction of heat-treatment facilities and the supply of wine to Low Countries markets at Rotterdam—and, via Rotterdam, to extra-Rhenish markets such as England and the Baltic States, possibly indicating that these markets were formative for the heat-treated style. Only a century later, in the 17th century, after all, these same markets absorbed large quantities of other sweet white wines, namely those made in the Charente from sugar-loading grapes such as Folle Blanche and fortified wines produced in the Charentais and the Loire (Pitte 2008). Meanwhile, in 1574, at least one Cologne-based merchant had reported difficulty in selling heat-treated wine to local customers, apparently because it was too sweet. Whatever the markets and their tastes, however, the evidence is clear that heat-treated wine was big business throughout the Rhine Basin for at least two centuries and that it persisted as a niche product much longer. Purpose-built heat-treatment facilities were still being built in Franconia and the Mosel 200 years after they were first built in Alsace, and gefeuerte Wein was still reported made in the Mittelrhein (around Koblenz) in the 19th century. Pasteurization, a form of heat treatment invented to kill spoilage bacteria in the 19th century, was repurposed to kill yeast in the 20th, and it emerged as a relatively inexpensive and effective alternative to “sweet reserve” (Süssreserve, unfermented grape must added back postfermentation) in the fabrication of sweet wines (Langenbach 1962). While the preponderance of evidence suggests that conventionally fermented and relatively dry wines remained the Rhine’s main product throughout the late medieval and early modern periods, and probably until after World War I, the story of gefeuerte Wein demonstrates that there was persistent and concurrent demand for sweet product and that it was ingeniously fulfilled.

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BOX 4 A RHENISH BIAS IN FAVOR OF “NATURAL” WINES? At about the same time that heat-treated wine appeared in the Rhine Valley, a frenzy of experimentation exploded in the valley’s cellars. Lard, suet, and cheese were added to wine musts during the 15th century, as were vitriol, white lead, mercury, and sulfur. Sulfur had been used earlier, too, but the rest seem to have made their winemaking debuts around 1430 (Irsigler 1991). The purpose of these grotesque interventions is not clear, but animal fats were known to slow fermentations, and mercury and its relatives could have been used as colloidal agents to remove proteins added earlier in the winemaking process. One hypothesis is that the wine industry may have been reacting to increased marketplace competition from beer, or to increased problems with vintage variation owing to consistently frigid springs and wildly variable summers and autumns, but it is difficult to connect the dots (Glaser 2001). Whatever prompted them, however, the panoply of interventions provoked regulatory backlash. Many were prohibited by cognizant authorities, and some prohibitions were publicly enforced. Casks of stummer wine—that is, wine seriously

ÉLEVAGE AND STABLE SWEETNESS Between the 15th and 18th centuries, a benign sea change in winemaking procedure washed across transalpine Europe. It was not, at first, a stylistic change, but eventually it had stylistic consequences. Put simply, wine was transformed from a regional agricultural product consumed in or near its region of production into a good traded over long distances, and from a perishable product into a quasidurable good. Through the Late Middle Ages and into the beginning of the 15th century, Northern European wines were almost entirely consumed within two years of being made. What was called “old” wine in the 14th and 15th centuries was wine just one vintage removed from 46

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denatured by excess use of sulfur or other interventions—were destroyed in the streets of Nuremberg on several occasions in the second half of the 15th century. It is never wise to read too much consistency into fragmentary evidence, but 15th-century adulterations may have been the origin of a fairly persistent and uniquely Rhenish preoccupation with “naturalness” in wine and winemaking that resurfaced repeatedly in subsequent centuries. Wine fortification, so widely practiced in Western European wine producing regions after 1600 that it affected a substantial fraction of total production, never gained much foothold in the Rhine Basin, and chaptalization, embraced uncontroversially across France in the 19th century, was fiercely debated in German-speaking jurisdictions. As early as the 18th century, the elector of Trier issued decrees insisting that wine be “unadulterated” (naturrein), and prohibitions against various forms of adulteration, especially those involving added sugar, were first hotly debated in the German Parliament and then embedded in national wine laws adopted in 1879, 1892, 1901, and 1909.

harvest and fermentation, while “new” wine was wine from the most recent harvest. New wine fetched a higher price than old, which makes it clear that the old ones did not yet felicitously age. Two centuries later, the picture was turned on its head. Economic historians have generally assumed that expanded long-distance trade across the Bay of Biscay, to and from England, around the periphery of the Baltic, and from Northern European river drainages into the North Sea was the driver for this change, but climate change also may have played a determinative role, as cooling followed the long Medieval Warm Period. Vineyards retreated from the hinterland immediately around Flemish towns and from the regions of important towns in what is now northern Germany, mak-

ing these areas, once wine producers, into net wine importers. To make all this possible, it was necessary to make wine more stable, so that it would last longer, at first in cask and later in bottle. Apart from sulfur, whose use increased from the 15th century onward, the main change was élevage. The term means “raising” wine (in the sense of developing it from “childhood” to “adulthood”) in wooden casks for long periods, in many cases several years, during which time the lees are gradually eliminated by a succession of clarification strategies and rackings. Eventually, for some very good wines, the bottling takes place at the end of such élevage. At Johannisberg in the second half of the 18th century, wines going into bottle had already spent 10 years in cask (Staab et al. 2001). In Lower Austria, it became standard practice in the 17th century to age white wines in cask for three to six years before consuming them: in 1783, an inventory of the cellar at Stift Altenburg, an important monastery in Austria’s Waldviertel, still contained large quantities of wines from the 1746 and 1749 vintages (and nothing younger than 1775), all in small wood casks containing about 55 liters each (Malli 2001). Élevage effectively became the job description and raison d’être for cellarmasters, who perfected its techniques. Long élevage was still the centerpiece of winemaking in the Rhine Basin in 1921, when the best Mosel wines of the vintage were not bottled until 1924 or 1925. Stylistically, long-élevage wines were different from nouveau wines, less fresh and fruity but more polished and evolved. Long-élevage wines were also more stable than their precursors regardless of residual sugar; repeated rackings and long barrel times effectively eliminated viable yeast. Confirmation that long élevage and frequent racking had become staples of winemaking in German-speaking Europe well before the end of the 19th century is provided by the Handbuch des Weinbaues und der Kellerwirtschaft (Handbook of Winemaking and Cellar Management) by August Wilhelm Babo and Edmund Mach, first published in 1881–82 and used in wine schools throughout Germany and Austria. The Hand-

buch recommended early and frequent rackings, first in December, when fermentations were still unfinished; next after primary fermentation was complete; and two or three more times during the young wine’s first year (but the book was skeptical about sulfur). In conjunction with the rackings, the use of isinglass, a collagen derived from fish bladders, was encouraged to obtain clear, clean wine as early as possible, even though wines were to be kept in cask for upward of three years (Babo and Mach 1909). Finished wines made by such protocols were described by Cyrus Redding (1785–1870), an English journalist and novelist whose History and Description of Modern Wines was published in 1833. Redding, who traveled extensively on the continent, painted a picture of 19th-century Rhine wines as “generous, finely flavored and [able to] endure beyond example.” He contrasted them with “strong Southern wines,” a category that seems to have included most wines from the Rhône Valley, southwest France, and Iberia. He wrote that White Hermitage, the best known of the Rhône white wines, was then made in whole or in part from grapes dried on mats before being fermented and that it was a heady wine that began to “deteriorate sensibly after a certain period of years in bottle.” He pegged the alcoholic strength of typical German whites at 12° and remarked that they were “never saturated with brandy as the French white wines are.” Apparently they were also fairly dry, or at least drier than most French whites. The best German whites were “like Frontignan without its sweetness,” he wrote, evoking both Riesling’s oft-remarked similarity to Muscat and its relative dryness compared to a vin doux naturel (Redding 1833). While the contrast is credible, Redding’s description may also express his personal stylistic preference more than a widely held English opinion about wine styles. He was an implacable foe of many wines made especially sweet for the English palate, Port in particular. Further evidence that “finely f lavored” and “relatively dry” were good descriptors for the best Rhine white wines at the turn of the 20th

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century comes from bottles of 11 wines from the cellars of the Hessische Staatsweingüter at Kloster Eberbach in 1999. A team at Geisenheim tasted and analyzed them (Dietrich et al. 2004). Eight of the 11 wines, all from Staatsweingut’s top Rheingau vineyards, were normal-harvest wines from vintages between 1892 and 1921, with finished alcohol between 9° and 13°. (The other three were Trockenbeerenauslesen, from vintages in the same span but picked much riper.) All but two of the normalharvest wines contained between 6 and 18 g/L of sugar; one contained only 3 g/L, and one a whopping 69 g/L. While only two of these wines were dry by modern standards, most fell into the halbtrocken range, and the team’s tasting notes generally confirmed these ranges hedonically. Total acid content was 6 to 9 g/L, and pH values ranged between 3.0 and 3.4. All the normal-harvest wines had experienced malolactic conversions, and sugar-free extract was generous. In other words, the analyses were consistent with wines made from ripe fruit, allowed some skin contact prefermentation, fermented with naturally occurring yeast, allowed to ferment long as they were able, clarified gradually with additives, not fortified, and held several years before bottling. The three Trockenbeerenauslesen, however, also represent an important face of Rhine Valley wine in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Since such wines depended on sites and growing seasons that generated botrytis, they were necessarily made in small quantities, and irregularly, but they commanded even higher prices than the very good-quality normal-harvest wines. Of course, any wine taken from Kloster Eberbach’s cellars was exceptional by definition; given abundant references to sour, thin, and overly acidic products, one should not suppose that the general run of inexpensive wine made for popular consumption was created in the same mold.

FROM DRYISH TO SWEETISH Sometime in the first half of the 20th century, the stylescape of German white wines changed 48

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profoundly. The change did not affect the necessarily small quantities of very sweet wine from late-harvest, botrytis-affected grapes that were still made, as they had been for several centuries, whenever Mother Nature cooperated. But the main run of product made year in and year out, which had been generally dryish until the beginning of the 20th century, turned noticeably sweet after World War I and became sweeter still during the 1960s and ’70s. Judging from the lack of surviving evidence, the change happened rather quietly, and even at best it is poorly understood. Tom Scott, a specialist in German economic and agrarian history and the author of the entries on German history in the Oxford Companion to Wine (Robinson 2006), confirmed this to me in 2012, saying, “Why and when the change occurred is indeed a puzzle.” There is evidence that very good lightly sweet wine from the Mosel was shipped to England during the 1920s, apparently breaking with the pattern Cyrus Redding had reported 90 years earlier (Loeb and Prittie 1972). Early vintages of Blue Nun, produced by H. Sichel Söhne at Mainz beginning in 1923 (from the 1921 vintage) and intended primarily for the English market, were also lightly sweet, containing more than 23 g/L of residual sugar, according to reliable sources, as were other wines of the Liebfraumilch type intended primarily for export (Lingenfelder 2014). Conversely, testimony from individuals with long family histories in the Mosel documents the continued production of dryish wines there as late as the 1940s, albeit under uneven pressure from new and sweeter styles. The anecdotal evidence from the Mosel in the late 1940s is especially intriguing. Dirk Richter, the proprietor of Weingut Max Ferd. Richter at Mühlheim, recalled to Stephen Brook that the f loodwaters that inundated Mosel cellars during the winter after the 1947 vintage arrested many fermentations midcourse; when these wines were tasted in the spring, their sweetness “came as quite a shock.” Yet the vintage then unexpectedly proved “very popular and successful with the public,” and Richter

said that many vintners felt encouraged to make sweeter wines proactively. In other words, Richter’s information points to a potentially accidental origin for sweetish wines, and one that occurred after 1947. Ernst Loosen, the man in charge at Weingut Dr. Loosen in Bernkastel, a bit downstream from Mühlheim, also provides evidence that some producers were still loyal to dryish wines at the end of the 1940s, but his story appears to indicate a very intentional change of style. Not long ago, he discovered a bottle of Ürziger Würzgarten from the 1948 vintage in his family’s cellar. Upon opening it, it turned out to be both dry and very good. When he interviewed his father for additional information, he found out that his paternal grandfather, Fritz Loosen, a small grower in Ürzig who did business as Weingut Peter Loosen Erben, had been a strong proponent of dry wines, believing that sweet wines were the flawed result of fermentations that stopped prematurely. Fritz Loosen, who handed the reins to Ernst Loosen’s father in 1953, appears to have been loyal to a contested tradition, however: Ernst’s mother’s family, the Bergweilers of Wehlen (allied by marriage to the more famous Prüms, and proprietors of the Wehlen- and Bernkastel-based estates known as Zach. Bergweiler-Prüm Erben, Dr. Adams-Bergweiler, and St. Johannishof), had been partisans of sweetish wines as early as the 1940s. According to Ernst, a preference for Naturwein (the name used for basic, unchaptalized wines before 1971) that contained 15 to 25 g/L of residual sugar was well established “among Wehlen’s top producers” by the beginning of the 1950s. Some observers of the German wine scene have recently argued that the 20th-century sweetening of German white wines, culminating in what came to be known as the lieblich style (specifically, wines sweeter than halbtrocken but not falling into the bandwidth of very late-picked sweet wines made from substantially botrytized fruit) was contingent on a new technology, developed by Seitz Werke in Bad Kreuznach around 1926, called sterile bottling (Hooper 2012). Essentially a process to

eliminate microorganisms from liquid products before they are bottled, sterile bottling’s special advantage for residually sweet wine is its ability to eliminate yeast that might otherwise trigger refermentation and lead to spoilage or shattered bottles. Ernst Loosen thinks that Weingut Joh. Jos. Prüm may have been an early adopter of sterile bottling, possibly in the 1930s, but even if this is true of Prüm, it cannot have been widespread in any German wine region until several decades later owing to its very high cost. Throughout the interwar period, the German wine industry reeled economically, suffering from the loss of important foreign markets and rampant domestic inflation. Sweet wines made in Germany in this period overwhelmingly relied on tried, true, and inexpensive means instead: botrytis-affected grapes, liberal use of sulfur, and heat treatments of various kinds, sometimes in combination, plus long élevage. Sterile bottling is also irrelevant to all wines not bottled at the source but shipped in cask instead, which was the vast majority of Rhenish wine destined for export to other European markets until the 1960s. Freddie Price, the English wine merchant who eventually became known for his agency Magnificent Seven, which imported German wines to the United Kingdom, described to me his first job in the wine business, circa 1957, at what was then England’s only in-bond bottler. According to Price, the bottler routinely received casks of Rhenish wine containing 40 to 60 g/L of residual sugar, of which one or two in 10 were spontaneously refermenting on arrival. Customs inspection then spread the refermentation from these casks to the rest, since the inspectors did not sterilize their pipettes when moving from one cask to the next. Now confronting active and widespread refermentation, the bottler systematically sulfured all Rhenish wine before bottling. Price’s testimony confirms the information mentioned earlier that sterile bottling was rare until the 1960s, not only for those wines that, like Blue Nun, were bottled at the source, but also for wines shipped in bulk.

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Sterile bottling had little to do with the evolution away from dryish wines toward a preponderance of sweetish ones until that decade, by which time the trend was well advanced. In this connection, it is also worth mentioning parenthetically that the sweetish wines of the 1920s, ’30s, and ’40s actually posed no greater risk of refermentation than the dryish, but usually not completely dry, wines of earlier decades. Both contained enough unfermented sugar to referment spontaneously if a significant population of viable yeast had remained in the finished wine, which it did not, owing to long élevage, multiple rackings, and additions of sulfur. The idea that the impulse toward sweeter wines was caused by the availability of sterile bottling, or even enabled it in the beginning, is misguided technological determinism. In lieu of sterile bottling, I suggest two hypotheses. The first begins with the chronically cold weather that prevailed across much of Europe throughout the so-called Long 19th Century, roughly from the American Revolution through World War I. Unsurprisingly, its impact was most felt in Europe’s northernmost regions, wreaking special havoc on viticulture in the Mosel. There were repeated strings of unripe or downright unsellable vintages, and grapevines in many areas were grubbed up to make way for crops with a lesser requirement for warmth and sunshine. Acid developed a bad name as early as the 1840s, when a member of the faculty at the Royal Prussian General Economic College published research showing an inverse correlation between acid and price in wine—the higher a wine’s content of acid, the lower its price, and vice versa (K. Goldberg 2011). The ensuing search for ways to decrease wine’s acidity led directly to Gallisierung in the 1850s, which was essentially a German protocol for chaptalization named for its developer and chief advocate, Ludwig Gall (1791–1863). His method was to add a solution of sugar and water to the must of unripe grapes in sufficient quantity to make wine that “reflected the taste of a healthy vintage” year in and year out. The water diluted the acid, and the sugar boosted

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alcohol in the finished wine. In principle, the added sugar would be entirely fermented, so it would not boost sweetness, but critics of Gallisierung nonetheless accused practitioners of artificially increasing wines’ sweetness; this must indeed have sometimes happened, since incomplete fermentations were a fact of life in a land of very cold cellars and a time of unreliable yeast performance. Just how much wine produced after the 1840s was sweeter than it had been a half-century earlier is unknown, but there is a real possibility that it was substantial. Certainly critics and opponents of Gallisierung were specifically critical of the “sweet tooth” they said consumers were developing as a consequence of the “adulteration” and “falsification” of wine. The second hypothesis is not unrelated to the first. Germans had invented the process by which sucrose could be refined from beets at the beginning of the 19th century and had made their country the world’s largest beetsugar producer by 1880. The booming business did not, of course, depend entirely on sales to the wine trade for use in Gallisierung; sugar was also used abundantly in the manufacture of other foods and as a condiment. In other words, simultaneously with the widespread (if controversial) use of sugar in winemaking, sugar was also invading the German consumer diet. As far as I know, this evolution has not been much studied by German food and dietary historians or by anthropologists, as it has been in the case of England (see below), but it is certainly plausible to suggest that dietary change had begun to create a taste for sweeter wine by the end of the 19th century. Nor is it far-fetched to ask if sugar rationing, which happened in Germany (and elsewhere) during both world wars, was directly associated with postwar interest in sweeter wines. This association is well (albeit anecdotally) attested to for the period after World War II, but it could also have happened to a lesser degree after World War I (MacDonough 2000). Meanwhile, there is no doubt that the English diet was utterly transformed by sugar between 1650 and 1850, owing in part to an

abundant supply of cane sugar imported from West Indian colonies. In this period, the main source of calories in the English diet shifted from carbohydrates such as grain and potatoes to refined sugar (Mintz 1985). Beginning with the aristocratic classes and gradually percolating to all layers of society, sweets suffused the English diet: sugar was added to tea and baked goods consumed with tea; it was incorporated into desserts; and it was even added to alcoholic drinks, until sugar itself was every Englishman’s main source of calories. Hence the British affection for Port, which was made considerably sweeter than was required to ensure stability when it was shipped across the Bay of Biscay, and for Sherry, Claret, and other wines adulterated specifically for the English market. At least some English consumers, such as Cyrus Redding, prized Rhenish white wines in the 1830s precisely for their purity, lack of adulteration, and relative dryness and decried Port for its excess of sweetness and spirit, but such perceptions were probably eroded later in the century. In the United Kingdom, too, sugar was rationed during World War I, and the sugardeprived postwar British wine consumer may have lost more of his affection for dry wines. Tom Scott says he remembers that English drinkers of German wines in the interwar period preferred ones with firn (bottle age)— enough firn, in fact, that the wine was known colloquially as “old brown hock.” This is consistent with growing wariness of high-acid wine unless the acidity was buffered, though in this case buffered by age rather than unfermented sugar. It is also worth remembering that the most prestigious German wines, even in the heyday of dry and dryish, were the very late-harvested and intentionally very sweet wines made from botrytis-affected grapes. Whatever else, the change from dryish to sweetish between the turn of the 20th century and the 1960s was sinuous and uneven, resulting in a wine economy that was stylistically mixed by region and sometimes within regions and which flip-flopped repeatedly. By the 1950s, however, driven by the Wirtschaftswunder (Ger-

many’s “Economic Miracle”) and buoyed by a determination to increase output and efficiency in all areas of production, including wine, German vineyards mainly turned out wine that was lightly to intensely sweet. Most of it was produced with much shorter élevage than had prevailed in the preceding one or two centuries, which had been friendly to dry and off-dry styles. Wine produced quickly, from fields that were made easy to farm by mechanization and landconsolidation schemes, became the staple product of the Rhine Valley and its tributary valleys. In this transformation, sterile bottling finally became important, as it had not been in the interwar period, due to the increase in estatebottled wines, shorter élevage, and a sweeter end product made on a large scale with reliable stylistic consistency through a combination of sterile bottling and sweet reserve (Süssreserve): the former ensured stability in wines that would otherwise have risked refermentation, and the latter gave the vintner full and precise control of the exact degree of sweetness in the finished product. (Süssreserve itself was also sterile-filtered, since yeast from the unfermented juice held aside for the reserve could trigger undesired refermentation in the main wine when it was reintroduced postfermentation.) It also helped enormously that sterile-bottling technology had become dramatically cheaper than it had been when it was first invented. That the taste for sweeter wine (rather than the enabling technology) was the real driver of change is indirectly confirmed by Gerald Asher, the wine merchant turned writer who wrote the “Wine Journal” for Gourmet magazine for more than three decades. He cites a study commissioned by the German wine industry in the 1950s that predicted Germans would drink more wine if it were made sweeter. It was, and they did. German wine consumption soared by 70 percent from 1963 to 1973. “Because of this success,” Asher asserts, “sweetness became the dominating characteristic of German wines” (Asher 1982). Some German wine regions preserved what they could of dry and dryish wine traditions

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throughout the 1960s and ’70s, notably the Saar, which made the lightest and brightest wine in the greater Mosel region throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and which had taken the hardest stance again Gallisierung. Many Franconian wines also remained relatively dry, though only a minority of Franconian white wines were Riesling-based, and the Pfalz and Baden made small quantities of Burgundian varieties into dry white wines. The Wine Advocate’s David Schildknecht, who attended university in Germany in the early 1970s, reports that many “denizens of the wine growing regions themselves continued to ‘drink dry’ but marketed little dry or dry-tasting product beyond their immediate areas of production” (Steinberger 2011). The American importer Terry Theise, recalling his earliest experience in Germany’s “classic Riesling places” circa 1978, found “few if any wines” that were dry. The “sweet wave,” as some observers have dubbed it since, was by then so complete that the relative dryness of German wines in the 19th century and the early 20th was forgotten. Germany, Riesling, and sweet wine became synonymous, however imprecise the equation was in fact.

THE TROCKENWELLE Although a definitive chronology no more exists for the Trockenwelle than it does for the advent of lieblich wines, relevant benchmarks for the former are easier to find. Statistically, the sharpest increase in production of dry Riesling by volume occurred between 1985 and 1990, while the steepest decline in lieblich Riesling by volume happened a bit later, between 1990 and 1997. Crossover, when both were produced in approximately equal volume, came in 1995, and the curves did not recross thereafter, although their slopes changed. The shift in consumer demand was both applauded and derided: advocates for dry wines were inclined to see evidence of vision, individualism, cosmopolitanism, generational change, and practicality on their side of the ledger; opponents were inclined to attribute dogmatism, extremism, pseudoso52

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phistication, hypocrisy, and media taste-making to the people they labeled as Trockenistas. The German winemakers, American importers, and knowledgeable observers interviewed for this book offer several explanations for the Trockenwelle. First is the German “imitation” of French fashions, especially in food and wine, beginning in the 1970s. While German per-capita wine consumption had increased in the 1960s and early 1970s, French per-capita production had fallen, as the French, proverbially, drank “less but better.” German benchmarks include the debut of Der Feinschmecker magazine in 1975, the first German edition of a Paul Bocuse cookbook in 1977, and the opening in 1978 of Die Aubergine, a French-inspired restaurant in the heart of Munich, its stoves tended by Eckart Witzigmann, who had trained with Bocuse. Even earlier, however, Franz Keller’s Die Schwarzer Adler at Vogtsburg in the Kaiserstuhl, within sight of the French border, had won a Michelin star in 1969 and sported an overwhelmingly French-oriented wine list. Second, sweet wines were discredited by the Austrian wine scandal in 1985, when German inspectors, who routinely tested wines offered for sale in Germany, found diethylene glycol, a toxic and prohibited substance, in a bottle of lieblich-style Austrian wine made for the German market—and bottled in Germany. Additional testing found similar contamination in supposedly German wines, also sweet, that had been blended with wines of Austrian origin, all of it apparently done to make the wines taste sweeter and fuller bodied. The ensuing brouhaha led to a German ban on wine imports from Austria, colorful destruction of product in the furnace of a German cement factory, huge fines against a prominent (and politically connected) German wholesaler, and the criminal prosecution of at least half a dozen individuals. Die Zeit, an influential German weekly newspaper with an affluent readership, ran stories with racy titles such as “Tricks of the Wine Blenders” (Die Tricks der Weinmischer) and “To Your Health, with [Diethylene] Glycol” (Zum Wohl: Glykol), and consumers fled from sweet wines in substantial

numbers. It is impossible to say if the f light would have taken place anyway, or if press coverage of the scandal pushed it along, but the wine scandal emerged as the unofficial explanation of choice for the Trockenwelle at the Deutsches Weininstitut (German Wine Institute), whose staff still cite it today when they are asked about the change of styles. Third (and supposedly distinct from the second), German winemakers point their collective finger at German mass media and at fine dining establishments for embracing dry wines as signposts of sophistication and trocken as an imprimatur of social acceptability, driving consumers to order wines they did not really like in order to appear modern and well bred, and to buy them for home consumption. To this day, many winemakers, especially those with strong loyalty to the lieblich style, which lost the greatest market share to dry wines, maintain that the Trockenwelle was a media event. Fourth, observers claim that Germans, as a matter of national character, tend toward extremism in many things. If sweet is good, then sweeter is better; but if dry is equated with quality, then nothing is better than more dry and drier wines. Between about 1960 and 1980, slightly sweet but brilliantly balanced wines with about 30 g/L of sugar and 10 g/L of acid were displaced by much sweeter wines with about 60 g/L of sugar. Conversely, many wines that would have been delicious and food-friendly with 10 to 20 g/L of sugar were forced to become drier by trocken’s legal definition and by consumer insistence on treating the trocken rubric as a litmus test for suitability. Thus, as David Schildknecht explained to the Internationales Riesling Symposium in 2010, were Riesling’s middle registers depleted and extremism encouraged, first by the sweetening of Kabinette, Spätlesen, and Auslesen and later by the Trockenistas. Although each explanation captures some piece of the story, none individually or the set together is fully satisfactory. Too much of potential relevance is ignored, such as the volume of dry white wine, made from the same varieties grown in Germany, that was imported

from South Tyrol and Italy as well as from Alsace to feed nascent domestic demand for dry white wines. This was especially true in restaurants: wine’s suitability to food was an important parameter of consumption even in the early 1970s, but dry white German wines had become unavailable, except for those from Franken and Baden, where Riesling was only a relatively small share of total production. In addition, Germans’ taste began to shift in the late 20th century as they traveled across Europe on business and on vacation, their journeys made possible by their country’s emergence as the continent’s strongest economy. Across Europe, meanwhile, wine tastes gradually dried as Brut emerged, for the first time in history, as the mainstream style of Champagne, which previously had been sweet; as the English gradually decreased their love affair with Port; and as controlled-appellation laws eliminated the enrichment of Burgundies with headier wines from the Rhône and the enrichment of Bordeaux wines with Tannat-based wines from Cahors. Classic French cuisine was remade in the 1970s by la nouvelle cuisine, based on fresher ingredients, lighter sauces, and brighter f lavors, and the typical French consumer, as we have seen, began to drink less wine overall but embraced wines offered at a slightly higher price point. Only a serious history of tastes and the media—crossing national boundaries, examining differences among markets, and differentiating specialist media from mass media, culling from newspaper and magazine backfiles from the 1970s and ’80s—could paint a reliable and dispassionate picture of the German media as agents for lifestyle changes. Such work has not yet been done, as far as I know. The single most organized and documented piece of the Trockenwelle story begins with Bernhard Breuer (1946–2004), a third-generation vintner and wine merchant at Rüdesheim in the Rheingau. His experience in both business and wine was formidable, involving time in Switzerland, Burgundy, New York, and California and formal training in viticulture and

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enology at Montpellier. Late in the 1970s, Breuer and his brother grew the family wine estate from 8 to 27 hectares, including parcels in the best Rüdesheimer and Rautenthaler sites, and in 1978, he refashioned the estate’s f lagship wine, a vineyard-designated wine from the Berg Schlossberg vineyard, as a dry wine. An early champion of concerted efforts to increase the production of dry wine generally, he also insisted that the best sites available should be used to make such wines, that special attention be focused on Riesling, and that vineyards be farmed intelligently for low yields. His perspective was thoughtfully international and strategic: he wanted to revive the tradition of drytasting wines that had once commanded higher prices than classified Bordeaux, and he was eager to challenge both Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc for space on the lists of serious wine merchants and gastronomic restaurants worldwide. According to my conversation with his daughter Theresa and to interviews conducted with him in the 1980s and ’90s, his agenda was both defensive (he wanted to avoid having Germany or Riesling “excluded from wine’s mainstream” or marginalized as a “aperitif or dessert wine only”) and offensive (he hoped to give Riesling “a serious face” that would be the “opposite of cheap German wine” epitomized by brands such as Black Tower and Blue Nun). Breuer believed in “a dry wine from a single site and the only single-vineyard wine made from that site” as an antidote to mediocrity, so that “the consumer understands and is willing to pay more for it.” A few years after refashioning his Berg Schlossberg wine in this image, Breuer became a prime mover in the creation of Charta, a coalition of Rheingau producers that operated independently from 1983 to 1999 and then merged into the Rheingau chapter of the Verband Deutscher Prädikatsweingüter (VDP), to which most of its members also belonged. Breuer’s friend Erwein Matuschka-Greiffenclau (1938–97), the hugely respected Hans Ambrosi (1925–2012) of the Hessische Staatsweingüter, and Helmut Becker, then the director of what later became

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Geisenheim University, were Charta’s cocreators. There were eventually 31 members of the group, producing about 140,000 bottles of Charta-denominated wine annually, only a tiny fraction of total Rheingau production but enough to be noticeable. Charta members took important parameters of winegrowing seriously, insisting that a Charta wine should be made 100 percent from Riesling, that it should come from strictly delimited sites with a track record of excellence, and that yields should be even lower than the ceilings imposed under German law. They developed their own standard of dryness, which was f lexible enough to include many wines that would otherwise have been considered only halbtrocken. They gave attention to their message—their wines should be high quality, dry or near-dry in taste, and intended to go with meals—and their packaging, which was based on a distinctive logo and a proprietary bottle adapted from those in use at the end of the 19th century, when Rheingau wines sold for higher prices than classified Bordeaux. They invested in marketing, especially internationally, taking their wines to London in 1985 and to New York a year later and offering tastings for the press and trade, determined to have dry German Riesling considered as an appropriate complement to any food that might otherwise be paired with a White Burgundy or a California Chardonnay. They were also persistent, working with sommeliers worldwide to place dry Rheingau Rieslings on distinguished lists and returning many times over more than a decade to the quantitatively important markets in England and the United States. Charta’s vineyard-classification project, begun in 1987, became the foundation for the VDP’s grand cru program, called Grosses Gewäches or gg. Hessen, home to the Rheingau, was the first German federal state to adopt a vineyard-classification scheme within the state’s wine law, and the Rheingau emerged early in the 21st century as Germany’s driest and most Riesling-centric wine region, due in part to Breuer’s vision, determination, and organizational skills and in part to Charta. In 2007, 95 percent of the sur-

face dedicated to white grapes in the Rheingau was planted to Riesling; two years later, 88 percent of Rheingauer Riesling was trocken or halbtrocken. Beyond the Rheingau, the Trockenwelle was considerably less organized but no less real. Pfalz-based changes between 1985 and 1990 were as pioneering and perhaps more significant than those in the Rheingau, and in many ways were comparable, since the Pfalz was the other region that had enjoyed an international reputation for relatively dry Rieslings at the turn of the 20th century. In the 1980s, the influential producers were not the large estates that had helped to create the Pfalz’s reputation circa 1890, but a handful of smaller ones who redefined the mission of the region away from quantity and toward quality and eventually embraced dryness as a style. Bernd Philippi, a good friend of Bernhard Breuer’s, had assumed the reins at Koehler-Ruprecht late in the 1970s, and by the middle of the 1980s, most of its Rieslings were dry. At Müller-Catoir in Haardt (see page 196), Hans-Günter Schwarz, perhaps Germany’s most inf luential winemaker in the 1970s and ’80s, had established his estate’s reputation for excellence, basing it not primarily on dry wines but on principles (especially low yields and noninterventionist winemaking) that later proved to be extremely helpful in the creation of very good dry wine. Hansjörg Rebholz, one of Schwarz’s disciples, took over his family’s estate at Siebeldingen in 1978, where his father had established a house style that was “as close to dry as possible,” in Hansjörg’s words. He needed only to adjust the viticulture to enable dryness with a little less alcohol before his Weingut Ökonomierat Rebholz emerged, late in the 1980s, as one of the most successful producers of very dry Rieslings anywhere. It did not hurt that the Pfalz is a warmer region overall, where it is not difficult to ripen Riesling in most years, giving wines with less aggressive acid than regions farther north can yield. Nor did it hurt that many Pfalz vintners had significant experience with other white varieties, especially Silvaner, Kerner,

Pinot Blanc, and Pinot Gris, which many producers made dry while retaining residual sugar in their Rieslings. This helped to mitigate what was otherwise a significant problem for Trockenwelle pioneers: that the generation of winemakers who started making dry wines at the end of the 1970s had essentially zero experience in the style, obliging them, in the words of Terry Theise, to “fly blind.” Once attention had turned to explicitly dry wines, the pace of transition from primarily lieblich to primarily trocken products is difficult to reliably reconstruct. Asked in 2014 for his personal recollections, Hans-Günter Schwarz noted that Müller-Catoir had made a single dry Riesling as early as 1961, primarily to provide “something in the portfolio for diabetics.” Beginning in the 1970s, he recalled, the trend toward dryness began to “happen very fast,” and before the end of that decade, “many dry Rieslings” were to be found in trade tastings where he judged wines. He remembered the “quality of dry Rieslings getting much better rapidly” in the 1980s before they “exploded” in the 1990s. Reviewing Müller-Catoir’s 1980s and ’90s price lists, David Schildknecht (whose personal files are a treasure trove of such documentation) notes that the 1985 list still offered only one trocken Riesling from vintages earlier than 1984, a Kabinett, and one Kabinett Halbtrocken. The 1989 list, however, offered eight Rieslings from the 1987 and 1988 vintages, of which four were trocken, a balance that did not change materially until the second half of the 1990s. The contention of many vintners that “gastronomic restaurants” were early champions of dry wine appears to be confirmed by two lists from the Nassauer Hof Hotel in Wiesbaden that document a swift, stark change between the mid-1970s and mid-1980s. The hotel restaurant’s 1975 wine list included 21 Rieslings from the Rheingau, Rheinhessen, Pfalz, and Nahe, all bottlings from estates of indisputably good pedigree, spanning the 1966 through 1974 vintages, all of which were lieblich. Yet nine years later, after Hans-Peter Wodarz’s gastronomic restaurant Die Ente im

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Lehel had moved from its first venue, in Munich, into the Nassauer Hof (in the process becoming Die Ente vom Lehel), the list had completely metamorphosed: now all but 4 of its 41 Rheingau Rieslings from the 1983, 1982, and 1981 vintages, notably including all of five special bottlings done for the Ente, were dry, while three others were halbtrocken, leaving just one lonely example of lieblich wine on offer, a 1982 Hochheimer Domdechaney Kabinett from the Domdechant Werner’sches Weingut. The Ente’s Riesling selections from other German regions, though much less deep, were no less dry. It is worth noting, too, that few of the so-called gastronomic restaurants of the day showed as much interest in German wines of any stripe as the Ente did. At Die Schwarzer Adler at Vogtsburg (see earlier), for example, a wine list of epic dimensions from 1983 was overwhelmingly French, with deep vertical offerings of classified Bordeaux sprinkled with just a few German Rieslings from Baden and the Rheingau; all the Rieslings on offer, however, were dry. Like the gastronomic restaurants, some segments of the German wine press (an essentially new category when Der Feinschmecker, the country’s first truly wine-oriented magazine, was founded in Hamburg in 1975) showed keen interest in dry wines from the outset. Alles über Wein, a quarterly that began publication in Mainz in 1982 and was perhaps the first German-language publication to score wines, first on a 12-point scale and then on a 20-point one, was an enthusiastic cheerleader for trocken wines, as was Mario Scheuermann, a Pfalzborn journalist who wrote extensively about wine for various German publications, including Ullsteins Gourmet-Journal and the Hamburger Morgenpost. Some of the attention was hyperbolic and rhetorically shrill. Franz Keller, the Kaiserstuhl-based vintner and restaurateur who had already attacked the “sweetening” of German wines for a pseudonymic column in the Badische Zeitung, went on national television early in the 1980s to denounce makers of lieblich wines as “confectioners of lemonade.”

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Just how good the first vintages of dry wines were—or, put another way, how much time elapsed before German vintners learned how to make genuinely good dry wines—is unclear. Gary Grosvenor, a Rüdesheim-based importer to Germany of wines from Australia and elsewhere, says that “it is a justified criticism that a majority of the earliest trocken wines were devastatingly acidic and repulsively unbalanced, repugnant to all but the hardiest palates, prepared to punish their taste buds.” Monika Christmann, chair of the Institute of Enology at Geisenheim University and a close observer of German wines since the early 1980s, also remembers excessively acidic wines, though she does so a bit less colorfully. Terry Theise, pointing to early trocken wines that were both dry and deacidified or were made from naturally low-acid lots that were allowed to ferment dry, remembers nearly all the trocken wines he tasted at the beginning of the 1980s as “incredibly shrill” and some as “bitter.” Even Bernhard Breuer, speaking with Stephen Brook a decade after the first presentation of Charta wines at London, in 1985, admitted that “Charta [wines] f lopped in Britain” (quoted in Brook 2003). Excepting wines from Koehler-Ruprecht at Kallstadt in the Pfalz, which were successfully dry, albeit idiosyncratic, in the early 1980s, Theise does not remember significant improvements in the quality of trocken wines until late in the decade, when Müller-Catoir made “stunningly beautiful dry wines,” as did WagnerStempel, Eugen Müller, and Dönnhoff from 1990 onward. For other palates, improvement was obvious as early as the 1985 vintage. Nathan Chroman (1929–2012) reported in the Los Angeles Times in June 1987 that dry Rieslings made in 1985 by Breuer’s négociant firm Scholl and Hillebrand had a “simple, forward and generous style” and that their f lavors, “without a trace of sweetness[,] provide tart delicacy in an elegant modern mode.” He thought that Breuer and his Charta associates “may be onto something that [could] move entrenched chardonnay and sauvignon blanc consumers to take a long look . . . as a change-of-pace alternative” (Chro-

man 1987). Qualitative assessments of dry wines began to sound more positive early in the 1990s. Theise recalls “an enormous change in the odds of finding good wine in the dry category” between 1990 and 2000, beginning at around 17 in 100 in 1990 but ending between 35 and 40 in 100. In 1993, Howard Goldberg, reviewing a tasting of Charta wines, primarily from the 1990 vintage, at the International Wine Center in New York for the New York Times, conceded that Charta groups had prematurely showed young trocken wines on previous visits to New York, ones “so acidic that the fruitiness got lost.” But he loved the 1990s, including a Geisenheimer Rothenberg from Weingüter Wegeler and Breuer’s own Rüdesheimer Berg Schlossberg. They were “elegant” and “complex,” he thought, and he lauded them for “fruit, balance, depth of f lavor and foodmatching versatility” (H. Goldberg 1993). Continuing improvement in the trocken space sometimes even surprised German winemakers themselves. Armin Diel, the fine Nahe vintner and coauthor, with Joel Payne, of The German Wine Guide, is fond of telling guests about the tastings he and his fellow Nahe VDP members do annually to compare their best dry wines from the most recent vintage with wines from 10 years earlier. Even in 2014, the makers were surprised to discover how much better their new wines were than those they had made in 2004. An interesting window into German vintners’ own view of the “dry storm” around them is their replies to a questionnaire that Theise sent to producers with whom he worked in 1991. He asked a variety of questions, the last of which, albeit phrased a bit prejudicially, asked whether the responding producer “is also of the opinion that the Trockenwelle in Germany has grown too extreme and that more balance is needed.” Of the 12 Moselaners who replied, 7 explicitly agreed that it had, in fact, become extreme, while 5 wrote ambivalent replies. “The German is an extremist,” wrote Hubertus Klein, of Weingut Klein-Oster. “[Current] fashion (i.e., dry wine) is everything, even when it

tastes bad.” Many saw the legendarily high acidity of Mosel Rieslings as a reason to avoid dry vinifications: “On the Mosel,” wrote Konrad Hähn, of Weingut Freiherr von Schleinitz, “it doesn’t make sense to be a trocken fanatic.” Two vintners endorsed halbtrocken, but not trocken, as a category in which Mosel producers might reasonably increase production, playing to their intrinsic strengths. Weingut Karp-Schreiber’s Alwin Karp reported that his customers wanted “dry wine [with residual sugar] at the high end of the dry range, or halbtrocken [wines], or even wines with up to 30 g/L of residual sugar but with high acidity.” Gers Immich, whose portfolio was unusually representative of dry wines in the 1980s, seemed to agree that the sweet spot for the best (literally the “highest-value,” or hochwertig) Mosel Rieslings fell in the “upper range of halbtrocken and up to 35 g/L,” but he cautioned against higher levels of residual sugar lest the wine’s “aromatic constituents be suppressed.” Asked to name the “best” wines among then-recent vintages in their portfolios, all but three of the Moselaners named only offdry, sweetish, or sweet wines. Only Immich, Klein, and Karp listed trocken ones: the 1988 Enkircher Batterieberg Auslese Trocken, the 1989 Kinheimer Rosenberg Spätlese Trocken, and the 1988 Brauneberger Juffer Spätlese Trocken respectively. (Karp qualified the last one as “rather like a halbtrocken due to a high content of [dry] extract.”) Most of the Moselaners confessed to small stakes in legally dry wines and sounded happy to report, when they could, that their own customers were asking less for trocken in 1991 than they had in the 1980s and more for “milder” wines and, in Willi Schaefer’s phrase, “wines that taste good to them.” Perhaps predictably, Theise’s Pfalz producers mostly took the other side, although with reservations. Edmund Lucas, of Lucashof in Forst, argued that “the wine taste of Germans has changed” because “now [Germans] drink wine with meals too”; Klaus Neckerauer, of Weingut Neckerauer, added that “the trend toward wine with meals requires [that we make] fewer wines with residual sugar.” According to

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Bernd Philippi, at Koehler-Ruprecht in Kallstadt, “nearly everything [here] can be bottled dry, [so] we are pro-dry.” Rainer Lingenfelder, a producer with unusually global experience, bluntly made the case on economics, saying, “The top gastronomy in Germany is actively searching for good dry wines and is paying prices it previously paid only for French wines,” adding that “dry German wines are here to stay” and predicting that “they will spread to export markets.” Gregor Messmer agreed with the Moselaners that the Trockenwelle had “become [so] extreme that people will ask for a dry wine even when it is sour, unripe, or flawed” but went on to say that “the 1980s were generally good for dry wines, which improved the reputation of German wines” overall. Phillip David Catoir, of Müller-Catoir, observed that “demand for fine residual sugar wine is just as important for us as a broad palate of dry wines.” Ten of 26 respondents to the survey thought the “Trockenwelle had peaked” (Walter Strub in Nierstein and Gers Immich at Immich-Batterieberg in the Mosel), “that demand for dry wine will not increase further” (Alfred Merkelbach), that “dry wines will not gain more market share” (Christian von Guradze at BürklinWolf), and that “the demand for dry wines is decreasing” (Messmer). Prophets of additional drying such as Lingenfelder were few, though Christian-Wilhelm Bernhard, at Laubersheim in Rheinhessen, predicted that dry wines “will win because drinking habits have changed.” Georg Rumpf at Kruger-Rumpf, in the Nahe, was alone in saying explicitly that he actually liked dry wines: “The Trockenwelle is not unpleasant for me since I like dry wines personally.” The Rheingau’s role in the early stages of the Trockenwelle was reflected in Siegfried Gerhard’s testimony that “dry wine was popular in the early 1980s and is [still] preferred with meals,” but “now as before there exists a taste for mellow wines.” No fewer than five explicitly or implicitly blamed German media for what they plainly regarded as a regrettable change. Neckerauer said the media had misled consumers into believing that “only dry wines are good

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quality wines.” Claus Odernheimer, of Abteihof St. Nicolaus, wrote that the Trockenwelle “was created by a one-sided press, which failed to distinguish between dry [by the numbers] and dry [to taste]. Everyone knows that a [dry] Rheingau Riesling can taste sour while one [with identical content of residual sugar] from Württemberg can taste soft or even lightly sweet.” In fact, the Trockenwelle still had a long way to run after 1991 and even after 1995, when trocken and lieblich wines were made in approximately even shares. In the second half of the 1990s, additional momentum was provided by the VDP, especially after Rheingau-based Charta had merged into its Rheingau chapter in 1999. It began to build a consensus of its members around several initiatives designed to unwind the baleful effects of the 1971 Wine Law, which had been largely the work of large wineries, not estate-oriented producers. VDP members agreed to use neither the names of the megaregions (Grosslagen) birthed in 1971 nor the names of the even larger Bereiche on their labels, and work began to classify those parts of Einzellagen suited to the production of high-quality wines privately. Importantly but controversially, the VDP also embraced trocken as the best style of wine to showcase sites, eventually agreeing that the Grosses Gewächs rubric that they coined to designate the best vineyard sites in each wine region should apply only to wines from those sites that have been vinified dry. Although this affects, at best, only a tiny fraction of total German production, gg wines have a high profile in Germany, and the Trockenwelle was certainly strengthened when the VDP established a link between dry wine and top quality. Dry wines did not peak as a share of total German Riesling production until 2003, when they reached 38 percent, buttressed with another 24 percent share for halbtrocken wines. In total volume terms, the trend has still not ended: more than 430,000 hectoliters of trocken wine were produced in 2012, more than ever before. Rumors that lieblich Rieslings are fast disappearing are, however, mistaken—the volume of lieblich wine rebounded to 380,000 hec-

toliters in 2012, which was almost the volume produced in 1985. Lieblich also has improved its share of the total market, climbing from a low of 25 percent in 2003 to 32 percent in 2012. No data are available to determine exports by style, but many vintners speculate that the lieblich rebound is explained mainly by exports to Asia, especially China, but lieblich wines in the Kabinett and Spätlese categories have begun to show up on the wine lists of good German restaurants, too, alongside trocken wines and in their shadow but present nonetheless. On this side of the Atlantic, the Trockenwelle was mostly seen in a glass, dimly. The American wine press certainly covered tastings of Charta wines when they occurred in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and serious retailers in the New York metropolitan area and a few other important markets handled small stocks of dry Rieslings. Retailers, however, reportedly found the wines hard to sell, citing “the tenacity of the myth that all German wines have always been sweet”; the patience needed to age dry Rieslings to their peak; the high prices of Charta wines, owing partially to the strength of the German mark; and a “flat market for German premium wines in America” (H. Goldberg 1993). However, influential importers (initially the likes of Schoonmaker and Valckenberg, then Terry Theise and Rudi Wiest) were slow to adopt dry wines, finding few exemplars to their taste until well into the 1990s. The Theise and Wiest portfolios now show substantial shares of trocken wines. In 2013, Theise imported 60 dry Rieslings, some of which sell very well, such as Johannes Leitz’s Eins Zwei Dry. In some cases, Theise takes less than he would like of a producer’s dry wines because total quantities of site-specific wines are limited and demand from the German market is strong. Wiest reports strong sales of dry Rieslings to restaurants in “sophisticated” American markets.

The accuracy of Armin Diel’s report on the 2014 tasting of 2004 wines is supported by a Wine & Spirits analysis of German Rieslings. The magazine, which tastes hundreds of wines in all categories each year in a systematic program that accepts all submissions offered by importers, tasted a total of 473 normally harvested Rieslings from the Rheinland-Pfalz region and the Rheingau in the period 2009– 10, of which just 78 (16 percent) were trocken; in the same years, 36 percent of Rieslings produced in the same regions were trocken. But just two years later, in the period 2012–13, the magazine tasted 650 wines within the same parameters, of which 156 (24 percent) were trocken. The percentage of wines produced that were trocken had not changed, however. In other words, assuming that Wine & Spirits’ numbers are a reasonable ref lection of wines available in the American market, the representation of trocken wines as a fraction of German imports improved by half between 2009 and 2013, though they were still significantly underrepresented relative to production. Even more interesting is the qualitative assessment of Wine & Spirits’ critic for German wines, who recommended only 23 percent of the trocken wines (18 of 78) in 2009–10 but 44 percent (69 of 156) of them in 2012–13, which translates to a 95 percent increase.

The next chapters in part I explore various parameters of the production of dry Riesling, and of Riesling clones, before turning to an exploration of regions where excellent dry Rieslings have been made and continue to be made successfully. In part II, we turn to individual vineyards in Western European and North American regions that yield vineyard-designated dry wines, and the serious, gifted, and passionate vintners who pursue this path.

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FIVE

How Dry Riesling Is Made

arvest is the central event in each vinicultural year, marking the end of grape growing and the beginning of winemaking. Traditionally, across Northern Europe, fixing the earliest date that wine grapes could be picked was a seigneurial right designed to prevent eager tenant farmers from picking before the grapes had accumulated enough sugar to make good wine. Today most winegrowers make picking decisions individually, though “no-earlier-than” dates persist in the form of administrative directives tied to the rules of some controlled appellations in France. Noearlier-than dates are, in any case, largely inconsequential for very good wines and are increasingly irrelevant for all wines as global warming continues. Grapes for very good wines, whose making is biased in favor of optimal f lavor development, are usually picked as late as circumstances allow, which is well after the noearlier-than date. In parts of the New World, overly late picking has become problematic, producing wines that must be watered or dealcoholized. In the case of Riesling, which is intrinsically late to bud and late to mature and

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usually is the last variety to be harvested when multiple varieties are grown on the same site, it is not unusual that the last grapes of the main harvest are not picked until late October or early November in the Northern Hemisphere. Picking is a crucial decision and is highly determinative of both quality and style. Most Riesling producers make normal-harvest wines in several styles, which are sold at different price points and are intended for different uses. Typically, the first grapes picked are taken from younger vines or from sites that ripen precociously. This fruit usually is made into a relatively lighter-bodied and lower-alcohol wine that is suitable for early drinking and is sold more cheaply than wines made from grapes picked later in the normal-harvest window. In principle, the grapes picked later in this window, which naturally accumulate more sugar and have the potential to make higher-alcohol wines, are used to make richer, fuller-flavored, and more costly wines. However, overlain on these differences, which are already stylistic, is another with a much stronger fingerprint: whether available sugar is completely (or almost completely) fermented so

that the finished wine is dry, or whether unfermented sugar remains in the finished wine, making it sweet in some degree. So, for example, in Austria’s Wachau, where essentially all normal-harvest wines are made dry, those designated by the trademarked names Steinfeder or Federspiel are earlier-picked, brighter-flavored, and lighter-weight. Those designated Smaragd are picked later and are fuller-flavored and a tad stronger. In Germany, the same fundamental distinction used to underpin the terms Kabinett, Spätlese, and Auslese (and still does when very noticeable sugar is left in the finished wine), but the use of those rubrics in connection with dry wines is now discouraged by the association that represents many of the best estate producers, the Verband Deutscher Prädikatsweingüter (VDP). In their place, German producers often designate their first-picked Riesling as an estate bottling, or Gutswein, and typically blend fruit from multiple vineyards into the same wine. Later pickings usually carry the name of a village or an individual vineyard. Because Riesling ripens late, it often ripens in the presence of botrytis, the genus of a fungus that can affect the skin of ripe grapes under damp or cold conditions, dehydrating them and causing a variety of chemical changes, some of which produce sublimely and distinctively tasty results. Although botrytis-affected grapes can make some of the world’s most delicious and expensive wines—like desserts in a glass— they are problematic for dry wine. Dehydration concentrates sugar beyond the ability of most yeast to ferment it completely, and the fungus also produces botryticine, which is toxic to most wine yeast. The extent of botrytis infection, which varies as a function of weather, soil composition, aspect, and elevation, is a critical factor in the harvest of grapes intended to make dry Riesling; the greater the infection, the harder it will be to make a dry wine, even if the vintner does not mind the f lavors associated with botrytis-affected fruit in dry wine, which many do. Bright, edgy, taut wines brimming with fruit, flowers, and minerality are generally impossible when significant botrytis is in play.

Some winemakers entirely exclude botrytisaffected grapes from their dry wines, sending pickers into the vineyard with two baskets, one for botrytized fruit and one for clean grapes. The former are used to make a residually sweet wine; the latter are reserved for dry. Others tolerate small amounts of botrytis in their dry wines as long as the juice remains fermentable. For yet others, botrytis is determinative of style: beyond whatever threshold the vintner may impose, the wine is made residually sweet rather than dry. Finally, there are noninterventionists who let the wine ferment as it will and leave Mother Nature to decide its style.

TANKS, CASKS, AND PRESSES Riesling is made around the world, in thousands of cellars large and small, chock-a-block with much of the same equipment, in more or less the same way. Like virtually all white wines, it is made by separating grape solids from their juice straightaway. By contrast, red wines are made by keeping solids and juice together. Although it is perfectly possible to press all grapes, including Riesling, with a conventional basket press, high-tech presses that rely on compressed air, offer temperature control, and are almost infinitely programmable for speed and weight of pressure have become quasistandard everywhere. The juice itself, before fermentation, is minimally or aggressively clarified. Fermentation is executed in tanks of many sorts and sizes, usually made of wood (typically oak or acacia) or stainless steel. Occasionally an egg-shaped concrete fermenter is used (see Gård Vintners in Washington State, page 310, for an example). Selected yeast strains are sometimes introduced to control the fermentation, but a substantial minority of winemakers rely mostly or entirely on naturally occurring yeasts. Once a fermentation is complete or has otherwise stopped, the new wine may be left undisturbed for a time, remaining in contact with the full detritus of fermentation, but at some point a process of clarification begins, at once or in stages, that

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“finishes” the wine before final blends are made and bottled. Within this basic process is a huge range of variant practice driven by environmental sensitivities, individual winemaking philosophies, different images of the wine its maker wishes to create, different stylistic objectives, different commercial models, different tolerances for risk, and parameters that must be modified to suit the unique circumstances of individual sites and vintages. More than 100 permutations of this basic protocol are described in part II, but the scope is limited to vinifications that produce dry Rieslings in the end. The balance of this chapter compares and contrasts the main variations in Riesling production, paying particular attention to parameters that are determinative for dry editions of Riesling, and looks briefly at the differences between contemporary winemaking and winemaking in earlier times. Although the basic protocols used to make Riesling are not substantially different from those used to make any other normally harvested white wine, the ubiquity of Chardonnay in the modern wine world (and the extension of some originally Burgundian practices to Chardonnays made in other corners of the world) invites attention to a few important differences between the handling of the two varieties. Although Riesling is frequently fermented in wooden casks, winemakers minimize the olfactory impact of the wooden material on the wine. Wooden vessels used to vinify Riesling are almost always large containers, in which the ratio of the volume of juice to the surface of the container is enormous. These containers may be used for many decades. The high volume-tosurface ratio and the age of the vessels combine to ensure that the wood does not overtly flavor the wine. Exactly the opposite is true of Chardonnay and white wines made like White Burgundies: those wines are raised and sometimes also fermented in small (usually 225-liter) barrels, a large percentage of which are new in each vintage. Often the inside surface of the barrels is toasted to impart specific f lavors. When this is not financially feasible, oak chips

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may be added to stainless-steel tanks to mimic the f lavor effect of small and freshly coopered barrels. In the case of Riesling, the objective is entirely opposite. So-called barrel fermentation, new wood, and barrel toast are anathema for Riesling, which generally benefits from container neutrality and suffers from wood-associated makeup. However, many Riesling makers prefer large wood tanks to stainless steel ones, believing that the interaction of wood and new wine increases stability downstream and makes it easier to clarify the new wine after fermentation is complete. In Austria’s Kremstal, Michael Malat (see page 263) thinks that the crystals of potassium bitartrate that have precipitated onto the inner surface of his large-format wood tanks in the course of repeated use help with clarification.

BEFORE FERMENTATION White winemaking creates juice straightaway, and thus the finished wines are minimally inf luenced by compounds resident in grape skins, especially phenolics. Abundant phenolics can impart strong and sometimes bitter flavors inconsistent with the sensory profile consumers now associate with quality in white wines. Some phenolic inf luence can be felicitous, however, giving complexity and structure to wine. Some skin and juice contact is inevitable during the course of pressing, and longer press cycles at gentler pressures obviously create more skin contact than shorter cycles. Some winemakers opt for yet more contact, destemming and lightly crushing the berries and holding them several hours or overnight before dumping them into the press. In fact, such prepress skin contact can be especially useful when the objective is dry wine, since it creates texture and complexity upfront that can substitute for residual sugar in the finished product. Skin contact can also be helpful in reducing the acidity of finished wines from very cool vintages, though it is usually counterindicated if the grapes, at harvest, are in poor condition or substantially affected by any form of rot, including the aforementioned

botrytis. So-called whole-cluster fermentation, where the fruit goes into the press exactly as it came off the vine, was more common 20 years ago than it is today, but it still has devotees who prefer the delicacy, purity, and fresh-fruit aromatics of Riesling that has not been diluted or overlain with phenolics from the skins. In Alsace, Dirler-Cadé relies on whole-cluster pressing exclusively, as do Hidden Bench Winery and Flat Rock Cellars in Ontario, to name just three of many examples. Winemakers have different views about juice. Some prefer to proceed into fermentation with juice that has been made almost entirely free of whatever solid matter survived pressing, believing that clean juice makes wine that needs less treatment after fermentation. Others think of surviving solid matter as a complexifier. Either way, some solid matter is essential to successful fermentation, so winemakers who aspire to clean juice often report problems with fermentations that self-arrest prematurely. In the least intrusive scenario, the juice is allowed to settle for a few hours or overnight until a relatively clear fraction can be separated from the solid matter that has fallen to the bottom of the tank, which is abandoned. Or the juice fraction at the tank bottom can be filtered or centrifuged before it, too, is fermented in one way or another. In a more aggressive scenario, winemakers treat the juice with material such as bentonite, a type of clay that acts as a coagulant, helping solid matter to cohere and fall out of suspension. Pectolytic enzymes are also sometimes used to decrease the viscosity of juice— Riesling seems to be a genuinely gooey variety—and thereby speed settling. In Austria’s Kremstal, Weingut Nigl is an especially firm opponent of enzymes; in New York’s Finger Lakes, Hermann J. Wiemer is a rare example of an entirely bentonite-free cellar.

FERMENTATION There are almost as many permutations of fermentation as there are winemakers, involving tank types and sizes, fermentation temperature

and length, and yeast, which is almost limitlessly controversial. And everything about fermentation needs to be understood against several backgrounds. First, 150 years after Louis Pasteur discovered that yeast enables fermentation, new discoveries are still being made about yeast behaviors and pathways in winemaking, and many of these discoveries are at odds with received wisdom. It has been found, for example, that not all yeast is ambient. Some lives within the skins of intact berries. Second, it is widely believed, at least by European makers, that Riesling is an intrinsically difficult variety to ferment, a property that is attributed to an alleged natural nitrogen deficiency or to deficiencies of other micronutrients, as a decent supply of both is essential to successful and complete fermentation. Monika Christmann, the experienced enologist who heads Geisenheim University’s Institut für Oenologie (Institute of Enology), disputes this, citing experience amassed over the 20 years she has overseen the university’s winery, fermenting countless lots of varietal wines, based on many grape varieties grown in the university’s 36 hectares of vineyard. In this controlled environment, Christmann and her colleagues have found that Riesling is no more problematic to ferment completely than any other variety. She suggests that what has been reported as a variety-specific problem is probably another issue in disguise: perhaps insufficient soil nutrition (see above); excessive use of bentonite, which “can reduce the level of nutrients in the juice”; inappropriate use of a centrifuge to clean the juice (both “useless” and “counterproductive”); excessively cold fermentations; or use of “aromatic yeasts” (see below), which have been found to demand more heat and nutrients than most naturally occurring strains. Nonetheless, many experienced Riesling makers believe that Riesling is inherently problematic. Most makers rely on some strain or strains of cultured yeast to ferment Riesling, although most serious makers avoid cultured yeasts that have been selected or even designed to produce specific and exogenous aromatic consequences,

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that is, to make the finished wine smell like something it is not, such as a banana. The main reasons for using cultured yeasts are that makers believe they have more predictable behaviors than naturally occurring yeasts and that they produce consistent results from year to year and vineyard to vineyard, minimize the risk of stuck fermentations, and work fairly rapidly. Favorite yeasts among the producers profiled in part II include those selected from iconic Riesling vineyards such as Steinberg in the Rheingau and Heiligenstein in the Kamptal, now widely available from suppliers worldwide, and yeasts that were originally selected for use in Champagne, where neutrality is prized. However, a significant minority of producers instead rely on naturally occurring yeast, which is a combination of yeast that comes in from the vineyard (both inside berries and ambient) and yeast that has taken up residence in the winemakers’ cellars. These winemakers prefer naturally occurring yeasts because they are indigenous rather than extraneous to the wine they are producing; because each genus of yeast in a “natural” fermentation brings its own signature to the resulting wine, cumulating in complexity and individuality; and because natural fermentations are typically longer and slower than cultured ones, which has advantages for wine shape and structure. A useful strategy, when makers relay on naturally occurring yeast, is to jump-start the fermentation with a pied-de-cuve, which is the creation of a starter for the main fermentation. It is made by prefermenting a very small quantity of fruit in a relatively controlled environment to increase the population of yeast that is naturally resident on the skins. Producers then add the starter to the main fermentation at the time it is begun. Many makers who rely on naturally occurring yeast are also practitioners of biodynamic viticulture; examples include Marc Tempé, Bott-Geyl, and ZindHumbrecht, in Alsace; BattenfeldSpanier, in Rheinhessen; Peter-Jakob Kühn, in the Rheingau; and Pacific Rim, in Washington State. This enhanced form of organic farming prohibits most agrochemicals and relies instead on field

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sprays made from animal horns and manure and silica applied in homeopathic quantities. However, biodynamic certification does not require that fermentations be unyeasted. Although it remains controversial, many of the world’s most-respected vintners have embraced it with enthusiasm. The vast majority of the world’s Riesling now ferments rather quickly, finishing in less than three weeks, an outcome desired by many makers for many reasons, often commercial. Simply put, a wine that has finished fermentation by the January after the vintage can almost always be made ready for market in the spring. Regional, national, and international trade fairs crowd the springtime calendar, and many makers feel compelled to have new wines ready in time for those events. Cash-f low or loan circumstances may compel a producer to sell wine early, too. When a three-week fermentation is desired, for whatever reasons, a relatively high fermentation temperature is tolerated as long as it is not high enough to threaten the viability of the yeast. Some makers, however, notably Olivier Humbrecht, at Zind-Humbrecht, believe that rapid fermentation “makes Riesling too hard, too reductive, and too tight.” Cleaving to an entirely different path, ZindHumbrecht and a few others not only take steps to ensure that fermentation tanks stay cool, but also avoid selected yeasts (see above). The consequence is very long fermentations that last for many months and sometimes more than a year, during which time the so-called secondary fermentation, which converts malic acid into softer lactic acid, also unfolds. Secondary fermentation is highly atypical of most modern Rieslings and is anathema for many makers who prize taut brilliance in dry wines and overt fruitiness in sweeter editions; they take explicit steps to avoid malolactic conversion. But the long fermentation and concurrent malolactic conversion actually mimic Rieslings as they were made a century ago. Many winemakers incorrectly believe that malolactic conversion cannot occur in very acidic wines, notably those with a pH of less than 3.0. But Geisenheim’s

Christmann confirms that it can happen at any level of pH. When the objective is dry Riesling, the end of the fermentation is key. There are two scenarios: in the first, fermentation consumes almost all the sugar in the juice and stops of its own accord. In the second, the winemaker intervenes when a bit of sugar remains, and he stops the fermentation before it self-arrests. To be dry by European law, it is necessary that the finished wine contain less than 9 g/L of unfermented sugar and no more than 2 g/L more than the wine’s content of total acid. Most fermentations of normally harvested grapes, if they have not self-arrested in midcourse, go drier than 9 g/L if left to their own devices, typically stopping between 5 and 2 g/L, but the final resting place depends on the biochemistry of the must, which is different for every tank in every cellar in every vintage, and on the strength of the last yeast strain to control the fermentation. (Current research shows that just a single strain of yeast is involved in each alcoholic fermentation’s last lap, though the active strain is not the same from one fermentation to another.) But even among makers who like dry Riesling, aim for it, and have made it their primary house style, only a minority actually permit all fermentations to finish undisturbed. Their technique can be as simple as decreasing juice temperature by a few degrees or racking the clear juice off the lees, or they may deactivate the yeast with sulfur. The reason to intervene, virtually all makers say, is to assure a “balance” between finished acid and residual sugar (see “What Is Balance in Riesling?” page 25). In larger wineries, the same effect can be obtained by blending tanks that have gone “completely” dry with tanks that have ceased work or were stopped with significant amounts of sugar intact. In some jurisdictions and under some circumstances, it is also permitted to adjust the wine’s final content of sugar by adding unfermented juice from earlier in the season, or from a previous vintage, to a finished or stopped fermentation. It is interesting to note that interventions to stop a fermentation before

it naturally ends are unusual in Austria but fairly common in Germany and the United States.

POSTFERMENTATION In the days when most normal-harvest Rieslings were noticeably sweet, most new wines were separated from their fermentation lees as soon as the fermentation was no longer active, since the omnipresent combination of unfermented sugar and viable yeast was inherently unstable. Mass-market Rieslings and blends were actually reverse engineered, first fermented relatively dry and then resweetened with an unfermented or partially fermented sweet reserve called Süssreserve. In the case of dry Riesling, in which only small amounts of sugar remain, extended contact of new wine with the full fermentation lees, or at least the silky sediment called fine lees, has become an increasingly common parameter, as long as the lees are clean and healthy, the acid is high, and the wine is kept cold. In fact, prefermentation settling may have removed anything that would otherwise have ended up as gross rather than fine lees, so that postfermentation lees are all fine by definition: they consist only of spent yeast cells. So-called sur lie aging, done with or without stirring the lees along the way, is fairly common in the case of many white wines and is especially useful in the case of very dry Riesling, which risks being perceived as lean or austere. It is vastly better, in the view of many winemakers, to offset that aspect with texture, body, and some of the yeastiness that is associated with late-disgorged Champagnes, than to deacidify the wine. In my opinion, it is also better than assuming that the only foil for high acid is more sugar. It is now quite common to see extended lees contact used in tandem with prefermentation skin contact to build texture and body in dry Riesling. Still, among Riesling makers, extended lees contact is rarely very long. It is often measured in weeks and rarely exceeds six months. This restraint is sometimes a very specific stylistic choice; Rudi

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Pichler, in Austria’s Wachau, for example, limits its length to avoid “losing the sharp interpretation of mineralic soils.” Another stylistic consideration is malolactic conversion, which is a common side effect when a new wine spends a long period on its lees. Nine Riesling producers out of 10 deliberately avoid malolactic conversion, believing that the lactic acid produced when certain bacteria metabolize malic acid robs Riesling of freshness at best and imparts dairy-product flavors at worst. Others mistrust lees as a precursor to reduction, which can manifest as “funky” aromas, even though such aromas are usually cured with aeration. Commercial considerations, however, already mentioned in connection with fermentation length, are the main reason that most producers avoid long contact of new wine with lees. Critics and customers are waiting for a new vintage, and bankers are waiting to be paid. Nevertheless, a few Riesling producers embrace very long contact with lees, routinely keeping new wines until just before the following vintage or even longer. These are often the same makers who rely on naturally occurring yeasts, which work more slowly than selected ones; the two processes work together. These producers accept malolactic conversion along with long fermentations and extended lees contact, and they accept that their cellars must be large enough to accommodate several vintages at the same time, and that their wines may go to market a year or two after most wines from the same vintage have been sold. Several producers—Roland Schmitt in Alsace and Radio-Coteau in California, for example—have seen malolactic conversion occur spontaneously and episodically in their cellars, without baleful or unpleasant effect. Once the new wine has been definitively separated from its lees, it is essentially made, and the remainder of winemaking is concerned more with the wine’s stability and suitability than with its style. Clarification and stabilization now typically rely on racking, which may be done several times, often with the use of a colloidal agent (bentonite again, or isinglass), and most Rieslings are filtered one way or

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another, usually with a membrane tight enough that neither yeast cells nor problematic bacteria can pass through it. The use of bentonite in notyet-fermented juice, albeit widespread, is controversial. When it is used after fermentation, bentonite cannot, of course, interfere with fermentation, but some studies have shown that it strips desirable flavors and aromas out of wines, especially delicate and brightly f lavored ones such as Riesling. Entirely unfiltered Riesling is rare; even very dry Rieslings are filtered before bottling, as are those that have experienced long fermentations and extended lees contact. When the wine is quite dry and high in acid, and especially when it is the result of a long self-stabilizing fermentation, sterile filtering ref lects an abundance of caution, since refermentation under such circumstances is highly unlikely. However, winemakers say they sleep better if they filter their wines before bottling. A few exceptions—Tempé, Nigl, and Radio-Coteau— are found in part II. Sulfur, used in winemaking for at least 20 centuries, is usually added, at least in small quantities, at one or more points in the making of every Riesling. This is done to reduce the risk of microbial infections, universally regarded as undesirable; some winemakers also use it generously to finish wines that are intended for long keeping, on the theory that they will age more felicitously since sulfur retards oxidation. Germans traditionally have been fairly heavy users of sulfur; Alsatians and Austrians more often than not have a lighter hand.

WINEMAKING IN THE 19TH CENTURY Chapter 4 touched tangentially on early winemaking, and here we look a bit further into the topic. Although a winemaker active in the 19th century would be astonished by some of the equipment in modern cellars, he would find that the basics of winemaking have not changed fundamentally since his own time. The practice of pressing white wines before fermenting them is at least that old. Basket presses of one sort or another were used throughout the medi-

eval and early modern periods, and they persist here and there today for small lots of wine. Michael Moosbrugger (see Weingut Schloss Gobelsburg, page 254) uses a basket press to make a version of Riesling he calls Tradition, which deliberately mimics the protocols in use at the beginning of the 19th century. And, with no intention to imitate old practice, so do Rhys Pender and Alishan Driediger (see Little Farm Winery, page 299) for the tiny production of Riesling and other varieties they make in British Columbia’s Similkameen Valley. Moosbrugger explains that in the 19th century, wine was made without settling the juice before fermentation, “but the basket press filtered it naturally,” making sedimentation almost unnecessary. Pender and Driediger do not settle their basket-pressed juice, either. The basket press also had the advantage of creating an easily reusable cake of pressed skins and stems that producers customarily rehydrated to make a weak second wine for ordinary folk, a custom that has disappeared, for better or worse, in favor of inexpensive mass-market wines. Of course, all 19th-century fermentations were spontaneous and entirely dependent on naturally occurring yeast, and they were longer than the three-week express versions that are typical today thanks to cultivated yeasts and temperature control. But the most pervasive difference was the attention given routinely, two centuries and more ago, to the active management of new wines postfermentation. Chapter 4 discussed lengthy élevage and repeated racking, which was standard practice at the time. Moosbrugger describes these tasks as the cellarmaster’s main job, done to ensure that the wine “breathed,” just like people, and there-

fore oxidized. Erich Landsteiner, who teaches economic and social history at the University of Vienna and studies wine history, confirms that frequent and repeated rackings, done to separate the new wine first from its gross lees and then, gradually, from the fine lees, were normal as early as the late 17th century and that two or three rackings in the wine’s first year persisted into the second half of the 19th century. At this point, there is some evidence that isinglass (Schwimmblase) was added to the wine-clarification protocol. According to Landsteiner, white wines were then held in cask for three to six years and kept on their lees until they were bottled, or sold still in the cask used for élevage or in smaller vessels more suitable for transport. Apparently, however, it was unusual to sulfur new wines in the 18th and 19th centuries, at least in Austria—the handbooks used in Lower Austrian wine schools discouraged the use of sulfur except to help conserve empty casks. Yet Landsteiner has found “many notices of faulty wines,” so perhaps a more liberal sulfur regime would have been helpful. The regime just described mercifully replaced an earlier protocol, for aromatized wine, that existed in and before the 18th century in both Lower Austria and the Rhine Valley, though in the Rhine it was apparently a specialty commodity rather than a mainstream one. In the late Middle Ages, at least some popular wines, both white and red, were deliberately f lavored by hanging sacks of herbs and spices inside the fermentation or élevage tanks, imparting f lavors of wormwood, sage, mint, cinnamon, saffron, ginger, and nutmeg inter alia (Malli 2001). In both regions, the resulting product was called spiced wine (Würzwein).

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SIX

What Differences Do Clones Make?

n the past 20 or so years, the word clone

I

has followed terroir into marketing materials and ordinary consumer conversations about wine, as if it were a crucial property of varietal typicity or wine quality. Alas, both words are used imprecisely even by winemakers and industry insiders, creating a miasma of confusion for everyone else. In the case of clone, much of the buzz surrounds a few grape varieties, notably Pinot Noir, for which the bandwidth of clonal variation is especially broad, but multiple clones of virtually all varieties, including Riesling, exist. In chapter 2, we saw that, for each variety of vinifera, the entire worldwide vine population is descended from a single mother wine, itself either a natural seedling or the handiwork of breeders working under controlled conditions. In either case, from the first vine forward, all the progeny have been created vegetatively because vinifera, being highly heterozygous, rarely stays true to variety when it is propagated from seed. It follows that most of the DNA for each variety of vinifera is identical, which is in fact how varieties can be definitively finger-

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printed, and how each variety’s varietal parents can be identified. However, even the most basic of biological processes—growth and evolution—involve mutations. These imperfections in DNA replication are natural, inevitable, and ubiquitous in all organisms, animal and plant, including wine grapes. Most mutations are inconsequential and unobservable, involving only what geneticists call “noncoding” or “junk” DNA, but some are highly visible and significant. Among wine grapes, some mutations have changed a variety so inescapably that the mutation has been incorrectly accepted as a new variety. More commonly, mutations affect a vine noticeably but do not alter its varietal typicity. Typical mutations affect properties such as berry size or cluster architecture, yield or phenology, or sensory properties such as aroma and taste, making one mutation more desirable than another for cultivation in a particular region, or more capable of producing wine with specific sensory attributes while remaining true to variety. In the universe of wine grapes, when cuttings are taken from a mutated vine to propagate new ones, the “imperfections” gener-

ally go along for the ride, effectively creating a subpopulation of the total varietal population that is different from other subpopulations, whether accidentally or by intent, and for better or for worse. In modern viticulture speak, these subpopulations are called clones. The International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV) has developed a formal definition: a clone is the vegetative progeny of a single vine plant chosen for its undisputed identity, its characteristic phenotype, and its sanitary condition. Just as it is difficult to say precisely how many varieties of wine grapes exist, it is difficult to estimate the total number of wine-grape clones, but clones certainly outnumber varieties. In France, to cite an important example, more than 18,000 clones of 105 varieties exist in 117 recognized conservatory collections tied directly or indirectly to the clonal selection process overseen by the Institut français de la vigne et du vin (IFV), though fewer than 1,200 of them have been approved and numbered by the Comité technique permanent de la sélection (CTPS). Figures in the same order of magnitude are estimated for Spain and Italy, which, along with France, are Europe’s most vineintensive countries. In France, the conservatory collections are an accumulation of plant material gathered over more than half a century as a sort of genetic reservoir for clonal selection past and future. In other countries, new clonal selection work is more likely to begin with scientists prospecting in old vineyards for producing vines that appear to reflect the target variety’s genetic diversity. In Germany, the Bundessortenamt (Federal Plant Variety Office), which is in some ways analogous to the CTPS, currently registers just over 400 grapevine clones, of which about one-fourth are clones of Riesling. This figure has grown smartly over just the past 15 years, revealing that clonal selection for Riesling in Germany is alive and well.

THE ORIGIN OF CLONAL SELECTION Most interest in clones has focused on varieties grown in France and Italy, the former because so

many major international varieties have French origins, the latter because Italy is home to an astonishing number of apparently autochthonous varieties. But clonal selection actually originated in Germany, in the second half of the 19th century. In the beginning, it was all about healthy vines capable of producing reliably abundant harvests. At the end of the 19th century, unprecedented threats to vine health exploded across Europe, largely the indirect result of emigration in the wake of midcentury political revolutions and population growth. People and plant material crossed the Atlantic without restriction, carrying vine diseases in their wake. Phylloxera is the best known of these. A microscopic insect of North American origin hitherto unknown in Europe, it threatened the very survival of the French and Italian wine industries during the 1870s and 1880s. The eventual antidote to phylloxera—planting new vines on resistant rootstock—posed new threats; it is widely believed that grafting scion material to rootstocks spread several viral diseases. In Germany in the 1870s, the problem was not phylloxera, which barely threatened Germany until later, but fanleaf, an endemic viral infection of vinifera since the origin of the species, apparently exacerbated by an especially cold period in a generally cold climate. Fanleaf manifests as a pattern of discoloration on grape leaves that has the shape of an Oriental fan, but the virus also affects productivity, causing incomplete pollination and stunted clusters. Many German vineyards saw yields drop to a fraction of erstwhile normal. In this circumstance, Gustav Adolf Frölich (1847–1912), a grape breeder at Hassloch, near Neustadt in the Pfalz, best known as the breeder of Dunkelfelder, noticed that new vines of Silvaner, propagated from an apparently uninfected parent vine, stayed healthy and highly productive even as those propagated from visibly infected vines fared worse. With this observation, Frölich seems to have become the father of clonal selection, which is basically nothing more complicated than vine-specific selection of budwood, segregation of progeny by individual mother vine, and careful evaluation

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of outcomes. Appearance of vine disease at any point in the replication process disqualifies all progeny and antecedents from further use. Frölich’s work led to a major reduction in leafroll, and the technique was widely adopted by German vine breeders and research facilities as early as the 1880s (Schmid et al. 1995). It soon became clear that clonal selection could be used positively as well as defensively to create large intravarietal vine populations with identical properties—in other words, instances of a variety, each internally more or less identical but different from other instances of the same variety. As other approaches have been devised to mitigate vine disease, this positive use of clonal selection to identify and replicate vines with specific and desirable properties has predominated. Results depend almost entirely on selection criteria, which vary considerably from program to program.

CLONAL SELECTION FOR RIESLING Systematic clonal selection programs for Riesling, embodying Frölich’s concern for healthy and productive grapevines but emphasizing the identification and replication of vines with a range of desirable properties—and therefore the preservation of Riesling’s genetic heritage—began early in the 20th century. Unsurprisingly, given the distribution of Riesling, the first programs were sited in Germany. Additional programs emerged in France and California in the 1950s (the embryo of the California program is documented as beginning in the 1940s) and in Austria late in the century. Because each of these programs is materially related to the Riesling vines standing today in each jurisdiction and in Canada, they are summarized below. It must be understood, however, that despite the ubiquity of clones in each region today, such selection is and always has been an alternative to the older and originally dominant tradition of mass selection, in which winegrowers took cuttings from their own vines or from neighbors’, using criteria of their own choosing and often privileging diversity, to replace failing 70

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vines or to extend their plantings. Although now subject to various restrictions depending on the jurisdiction, mass selection remains alive and well everywhere Riesling is grown. The world of Riesling today is overwhelmingly clonal, but not universally so.

Neustadt The earliest program was launched at Neustadt in 1910, when the Pfalz was still part of the Kingdom of Bavaria. In 1908, what had begun life in 1899 as a municipal trade school for wine and pomology was absorbed into a royal institution, the Königliche Wein- und Obstbauschule, which oversaw the programs. According to Joachim Eder, a specialist in phytomedicine at the Dienstleistungszentrum Ländlicher Raum Rheinpfalz (DLR Rheinpfalz, the modern incarnation of the Wein- und Obstbauschule), the most “fruitful vines in [Pfalz] vineyards were first marked for a period of at least three years” beginning in 1910, and then the best 15 were selected from among those tagged (Eder 2014). Three years later, 10 vines from each of the 15 were propagated and planted on their own roots in a segregated block. Selection criteria included plant vigor, generosity of f lowering, and low susceptibility to diseases such as bunch rot. Juice from these selections at harvest was analyzed to privilege high yield, high must weight, and relatively modest acidity. Between 1928 and 1934, owing to the spread of phylloxera, 13 of the 15 selections were replanted on resistant rootstock. Of the 13, one excelled above all others and was designated N 90. Contemporary documents describe it as “characteristically Riesling” but noted that it had “a special f loral character slightly similar to Roter Traminer.” The upstream vineyard source of N 90 is “unclear” (Eder 2014). Work on N 90 was interrupted by World War II, during which some other Neustadt selections are said to have been lost, but it resumed thereafter, investigating particularly if N 90 could be mechanically cultivated. Mechanization was a key part of programs to improve

agricultural efficiency in the 1960s and 1970s. Toward this end, vines were planted on at least two rootstocks (5BB and SO4) using various spacings. Because N 90 grew well, especially in 2-meter rows with 2 meters between vines in the same row—a density well adapted to mechanical cultivation—but also because it gave consistent yields in different sites while continuing to produce wines with the same distinctive Traminer-esque f lavor noticed in the 1920s, it emerged as the only survivor from the selection project begun in 1910 and was finally registered with the Bundessortenamt in 1956. In May 1963, Foundation Plant Materials Service (FPMS, now FPS) received plant material from the “Landes Lehr und Forschungsanstalt, Neustadt” that included budwood labeled “Riesling Klon 90.” Following the customary tests and certification, FPS released this in 1970 as White Riesling FPS 12. In 2003, it was renamed Riesling FPS 12 when FPS discontinued use of the White Riesling name. Meanwhile, in the 1990s, DLR reselected from among the vines in its N 90 mother block, presumably to determine whether, in the almost 40 years since N 90 was first registered, individual motherblock vines had developed significant mutations. Since these third-generation selections showed “no substantially deviating characteristics” (Eder 2014), none was separately registered with the Bundessortenamt. N 90 therefore remains as it was in 1956: a single clone of Riesling, and the only Riesling clone to originate at Neustadt. Some confusion emerged, however, on the American side after an unusual arrangement was made in 2008 among DLR Rheinpfalz, Marc Fuchs (a plant pathologist at Cornell University), and Dr. Konstantin Frank Vinifera Wine Cellars (see page 281), with the agreement of the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and cognizant New York State agricultural authorities. Pursuant to this agreement, 1,500 rooted vines (N 90 on a Neustadt instance of SO4 rootstock) were planted in an approved quarantine block at Dr. Frank, monitored by Fuchs, and Dr. Frank made experimental batches of wine from the first harvests, report-

ing its results. Although there should be no difference between vines propagated from the 1963 budwood import via FPS and those contained in the 2008 import of grafted vines, save for the rootstock, Dr. Frank has indicated a preference for the latter. Yet because the 1963 transaction is documented only at the California end and not at Neustadt, records apparently having been lost at DLR Rheinpfalz, the official position of DLR Rheinpfalz is that only the 2008 transaction can be confirmed as being N 90.

Geisenheim Meanwhile, by far the largest, longest-lived, most continuous, and best-documented clonal selection program for Riesling began at what is now Geisenheim University in 1921. This institution, the best-known and most important wine research and training facility in Germany, began life in 1872 as the Königlich Preussische Lehranstalt für Obst- und Weinbau (Royal Prussian College for Fruit and Winegrowing), one of several research and training centers devoted to pomology and viticulture that were established by the Kingdom of Prussia in the latter part of the 19th century. From the program’s beginning in 1921, it focused more attention on Riesling than on any other variety “because riesling was the most widely planted variety in the surrounding Rheingau” (Schmid et al. 1995). The basic protocol was straightforward: plant material was tagged in and collected from the source vineyards, and 10 vines were propagated from each of the initial selections that passed visual tests for health. Fifty-vine and then 100-vine populations were created from the best performers, with repeated rescreening for signs of viral disease. Selection criteria were not unlike those used at Neustadt: healthy vine growth, consistent yield, and good wine quality. But “a particular aim was the preservation of the wide genetic basis of this traditional variety,” according to Ernst Rühl, the current director of the Institut für Rebenzüchtung (Institute for Grape Breeding) at Geisenheim. The criterion probably involved led to the collection of budwood not

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just from Rheingau vineyards, but also from farther afield. By the 1950s, after work had been interrupted by World War II, seven clones of Riesling had “passed”: 24 Gm, 64 Gm, 94 Gm, 110 Gm, 198 Gm, 237 Gm, and 239 Gm. Harvest data (see Schmid 2013) collected at Geisenheim for all these clones between 2008 and 2012 show that all produced juice of similar must weights and virtually identical acidity. (Must weight is mostly a measure of sugar, and sugar transforms to alcohol during fermentation, so must weight can be understood as ripeness expressed as potential alcohol.) Yields were quite similar as well, ranging between 14.4 and 16.6 kilograms per hectare, although 237 Gm was an outlier at just 11.8 kilograms per hectare. On the other hand, monoterpene concentrations varied widely in wines made separately from each selection. The 24 Gm and 94 Gm were low overall in monoterpene concentration and therefore less aromatic, while 64 Gm, 110 Gm, 198 Gm, and 239 Gm were all showier. The concentration of individual monoterpenes also varied significantly from clone to clone. Consensus opinion about the Geisenheim clones holds that 24, 64, and 94 are characterized by relatively light flavors and good balance, while 110 is often extremely fruity, slightly “Muscaty,” and borderline atypical. This may ref lect its especially high content of geraniol, the terpene associated with the pungent aroma of geraniums. Meanwhile, 198 Gm is said to show elegant fruitiness and strong f lavors, and 239 Gm expresses a broad range of fruit f lavors, perhaps owing to its especially high concentrations of six terpenes. Interestingly, the same observations are made on both sides of the Atlantic, so these differences seem to be genuine properties of the clones rather than expressions of terroir or vintage. Note, however, that the original vineyard source of each selection is no longer known. Rühl explains that information about the vineyard source of the older Geisenheim clones has usually not survived. For more recent selections, the information is known but not divulged to

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avoid spurious commercial claims about vine provenance. In the 1960s, under the direction of Helmut Becker, Geisenheim turned the attention of its clonal selection program to what are called subclones. This involved no new collection of plant material from source vineyards, but instead reselection to segregate the progeny of one mother vine from another, even though all vines in the mother block had originally been propagated from the same individual. Once complete, what had been the single selection known as 198 Gm, for example, was now 198– 10 Gm, 198–12 Gm, 198–16 Gm, 198–25 Gm, 198–30 Gm, and 198–44 Gm, all within clone group (Klongruppe) 198 Gm. Rühl explains the logic of subclones as “an insurance and failurerecovery tactic”: if a virus were to be eventually found in a vine propagated from a registered clone, and that if virus could be traced to just one subclone, no warning flags would be associated with the others. Happily, resort to failure recovery has so far been unnecessary, and sensory tests done to compare wines made from individual subclones have found no significant differences among them.

Erbach Only a few kilometers from Geisenheim, a separate clonal selection program was begun, apparently also in 1921, by what was then the Königlich-Preussische Weinbaudomäne (Royal Prussian Wine Estate), now the Hessische Staatsweingüter (Hessian State Domain). To house this program, the Weinbaudomäne established a mother block in 1928 within the Honigberg vineyard at Erbach, its vines selected from several of the domain’s vineyards, and followed it for approximately 35 years. Best known among the source vineyards is Steinberg, a 32-hectare parcel once cultivated by the Cistercian monks at nearby Kloster Eberbach and walled during the second half of the 18th century, but cuttings were also taken from vineyards in Hattenheim and Rauenthal. In 2004, the entire program was transferred to Geisen-

heim, but even before this happened, some selections from the Honigberg-based program were given Geisenheim numbers. Thus three selections from Rauenthal vineyards (Rauenthaler Baiken and Gehrn) are known either as Rauenthal 69, 95, and 98 or as Rauenthal 69 Gm, 95 Gm, and 98 Gm; three from Steinberg are known either as Steinberg 7, 9, and 26 or as Steinberg 7 Gm, 9 Gm, and 26 Gm (Schmid et al. 2011). Some of these selections have been included in vineyard performance and juice chemistry comparisons with other Geisenheim clones, where the most significant difference was that the Erbach clones as a group are much shyer-bearing than most of the Geisenheim clones. Despite their exalted pedigree, however, these clones seem to have attracted little attention outside the Rheingau.

Other German Programs In addition to the programs at Neustadt, Geisenheim, and Erbach, I encountered clones from two other public programs in the course of research for this book. The progeny of both remains alive and well in numerous vineyards. The first is at the Staatliche Lehr- und Versuchsanstalt für Wein- und Obstbau at Weinsberg in Baden-Württemberg, another important school for viticulture and enology training, which is associated with at least three registered selections of Riesling: We 29, We 49, and We 158. In comparative studies, We 158 has been trialed side by side with several Geisenheim clones and N 90 and has produced similar results, with good must weight and robust yield (Laidig et al. 2009). The Weinsberg selections are all presumed to have originated in Baden vineyards, although this is not confirmed, and they are popular among Baden growers but have not been widely adopted farther afield. The second program is at Niederhausen in the Nahe, where what was originally the Weinbaudomäne Niederhausen-Schlossböckelheim, another Prussian foundation, ran an extensive program of clonal selection, especially for Riesling, until the 1990s. It is responsible for at least three

clonal selections of Riesling that have been widely planted by Nahe vintners—DN 378, DN 391, and DN 500—and demonstrate yields, must weights, and acid contents quite comparable to the Neustadt and Geisenheim selections. Since 1999, the Weinbaudomäne has been in private hands, most recently reinvented as Gut Hermannsberg, and clonal selection there has ceased. Private breeders are also permitted to perform clonal selection operations and to register clones with the Bundessortenamt. Such work is overseen by the Aktionsgemeinschaft zur Erhaltung von Rebsorten, e.V., within the Bundessortenamt. Weis Reben, the nursery arm of Weingut St. Urbans-Hof at Leiwen on the Mosel, is the best-known example of the private breeders involved in clonal selection for Riesling, owing partially to its very successful promotional and vine sales program among its Mosel neighbors and in several North American areas, especially Ontario’s Niagara Peninsula. According to Nik Weis, who is now in charge at St. Urbans-Hof, the Weis program began in 1947, soon after the new German federal government had first permitted private businesses to breed vines for distribution. Nicolaus Weis, Nik Weis’s grandfather, selected budwood from vines in his family’s vineyard whose upstream source was plant material from the Bullay Institute, which had been the site of a major center for vine breeding before World War II. This selection came to called Weis 21 or Weis 21B. It is now by far the clone of choice in Ontario and is widely planted in the Mosel, but it also shows up on lists of clones planted by growers throughout Germany, Austria, British Columbia, and occasionally the United States, where it is typically known as Riesling FPS 1. It has a reputation for robust acidity, modest sugar accumulation, and relatively high yield. Weis 17, another Weis offering registered with the Bundessortenamt, was “based on vines selected out of the mother blocks of Weis 21,” according to Nik Weis. In the 1960s, his father, Hermann, purchased new plant material from a grape breeder in

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Windesheim, which became Weis 1. Nik Weis says the selection criteria for Weis 17 were “yield stability and softer flavors [than Weis 21], tending toward yellow fruit.” For Weis 1, the objectives were “lower acidity, lower yield, and high quality.” Weis 21 was sold by Weis-Reben as early as the 1950s; the other selections came later. All are still on offer. Research published by Friedrich Laidig of the Bundessortenamt also reports a trial of Weis 29 (Laidig et al. 2009), but Nik Weis says Weis-Reben has no records of any such selection: a good example of the mysteries and confusions that can surround clonal nomenclature and numbering. Another such mystery, unrelated to Weis, is a selection known variously as clone 356, Trautwein 356, and 356 Fin, with “Fin” said to represent a shortening of the surname Finkenauer. Although there are several German vintners named Finkenauer and others named Trautwein, none, as far as I know, can be definitively associated with 356. For reasons that are no longer known, an instance of 356 was among the cuttings sent from Neustadt to California in 1963, along with the aforementioned N 90. Following quarantine and viral testing, it was distributed in California first as White Riesling FPS 14 and then as Riesling FPS 14. After it was treated with microshoot tip culture therapy in 2006 to eliminate rupestris stem pitting, it was rereleased as Riesling FPS 21. I have yet to meet anyone able to unscramble this confusion. Possibly because of its mysterious origin, 356 has never attracted much attention in the western United States, but remains available from FPS.

Austria In 1921, clonal selection programs officially began at Klosterneuburg (Austria’s main center for wine research, viticultural training, and winemaking since 1860) when a grape-breeding institute was created within the Höheren Lehranstalt für Wein- und Obstbau (Federal College for Viticulture, Enology and Fruit). However, it does not appear that a large number of 74

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clonal selections emerged from the institute’s work until much later. In the 1930s, several important vintners also undertook private selection programs, especially Franz Pichler, who worked primarily with Grüner Veltliner (see page 240). Today, Klosterneuburg offers several selections of Riesling to interested growers, including one “certified national clone” designated A 7–1. It was taken from a Wachau vineyard planted and farmed by the legendary Josef Jamek (Weingut Josef Jamek) and was registered in 2005 following agreement from a tasting panel that it produced varietally typical Riesling. It is sometimes informally known as “the Jamek clone.” Yet Ferdinand Regner, the institute’s director, confesses that the Lehranstalt invests little effort to bring new Riesling selections as far as registration and commercial distribution since “many growers prefer to use clones from Geisenheim.”

France In France, clonal selection commenced in the 1950s, when authorities recognized that vineyards in many regions had been badly damaged during the war, by war-induced depletion of the agricultural workforce, and by the long-term effects of deleterious viticultural practices, including the massive use of agrochemicals and chemical fertilizers. The French approach was to organize regional programs, coordinated nationally, that were run directly by public institutions. The lion’s share of attention went to high-profile viticultural regions such as Burgundy and Champagne, where the economic impact of viticultural diseases was especially significant, but at the end of the 1950s, some clonal selection was also done in Alsace, at the Colmar Centre of the Institut national de la recherche agronomique (INRA). A single disease-free, productive, and organoleptically desirable clone of Riesling emerged from INRA’s work in 1971: known locally as Clone 813, it became CTPS 49 when the CTPS registered it. Until 2006, it was the only approved clone of Riesling in France. Although some quality-

oriented vintners turned against CTPS 49 in the 1990s (see “Clones versus Mass Selection,” below), it accounted for a huge percentage of plantings and replantings for three decades and was appreciated for making attractive, bright, fruit-driven wines. While CTPS 49 enjoyed its de facto monopoly in Alsace vineyards, INRA’s Colmar Centre continued work on some of the nearly 200 vines it had collected in 1971, which were planted in its conservatory collection. From these, the center tagged and replicated an additional 16 selections and then planted 50 vines of each selection in its experimental vineyard in Osterberg (see page 155). Seven additional clones were chosen from the 16 selections, and they were registered with CTPS between 2004 and 2006 (these are further discussed in “Clones versus Mass Selection”).

California Clonal selection was also the backbone of the California Grapevine Registration and Certification Program, developed at the University of California, Davis, in the 1940s and ’50s in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the California Department of Food and Agriculture. This program, known informally as the “clean stock” program, was operated by the Foundation Plant Materials Service (FPMS), now Foundation Plant Services, a department of the university’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. To some extent, the program was built on foundational work done privately by Louis M. Martini (1887–1974), a California vintner of legendary distinction and curiosity, in the 1940s and ’50s. Martini took cuttings of many varieties from pre-Prohibition vineyards such as Monte Rosso, in the Mayacamas Range between the Napa and Sonoma valleys, from which he propagated new vines that were replicated and planted at the Stanly Ranch in Carneros, which he acquired in the early 1950s. Hard on Martini’s heels came the work of Harold Olmo (1909–2006), a grape breeder and viticulturist who brought some of Martini’s selections to UC

Davis, conducted additional budwood safaris in California vineyards, and was instrumental in the import of selections taken from European vineyards. A bit of old Riesling was still in production at Monte Rosso in the 1940s, and it was the source of what are now (in FPS-speak) called Riesling FPS 10 and Riesling FPS 28. Both were heat-treated in the 1960s, and FPS 28 was given tissue culture therapy in 2008 (Sweet 2009). California indigenous grapevine resources were limited, however. With only a small number of old vineyards from which to cull cuttings, the clean stock program relied increasingly on plant material newly imported from Europe. In these cases, the FPS contribution was to test the imported material for diseases, typically viral; to treat the vines so that such disease was eliminated; and then to distribute the sanitized plant material for use in California vineyards. Because federal law after 1948 required quarantine and a licensed plant pathologist’s certification that imported material was disease free, this became the primary business of FPS, which explains why FPS numbers are used in the United States to designate grape selections that were previously known by European numbers. Cuttings identified as 110 Gm, received at FPS in 1952, are the original source of FPS Riesling 09 and FPS Riesling 24, the former heat-treated and the latter sanitized by tissue culture therapy in 2007. Also imported in 1952 and found virus-free at FPS was 198 Gm; it was first released as White Riesling 02 in 1965 and later, after 2003, as FPS Riesling 17. Consensus assessments of these selections, which were widely used in California for several decades (and in Oregon after the rebirth of that state’s wine industry in the 1970s), are that 110 Gm produced extremely fruity wines with f lavors reminiscent of Muscat, which some tasters regarded as borderline atypical for the variety, and that 198 Gm, which was generally lower-yielding than 110 Gm, showed an “elegant fruitiness” and “very pronounced f lavors” (Martin 2002). Finally, cuttings identified as 239 Gm were imported via

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BOX 6A TASTING CLONES IN OREGON Many finished Rieslings are effectively monoclonal because they were taken from vineyards overwhelmingly devoted to a single selection. In addition, some vintners harvest and ferment individual clonal selections separately, blending them late in the winemaking process. It is, however, unusual to taste multiple monoclonal bottlings from a single vineyard in the same vintage. But Chehalem’s Harry Peterson-Nedry has a scientific bent and background: when he began Chehalem’s Riesling program in 2003, he acquired scion material for six selections of Riesling from Broadacres Nursery in Hubbard, Oregon, and dedicated part of his Wind Ridge Vineyard to a clonal trial. Of the six selections, three were registered California instances of German clones (see page 75). The others were a proprietary instance of CTPS 49, an instance of 苲Weis 21 via Chateau Grand Traverse in Michigan, and an instance of 苲239 Gm via the Hermann J. Wiemer Nursery in New York (note: a tilde before a clone name, such as 苲Weis 21, means that the instance is reported and assumed to be that certain clone). One-quarter hectare was planted to each of the six, and small batches of wine have been made separately from each selection since 2007. In December 2014, I tasted these wines from the 2013 vintage, and notes on each selection appear below. In 2013, the clonal blocks were picked over a four-day period for purely logistical reasons and not because some selections ripened earlier than others. In most vintages, all selections matured more or less identically, and in some years (2012, for example), it was logistically possible to pick and press them all on the same day. Potential alcohol, total acid, and pH values have also been quite similar across the selections, generally clustering near 11°, 8.5 g/L, and 2.85, respectively. The same has usually been true for yield, which has been just under 2.3 tons per acre (roughly 30 hectoliters per hectare), but FPS 09 behaved atypically in 2013, throwing twice the usual yield. In the cellar, the wines were treated identically: the grapes were whole-cluster pressed, yeasted with the same yeast, and fermented in stainlesssteel tanks with similar capacities. These wines offer an unusual window into the organoleptic

properties of wines made individually from some of the most popular Riesling selections, from vines in their 10th leaf that were planted side by side in the same Oregon vineyard.

苲239 Gm Herbal, spicy, peppery, and full-flavored, showing a nice balance of textures and flavors; bright and racy overall. The only one of the six that, to my palate, made a “complete” wine on its own.

FPS 12 (苲N 90) Soft, fruity flavors, especially pear and whitefleshed melon; some white pepper and a slight tendency toward a bitter edge on the finish; understated.

苲Weis 21 Soft attack, then sweet at midpalate with notes of peppermint, bitter lemon, and salt-rimmed margarita; some floral attributes; finishes with some grip and texture. Interestingly, though probably coincidentally, this selection, originally from Bullay near Zell, yielded the wine that could most easily have been mistaken for halbtrocken from the Mosel.

CTPS 49 Exuberant and extremely spicy impression of ginger, cumin, fennel seed, and tarragon; glycerinround at midpalate; a very happy balance of texture and aromatic interest.

FPS 17 (苲198 Gm) Oily, round, cinnamon-inflected, intense, and very slightly bitter; minty on the finish.

FPS 09 (苲110 Gm) Spicy, redolent of bitter herbs, and borderline metallic, with some grit and phenolic properties on the finish; incomplete (to my palate) and slightly unflattering on its own.

Oregon State University in 1987 and were later transferred to Davis; this selection was initially known as FPS Riesling 02 and is now FPS Riesling 23. Generally, FPS identified registered selections of varieties consistently and sequentially, but a special problem occurred in the case of Riesling. Until 1999, all “true” Riesling had been called White Riesling at FPS. Thereafter, to conform FPS practice with accepted international norms, “Riesling” tout court replaced “White Riesling,” but the change was not applied retrospectively. Thus Riesling FPS 01 was not what had been White Riesling FPS 01 but a newly received and registered clone, namely Weis 21, which was reportedly sent from Trier to Oregon State University in 1988 and was then transferred to FPS. Very gradually, usually when a selection was treated to remove virus, Riesling selections that had previously been known by “White Riesling” numbers were given new “Riesling” numbers.

CLONES VERSUS MASS SELECTION, AND NEW PROGRAMS OF CLONAL SELECTION Growers on both sides of the Rhine and both sides of the Atlantic embraced clonal selections broadly and enthusiastically in the first decades of their availability. Clones were popular choices when individual vines were replaced or vineyards replanted, as many were in the 1960s and ’70s, and were the almost universal choice in Germany during Flurbereinigung, a nationwide scheme to restructure vineyards that had been transformed over time into a countless jumble of tiny parcels that could not be farmed economically on a large scale. German selections were also popular when new Riesling vineyards were planted in California, as more than 4,000 hectares were between 1969 and 1985. Of course, some tradition-oriented growers everywhere remained loyal to the conventional alternative, called mass selection, whereby cuttings were taken, more or less randomly or instinctively, from numerous vines,

privileging variety, tradition, or simply the hunches of individual growers. Yet the problems associated with viral infection were so pervasive that clones’ advantages were hard to dispute. This positive consensus about clonal selection, irrespective of variety, began to break down in the 1980s in Europe and eventually was questioned in the New World, too. The reorientation of opinion had many roots. Most fundamentally, it was a product of success. Just as the “won war” against many human childhood diseases is now the backdrop for some parental decisions not to vaccinate children against smallpox and polio, the dramatic reduction of leafroll and fanleaf through clonal selection and disease-elimination therapies has permitted many winegrowers to imagine that the need for disease-free vine material has lessened. In the United States, this has even taken the form of sotto voce assertions that “a little viral infection can be good” for wines, said to impart “more authentic f lavors.” Climate change has also played a role, reducing the importance of selections that ripen early; in some cases, the tables have been entirely turned and growers are now hungry for selections that are slower to ripen because they want to avoid grapes that are “sugar-ripe” before they have become “f lavorripe.” More important, however, is the explosive growth in the fine wine sector of the business, especially for wines from delimited sites from which production cannot be increased. For most practitioners in this sector, very expensive vine farming is now economically viable, as it is sustained by bottle prices that can now be as much as two orders of magnitude greater than the price of analogous generic wine. (In the first heyday of “premium” wine, in the 18th century, the spread between premium and generic rarely exceeded one order of magnitude.) It follows not only that yield is less important than it used to be, but also that high yield, often diminishing a wine’s body, concentration, and intensity, is now undesirable, while nuanced f lavors and precise expression of terroir have become a Holy Grail. Since most

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BOX 6B THE RELATIVE POPULARITY OF RIESLING CLONES Assessing the relative popularity of the various Riesling clones is difficult in the absence of reliable statistics on vineyard surface by clone, which exist for only one of the Riesling-friendly regions covered in this book: British Columbia. Here a commendable state-of-the-art collaboration between the British Columbia Wine Institute and Agriculture Canada, based at the Pacific AgriFood Research Centre in Summerland, has surveyed almost every block of every vineyard in the province, combining GIS location data with soils data and information provided by the vineyards’ owners or managers. In the case of Riesling, this noble work came up a trifle short: 75 percent of vineyards reported that the clonal identity of their plant material was unknown. Of those that knew the identity, 13 percent reported using Weis 21, 7 percent CTPS 49, and 3 percent 239 Gm. In Germany itself, three Geisenheim clones are believed to be dominant over all other selections, in part because they were the ones most used during the extensive Riesling replanting done from the 1970s to the 1990s: 110 Gm, 198 Gm, and 239 Gm. The relative popularity of these clones above other Geisenheim selections of Riesling is confirmed by published 1994 data on mother blocks, which generally reflect what is

clonal selections made in the middle decades of the 20th century privileged quite opposite criteria—high yield and predictable performance— quality-oriented growers have become restless with the clonal options that were available to them in the 1980s and ’90s. In the case of Riesling, and as a direct response to this evolution, at least the three most important European selection programs have debuted new-generation efforts. At Geisenheim, where no new clones were selected from the end of the 1950s to the end of the 1980s, an entirely new second-generation clonal selection program was begun in 1995. The selection criteria of generous yields, consistent performance, and relatively high sugar accumulation 78

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available for sale to growers (and availability also reflects demand): 31.8 hectares of mother blocks were devoted to 239 Gm, 27.8 hectares to 198 Gm, and 12 hectares to 110 Gm. Under 5 hectares were dedicated to all of the next most popular Geisenheim clones: 24 Gm, 64 Gm, and 94 Gm (Schmid et al. 1995). In their specific regions of origin, the Weinsberg, Neustadt, and Niederhausen selections have strong partisans. Austria and South Tyrol, true to their Germanic heritage, rely primarily on Geisenheim clones. In Alsace, all observers agree that CTPS 49 remains dominant over mass selections and the new CTPS clones numbered above 1000, though this is expected to change with time. In the United States, where most of the Geisenheim selections pre-3NN Gm are available, along with Weis 21 and N 90, interviews done for this book suggest a strong preference for the three most popular Geisenheim clones, with lesser but still noticeable interest in N 90 and 苲 CTPS 49. Foundation Plant Services, which has been the American gateway for almost all grapevine material and the source of heritage selections from California, does not collect or retain data on certified nursery increase blocks by clone.

were replaced by new desiderata: small berries to increase the ratio of skin to juice, privileging taste and texture at the expense of yield; opencluster architectures, reflected in smaller clusters by weight, to reduce the incidence of botrytis and gray rot. Since 1995, staff at Geisenheim have conducted budwood safaris into more than 400 old nonclonal vineyards, mostly but not exclusively in the Mosel, including one in which the vines (all own-rooted) date to 1896 and another planted with just eight vines covering less than 2 square meters. Several selections were taken from Rothenberg, the northernmost of the so-called Roter Hang vineyards between Nierstein and Nackenheim in Rheinhessen, which was not replanted during Flurbereini-

gung. About 2,300 individual plants were marked in these vineyards, about 40 percent of which, happily, tested negative for virus, thus yielding budwood suitable for additional selection screens. From this process, 18, all assigned Gm numbers in the 300 series, have now been registered by the Bundessortenamt. Compared to 198 Gm and 239 Gm, the most widely planted of the first-generation selections, the 3NN Gm clones are almost all lower-yielding, and most show less elevated acid at harvest than earlier selections did. Beyond those parameters, their common denominator is its absence. The 3NN Gm clones are much less like one another than were their predecessors: they display great variation in their berry weight and number of berries per cluster, in their susceptibility to botrytis, and in their aromatic expression. Quite a few quality-oriented growers have enthusiastically planted these selections, hoping that the selection criteria have genuinely privileged matters of relevance to very good and site-specific wines, but the jury is still out on results. Similarly, according to Joachim Eder, the DLR Rheinpfalz at Neustadt has begun a new program recently, prospecting for candidate vines in various regions of the federal state. As of this writing, however, this work remains at a very early stage, with no selections yet at the point of experimental lots of wine for evaluation and, of course, no selections yet registered with the Bundessortenamt. That CTPS 49 was the one and only approved clone of Riesling in France until 2006, combined with extremely well-documented studies showing that Alsace is a poignant example of global warming (see page 84), put special pressure on INRA Colmar to generate new clones from the many 1971 selections that were being trialed at Osterberg. Its work led to the approval of two additional clones of Riesling in 2004 and five more in 2006. These selections—CTPS 1089, 1090, 1091, 1092, 1094, 1096, and 1097—show that Colmar’s criteria for selection had changed, especially in respect to yield: each yields, on average, 20 to 40 percent less than CTPS 49. Partial data for 1089 and 1091, as

reported in the Catalogue des variétés et clones de vigne cultivés en France, also show that 1089 has smaller clusters than either 1091 or 49, while its individual berries split the difference between the other two (IFV 2007). According to INRA sources, when small lots of wine were made from each of the three, tasters described 49 as “true to variety” but preferred wines made from both 1089 and 1091 hedonically. Meanwhile, German and French agricultural regulations had made mass selection difficult de jure. In Germany, use of mass-selected plant material was absolutely restricted to the grower’s own vineyards, and sale of this material to other growers was prohibited. France was slightly more permissive: nurseries were permitted to sell vine plants based on uncertified plant material to third parties if the source parcel had been preregistered with the cognizant authorities, which gave the authorities an opportunity to inspect vines for visible evidence of disease and to deny registration if such signs were found. Exceptions were also made for scion material that was not a genuinely “new” selection but declassified clonal material with an irregular propagation history. While vintners found ways to circumvent these rules, effectively birthing an informal gray market in uncertified (“standard”) vine plants, the use of neighbors’ and friends’ mass budwood was effectively discouraged, especially when the intermediary services of a nursery were required. In this circumstance, in addition to using new clones emerging from the INRA Colmar Centre, Alsace vintners have devised two approaches. The first is an unusual partnership between INRA Colmar and the interprofession responsible for the promotion of Alsace wines, the Conseil interprofessionnel des vins d’Alsace (CIVA), to create selections that are less-than-certified but still subject to some professional oversight, and therefore less at risk for viral infection than mass selections. A Colmar Centre staff member, paid by the CIVA, now works with growers to create a professionally overseen program of low-risk mass selections. The second is a private initiative undertaken under the auspices of the Comité d’études des

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techniques agricoles du centre Alsace, which is an activity of the Chambre d’agriculture du Haut-Rhin and a small group of estate producers, including several profiled in part II (Domaine Albert Boxler, Domaine Mittnacht Frères, Domaine André Kientzler, and Domaine Mader, among others), to select vines from their own vineyards, propagate new vines from the cuttings, and plant these in a Kientzler-owned block in the Muhlforst vineyard (see page 169). As of 2012, according to Thierry Kientzler, new vines had been created from 100 candidate plants presenting interesting properties, beginning an unofficial selection process overseen but not controlled by professional pathologists. It remains to be seen, according to Kientzler, how long the selection process may continue, how many selections may be adopted by the group, or if such selections may eventually become available to growers outside the group’s membership, but it is certainly an indicator of the seriousness of interest in selections beyond the seven clones that are now available. It must be said, however, that other Alsace growers join INRA staff and academic experts in warning that vine diseases are by no means vanquished. Selections that do not follow best-practice protocols often turn up positive for various viral infections downstream, they say, putting both practitioners and neighbors at risk.

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For all the newfound attention to clones of Riesling that fit quality-oriented vintners’ preoccupations today, most viticulturists agree that the total bandwidth of intravarietal variation is narrower for Riesling than it is for some other varieties. Pinot Noir is the poster child for wide variation, with dozens of selections approved and distributed in France and newly available selections often eagerly awaited not only by French growers, but also by vintners working with Pinot Noir in other countries. Riesling seems be more stable genetically than Pinot Noir and to mutate less dramatically than Pinot, Chardonnay, or even Cabernet Sauvignon. In part II, I record the identity of plant material used in Riesling vineyards across the Northern Hemisphere where it is known, and the preferences of individual growers and vintners when they are revealed, but conversations on both sides of the Atlantic suggest that most practitioners are more concerned with terroir than with clones. If there is an exception to this generalization, it is that quality-oriented Riesling makers everywhere have turned decisively against generous yields (except in very warm sites where more fruit per vine is needed to slow ripening) and decisively in favor of open, well-ventilated grape clusters whenever the objective is Riesling that will be fermented to dryness.

SEVEN

Riesling Habitats in Western Europe

L

ike most wine grape varieties, Riesling

is grown predominantly in the Northern Hemisphere, ref lecting the fact that the wine grape species is native to the hemisphere and spread here for millennia before it was transported southward, and that the ratio of landmass to ocean is much greater north of the equator than south of it, especially in the temperate latitudes favored for winegrowing. Today more than 70 percent of the world’s Riesling stands north of the equator, against a bit less than 30 percent elsewhere. The distribution would be even further skewed were it not for Australia’s robust niche loyalty to Riesling, despite the Chardonnay wave that has swamped most of the white-wine world since the beginning of the 1980s. More remarkable is that a preponderance of Riesling is grown north of the 48th parallel and as far north as the 51st, a distribution that is decidedly atypical of all other so-called international varieties and germane both to the properties of Riesling (discussed in chapter 2) and to its styles (discussed in chapter 4). In Europe, Riesling’s habitats are found in a trio of riverine

basins radiating from the Swiss Alps. The first and most important of these is the Rhine Basin between Basel and Bonn, the former West German capital, where the so-called Middle Rhine ends and the Lower Rhine begins. In these precincts, the river is entirely navigable and hugely important as a pathway for commerce. Its valley is sometimes broad, sometimes squeezed between castle-studded hills, and sometimes scarred by industrial developments at the river’s edge, but it is often exceptionally beautiful. Beyond the valley of the Rhine itself, the drainage basin of the same name includes the valleys of several important tributaries, notably the Ill, Neckar, Main, Nahe, and Mosel, each storied in its own right. Subsequent sections in this chapter cover Alsace, the Pfalz, Nahe, Rheinhessen, Rheingau, and Mosel, but other areas are also quantitatively important. For example, there is as much surface planted to Riesling in the Mittelrhein, between St. Goar and Koblenz, as there is in Oregon; almost as much in Württemberg, on the right bank of the Rhine, opposite the Pfalz, as there is in Washington State; and four times more in Franconia, in the Main 81

Basin, as is found today in the whole of the Adige Valley. Overall, the Rhine Basin accounts for three-quarters of the total planted surface devoted to Riesling worldwide. The Danube Basin, Northern Europe’s other great river system, is now Riesling’s second most important Eurasian habitat, even though the variety was not introduced there until early in the 19th century. The Danube arises a bit north of the Alps in the wooded mountains east of the Rhine and north of the Bodensee, whence it f lows nearly 3,000 kilometers across eastern Europe to the Black Sea. For Riesling, the main area of interest is Lower Austria, beginning in the Wachau. This is the 33-kilometer arc of the Danube between Melk, the site of a massive Benedictine abbey, and Krems, now a modest city of 24,000 but once as large as Vienna, plus the overwhelmingly viticultural valleys cut by the Krems and Kamp rivers, which join the Danube soon after it emerges from the Wachau onto the Lower Austrian plain. The valley of a third tributary, the Traisen, which also meets the Danube near Krems, tends to be overlooked in the surfeit of attention showered on the Wachau, Kremstal, and Kamptal, but it should not be: its 45 hectares of Riesling produce wines of exceptional brilliance and minerality. There are also small Riesling habitats farther downstream on the Danube, in the Weinviertel and Wagram, in and around Vienna. In Pannonhalma, an array of east- and south-facing hills near Györ, in northwest Hungary, about 4 percent of the vineyard in planted to Riesling; in Etyek-Buda, another Hungarian region south of Budapest, the figure rises to 6 percent. Yet farther downstream, Riesling is grown in the valley of the Drava, upstream of its confluence with the Danube at Osijek. The Drava is another river of Alpine origin, and it traverses southeastern Austria and Slovenia before irrigating vineyards in Croatia on its way to its confluence with the Danube about 20 kilometers downstream of Osijek. The Adige is the third of the Alpine-origin river systems of interest for Riesling, though the variety’s footprint here is still quantitatively tiny. The headwaters of the Adige River are

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found roughly where Switzerland, Austria, and Italy meet; the river then flows southeast to the Adriatic Sea via Bolzano, Trento, and Verona. Introduced to the upper reaches of the Adige Valley in the 19th century, Riesling is grown on 62 hectares (as of 2013) of vineyard in the Val Venosta, upstream of Merano; in the Central Adige Valley, between Merano and Bolzano; in the area southwest of Bolzano known as the Oltradige; and in the Val Isarco, between Bolzano and the Passo del Brennero. Several of these are the highest-altitude Riesling vineyards in the world. Outside these areas, huge plantings of Riesling are reported in several countries in Eastern Europe: 2,700 hectares in Ukraine, 1,300 hectares in Moldova, 1,200 hectares in the Czech Republic, and 1,100 in Bulgaria. Numbers of these magnitudes have surprised people who follow Riesling elsewhere. Little detailed information is available, however, and little bottled Riesling from any of these areas is seen internationally, making it hard to cover this territory without intensive field research that was out of the scope of this book. In Western Europe outside the Rhine, Danube, and Adige drainages, tiny bits of Riesling exist in a few spots such as Catalonia, Portugal’s Estremadura, Switzerland, and corners of Northern Italy, where it is sometimes grown for serious commercial reasons and sometimes idiosyncratically. Some very good Riesling is made in Piemonte, where it has evolved into a niche product for at least four mainstream producers of Barolo and Barbaresco and is planted more or less cheek by jowl with Nebbiolo. The pioneer here is Aldo Vaira (Azienda Agricola G. D. Vajra), in the commune of Barolo itself, who has grown Riesling since 1985 in the Fossati vineyard, at the top of the Barolo hill facing east, and, more recently, in Sinio. Pietro Colla (Poderi Colla) also has a track record with excellent editions of Riesling on his hilltop estate between Alba and Barbaresco. So too do Ettore Germano, in Serralunga, and Ca’ del Baio, in Treiso. Germano’s vineyards are not in Serralunga but in a very high-elevation corner of the Dogliani appellation near Cigliè, more

BOX 7A MAKING SENSE OF VINEYARD NAMES, PERIMETERS, AND REPUTATIONS What Matt Kramer (Making Sense of Burgundy) once called “somewhereness” is now a quality that is taken for granted in most conversations about very good wine. It is generally assumed that wine from a specific place will be more distinctive, interesting, and arguably “better” than one blended from a wide area. Thanks to several generations of work on controlled appellation schemes in Europe—as well as American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) in the United States and both Designated Viticultural Areas (DVAs) and Vintners Quality Alliances (VQAs) in Canada—viticultural regions are now tolerably well defined, albeit with quite different bodies of associated regulations, on both sides of the Atlantic. When the focus zooms in, however, to individual vineyard sites, the picture is hazier. In most European regions, conventional nomenclature for many individual sites is centuries older than any system now used to identify parcels of real property for ownership, tax, and transfer purposes. Conventional nomenclature often has medieval or early modern origins; land ownership schemes date mostly from the 19th century. Unless the two have been proactively reconciled, individual vineyard sites end up with fuzzy or disputed perimeters, making it impossible to say where a site starts or stops, how much total surface it embraces, whose land is “in” an appellation and whose is not, and when the site’s name may and may not be used on a label. In wine regions without substantial traditions of product differentiation by individual sites, this lack of

than 500 meters above sea level, where steep, stony slopes are rich in limestone. He uses the Dogliani site for most of his white grapes; the Riesling, which carries the trade name Herzù, is a classy wine with strong flavors and bright acidity. There is also significant surface devoted to Riesling in Oltrepò Pavese, on the southern edge of Lombardy between Piedmont and EmiliaRomagna, but both real Riesling and Riesling

clarity is inconsequential. In others, where generations have recognized that some sites really do make consistently better wine than others, delimitation is important. Burgundy’s Côte d’Or has been everyone’s poster child for fine-grained and precise vineyard delimitation, thanks in part to long-standing traditions (described in France as locaux, loyeau, et constant, or “local, fair, and persistent”) but mostly to heroic 19th-century work by merchants, winegrowers, and others that was formally codified in the 1930s. Vineyard classification—the process of determining whether some sites should be recognized as better than others—is analytically separate from delimitation, but the two are often muddled together, with one mistaken for the other. Again, many believe Burgundy is the lodestone for how classification should work. There, the least exceptional sites are entitled only to the use of regional appellations, although in principle any lieu-dit (named place) that is cadastré (i.e., appears on a land-parcel map) can be used to designate a wine made from that place, regardless of its merit. Above Burgundy’s regional appellations sit village names. Atop the hierarchy are the famous premiers crus and grands crus, the vineyards whose wines command high prices because, in theory, they are the best sites. Since both delimitation and classification are hot topics today in all of Europe’s major Riesling habitats, sidebars throughout this chapter summarize the circumstances in Alsace, Austria, and Germany.

Italico (which is actually Grasevina) are grown here, and local sources say that many finished wines may actually be blends of the two. (One that is not a blend is the excellent, dry, peachand-flower-scented Riesling Renano Vigna Costa made by Paolo Verdi of Azienda Agricola Verdi Paolo, in Carreto Pavese, from an estate vineyard about 22 kilometers south of Pavia.) Finally, in what appears to be primarily a proof-of-concept,

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Rheinhessen’s Klaus-Peter Keller planted a small Riesling vineyard near Kristiansand in southern Norway in 2008, probably expecting that global warming will continue.

RHINE BASIN Alsace Alsace is the only wine region in the Greater Rhine Valley that is outside Germany, unless one also excepts the upper course of the Mosel, where the river flows through France and Luxembourg before crossing the German frontier. Alsace has not, of course, always been French, but neither has its northern neighbor, the Pfalz, always been beyond the control of French kings. Alsace is the southwest corner of the Rhine’s rift valley, covering the surface between the river’s west bank and the spine of the Vosges Mountains and stretching south to north from the Jura Mountains on the Swiss border to Wissembourg, which is about 60 kilometers beyond Strasbourg. The total footprint of this surface is compact, about half the size of New Jersey. The surface is divided among three distinctly different zones, each a south-north band. First is the broad, essentially f lat, fertile alluvial plain, exploited for grain and vegetable-oil crops and as pasture, bordered by the Rhine but irrigated largely by the river Ill. Next is the foothills of the Vosges, which rise from the plain gently in some places and abruptly in others, which are home to a host of small towns and villages, a bit of orchard, and considerable vineyard. Finally there is the east face of the Vosges, which are not really mountains per se but a highland massif marking the west edge of the rift valley. The Vosges are critical to the region’s macroclimate, which is generally continental, with hot summers and cold winters, but much drier than neighboring Lorraine. Because the massif builds quite gently from base to crest on its windward side but falls off steeply on the lee side, maritime moisture in the form of rain, fog, overcast, and humidity is substantially blocked, leaving the Alsatian foothills and alluvial plain,

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and the city of Colmar, with about the same annual rainfall as Sacramento, California, and annual sunshine hours similar to those in the Côte-Rôtie. The wettest months are May and July, each seeing about twice the precipitation that usually falls monthly from December through March, but October counts the largest number of rain-affected days, casting some doubt on tourism-oriented claims for “Indian summer” weather until the Toussaint holiday. Owing to high latitude, winter days are short and diurnal variation is compressed to less than 6°C, but the converse is true in midsummer, when the average daytime high temperature at Colmar is 27°C and the overnight low is 14°C. This makes Alsace the warmest region in the Greater Rhine Valley, substantially warmer even than neighboring Baden, only a few kilometers away on the east side of the Rhine. Like most wine regions, Alsace is affected by climate change, and it is now measurably warmer than it was 30 years ago. A study done at the Colmar research station of the French Institut national de la recherche agronomique (INRA) revealed that Alsace’s average annual temperature has increased 0.06°C per annum since 1972, for an overall increase of almost 2°C over 30 years. This change has been correlated with phenological changes observed in INRA’s ampelographic vineyard at Bergheim, where Riesling budbreak and f lowering dates were 15 days earlier in 2003 than in 1965, and the f lowering-to-veraison phase of plant growth shortened by about one day every five years, meaning that the critical phase of grape ripening—the last month before harvest—now occurs when prevailing ambient temperatures are warmer (Duchêne and Schneider 2005). Viticultural Alsace is largely confined to the aforementioned narrow ribbon of pre-Vosgian foothills on the east f lank of the Vosges, although vines have sometimes spilled onto the adjacent plain, especially when high yield has seemed more important than wine quality. It is an irresistibly attractive area dotted with small wine towns perched on hillsides or nestled in tiny transverse valleys, many still blessed with

BOX 7B VITICULTURAL APPELLATIONS AND SUBAPPELLATIONS IN ALSACE In 1962, a single unsubdivided viticultural region was created for Alsace, called the Alsace AOC (for appellation d’origine controlée). From the beginning, the name of any individual vineyard site (essentially, any lieu-dit in a winegrowing area) that was cadastré could also be used, in conjunction with the Alsace AOC rubric, to designate wines made from a single site. Yet in practice, such names rarely appeared on labels, although a few of them had been used historically. When producers did use individual vineyard site names after 1962, AOC specifications required that the names not stretch a “reasonable understanding” of the relevant land surface. The first découpage in the Alsace AOC began a decade later, when first 25, then 50, and finally 51 lieux-dits, all of whose names had been historically used to designate exceptional vineyard sites, were carved from the unitary appellation and separately classified as grands crus—the same rubric that is used to identify the best sites in Burgundy. Expert committees delimited each grand cru individually, reconciling its official

original or reconstructed 14th- and 15th-century buildings, their window boxes filled with f lowers. Cooperatives and négociant firms are still important to the business of wine in Alsace, but since the 1970s they have lost ground to a host of estate producers exploiting dozens of small parcels near home, making wine in cellars that, although often in use for a century, are now equipped with state-of-the-art tanks and presses. Geologically, the foothills are a series of ledges and terraces in a multi- and step-faulted area between 200 and 400 meters above sea level. Virtually all possible soil and bedrock types can be found in this space, often finely subdivided, and most of them work well for Riesling while giving wines with quite different structures and f lavor profiles. Marlstone soils

perimeter with the cadastral parcel map. Perversely, this process resulted in grands crus bloated to two or three times the size anyone had imagined possible at the outset. Appalled by the results, three well-known négociants famously opted out of the scheme, refusing to use the grand cru names at all. Domaine Léon Beyer and Hugel et Fils have maintained this position ever since; F. E. Trimbach is now softening. In 2013, a second découpage began when relevant vintners, the regional interprofession, and the national controlled appellation apparatus agreed to permit two additional uses of geographic names in connection with Alsace wines. First, they approved the names of 11 villages as, in effect, subappellations of the Alsace AOC, though they made each one valid only for certain specified grape varieties. Scherwiller and Rouffach were approved for Riesling. In addition, they agreed upon a process whereby additional lieuxdits, duly delimited like the earlier grands crus, could be accepted as premiers crus. When this book went to press, in mid-2015, no Alsace premiers crus had yet been approved.

with varying admixtures of limestone and clay occur often, generally producing full-bodied wines with generous fruit flavors. These soils, which hold water generously, are especially suitable for Riesling where they are scattered at various depths with broken rock from diverse parent material—the Schoenenbourg area, in Riquewihr, is a good example. Where the marlstone is richly mixed with limestone or underpinned with limestone bedrock, the wines tend toward strong citrus f lavors buttressed with vibrant acidity, especially if the site is cool; the Geisberg and Osterberg vineyards, in Ribeauvillé (see page 155), illustrate this correlation, as does Engelberg (see page 153), at Dahlenheim in the Bas-Rhin. Sandstone soils occur widely, especially north of Sélestat and between Guebwiller and Bergholz, generally privileging

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lively wine structures. Consider Altenberg de Bergbieten, in the Bas-Rhin, on the one hand (see page 150), and on the other Kitterlé, Saering, Spiegel, and Kessler, which share the Unterlinger hill between Guebwiller and Bergholz, south of Colmar (see page 165). There is also plenty of schist, similar to but more friable than Mosel slate, in viticultural Alsace, notably at Andlau, where Kastelberg (see page 162) is a good example of the svelte, muscular, and austere Riesling that can come from soils of this type. Yet perhaps nothing works more attractively for Riesling than granite and gneiss, which are the main materials at Schlossberg, in Kientzheim (see page 178); Brand, near Turckheim; and Sommerberg, at Niedermorschwihr (see page 185), birthing aromatic wines with fine acidity and crystalline minerality. Almost uniquely, Rangen, at Thann (see page 170), is built primarily of sedimentary volcanic material that conveys a distinct hint of smoke to its wine. Alluvial soils are rare in Alsace, except along the lower course of some streams that descend from the Vosges toward the Ill—Alsace owes more to parent rock weathered in place than to extensive water-borne deposits. The dominant impression of Alsace’s viticultural geology is a crazy quilt made of scraps so small that it is hard to find a cru that is internally homogeneous. Instead, radically different surfaces, subsoils, and parent rock types occur constantly side by side. Heterogeneity across sites is amplified by 200 meters of elevation bandwidth, slopes that range from very gentle up to 70 percent, and by an assortment of exposures from due east to southwest. The use of traditional names for Alsace vineyards, and the rectification of such names with the cadastral maps that have underpinned land ownership since the beginning of the 19th century, has varied over time. The names were modified substantially when the grands crus were established, beginning 1975, and are now once again being modified pursuant to agreements of principle reached in 2013 (see “Making Sense of Vineyard Names, Perimeters, and Reputations,” on page 83).

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Riesling today is the most widely planted variety in the Bas-Rhin, where it claims 22.5 percent of standing vineyard. It is the second most widely planted in the Haut-Rhin (20.9 percent), and it makes Alsace’s highest-priced normal-harvest wines. Yet the contemporary enthusiasm for Riesling did not begin seriously until the 1960s, though recovery from a late18th- and early-19th-century nadir was discernible around the turn of the century. The best corporate memory at Hugel et Fils (Marc Hugel’s father, André) thinks that the producer made its first varietal Riesling around 1880, but he also says that “Riesling” may not have appeared on a label until circa 1910. Even the Hugels’ centerpiece vineyard, Schoenenbourg, now almost entirely Riesling save for some Gewurztraminer near its east end, was probably not planted mostly to Riesling before the turn of the 20th century. To be sure, Riesling is plausibly documented in Alsace as early as the 15th century, at a time when wines, wine technologies, and wine expertise circulated freely throughout the Rhine Valley; plant material could easily have hitchhiked upriver from areas where it is known earlier. There is not much evidence, however, that Riesling’s first appearance in Alsace led to widespread adoption there. Even if it had, the Thirty Years’ War (1618–48) probably delayed its spread. There is some evidence that the French crown, acting through local magistrates, made varietal preferences part of its schemes to restore vineyards after 1648: several documents dated between 1650 and 1666 specifically cite both Riesling and Muscat on a short list of raisins gentils (noble varieties) to be permitted when vineyards were replanted at Colmar (Muller 2010). Despite these schemes, a plethora of varieties, good, bad, and mediocre, persisted in Alsatian vineyards throughout the 18th century. No fewer than 19 varieties were named and described by Frédéric-Guillaume Faudel of Mittelwihr in 1780, including many that were said to give mediocre wine, but also including Riesling, which was said to deserve the best sites (see Muller 2010). Also commenting on cir-

cumstances at the end of the 18th century, but writing 70 years later, Jean-Louis Stoltz, a physician and vintner turned ampelographer, said that Riesling was found in only a few privileged clos in aristocratic or religious hands, such as Rangen, Kastelberg, Altenberg de Wolxheim, and “Sonnenberg,” which was probably the vineyard now called Sonnenglanz de Beblenheim (Stoltz 1994). The revolution in 1789 only deepened Alsace’s viticultural mediocrity. Supply-chain disruptions and land redistribution inf lated the price of wine; inf lated prices stimulated excessive planting in unsuitable terrain; and the consequent surfeit of poor-quality wine ruined the market for better wine. Surface devoted to good but low-yielding varieties declined, while undistinguished but higheryielding varieties such as Elbling and Knipperlé, an undistinguished crossing of Gouais and Pinot Blanc, may have occupied up to 80 percent of Alsace’s total vineyard surface by 1850. A combination of bad vintages, owing to the cooling climate after 1850 and the transfer of Alsace from French to German rule between 1870 and 1918, made a dire situation worse. Alsace wines were denied access to their traditional French markets, while Germany used Alsace almost entirely as a source of cheap base wine for the sparkling wine called sekt in Germany. By 1919, fewer than 500 hectares of Riesling were left standing in Alsace, by this point almost lost in a depressing ocean of Silvaner and German crosses, but what Riesling did survive was probably planted primarily in very good sites. From this nadir, Riesling’s meteoric rise over the course of the 20th century, and especially since the 1960s, is an impressive change of fortune. Nowhere in the world today does Riesling grow amid as many other white varieties as in Alsace, except perhaps in the Alto Adige. Only a few Alsace vineyards are almost monovarietal Riesling enclaves—Geisberg in Ribeauvillé, Schlossberg in Kientzheim, and Rosacker in Hunawihr all come to mind—but the more usual circumstance finds rows of Riesling adjacent to rows of Gewurztraminer, or less fre-

quently Pinot Gris, Muscat, Pinot Blanc, and Silvaner. The juxtaposition of Riesling and Gewurztraminer makes little viticultural sense, since the two varieties have quite different habits and preferences, but it happens because they are Alsace’s two most widely planted varieties and bump against each other by statistical necessity. Generally, Riesling works well on shallower and more porous soil of whatever type, while Gewurztraminer, thirstier than Riesling, prefers deeper soils with higher moisture-holding capacity. Gewurztraminer’s relatively thick skins (like Muscat’s) make it harder to physiologically ripen, but it adapts well to heavy soils. The solution is often to plant Riesling and Gewurztraminer on the same slope, the former higher and the latter lower, where downslope erosion has created deeper dirt and higher clay content. As we have seen already, Riesling works well in a wide range of soil types but ref lects them transparently to yield wines with wholly different structures and f lavor profiles and quite distinct stylistic proclivities (see chapter 2). A general truth is specifically true in Alsace: dry Riesling is easiest to make, all other things being equal, from grapes grown in sites with generally lower relative humidity, better air circulation, and drier soils. Hence the privilege accorded to sites where granite-based and well-drained sandstone soils predominate and to higher elevations with good air circulation. It is not true that all Alsace Rieslings are dry, but it is true that even borderline-sweetish versions of normal-harvest Alsace Riesling contain less residual sugar than German wines made in the lieblich style. For some makers, the dry style is a matter of fidelity to tradition, strong in the case of houses such as Hugel et Fils and Trimbach. For others, it is a conviction about the best expression of Riesling in a region with Alsace’s attributes. Olivier Humbrecht, who surely makes some of the region’s most compelling wines, says he has come to believe that “dry is a better expression of Riesling in Alsace most of the time,” defining dry as between 1 and 7 g/L of residual sugar, but also aiming for alcohol

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between 12.5° and 13.1°. Higher alcohol risks excessive sweetness from the combination of sugar and alcohol, but lower alcohol risks sharpness from unripe fruit, while selected yeast can compound problems associated with incomplete ripeness, making, says Humbrecht, “the wine ferment too quickly. When Riesling ferments too quickly, it can become too hard, too tough, too reductive and too tight.” Generally, organic and biodynamic growers, a category that includes some of Alsace’s best, have more difficulty controlling botrytis in warm, wet years and in sites with higher relative humidity, and therefore they face wines that more often finish on the sweet side of dry. Climate change has simultaneously put some upward pressure on alcoholic degree or residual sugar, and vintners worry about what will happen if harvest dates continue to move earlier, increasingly shifting final ripening into a warmer part of the growing season. The bottom line, however, is that Alsace Rieslings, in the second decade of the 21st century, when they are made from carefully farmed sites where yield can be well controlled, can be stunning wines, displaying a perfect balance of generous flavors that owe as much to herbs and flowers as to fruit, alcohol that remains under 13.5°, residual sugars under 7 g/L, an entirely satisfying minerality and mouthfeel, and a spectrum of structural options that reflects the geological diversity of Alsace’s heterogeneous sites. Most producers think that the tendency—common in the 1990s—to leave off-dry levels of residual sugar in some of the region’s most reputed wines, especially those from grand cru sites, has now been reversed, except where naturally occurring botrytis makes a dry finish impossible.

Pfalz The Pfalz is Alsace’s downstream neighbor, lying between the Haardt Mountains, which are a northern extension of the Vosges, and the Rhine’s left bank, roughly between Wissembourg and Ludwigshafen. In a near-perfect analogy to Alsace, the west side of the Pfalz is 88

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hilly to mountainous, forested, and largely protected from development. Wine towns and their vineyards cling to low-elevation foothills, and a fertile plain fills the space between the foothills and the Rhine. Like Alsace, the Pfalz enjoys a relatively balmy macroclimate, protected from most weather of maritime origin and thus generally dry and temperate. Just as some east-facing vineyards in Alsace, if they are high enough in the Vosges foothills, command a view that extends to the silhouette of the Black Forest, so Pfalz vineyards with eastward orientation and sufficient elevation can see the Odenwald, where the sun rises. If the Pfalz’s south end is compared to Alsace’s north, there is, of course, virtually no climatic difference—when it is approached by car, not much changes except the signs’ main language. But if the midpoints of the two regions—say, Colmar and Forst—are compared instead, differences are noticeable. Although their temperatures are about the same in midsummer, midwinter highs and lows at Forst are 3°C colder than at Colmar, though the spring warms faster at Forst. Conversely, Forst cools faster and sooner after the autumn equinox, average daytime highs falling by 7°C from August to September, but only by 5°C at Colmar. The difference is due primarily to the full degree of latitude between the two towns: Colmar is just above 48°N, while Forst is substantially above 49°N. The Haardt Mountains also peak, on the average, 400 meters lower than the southern Vosges, blocking maritime inf luences less completely. Offsetting these parameters, Pfalz vineyards, especially north of Neustadt, are sited at lower elevations than most of those in Alsace, and sit on gentler slopes, often between 100 and 200 meters above sea level rather than between 200 and 400. In any case, Forst and neighboring wine towns accumulate enough heat to sustain fig trees and lemons and to justify a wildly popular almond blossom festival each year in March, and they enjoy enough sunshine hours and degree-days to ripen a host of wine grape varieties, including late-maturing Riesling and reds such as Portugieser, Dornfelder, and Pinot

BOX 7C PRUSSIAN TAX MAPS AND VINEYARD NAMES IN GERMANY In the second half of the 19th century, the Prussian government based land taxes on profitability. Land that was inexpensive to farm but whose crops could be sold at a high price was taxed at higher rates than land with lesser differentials. Between five and eight rates applied to vineyards, the number varying by administrative region. Attractive maps were promulgated to display taxrate information for a general audience, but they should be understood as a visual synthesis of underlying tax rates and not as primary documentation. In fact, rates often fluctuated much more rapidly than the maps could be revised, and in some regions the maps were published with extensive explanatory notes. Although winemakers often have represented the maps as a qualitative classification of vineyards, that description is only superficially true. Profitability and inherent quality correlate imperfectly and sometimes inversely, since the most respected hillside sites, which can be steeply terraced, are often the most expensive to cultivate and maintain, eroding their profitability. Furthermore, the Prussian authorities apparently were not much interested in the perimeters of vineyards with commonly accepted names that often dated back centuries. Instead they were content if each land parcel was properly assessed and its owner paid the applicable tax. Thus, while many commonly accepted names for sites appear on the Prussian maps, they are only orientational and informational labels. Neither the maps nor their associated notes tried to reconcile land-parcel boundaries with the surface designated by those commonly accepted names. However, both before and after the maps were issued, some stabs at classification in several individual wine regions were made. A century later came Germany’s 1971 Wine Law, a different matter entirely. It systematically suppressed about 90 percent of commonly accepted vineyard names by condensing approximately 30,000 such designations into 2,600 socalled single sites (Einzellagen). Most Einzellagen took the name of the best-known vineyard within their perimeters. Artificial aggregations of Einzel-

lagen were called Grosslagen, and aggregations of Grosslagen were called Bereiche. Multiple Bereiche composed entire wine regions. Valuable specificity about terroir was lost in this process, but that was not thought problematic at the time, even though it took Germany down a path quite unlike the rest of wine-producing Europe. Far from codifying terroir, as the burgeoning appellation-of-origin processes did elsewhere, the 1971 law paid it little heed, emphasizing sugar instead. Wines made from grapes with higher accumulations of sugar, and therefore higher potential alcohol, were deemed better than those dependent on less sugar, irrespective of origin or other properties of site. The 1971 law established a hierarchy of predicates (Prädikate) rather than a classification of sites: Kabinett was the humblest category of unchaptalized wine; Auslese was the most exalted category of “normal-harvest” wines. Beyond Auslese were Prädikate for very sweet, very late-harvest wines that were suitable only as or with dessert. Enter Germany’s most important association of estate producers, the Verband Deutscher Prädikatsweingüter (VDP). Keenly conscious of the shortcomings of the 1971 Law, the VDP devoted itself to extralegal improvements. In 1996, these included, in the VDP’s words, “a classification of vineyards, the advantages of which have long been recognized by other winegrowing countries.” Through its regional chapters, the VDP has been the pilot since 1996 of efforts to delimit Einzellagen to those portions of each bloated site that were genuinely better than the rest, and to denote those delimited portions with a rubric analogous to what the French call premier cru and grand cru. In the German federal state of Hesse, home to the Rheingau, the VDP classification has been incorporated into prevailing law, but elsewhere vineyard classification is still a private matter, controlled by and for the members of the VDP. The VDP’s Grosse Lage (not to be confused with Grosslage) and Erste Lage designations seem likely to percolate into applicable law in the near future.

Noir, with time to spare in late September and October. In the Pfalz, the foothills of the Haardt range are mostly sandstone-based and less kaleidoscopically heterogeneous than the soils of Alsace, though quite a few sites surmount limestone or basalt and there is no shortage of sand, especially in the north between Bad Dürkheim and Bockenheim. The granite outcrops and granitic soils of some Alsace vineyards are rare in the Pfalz. Soils on the whole are more fertile in the Pfalz for many reasons, sometimes because they are lower, deeper, and owe more to erosion, but the Pfalz is also slightly drier overall than Alsace, especially at the end of the summer. Now climate change has made drought-stress into an issue in the driest sites, such as Kastanienbusch, in Birkweiler (see page 218), which is also the highest-elevation vineyard in the Pfalz. The Pfalz south of Neustadt is called the Südliche Weinstrasse; the Oberhaardt, Mittelhaardt, and Unterhaardt account for the region’s northern half. Although there are world-class vineyards along the Südliche Weinstrasse, the larger share of prestige, at least since the 19th century, has gone to Mittelhaardt vineyards. An almost unbroken north-south string of remarkable vineyards lines up at the base of the Haardt foothills just west of Forst and Deidesheim, inviting comparison with a similar string of sites in Burgundy’s Côte de Nuits between Morey-SaintDenis and Chambolle. The Mittelhaardt string, which is barely 3 kilometers end to end and easily walkable in an hour, runs from Pechstein and Ungeheuer, surrounding Jesuitengarten and Kirchenstück, the latter literally upslope from Forst’s parish church, across Kalkofen and Hohenmorgen to Langenmorgen and Paradiesgarten on Deidesheim’s southwest side. None of these sites is steep or dramatic, but the conjunction of landscape and vine rows abutting village rooflines is irresistibly beautiful. Various admixtures of basalt, sandstone, and limestone detritus, bound with abundant loam and clay, create a patchwork quilt of adjacent terroirs with broad similarities but distinctive personalities that are capable of yielding some of the finest dry Ries-

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lings anywhere. Pechstein is recognizable for taut and mineral wines with intensity and great concentration; Kirchenstück and Langenmorgen win for complexity, tight-knit structure, and palate richness; and Kalkofen’s length and racy acidity are legendary. While this band of sites was famous in the second half of the 19th century, its reputation sagged under the weight of mediocre winemaking and abusive viticulture— some of which is still plainly visible—for much of the 20th century. Now many of the same houses that made the Mittelhaardt great a century ago have been revived under new leadership, and Deidesheim and the Pfalz have been especially revived. Single-vineyard Rieslings from houses such as Dr. Bürklin-Wolf, Reichsrat von Buhl, and Weingut von Winning, the last of these under new ownership since 2008, have been impressive in recent vintages. Von Winning, devoted entirely to dry wines while a sister label (Dr. Deinhard) covers residual-sugar editions, has farmed biodynamically, albeit without certification, since 2009, with no expense spared in the vineyard or cellar, and it now produces some of the finest wines that have ever been made from these sites. In part II, five Pfalz vineyards are profiled to illustrate very different terroirs that are taken seriously by their owners and vintners: Bürgergarten in Haardt, Idig in Königsbach, Saumagen in Kallstadt, Goldberg in Freinsheim, and Kastanienbusch in Birkweiler. Farther afield, especially along the Südliche Weinstrasse south of Neustadt, but to some degree along the full length of the region, relatively gentle topography, fertile soils, and the attractions of mechanized, high-yield viticulture have allowed vineyards to spill well beyond the edge of the foothills and extend for 10 or more kilometers onto the Rhine’s alluvial plain, creating a second Pfalz of regrettable mediocrity, whose wines have about as much similarity to the fine wines of the foothills as those made in California’s vast Central Valley have to wines from its coastal valleys. Although Pfalz winemakers who grew up after World War II remember learning in

school that Riesling was a local discovery found growing wild in marshland at the edge of the Rhine, it does not seem likely that the Pfalz has any greater claim to have birthed Riesling than the Main Valley, the Wonnegau, or the Mosel do. Certainly Riesling was a marginal variety in the Pfalz, as it was throughout in the Rhine Valley, at least until the second half of the 18th century. In 1744, the bishop of Speyer, located in the very heart of the Pfalz vineyards, tried to reduce his region’s reliance on Elbling; in this, he and others eventually prevailed, since estimates of vineyard surface at the end of the 19th century—about 15,000 hectares total—suggest that the main planted varieties were by then Silvaner and Chasselas (Brook 2003). Writer Stephen Brook claims that Andreas Jordan (1775–1848) planted Riesling early in the 19th century in what is now the Bassermann-Jordan estate, and Friedrich von Bassermann-Jordan describes a considerable preoccupation with Riesling in the Mittelhaardt at the end of the 19th century (Bassermann-Jordan 1923), so it is plausible to suggest that Riesling was sufficiently planted in the best Mittelhaardt vineyards that it could have been the basis of the golden age of Pfalz wines, which extended from around 1880 to the First World War. Certainly the Pfalz was the breadbasket and figurative wine cask of an explosion of wealth centered at Mannheim, which sextupled in population between 1815 and 1901, driven by the establishment there of successful industries such as those that turned into chemical giant BASF and automobile manufacturer Daimler-Benz, transforming Mannheim into a city of large houses and broad streets after 1848. Karlsruhe, a “new town” planned in the 18th century, also blossomed in the 19th century. Excellent vineyards between Neustadt and Bad Dürkheim, which had passed from church-related proprietors to bourgeois ownership in the wake of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic wars, were transformed into enormously successful wine estates, their product sought and sold across Europe. Their prosperity is still visible today in the elegant baroque houses built by

vintners in Deidesheim and on the Mandelring in Haardt. World War I and its aftermath ended the golden age, however. After 1919, many growers abandoned Riesling in favor of varieties bred expressly for their productivity. Of these, the first and most important was MüllerThurgau, bred in 1882, but Scheurebe, Huxelrebe, and Mori-Muscat were all widely planted in the first half of the 20th century. Riesling regained some of its earlier prestige after World War II, growing to cover 14 percent of the Pfalz’s total vineyard surface by 1979, overtaking Silvaner but not Müller-Thurgau. Finally it rose to the status of most planted variety in 2012, albeit with just 16 percent of planted surface. Riesling is now the white mainstay for virtually every serious producer in the “modern” Pfalz, invariably claiming the best sites and the vintners’ most extravagant attention, challenged only (if at all) by Pinot Noir, which covered 5.6 percent of total vineyard surface in 2012. No region has been more definitional for modern dry German Riesling than the Pfalz. This is ironic, since no region tried harder to make and promote dry wines, or was more organizationally active toward that end in the late 1970s and early 1980s, than the Rheingau. Many Pfalz producers, asked when they “began” to make dry wines, reply that they “always” made dry wines, which is somewhat misleading: the vast bulk of the region’s producers, of both mass-market and fine wines, made a majority of lieblich wines in that style’s heyday from World War II to the 1980s, and no small percentage of the Liebfraumilch exported from Germany in this period was made from Pfalz grapes. There are at least three explanations for the Pfalz’s seminal role in dry Riesling today. First is the region’s relatively balmy macroclimate compared to areas farther north. It has been objectively easier here to pick phenologically ripe grapes (especially late-ripening varieties), abstain from chaptalization, and still make well-balanced wines with little residual sugar, even before most late-20th-century climate change was perceptible. Second is the

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fortuitous association of Jakob Heinrich Catoir at Weingut Müller-Catoir with Hans-Günter Schwarz beginning in 1961, which gave this small winery outsized influence over an entire generation of winemakers, dozens of whom worked internships with Schwarz. Schwarz was not especially a champion of Riesling or a prophet for dry styles, but he was an early and inf luential advocate for low yields, sustainable farming, and nonintervention in the cellar, and all these orientations turned out to be indispensible to the creation of fine Rieslings with low content of residual sugar. It is a neglected verity that very good dry wine is not simply lieblich wine made without residual sugar, but a product of vineyards and cellars tended so that wines of noble structure can be built without reliance on sugar. Schwarz’s alumni, the list of whom is long, include many benchmark producers of the last quarter of the 20th century. They were not all in Pfalz, but many were. It is noteworthy that Hansjörg Rebholz, of Weingut Ökonomierat Rebholz in Siebeldingen, who made Rieslings circa 1990 that many observers still regard as the first drop-dead-gorgeous dry Rieslings in Germany, had trained with Schwarz. Third, it may have been helpful, owing partly to history and partly to fortuitous curiosity, that Pfalz winemakers worked seriously with Riesling in tandem with Burgundian varieties, notably Pinot and its lighter-skinned mutations, an eye out to Burgundy, trying especially to understand the alchemy of marrying varieties to site and in some cases making Pinot Blanc and/or Pinot Gris alongside Riesling. Finally, it did not hurt that several of the most successful wine estates surviving from the golden age were blessed with visionary new-generation leadership in the last quarter of the 20th century, reviving their own reputations and contributing mightily to a regional renaissance. Pfalz Riesling has a special profile: a conjunction of power and finesse with minerality and fruit, and it is now almost invariably dry or late-harvest sweet. Winemakers in Rheinhessen, next door, sometimes describe Pfalz Ries-

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ling as yellow-fruited, which is often fair but varies as a function of vintage. More typical in my experience is their structure, which varies by house, of course, but is most often firm, broadshouldered, and substantial, even as the wines are simultaneously pure and transparent.

Rheinhessen The Pfalz and the Haardt Mountains end about 20 kilometers north of Forst, giving way to an entirely different land- and winescape. Overall, the large rectangle called Rheinhessen, bounded on the east and north by the Rhine, which turns west at Mainz, effectively marking the north end of the rift valley it bisects after departing Switzerland, is a land of rolling hills and mixed agriculture, covered with relatively fertile loamy soils and a considerable coating of windborne loess, sometimes surmounting limestone and often mixed with sand or gravel. Gone is the relative concentration of vineyards between hills and alluvial plain; gone also is the hitherto omnipresent buffer of hills. Rheinhessen is a place where most land surface is exploited for a wide range of agricultural purposes. Field crops, vegetables, fruit trees, and wine grapes share space and grow comfortably here, although the grapes are a bit too comfortable in much of this area, yielding abundantly but not distinctively. The west side of Rheinhessen is irrigated by the Nahe, which also designates a separate wine region: its midsection is watered by the Selz, a modest river that empties into the Rhine at Ingelheim, and the east side is home to small streams that join the Rhine south of Mainz. Daytime high temperatures at Dalsheim, 20 kilometers from both the Rhine and Forst, are very similar to those at Forst throughout the growing season, but average overnight lows are higher, reducing diurnal variation by 1°C to 3°C. Dalsheim’s winters are milder, though, with both average minima and maxima 2°C to 3°C higher than at Forst. At Nierstein, on the riverfront, winter temperatures are not much different than at Forst, but summer maxima are 2°C to 3°C lower. Although

the Rheinhessen lacks the shelter of the Haardt Mountains, precipitation here is not much greater than in the Pfalz, and at Nierstein it is evenly distributed throughout the year. Viticultural Rheinhessen is a tautology: vineyards are found everywhere that urban sprawl has not driven them out. Rheinhessen is home to more vineyard than any other German region, more than 26,000 hectares in 2012, which is three times the planted surface of the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, 15 percent more than the Pfalz, and by itself a quarter of the national total. Even more telling, however, is that Rheinhessen accounts for nearly 29 percent of total German wine production, testifying to the prevalence of very high yields. A generation ago, this circumstance defined Rheinhessen: because high yields are possible in a benign climate with fertile soils and gentle topography, they are practiced. Abundant supply and indifferent quality depress prices, and soon indifferent wines are the only survivors. But the truth is that Rheinhessen has always made some of Germany’s finest wines and that a renaissance has been in the works here since the 1990s. Serious viticultural Rheinhessen is concentrated in two areas. The first lies along the edge of the Rhine between Nackenheim and Oppenheim, and especially between Rothenberg and Nierstein on red-shale cliffs called the Roter Hang that are almost literally suspended above the river. The other is inland of Worms, where Rheinhessen meets the Pfalz in an area of semisteep hillsides underlain with limestone. In this area, called the Wonnegau, hillside vineyards with thin, stony soils were abandoned in the 1970s and ’80s because they were hard to work and unprofitable as a source for inexpensive wine. Enter a handful of young winemakers able to acquire exceptional sites for depressed prices and willing to invest sweat equity to reclaim the historical reputation of vineyards such as Hubacker and Frauenberg in DalsheimNiederf lörsheim (see page 200), Morstein in Westhofen (see page 220), Kirchenstück in Hohen-Sülzen, and Zellerweg am Schwarzen Herrgott in Mölsheim.

Riesling has been grown in Rheinhessen since at least the 16th century, when it was repeatedly documented in and around Worms. As we have seen in chapter 3, however, it did not spread widely at the time for a variety of reasons, although it was the object of interest in some vineyard redevelopment schemes toward the end of the 17th century. Although it seems likely that Silvaner was the dominant variety in Rheinhessen for much of the 19th century, Riesling was far from absent—it was reported to have occupied almost 2,000 hectares around the turn of the 20th century, probably concentrated in the most famous vineyard area of the day, on the riverfront between Bodenheim and Oppenheim (Pigott et al. 2007). Local sources say that the approximately 100 hectares of vines in this area at the end of the 19th century were planted about 85 percent to Riesling and Silvaner and about 15 percent to Gewürztraminer and Orleans, usually in a field blend (in Gemischter Satz). The story of Müller-Thurgau, which spread rapidly across the vineyards of both the Rheinhessen and the Pfalz in the course of the 20th century, makes some sense against this background. It was a crossing of Riesling and Silvaner, bred at Geisenheim in the 1880s specifically to combine the aromatic intensity of Riesling with the earlier-ripening capacity of Silvaner and therefore to eliminate the late-growing liability of Riesling. By 1980, which was the high-water mark for Müller-Thurgau, it had spread from near zero to cover 27 percent of Rheinhessen’s vineyard. In the hands of utterly passionate young vintners, the Wonnegau now makes some of Germany’s best dry Riesling, built lean and lanky, with extraordinary minerality and salinity, great complexity, and elegance. The Roter Hang vineyards generally produce richer and showier wines, with almost cinematic appeal but less finesse than the best wines from the Wonnegau.

Nahe While the course of the Nahe River is plain enough, the Nahe as a wine region has some ragged edges. On the river’s lower course,

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between Bad Kreuznach and Bingen, all the vineyards on and beyond the left bank are considered to be Nahe vineyards. Most on the right bank belong within Grosslage Sankt Rochuskapelle in Rheinhessen, except near Bad Kreuznach, where the Nahe’s Grosslage Kronenberg spans the river to include vineyards on both sides. In the lower Nahe, the greatest concentration of vineyards is found in lateral valleys cut by tributaries descending from the Hunsrück to the Nahe, especially the Trollbachtal, the Guldenbachtal, and the Gräfenbachtal, areas that together account for most of the Nahe region’s planted surface and some of its largest Einzellagen (or “single sites”; see “Prussian Tax Maps,” page 89). Part II includes a profile of Karthäuser in Laubenheim, overlooking the Nahe, but at least two others also deserve specific mention: Goldlach, one of four entirely dissimilar vineyards lined up shoulder to shoulder on a southfacing slope overlooking the Trollbach, and Pittersberg, a 4-hectare site in Münster-Sarmsheim one kilometer northeast of Goldlach. In Goldlach, a thin layer of pebble-rich clay covers the bedrock, giving wines with a vibrant yellowfruit and flower profile, sometimes edgy with white pepper, mint, and bay laurel, and with minerality that seems to increase with bottle age. Seven vintages of Goldlach made by the talented team at Schlossgut Diel (run since 2006 by Armin Diel’s daughter Caroline and cellarmaster Christoph Friedrich), in adjacent Burg Layen, which I tasted in 2012, testified to the exceptional power of this site, planted in line with the slope except for a few cross-slope terraces, with some vines now as old as 90 years but most much younger. The site nearly always makes the most opulent of Diel’s four gg Rieslings, all of which are of exceptionally high quality. Pittersberg is a slate-based site with only a dusting of loam on top, midway between the aforementioned Trollbachtal and the Nahe River’s confluence with the Rhine, and it gives austere, highacid Rieslings reminiscent of Graach or Trittenheim on the Mosel. There are several good producers, but perhaps the best wine is

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made by Georg Rumpf at Weingut KrugerRumpf in Münster-Sarmsheim, a stone’s throw from the vineyard. Kruger-Rumpf has a bit more experience with dry wines than some of its neighbors, as Georg Rumpf genuinely liked the style as early as the 1980s. The Nahe’s upper course, upstream of Bad Kreuznach, is a different story, landscape, and macroclimate, and it is home to an exceptional collection of Einzellagen with very distinct personalities, including Klamm, Steinberg, Hermannshöhle (see page 210), and Kertz in Niederhausen; Dellchen and Kirschheck in Norheim; Felsenberg and Kupfergrube in Schlossböckelheim; Frühlingsplätzchen in Monzingen (see page 202); and Rheingrafenberg in Meddersheim (see page 225). Between Bad Kreuznach and Staudernheim, the river bends almost as dramatically as the Mosel, exposing very steep vineyards and a variety of soil types. Upstream of Staudernheim, the river’s course is more consistently west-east, but important chunks of vineyard are tucked in lateral valleys. Individual vineyards have distinct geologies, sometimes sandstone and shale, sometimes decomposed quartzite, and sometimes conglomerates based on porphyry, but most sites are rockier than they are loamy and rise to between 200 and 300 meters above sea level. Although Bad Sobernheim is a spa town like Bad Kreuznach, this part of the valley is still tranquil, isolated, little traveled, and restful and seems to have little in common with the relatively crowded circumstances downstream, where towns along the river’s edge have become fused with commercial sprawl. It is cooler country than the lower Nahe, too, owing to higher altitude and the proximity of vast upland forest. Average daily high temperatures at Meddersheim are several degrees cooler than at Colmar, Forst, Nierstein, or Dalsheim throughout the spring, summer, and autumn, though the area is similar to Colmar and Forst in the depths of winter. It is also significantly wetter, though most of its annual rainfall is concentrated in the winter months. The upper Nahe’s cooler climate translates to later budbreak,

f lowering, and veraison and to final ripening and harvest under cooler conditions, but steep south-facing hillside vineyards capture sunlight even as days shorten, and the risk of problematic harvest rainfall is generally minimal since rainfall amounts here do not increase substantially until November. The Königlich-Preussische Weinbaudomäne (Royal Prussian Wine Estate) was established at Niederhausen in 1902, conceived as an all-Riesling wine estate and with research mandates involving clonal selection as well as treatments for phylloxera, which may have helped to maintain a strong emphasis on Riesling in this region, especially in the upper Nahe. Certainly many Nahe growers and vintners have relied substantially on Riesling selections made at Niederhausen to plant and replant their vineyards, especially in the wake of Flurbereinigung. Nor has it hurt that the region’s most influential winemaker, Helmut Dönnhoff, domiciled at Oberhausen, has focused overwhelmingly on Riesling throughout his active career and has made famous a site—the aforementioned Hermannshöhle—that some regard as the greatest Riesling vineyard in the world (see page 210). In 1981, 10 years after the tiny Nahe was established as a separate wine region, Riesling occupied nearly the same surface (ca. 1,000 hectares) here as it did in giant and neighboring Rheinhessen, but in the Nahe, it accounted for 21 percent of the total vineyard, while in Rheinhessen, it was barely more than 5 percent. Riesling’s planted surface has increased about 10 percent in absolute terms since then, but it has almost doubled as a percentage of total vineyard, making the Nahe the third most Rieslingintensive area in Germany, after the Mosel and Rheingau. The styles of lower and upper Nahe Rieslings are naturally different, the former a bit rounder and broader-shouldered, if not as deep and elegant as Rieslings from the Rheingau (the latter are brilliant, exciting, and even pungent without being showy; crystalline and nuanced, made complex by the heterogeneous terroirs and longer and cooler season than regions farther south).

Many of the Nahe’s gifted and determined producers, almost all of which operate as family enterprises on a tiny, artisanal scale, make very attractive lieblich and late-harvest wines. But the emphasis here, as in most German regions, is on dry wines with aromatic and mineral-rich personalities that are simultaneously dense and racy, f loral, spicy, fruit-inf lected, and elegant. The Nahe has a reputation for making Rieslings that have a touch of the Pfalz’s fruit, the Mosel’s abundant acid, and the Rheingau’s structure, which is not unfair—it can be difficult to identify a Nahe origin when tasting German dry Rieslings blind.

Rheingau The heart of the Rheingau is a narrow, east-westoriented and south-southeast-facing strip of land between the Taunus Mountains and the Rhine River, where the latter departs from its prevailing southeast-northwest course to flow slightly southwest for 25 kilometers between Schierstein, which is now part of the Wiesbaden agglomeration, and Assmannshausen, just beyond the ruins of the Ehrenfels Castle. Here the Rheingau is rarely more than 3 kilometers wide, vineyards extending from the very edge of the Rhine up tiny valleys carved by streams descending from the Taunus Mountains. The west end of this heartland is a giant, rocky outcrop of vertiginous steepness with considerable strategic value historically, built almost entirely of sandstone, quartzite, and slate. The rest of it is less topographically forbidding: rolling hills composed mostly of marls and loam laced unevenly with gravel and sand, a good deal of it capped with loess. It would be hard to grow anything except vines on the rocky outcrop, but by contrast, the rest of the area is quite fertile and entirely suitable for mixed agriculture of many sorts. By common consent, most of the best vineyards are on the outcrop between Rüdesheim and Assmannshausen and in slightly higher elevations farther east, but a few important sites are found right along the water’s edge between Oestrich and Geisenheim. Outside this

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heartland, a very thin ribbon of vineyards follows the Rhine northwest from Assmannshausen to Lorch, and a discontinous piece of the Rheingau is found in the Main valley east of Wiesbaden, around the town of Hochheim (the source of hock, the British wine-trade shorthand for Rhenish white wines). The western Rheingau is a geological extension of the central Rheingau; Hochheim is more like the east-central Rheingau between Oestrich and Kiedrich. The climate is consistent across the region, probably equalized in large measure by the Rhine’s moderating and homogenizing effect and most vineyards’ proximity to the river. Average summer high and low temperatures at Geisenheim are 25°C and 15°C respectively, and they are essentially the same at Wiesbaden. The same is true of temperatures in December and January, when the average daytime high at both locations is 5°C and the average overnight low hovers close to 0°C. Claims made by some vintners and wine writers (see Hallgarten 1957, for example) that light ref lected onto the southfacing slopes from the shimmering surface of the river warms the region have been found to be bogus. The mild climate does owe much to the Taunus Mountains, however, which do an excellent job of blocking cold air from the north and east. The aforementioned temperatures for Geisenheim, astride the 50°N parallel, are almost identical to those reported for Deidesheim in the Pfalz, a half-degree of latitude farther south. While the Rheingau is no rainier than the Pfalz—average annual precipitation in both is between 550 and 600 millimeters—the Rheingau is more sun-deprived, seeing about 200 fewer hours of sunshine annually and more clouds. The Rheingau’s combination of mild climate, abundant water, strategic location, easily cultivable soils, and scenic beauty seems to have been magnetic for monks, armies, wouldbe rulers, immigrants, and visitors at least since the time of Charlemagne. Here, as elsewhere, monasteries thrived throughout much of the High Middle Ages, notably the Bendictines at Johannisberg and the Cistercians at

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Eberbach. Beginning in the 17th century, the Rheingau also attracted exogenous nobility. The prince-abbot of Fulda, whose principal residence was on the colder north side of the Taunus Mountains, acquired, rebuilt, and redeveloped Johannisberg at the beginning of the 18th century as a combination of lavish summer home and vineyard, though Johannisberg is a good example of soils suitable for many kinds of agriculture. In the 19th century, Eberbach and its vineyards were acquired by the dukes of Nassau; when Prussia absorbed the Duchy of Nassau, at the turn of the 19th century, Eberbach morphed into a royal domain. By the turn of the 20th century, village after village in the Rheingau had resident aristocracy, often foreign, living in grand houses with a view of the Rhine and seriously involved in viticulture, proprietors not just of land but of wine brands that were known around the world. The late Frank Schoonmaker (1905–76), writing in the 1950s, counted 14 villages in the central Rheingau, “of which at least 10 are known to wine lovers around the world” thanks in part to the vinous reputations established by the Von Simmerns at Eltville; by Schloss Reinhartshausen, which for a time belonged to Prince Heinrich Friedrich of Prussia, at Erbach; by Fürst Löwenstein at Hallgarten, Graf von Schönborn at Hattenheim, and Graf Matuschka at Schloss Vollrads; and by the most visible and iconic of all German wine estates, Schloss Johannisberg, which then belonged to the Metternich family (quoted in Sichel 1980). While the Rheingau remained, like most other German regions, an area of small landholdings (and even these were cut into tinier pieces by inheritance laws), it was the first to be transformed by a large coterie of wealthy proprietors bent on making good wine at whatever cost, and sometimes on winning the bragging rights associated with making better wine than their neighbors. Now great Rheingau wine estates are owned by the 21st-century equivalents of early modern nobility. Dr. Oetker, a giant foodstuffs and food-processing brand based in Bielefeld, owns Johannisberg, while

Suntory, the Japanese drinks conglomerate, has purchased a controlling interest in Weingut Robert Weil. And the region’s Rhine vistas, quaint villages, leaf-shaded terraces, impressive cellars, gemütlich wine taverns, and gourmet dining, barely half an hour’s drive from Frankfurt Airport, attract visitors from all around the world, overf lowing the supply of hotel rooms during harvest season and often creating burdensome traffic along its main artery. There is a near consensus among observers and wine writers that the fine quality of Rheingau wines, bestowed by wealthy proprietors intimately involved with their production, declined after the middle of the 20th century, especially vis-àvis other German regions (Brook 2003; Braatz et al. 2014). Now references to “mediocre,” “boring,” and “uninspiring” wines abound. Even some local vintners echo sentiments of this sort, lamenting their colleagues’ lack of interest in cutting-edge vineyard work and organic and biodynamic cultivation. But there are countervailing forces as well. It was the Rheingau-based producer group Charta that mounted the first organized advocacy for dry Riesling early in the 1980s, simultaneously insisting that these should come from top vineyard sites. Charta and the Rheingau chapter of the Verband Deutscher Prädikatsweingüter (VDP) were pioneers in the heroic work that has since been done in many parts of Germany to classify vineyards, and the federal state of Hesse remains the only Land in which a private vineyard classification effort has been made into law. The Forschungsanstalt Geisenheim and its university-level training program for students of viticulture, enology, and the business of wine merged in 2013 into a single entity (known as a Hochschule in German but a university in English) that is permitted to grant doctoral degrees, and it has never produced more cutting-edge research or been more closely involved in the region’s viticultural life than it has in the past decade. And in the glass, it is impossible to be unimpressed with the back-to-the-future (and biodynamic) Rieslings made by Peter-Jakob Kühn and his son Peter

Bernhard, by the stellar dry editions of Berg Schlossberg Riesling made at Weingut Georg Breuer since Theresa Breuer took the reins in 2007, and by the vibrant and delicious Gräfenbergs from Weingut Robert Weil (buttressed with massive cellar investments from Suntory), each of which is profiled in part II. The Rheingau is small and compact compared to other German wine regions: its vineyards cover 3,000 hectares, compared to the Mosel’s 8,000 and Rheinhessen’s 26,000. End to end, from Lorch to Hochheim, it is only a single hour’s drive long, although road congestion around Wiesbaden is overpowering. It is also the most Riesling-intensive of all German regions, with 82 percent of its vineyards dedicated to Riesling in 2007, up from about 75 percent at the turn of the 20th century. What is not Riesling is mostly Pinot Noir, which has been a persistent interest here since it was introduced by the Cistercians and is now buttressed by the domestic German market’s strong demand for red wines. No one should suppose, however, that Riesling has always been popular here, despite many claims to this effect. There was strong interest in other white varieties until late in the 19th century, partially because Riesling’s propensity to bud and ripen late worried many growers (see chapter 3). Despite its small size, however, the Rheingau is not homogeneous. Wines from the Rüdesheimer Berg bear little resemblance to those from near Hattenheim; see part II’s profiles for Berg Schlossberg at Rüdesheim, Doosberg at Oestrich, and Gräfenberg at Kiedrich.

Mosel The Mosel is the most storied—and arguably the most poetically beautiful—of the wine regions connected to the Rhine, but it is also the least similar to the others and the most geographically separate. It is the region with the best-developed independent reputation and the name most likely to be recognized outside Germany, and it is the most likely to think of itself as exceptional in terms of its circumstances,

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climate, history, and wine styles. The Mosel River is the Rhine’s longest tributary, arising near the Col de Bussang in the French Vosges, f lowing northwest across Lorraine until it becomes the frontier between France and Luxembourg, and then turning generally northeast to establish a sinuous trajectory toward its confluence with the Rhine. A traffic artery linking the Paris Basin and Champagne with the Rhine at least since Roman times, the Mosel has always been important strategically, and vines have been grown along almost its full length. But the most interesting vineyards, and the most fabled wines, have been concentrated approximately between Trier and Zell and, to a lesser extent, in the valleys of the Saar and the Ruwer, tributaries that join the Mosel near Trier. In this area, the Mosel cuts a genuinely serpentine course through steep cliffs of ancient slate, the river’s many bends so acute that it traces shapes more like the Greek letter Ω than the Roman letter U, terraced vineyards crocheted on the cliff faces at what seem to be impossible angles but possessed of extraordinary south, southwest, and southeast exposures to the sunlight needed to ripen grapes astride and above 50°N. Most of the slate is gray or black, but there is also a fair amount turned red from oxidized salts of iron, and some that appears almost blue. In many vineyards, there is barely any functional topsoil, just slate sufficiently crumbled at the surface that holes can be made in it for grapevines; elsewhere, meager layers of loam coexist with the rock. Independent of temperature, slate appears to correlate with lean and angular wines that display strong acid backbones. Upstream of Trier, soils are different, more related to the limestone soils of marine origin that prevail in Champagne. At Ürzig, about 8 kilometers downstream from Bernkastel, so-called Rotliegend, a tough red sandstone of partially volcanic origin, replaces slate for a short stretch of southeastfacing slope. While Bernkastel, the epicenter of the viticultural Middle Mosel, and Rüdesheim in the Rheingau are at virtually identical latitudes, just

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short of 50°N, the Mosel climate is significantly cooler in the summer and wetter year-round. The average daytime high temperature at Bernkastel in July and August is 24°C (versus between 25°C and 26°C at Rüdesheim); the average overnight low temperature is 13°C (versus 15°C). Precipitation at Bernkastel is dramatically higher, averaging 770 millimeters annually: July, August, and December are the wettest times, with more than 100 millimeters in each month. The annual average at Rüdesheim is almost 200 millimeters lower. The Middle Mosel also cools precipitously from its August maxima to harvest, falling to an average high of 18°C in September and 13°C in October, with corresponding overnight lows of 10°C and 6°C. Since these statistics are based on temperature data since 2000, they substantially reflect recent global warming. Before 1970, the Mosel was an even cooler place. It is scarcely any wonder that, during the long cold period that descended across Europe for most of the so-called long 19th century, the Mosel was the most challenged of major German winegrowing areas, suffered the most from unripe vintages, and derived the most benefit from Gallisierung (chaptalization) when it was introduced in the 1850s (see chapter 4). It follows that details of vineyard location are more critical to successful ripening here than they are one, two, or even three degrees of latitude farther south. A southwest-oriented site (such as Sonnenuhr at Wehlen) is more successful in a cool vintage than a southeast-oriented site. Higher altitude is slightly riskier than lower, and a steep angle to the sun is almost always better than a gentle slope. Wind in the Mosel is generally a mixed blessing. At most locations, prevailing winds blow downstream from the southwest, sometimes banishing humidity and botrytis pressure, but too much wind, common at higher elevations and unprotected locations, can depress temperature maxima and interfere with full ripening. Ripening is also affected by the color of the sites’ topsoil (translating to the hue of their surface slate), as demonstrated by relatively new research done at Geisenheim (see chapter 2).

Riesling has a long history in the Mosel. A record of vine purchases, said to have been Riesling, survives in a 1464–65 account book of the St. Jakobshospital in Trier. Centuries later, however, Elbling was still the valley’s dominant variety, and it remains so today in the Upper Mosel between Trier and Schengen. The 19th century was the heyday for planting Riesling in the Middle Mosel, and by 1905, 95 percent of over 3,000 vineyard hectares were devoted to it, with Elbling accounting for the rest. This is somewhat puzzling in the context of climate history, since it is not clear why an early-ripening variety should have given enormous ground to a notoriously late-ripening variety in Germany’s coldest wine region during an especially cold period historically, unless the destructive effect of spring frosts was especially strong here, owing to cold downdrafts from the Hunsrück and Eifel hills on the southeast and northwest sides of the valley respectively. As the later-to-bud variety, Riesling may have had advantages outweighing the liability associated with its lateness to ripen, but additional research into the question might prove interesting. In the 20th century, Müller-Thurgau made great inroads in the Mosel, displacing some Riesling, but also claiming surface that had not been planted to vines in the previous century. The Middle Mosel is now just less than twothirds Riesling, as is the Lower Mosel, but so much land is in vines that the whole of the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer region is the world’s largest Riesling region in absolute terms, challenged only, and from a considerable distance, by Washington State’s Columbia Valley. Although differences among sites create a huge assortment of f lavor profiles, many of which can be recognized in an instant by Mosel-savvy expert tasters, the generalization is that Mosel Rieslings are marriages of slatey, mineral-rich f lavors with sensational aromas not primarily derived from fruit but instead from f loral and herbal elements of their bouquets, steely acidity, and delicate structures. Stylistically, the cool climate keeps alcohol content relatively low; when part of the available

natural sugar is retained to balance high acidity, total alcoholic content can be as low as 8°. At the same time, abundant rain and no small amount of fog during the growing season enable wines made with considerable amounts of botrytis-affected fruit (including fresh Auslesen of the type that many producers called feinste Auslese before enactment of the 1971 Wine Law) and late-harvest wines enlivened with bright acidity. Of all German regions, the Mosel was the least friendly to the modern dry idiom when it appeared in the 1980s and ’90s, many makers producing dry wines very reluctantly and in no greater volume than they deemed essential to their economic survival. To this day, many growers remain critical of the dry idiom, arguing that it is both historically inconsistent with the special genius of the region and difficult to produce here successfully, except from especially warm sites in warm years. “Sugar belongs in Mosel Riesling the way bubbles belong in Champagne,” Nik Weis of Weingut St. UrbansHof told me when I discussed this book with him in 2012. At the 2015 Weinbörse, an annual trade fair organized by the VDP in Mainz, 11 of 22 Mosel producers showed fewer dry Rieslings than lieblich ones, while 2 showed no dry wines at all. No wine from the Mosel made the list of best dry Rieslings in the 2010 edition of the Gault-Millau WeinGuide Deutschland, and Stephan Reinhardt, in The Finest Wines of Germany (2012), found vastly more Kabinett, Spätlese, and Auslese wines from the Mosel to recommend than wines finished dry. All that said, however, some very good dry Rieslings have been made in the Mosel in the shadow of protests against the Trockenwelle since the latter’s very beginning in the 1970s, and it seems that each new vintage brings more. David Schildknecht, who followed the German wine scene with consummate care from the top of the 1980s, recalls that the Selbachs, of Weingut Selbach Oster in Zeltingen, were especially proud of the Auslese trocken wine they made from the Zeltinger Sonnenuhr vineyard in 1983, and that they took care to render a “significant portion” of Sonnenuhr

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dry in most vintages. Even Nik Weis, just mentioned as a champion of residual sugar in Mosel Rieslings, notes that his father made “stunning” dry wines from the Laurentiuslay in Leiwen in the 1970s, taking advantage of a warm microclimate and especially dry soil. Now, 15 years into the 21st century, noteworthy dry Riesling is made, often by a new generation of winemakers, in every wine town in the Middle Mosel from Trittenheim to Pünderich and in the so-called Mosel Terrassen. My personal list starts with Eva Clusserath, of Weingut Ansgar Clusserath in Trittenheim, who has made finely cut, zesty, and exciting trocken Rieslings from the Apotheke vineyard in most recent vintages. A few kilometers downstream, the widely admired Thomas Haag, of Weingut Schloss Lieser, regularly turns out lovely gg wines from the Niederberger Helden, Brauneberger Juffer, and Juffer Sonnenberg vineyards. His Lieser-based neighbor Christoph Licht, of Weingut Licht-Stadtfeld, made an especially compelling Brauneberger Juffer Spätlese Trocken in 2013: a mouthwatering cocktail of mint, minerality, and the slightly sweet pits of yellow-fleshed stone fruits. Sybille Kuntz, who first fled her family estate in Lieser for a career in business administration but returned in 1983 determined to make a new generation of fine and mostly trocken wines, also regards Neiderberger Helden as a crown-jewel vineyard. She has produced eight vintages at what is now called Weingut Sybille Kuntz, including dry wines blended from multiple sites, which made in the Mosel’s classical must-weight categories (a Kabinett, Spätlese, and Auslese trocken), but they are not vineyard-designated. These delicious bottlings are bright, serious and genuinely exciting wines. The newest cohort of wines from Weingut Dr. Loosen, Ernst Loosen’s homage to his paternal grandfather, who made dry wines in the 1940s (see chapter 4), comes from vineyards in Ürzig, Graach, and Erden, just a few kilometers farther downstream. They include a 2011 Graacher Himmelriech Riesling gg (12.5°, 7.1 g/L of acid, and 8.9 g/L of sugar ) that turned

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heads in a plenary tasting of dry wines at the 2013 Riesling Rendezvous in Seattle; a 2012 Erdener Treppchen gg (long and very appealing, with a slightly salty edge, loads of savory herbs, and bright acidity); and the first of a Reserve tier of gg wines that spend two years on the lees postfermentation, mimicking the turnof-the-20th-century style that derived stability from long élevage. The 2012 Erdener Prälat gg Reserve, tasted early in 2015, was a lemonedged and flavor-saturated wine with gorgeous floral notes and understated minerality. Beyond Ürzig and Traben-Trarbach, another enclave of serious attention to dry wines is centered at Enkirch. The standard bearer here is Weingut Immich-Batterieberg, run by the Immich family until 1989 and a beacon for dry or very lightly off-dry wines offset with firm acidity since the 1970s. The steep slate slopes of the estate’s namesake vineyard, Batterieberg, named for the dynamite used to transform it into a top vineyard in the 19th century, and of several neighboring sites, notably Ellergrub and Steffensberg (in the hands of winemaker Gernot Kollmann since 2009), yield some of the triumphs of dry Mosel Riesling. In the shadow of Immich-Batterieberg is Weingut CaspariKappel, where Nico Caspari and winemaker Uwe Jostock, who previously worked at Weingut Clemens Busch (see below), are also making dry wines of stunning quality and definition, including a 2011 Spätlese Trocken from Ellergrub that is a concerto of minerality, grip, length, and structural complexity and alive with tangy fruit. A more basic wine, blended from several sites, is the 2011 Urschiefer Trocken, which delivers almost unbelievable quality and pleasure for its exceedingly modest price. It may be relevant that the best vineyards at Enkirch, Ürzig, and Erden have been known for almost a century to produce very drinkable wines even in cool, mediocre vintages, a property that should be helpful when the objective is wines that finish dry. Which brings us to Clemens Busch, 11 kilometers downstream from Enkirch, on the river’s next hairpin bend at Pünderich, where the

Trier-Koblenz Railway shortcuts through the Marienburg hill and across the Mosel to Bullay. Busch, a rare practitioner of biodynamic viticulture in the Mosel and a determined farmer of old and low-yielding vines—and arguably the valley’s best practitioner of dry vinifications— expresses individual parts of the Marienburg vineyard in an exhilarating array of complex and nuanced block-specific wines, allowing each block to express its particular type and color of slate. Because he does not normally inoculate wines or interfere with the progress of fermentations, not every block-designate is dry every year, but most are mostly dry most of the time. (Marienburg and Weingut Clemens Busch are profiled on page 218.) Altitude lessens as the Middle Mosel gives way, beyond Pünderich, to the Mosel Terrassen, with warmer temperatures and a greater mix of grape varieties than is typically seen upstream. The most esteemed sites here are Uhlen and Röttgen at Winningen, about 3 and 6 kilometers respectively from the city limits of Koblenz, where the Mosel meets the Rhine. Here Reinhard Löwenstein (Weingut Heymann-Löwenstein) makes distinctive dry or slightly off-dry wines from Uhlen’s blue- and gray-slate hillside and from the amazing redbrown terraces of Röttgen, which climbs its slope like a juxtapositon of slightly askew building blocks. Löwensteins’s Rieslings are quite different from the chiseled and precise editions made upstream: instead they are smoky, exotic, wood-raised, baroque, and complicated. As barrel samples and young bottled wines, they can even taste reductive, and they demand time to show optimally. But they, too, are an important face of dryish Riesling along the Mosel. When this activity is weighed against the high profile that persists here for wines that are off-dry or plainly and proudly lieblich, a difficult but fundamentally interesting question arises. Do today’s Mosel vintners cleave to the sweeter styles more often and more consciously than their colleagues in other German Rhine regions because physical and climatic circumstances point them this way, or because—a full genera-

tion after the Trockenwelle began—their hedonic preferences are still best satisfied by wines made in these idioms? Or is something cultural at work here: Do Moselaners see themselves as guardians of a unique idiom that they perceive to be endangered and are determined to keep alive and well as long as they can find markets for the wines?

LOWER AUSTRIA Lower Austria (Niederösterreich) is the country’s northeast corner, nestled against the frontiers of the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Geologically, it is the south edge of the Bohemian Massif, a large ensemble of rolling hills, gentle valleys, and flat ridges centered near Prague. It is also the east end of the Northern Calcareous Alps, a very long formation extending from the Rhine Valley to the Wienerwald outside Vienna. Between the massif and the mountains is a molasse that accommodates the valley of the Danube, Europe’s second-longest waterway. Each of these components contributes to Lower Austria’s viticultural vocation. That both the massif and the Central and Western Austrian Alps end here before giving way to the Great Hungarian Plain creates a transitional climatic zone between the Alps and the Pannonian Basin, well watered but not wet, cold in the winter but not bitter, and warm in the summer but not persistently hot. The thin sedimentary soil cover atop the crystalline baserock of the massif enables vine roots to grow in almost solid rock, while the deep loess soils beyond the edge of the massif support thirsty grape varieties and higher yields. The river valleys arising in the Bohemian Massif that are also tributaries of the Danube serve as corridors for cool upland air that descends overnight during the growing season, offsetting quite warm daytime temperatures and preserving the natural acidity of white varieties. Although here, as elsewhere, mesoclimates vary from vineyard to vineyard, temperature and precipitation for Krems, centrally located where the Wachau, Kremstal, Kamptal, and

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BOX 7D REGIONS, RIEDEN, AND 1ÖTW IN AUSTRIA In Austria, as in Alsace and Germany, sites historically associated with very good wine (and often owned by proprietors with the means to produce it) have long been recognized under varying systems. Once such sites were known as Weinbaurieden or Gewächse; both terms were interchangeably accepted as equivalents of what the French call crus. The Weinbauried rubric, shortened to Ried, passed into Austrian federal wine law in 1971: each Ried was roughly defined as a site that practitioners commonly treated as a discrete and coherent viticultural unit, notwithstanding its mosaic of separate ownerships. Like the French lieux-dits used to designate vineyard surfaces, Rieden were not reconciled with communal parcel maps. Most vintners thought they could say more or less where any Ried started and stopped, but their perimeters were not officially delimited. Neither were Rieden classified qualitatively, even though received wisdom had endowed some with greater reputations than others. Names of Rieden were widely used on wine labels (and they still are, especially to sitedesignate the country’s best wines), generally without huge dispute, despite the lack of formal delimitation. In 1983, the private initiative of a small group of grower-producers established Austria’s first wine region, Wachau. They created the Vinea Wachau association, agreed on a regional perimeter, devised a trio of wine-category names (Steinfeder, Federspiel, and Smaragd) based on potential alcohol to qualify their products, trademarked the names, and restricted the names’ use to wines grown, raised, and bottled within the Wachau’s perimeter. Its members used Ried names for their best wines, but the association made no effort to address vineyard delimitation

Traisental nearly meet, can reasonably be compared with those of Riesling-friendly regions in the Rhine Valley. In terms of latitude, Krems is virtually colocated with Colmar in Alsace, and their elevations above sea level are similar. Temperature-wise, it is colder in the winter

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precisely or systematically. Nor did it attempt to qualitatively classify Rieden. The next chapter was written in 2001, when Austria’s federal government established a framework for the creation and specification of wine regions, called Districtus Austriae Controllatus (DAC). The perimeter of each DAC was formally delimited and blessed by relevant authorities, including the federal Ministry of Agriculture. The DAC specification also ignored Rieden; vintners continued to use Ried names as they pleased, as if they were parts of a DAC. In 2010, however, the Traditionsweingüter Österreich, a private association of Austrian winegrowers, created a list of 52 named sites (Rieden) that they unilaterally recognized as Erste Lagen, a term intended to translate as premier cru. Since this amounted to a private classification scheme, the Ministry of Agriculture subsequently disallowed the Erste Lagen rubric and prohibited it on wine labels, though association members were permitted to express the information as a logo that reads “1ötw.” From this point onward, classification and delimitation went separate ways in Austria. Classification has been left to private initiatives, but a classification may be expressed only as a logo and not by the words the logo aims to abbreviate. Vineyard delimitation is now pursued in a highly organized, grassroots way in most wine regions: local committees mandated by federal agricultural authorities are working through counterpart committees in the federal states and district administrations (Bezirkshauptmannschaften) toward a full reconciliation of Rieden with commune-based cadastral maps. When the process is complete for a region, a new generation of official wine maps (Riedenkarten) reflecting new delimitations will be published by the Austrian Wine Marketing Board.

than any Riesling-centric region along the Rhine, while summer temperatures (average lows around 13°C and average highs around 25°C) are quite similar to those in Forst in the Pfalz, although Forst has slightly balmier average summer lows. Precipitation is similar over-

all but is more evenly distributed across the year in Rhine regions than at Krems, where summers are markedly wetter than winters. Overall, however, the main difference is greater continentality at Krems than along the Rhine. It is, after all, farther from marine influence. Lower Austria has been wine country almost forever, with evidence of both grape growing and wine production by Celtic tribes as early as the 8th century bce and by the Romans after they settled here in the 1st century bce, building several forts on the south side of the Danube at what are now Pöchlarn, Mautern, and Traismauer (Mautern is where the Wachau ends and the Kremstal begins; Traismauer is at the conf luence of the Traisen and Danube rivers). Austrian viticulture was by no means confined to Lower Austria, however. Wine was made throughout what is now eastern Austria. Wines from Burgenland were especially reputed, especially Ausbruch from Rust on the Neusiedler See, produced as early as the 15th century and believed to have been the first very sweet wine made entirely from botrytized grapes. In the medieval and early modern periods, viticulture in Lower Austria was almost entirely in the hands of monasteries and priories (including Melk, Zwettl, Heiligenkreuz, Mariazell, Göttweig, Sankt Florian, and Klosterneuburg), most or all of which were overseen by the archbishop of Passau in Bavaria and whose ties to Bavaria were very strong. In their hands, winegrowing thrived: some agricultural historians believe vineyards may have covered up to five times as much surface in the 16th century as they do now. Such extensive surface was, of course, beyond the ability of monks and lay brothers to farm alone. No later than the 17th century, monasteries began to place the majority of their vineyards in contractual schemes, known generally as Halb- or Drittelbau (Malli 2001), with lay farmers and winegrowers. The crop was divided between the latter and the monasteries. In the 18th century, Austro-Hungarian monarchs began to make large investments to modernize and professionalize viticulture and other agricultural sectors.

The Hofrat Demeter von Görög created a fruittree and vine nursery in 1819, experimenting with hundreds of selections from throughout the Austrian empire, Venice, Milan, Dalmatia, and France (Blom 2000). A Royal Imperial Agricultural Society was founded at Vienna in the 1850s, and one of Europe’s first training and research centers dedicated to viticulture was established in the former abbey at Klosterneuburg in 1860. Austrian academicians and practitioners were in frequent touch with peers in other parts of Europe. It is far from clear which grape varieties were grown in Austrian vineyards before the middle of the 19th century. Probably there were quite a few, some chosen for quality and others for high yield, all designated by the same umbrella terms widely used throughout the Rhine Valley since Carolingian times—Fränkisch and Heunisch. Among these, Gouais Blanc (often called Grobe in Austria), one of the parents of Riesling, was widely cultivated as early as the 16th century and persisted as an important variety well into the 19th. There is little indication of Riesling before the first half of the 19th century, however, despite claims to the contrary. Some Austrian vintners see Riesling as a native son, citing the appearance on maps of “Rizling” (also spelled “Ritzling”), sometimes as the name of a small stream (Ritzlingbach) that joins the Danube between the Steinriegl and Pichl Point vineyards, just upstream from the center of Weissenkirchen, and some also claim that the name was used in the past to denote a vineyard and a nearby hamlet. The evidence for the latter two claims, however, is thin, leading Elisabeth Arnberger, a Germanist who has studied historical wine terminology, to cite hearsay (“Man erzählte . . .”) as the source of claims that Rizling was the original cradle of the Riesling variety, alleged then to have moved from the Danube back up the Rhine before it was reimported to Austria sometime later (Arnberger 2012). In truth, with no evidence save coincidental orthography to establish any link between Rizling and Riesling, such hearsay seems highly improbable.

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BOX 7E WINE STYLES AND GRAPE HARVEST DATES: GERMANY VERSUS AUSTRIA It is natural to compare German and Austrian editions of dry Riesling. The countries are neighbors, enjoy a common language, and, since the second half of the 1980s, have shared an emphasis on Rieslings made dry. Austrian Rieslings are sometimes described collectively as “refreshing,” “tangy,” “energetic,” and “mineral,” but sometimes also as “higher in alcohol” and “riper” than German editions. These characterizations may have been justified 20 years ago but now seem to have been overtaken by events. A combination of Grosses Gëwachs prestige and climate warming has driven some German alcohol levels higher, while Austrian styles have diversified. In the 1980s, the Wachau was Austria’s standard-bearing region, and the house styles of its outstanding pioneers, Franz Hirtzberger and Franz Xaver Pichler, were emulated by younger vintners and accepted as the “Austrian style.” Thirty years later, the number of serious producers has exploded, birthing a plurality of house styles. Tolerance for botrytis has declined, wariness of high alcohol has increased, and the emphasis has shifted from concentration to intensity. No one would confuse the lithe, bright flavors and strong minerality of Rudi Pichler’s Steinriegl and Kirchweg bottlings with the heady opulence of F. X. Pichler’s wines from Loibenberg and Kellerberg, or the glossy power of Leo Alzinger’s Rieslings with those of his next-door neighbor, Emmerich Knoll, although the vintners make wines from many of the same sites. Stylistic plurality now characterizes the Kremstal and Kamptal as well. Interviews done for this book also suggest that Austrians pick differently from most Germans. Both pick earlier for basic wines than for the single-vineyard wines, variously predicated, that are the benchmark products of every house. But Austrians almost universally pick in several passes, each separated from the next by one or several weeks, for components that will be blended into a single cuvée of single-vineyard wines, and they put the last pick off as late as the

weather permits, into November if possible, to profit from a final increment of flavor that can be gained, they believe, only when some grapes hang to the very end. In Germany, the picking protocol is more compact for dry wines, and if very late picks are done in the same vineyard, they are not usually intended to generate a final blending component for use in the dry cuvée, but to make a sweet Spätlese in addition to the dry cuvée. Risk tolerance does mitigate Austrian enthusiasm for some very late picking—if you press a vintner for details, it may turn out that his or her last pick, in November, involved only 5 or 10 percent of the total crop. The balance was culled earlier, when there was little risk of rain or frost. Some Austrian vintners are also more botrytis-tolerant than most Germans, but this onceimportant distinction is becoming less evident. The majority of German producers believe dry Riesling is best made from entirely or almost entirely clean (botrytis-free) grapes when the vintage permits. In Austria, however, the matter has been more sensitive. Both Hirtsberger and Pichler were pro-botrytis, happy to see 15 or 20 percent of the crop affected with the so-called noble rot. For these pioneers of serious wine, botrytis was a natural aid to concentration that simultaneously augmented the wine’s mouthfeel and added desirable complexity. Both houses have maintained this posture since, embracing it as an element of house style. It is increasingly a minority view, however, as Austrians are more and more partial to dry editions of Riesling that are bright, clean, clear, and transparent to the expression of site, and botrytis, like unfermented sugar, can interfere with these parameters. For that matter, more botrytis makes it harder to ferment wines dry. It remains, however, that some sites are more prone to botrytis than others. In both Austria and the drier Riesling regions of Germany, botrytis infection is more often a microproperty of individual vineyard sites than a macroproperty of wine regions.

Evidence that Riesling was imported to Austria from Germany, either at the end of the 18th century or early in the 19th, is much stronger. First there is the testimony, circa 1822, of Michael Mühlböck, a priest in Weissenkirchen with a deep interest in agriculture and associated publications. He reported taking cuttings of a variety with some descriptive resemblance to Riesling from Josef Schmidtberger, the estate manager for the then secularized Sankt Florian monastery near Linz, whose upstream source was the estate of the counts of Auersperg at Gschwendt. According to Mühlböck, vines propagated from the cuttings produced “succulent [saftig] grapes with a spicy flavor” (Mühlböck 1829). Second, there is information, courtesy of Erich Landsteiner, a professor of social and agricultural history at the University of Vienna who studies 19th-century viticulture, that varietal wines identified as “Riesling” appeared in an 1865 exposition organized by the Lower Austrian Agricultural Society at Vienna (Landsteiner 2013). Landsteiner adds that, in the middle of the 19th century, Austrians were becoming aware of Riesling’s contemporary reputation as “the most prestigious [variety] in the Germanspeaking world.” As we saw in chapter 3, this reputation was newly minted at the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th centuries. Finally, there is the 1880s assertion by August Wilhelm Babo (himself a transplant by marriage from Germany to Austria) and Edmund Mach that Riesling was even then only “rarely” and “experimentally” grown in Lower Austria, Styria, and the Alto Adige. Once imported, Riesling seems not to have gained enormous traction. Viticultural Lower Austria is virtually coterminous with the Austrian federal state of Lower Austria, firmly anchored in the Danube Valley and the lateral valleys of a few important tributaries, but the intensity of viticulture varies widely across the area. It should be remembered that intense and specialized viticulture is relatively new in Austria; from the time that the monasteries were secularized at the end of the 18th century until after World War II, viticulture here was primarily an auxiliary activity of

subsistence farmers, and winemaking was dominated by families that were also tavernkeepers. Joseph II (1741–90), a famously enlightened albeit autocratic ruler, not only was responsible for a host of laws affecting landowning and land uses, but also was the author of a 1784 decree that permitted anyone to serve and sell self-produced food and beverages to the public. This law is the foundation for the wine taverns called Heurigen in Austrian German, establishments that are now essentially restaurants save that, in most cases, the only wine served is the wine produced by its owners. Earlier, Heurigen were the route taken by countless subsistence farming families, especially after World War II, into serious and increasingly specialized wine production, and they constitute the quintessentially Austrian link between wine and gastronomy. Some families, of course, have sold their vineyards to others seeking to concentrate on viti- and viniculture, more than halving the total number of wine-producing estates in Austria between 1987 and 2009, while simultaneously increasing the average size of a wine estate from 1.28 hectares to 2.26 hectares. Today Lower Austria is home to 60 percent of the country’s vineyard. The Weinviertel, which covers a large surface north of the Danube and east of the Bohemian Massif, accommodates the lion’s share of it—more than 13,000 of Lower Austria’s 27,000 vineyard hectares in 2009. Unsurprisingly, considering its name, the Weinviertel is the most vine-intensive region in Lower Austria, and extensive vineyards carpet the rolling landscape. Conversely, there is little vineyard relative to other uses of the land in Wagram, opposite the Weinviertel on the south bank of the Danube, or downstream in Carnuntum. Outside the Weinviertel, about 5,400 hectares of vineyard are found in two valleys, Kremstal and Kamptal, that descend from the Bohemian Massif to join the Danube near Krems and are named for the Krems and Kamp rivers respectively. The Kamptal is Lower Austria’s second most vine-intensive region after the Weinviertel. Three other regions deserve

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attention in these pages, even though viticulture is thinly distributed in each of them. In the world-famous Wachau, topography confines all forms of agriculture to hillsides; this is a narrow valley with very little flat land. In the Traisental, a broad south-north oriented valley that joins the Danube just downstream of the Krems, but from the south, where it breaks through the Northern Calcareous Alps, 770 hectares of vines share space with field crops, mixed farms, and quarries. And in Vienna itself, administratively no longer part of Lower Austria but surrounded by it, almost 800 hectares of vines are now protected by zoning laws, thanks to which Vienna is the only European capital that still has significant producing vineyard within its city limits. Heurigen, which are now a Viennese tradition, draw local visitors by the thousands, especially when fizzy new wine is poured in the weeks immediately following harvest. Eighty-five percent of Austria’s Riesling grows somewhere in Lower Austria or Vienna, but there is also a bit, including some that has recently won wine awards, in Burgenland and Styria. The quantitative heartland of Austrian Riesling, as of Austrian viticulture overall, is the Weinviertel, where nearly 500 hectares are cultivated, closely followed by the neighboring Kamptal, with 350 hectares, and then by the Kremstal and the Wachau, each with about 250 hectares. But the Wachau is king in terms of intensity because here Riesling occupies 16 percent of total planted vineyard surface. Riesling’s vineyard share falls to about 10 percent in both the Kremstal and Kamptal, and to 5 percent in the Traisental. Vineyard dedicated to Riesling is lower elsewhere, but its percentage is increasing almost everywhere it does grow. Among widely planted white varieties, Riesling is Austria’s growth champion, having increased by up to 23 percent of vineyard surface from 1999 to 2009, doubtless buoyed by the inescapable fact that Riesling commands a higher price per bottle than any other major white variety. And all this has occurred despite the uncontested popularity of Grüner Veltliner, Austria’s flagship white variety.

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Wachau Few wine regions have been more iconically photographed than the Wachau, a sinuous stretch of the Danube between Melk and Krems. Even people who have never heard of the Wachau have seen picture postcards of Dürnstein, a tiny village surrounding a 15thcentury monastery, with its orange tile roofs and blue church tower clinging to a cliff of solid rock high above the Danube, and a few know the story of Richard II of England, who was held prisoner in the now ruined castle above Dürnstein after the Third Crusade in 1192. Other Wachau postcards feature the giant abbey at Melk, barge traffic on the Danube, and numerous vistas of terraced vineyards, each narrow terrace held in place with dry-laid stone walls, a testament to humankind’s perennial effort to exploit forbidding landscape. In the Wachau, there is really little choice: flat land is so scarce in the steep-sided, V-shaped valley that viticulture, to occur at all, must cling to the hillsides. The only exceptions are around Mautern, on the south side of the river at the mouth of the Wachau, where the Danube emerges from its gorge; and two spots where the valley walls are a bit more forgiving and the f loor a trifle broader, notably around Unter- und Oberloiben, about 6 kilometers upstream from Krems, and around Weissenkirchen, 2 kilometers beyond Dürnstein. Beyond Weissenkirchen lies Spitz, where a handful of important vineyards overlook the Danube directly, as do virtually all vineyards farther downstream, but most Spitz vineyards are actually sited in a side valley called the Spitzer Graben. Mautern vineyards are less like the rest of the Wachau than they are like parts of the Kremstal, next door. The border is in fact inconvenient and a bit arbitrary. The Silberbichl vineyard (see page 263) is split between the two regions and figures on maps of each. Nikolaihof, Mautern’s finest and best-known producer, makes its most distinguished wine from the Steiner Hund vineyard, which is across the river from Mautern and across the border in the Kremstal,

since the town of Stein is part of Krems. And Weingut Emmerich Knoll (see page 244), which makes an excellent Riesling from the Pfaffenberg vineyard, a stone’s throw from Steinertal in the Wachau, must label its Pfaffenberg wines without mentioning the copyrighted predicates that, by agreement, cannot be used for wines that are not both grown and bottled in the Wachau. Except at Mautern, most Wachau vineyards are on the north side of the river, facing various shades of south. Generally, downstream vineyard sites have a bit more topsoil than those upstream since they are close enough to the Lower Austrian plain to have been lightly covered with windborne loess. Sites farther upstream often seem to grow directly on exposed primary rock. Vineyard elevation also gradually increases as one moves upstream: typically, sites farther upstream are colder, giving wines that are generally leaner, and wines from the Spitzer Graben are perhaps the leanest of all. Alas, Spitzer Graben vineyards are now something of an endangered species, increasingly abandoned as the older members of local winegrowing families die. Only a hardy few (such as Weingut Veyder-Malberg, page 238) are willing to invest in the handwork necessary to revive terraced vineyards once they have been abandoned. The Wachau is overwhelmingly a white-wine region, with white varieties commanding 88 percent of total vineyard surface. Riesling is the second most planted white variety here, claiming, as noted earlier, 16 percent of total planted vineyard surface in 2009. Most growers favor Riesling for vineyards that are not or cannot be irrigated, since it is more drought-tolerant than Grüner Veltliner, and for the highest-elevation blocks in almost any vineyard, since it will ripen with less heat. Partially as a matter of conviction about what grows best and partially because Riesling can be sold for a higher price per bottle than Grüner Veltliner, there is a growing commitment to Riesling throughout the Wachau. The surface devoted to it increased by 20 percent between 1999 and 2009.

Although the Wachau today seems to tower above all other Austrian wine regions in terms of its reputation for excellence at home and abroad—a circumstance that translates to higher prices for Wachau wines than for most wines from neighboring regions—its prestige is newfound, no older than the 1970s. It owes much to the seriousness, dedication, and foresight of four exceptional vintners, beginning with Franz Pichler Sr. at Oberloiben and Josef Jamek at Joching. Pichler was impressive for his work to develop superior clonal selections of Grüner Veltliner, and Jamek for his steadfast devotion to dry wines at a time when much of Austria was devoted to making sweetish wines for export, especially to Germany. Jamek, along with Franz Hirtzberger (Spitz) Franz Prager (Weissenkirchen), and Wilhelm Schwengler (Freie Weingärtner Wachau), was the animator of Vinea Wachau, the confederation of Wachau growers and producers that effectively created an independent wine policy for the Wachau in 1983, establishing an defined area of production, qualitative standards for all wines, and analysis-based predicate designations for labeling and marketing. Today Vinea Wachau has more than 170 members, whose holdings account for more than 85 percent of all Wachau vineyard. Nor does it hurt the reputation of the Wachau that its giant cooperative cellar, originally founded during the 19th century as the Freie Weingärtner Wachau, was dramatically reinvented in the 1980s as Domäne Wachau and now is arguably the best wine co-op anywhere on earth, producing both value-oriented wines and some of the region’s finest bottlings from well-regarded single vineyards.

Kremstal and Kamptal Once upon a time, Kremstal and Kamptal were considered part of the Wachau. More recently, Kremstal and Kamptal together, but exclusive of the Wachau proper, were known as Krems Donauland. And in fact, Kremstal and Kamptal, as wine regions, are not convincingly different from each other.

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Kremstal, centered on the city of Krems, which sits at the confluence of the Krems River and the Danube, sprawls across four plainly different areas. One axis of the Kremstal runs upstream along the north shore of the Danube as far as the Wachau border and consists mostly of south-facing vineyards on foundations of exposed primary rock. A second axis, a long finger of vineyards northwest of the city, in the valley of the Krems River itself, is also primary rock country but feels lusher than the Danube’s north shore. The third axis is an almost unbroken string of vineyards that extends northeast along the road from Krems to Hadersdorf, which is actually in Kamptal. Finally, there is the south bank of the Danube, across the river from Krems, where Kremstal vineyards extend from the border between Furth (in Kremstal) and Mautern (in the Wachau) to Krustetten and Hollenburg, where Kremstal abuts the Traisental. The landmark in this subregion is Göttweig Abbey, atop the steep hill of the same name, which towers over the surrounding countryside. Kamptal is a roughly triangular area that fits neatly between the northeastern edge of Kremstal and the Mannhartsberg, which marks the southwest edge of the Weinviertel. Kamptal is a compact and coherent region compared to Kremstal, firmly centered on the thriving town of Langenlois, astride the Loiserbach just west of its confluence with the Kamp River. Its attractive core of Baroque buildings and concentration of upscale and successful Heurigen attract visitors from far afield, and the town is almost entirely ringed with important vineyards. What most distinguishes Kremstal and Kamptal from the neighboring Wachau is its topsoils. The underpinning baserock in the three areas is not fundamentally different: all sit on the south apron of the Bohemian Massif, which is composed mostly of crystalline metamorphic rock that most laymen would recognize as variations on granite and gneiss. But whereas the gneiss is relatively brute and pure in the Wachau, with only a thin cloak of winddeposited loess atop it, that cloak is more like a

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pillow in Kremstal and Kamptal, often consisting of 2 or more meters of loam laced with alluvial gravels and sands, topped by loess of varying depth. On the lower slopes of the Manhartsberg, some baserock is a bit different, too, resembling layered sandstone more than granite or gneiss. This complex and varied assortment of topsoils not only creates visibly different landscapes, but in many cases means that sites here have more water-holding capacity than the Wachau’s almost naked stone, are more easily farmed, and are sometimes capable of somewhat higher yields. It is sometimes claimed that the Wachau is drier than its downstream neighbors, but this is difficult to substantiate. Official data from the Zentralanstalt für Meteorologie und Geodynamik, the Austrian national weather office, which are available in longtime series for Krems and Langenlois, show about 520 millimeters of annual precipitation at Krems and 480 millimeters at Langenlois. Unofficial numbers for Weissenkirchen and Spitz vary widely, from fewer than 500 millimeters to more than 600 millimeters. Notwithstanding much higher annual precipitation officially reported for both Krems and Langenlois since 2004, it is difficult to paint the Wachau as a drier region overall. Krems and Langenlois are, however, warmer than Weissenkirchen, midsummer daily maxima and minima at Langenlois averaging 26°C and 14°C respectively, while the figures for Weissenkirchen are 23°C and 11°C. The difference also prevails in the winter, when December– January mimina at Weissenkirchen are 2°C to 3°C lower than figures for Langenlois. (The spread between Krems and Langenlois is trivial, amounting to less than 1°C in all cases.) It is important to emphasize once again, however, that the circumstances of each vineyard site can deviate considerably from regional averages. Such variations, the consequence of small differences in elevation, orientation, slope, and surface soil color, translate into different patterns of fruit maturity as well as spring budbreak and autumn harvest that vary by several days.

Most Rieslings from Kremstal and Kamptal vineyards are strongly impressive of minerality, as are Rieslings from the Wachau, but the former can be a bit gentler, f leshier, and less single-mindedly mineral than the latter. Beyond this difference, it is hard to contrast Kremstal and Kamptal wines with Wachau wines, and it is even harder to make subregional distinctions between Kremstal and Kamptal. Part II includes profiles of seven sites in the Wachau, spanning the full distance from Unterloiben to the Spitzer Graben: Steinertal, Schütt, and Kellerberg in Loiben; Achleiten and Klaus in Weissenkirchen; Kirchweg in Wösendorf; and Bruck in Viessling (dramatically less known than the others). There are also profiles of five Kremstal vineyards distributed across the subregions described above: Grillenparz in Stein, on the Danube’s north bank, upstream of Krems; Pellingen and Ehrenfels in Senftenberg, in the “true” Krems Valley; Mosburgerin in Gedersdorf, on the road to Hadersdorf; and Silberbichl in Furth, almost in the shadow of Göttweig Abbey. In Kamptal, three are profiled: Steinmassl above Langenlois, and Gaisberg and Heiligenstein on the south face of the Mannhartsberg. American importer Terry Theise f lags the last two as “the preeminent Grand Crus of the Kamptal” and says that “they stand among the greatest land on earth in which Riesling is planted” (Theise 2013). Although the two adjoin on essentially the same slope of the Mannhartsberg and share the base of crystalline rock that is common across the south edge of the Bohemian Massif, their soils and altitudes are different, and they are tilted a bit differently toward the midday and afternoon sun. Gaisberg gives Riesling that is slightly more elegant and treble clef in character, while Heiligenstein gives wines that are more complex and almost exotic. The two sites are an excellent illustration of differences between neighboring locales that are utterly real and tasteable even if they remain stubbornly impossible to explain. The same is true of Achleiten and Klaus, which share a hillside just downstream of Weissenkirchen in the Wachau.

Traisental Essentially all the Traisental’s vineyard surface is at the valley’s north end, where the Traisen River joins the Danube. Most is on the valley’s higher west side between Wagram ob der Traisen and Inzersdorf, but a few high-elevation vineyards continue southwest of Inzersdorf to Oberwöbling. The rest is found mostly at lower elevations on the east side of the Traisen River, primarily in an arc that runs north from Oberndorf to Traismauer and then southeast to Sitzenberg. The Traisental’s baserock is entirely different from the rock that underpins the Bohemian Massif. It is tertiary rock of the Miocene period, all essentially limestone, some of it hard enough to be quarried for construction. At higher elevations on the valley’s west side, broken chunks of white limestone appear in reddish loamy topsoil. Riesling is a small minority tenant here but is slowly gaining ground. Just 20 hectares of Riesling were standing here in 1999, but 10 years later this surface had doubled, and more is planted with each passing year. Traisental deserves more attention than it receives, both as a destination and as a wineproducing region. The wine villages strung out across the middle slopes on the valley’s west side, between Nussdorf and Inzersdorf, have always been a vacation destination for Viennese, drawn here on summer weekends by Heurigen with attractive courtyards and by bike- and footpaths coiling in and between the vineyards, offering generally east-facing views across the valley. As a wine region, it is small overall but increasingly vibrant. Its core reputation was first established by Ludwig Neumayer, one of the first Traisentalers to concentrate on wine and to abandon, albeit gradually, the mixed subsistence agriculture that was once universal here and still prevails across much of the region. Beginning in 1977, following his graduation from Klosterneuburg in viticulture and enology, Neumayer began to transform his small estate (whose production facilities and cellars are in whitewashed farm buildings

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surrounding a courtyard on Inzersdorf’s main street) into a manifest of parcels in the best sites, planted overwhelmingly to Grüner Veltliner, Riesling, and Pinot Blanc, but also to Sauvignon Blanc. Neumayer calls his best varietal wines from these sites Der Wein von Stein, paying homage to the area’s soil: gravelly and rockstrewn on the surface and red or brown from iron and manganese, with limestone conglomerate underneath. (Limestone soils, which give very distinctive, powerful Rieslings with exuberant and exciting acidity, are found in other regions, too, including vineyards in Alsace, Rheinhessen’s Wonnegau and the Argetsinger Vineyard in New York’s Finger Lakes.) Neumayer also makes a very impressive singlevineyard Riesling from the Rothenbart vineyard, a high-elevation (350 to 380 meters above sea level) ıötw site above Zwirch, on the Getzersdorf side of Inzersdorf. (Zwirch provides the fruit for Neumayer’s f lagship singlevineyard Grüner Veltliner.) The Riesling in Rothenbart was planted in 1985 and 1992. Wines from the 2006, 2009, 2010, and 2011 vintages, tasted in 2012, were a lovely picture of Rieslings from this region. The 2009, albeit from a warm vintage, was the standout, showing kirsch, pepper, and potpourri in the nose and red berries against a background of bright, treble-clef minerality on the palate. The 2011, barely in bottle when I tasted it, will be grand in due season: highly perfumed, dense, and exuberantly mineral. Neumayer was the first Traisental vintner to become part of the Traditionsweingüter Österreich, joined a few years later by the talented and successful Markus Huber, a cousin of Neumayer’s, domiciled in nearby Reichersdorf (see page 252).

Vienna Although it is easy to ignore the vines (612 hectares as of 2009) growing within Viennese city limits or to underestimate the seriousness of the vintners who tend them, Vienna is real wine country, not just a quaint magnet for tourists who have exhausted the attractions around the 110

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Stephansplatz and the Schönbrunn Palace. Less than 15 kilometers from the Innere Stadt, at least 2 of Vienna’s 23 postal codes, the so-called 19th and 21st Districts, are intensely viticultural, laced with vineyards and loaded with Heurigen that have in some cases morphed into excellent restaurants. In the summer, Vienna’s temperatures are quite similar to Langenlois’s (average summer high and low temperatures are 26°C and 14°C respectively), giving wines of similar weight and strength. Vienna winemakers have told me they are “united” in the belief that white wines should always finish under 13.5°. If there is a downside to Vienna’s situation, it is the frequency and severity of summer hailstorms. In extreme cases, the entire crop in a given vineyard can be ruined in a single afternoon or night. Gemischter Satz, or field blends of several varieties, were the usual viticultural products in Austria and many other European wine regions until the 20th century, and they have been revived as a Viennese signature product. The irrepressible Fritz Wieninger, the unofficial dean of Vienna winemakers, who farms 45 hectares in Stammersdorf (21st District) on the north side of the Danube and sells 30 percent of his production outside Austria, has been an especially strong advocate for Gemischter Satz. He and other producers farm 84 hectares total of unmixed Riesling in the Vienna district, and his best Riesling vineyards are Rosengartl and Preussen, both on the Nussberg hill and facing south across the river. Rosengartl was actually planted as Gemischter Satz, but one side of the vineyard was almost entirely Riesling; when picked separately from the rest of Rosengartl, wines from it can be marketed as Riesling. When the summer is kind and losses to hail are minor, Wieninger sometimes bottles one or both of these as single-vineyard wines, but a Nussberg cuvée is more common. In 2013, all the Nussberg vineyards were so badly hail-damaged that his main Riesling was a cuvée based on fruit from Bisamberg, also on the north side of the Danube but featuring a cap of sandy loess over limestone, yielding a bright, racy wine with less than 3 g/L of residual sugar.

Stefan Hajszan makes arguably the most exciting Riesling in Vienna: a single-vineyard wine from the Steinberg vineyard in the 19th District, bottled since 2011 under the Weingut Hajszan Neumann label, ref lecting his partnership with Vienna-based architect Heinz Neumann, who is also a graduate of the Weinbauschule Klosterneuburg. Steinberg is a windy, south-facing site between the 280- and 350-meter contours, where Hajszan owns 1.7 hectares. Here he has done something that is still rare in Vienna: he has converted the vineyard to biodynamic protocols, relying on a cover crop, tilling every other alley, and amending the soil with compost from sheep and chickens raised on the property where his excellent restaurant, called Die Winzerai, and the Weingut’s production facility are colocated in the Grinzingerstrasse. According to Hajszan, “wild pigs love the biodynamic vineyard and visit often.” He has been making wine since 2001; his first effort was a Riesling from the Pfaffenberg vineyard that was made in a cellar at Unterloiben. Fred Loimer (see page 266) was his mentor and early advisor. Grapes for the Steinberg wine are usually picked the last week in October, spend four or five hours on the skins before fermentation, and are yeasted with an isolate from the Heiligenstein vineyard. They are fermented at 18°C, and fermentations invariably stop naturally between 3 and 5 g/L of residual sugar. The new wine is left undisturbed until March after the vintage, at which point it is racked for the first time. The 2009, 2010, and 2011 vintages, tasted in 2012, were impressively fresh and dry, the 2011 inf lected with minerality, apple peel, and herbs on a base of yellow-f leshed stone fruit and citrus. Hajszan plans to begin fermenting half of the Steinberg in a 1,250-liter cask and to extend the period of full lees contact thereafter.

ADIGE VALLEY What is called the Alto Adige in Italian is called the Südtirol in German. For Italians, this is the valley of the Adige River upstream of Mezzaco-

rona, plus some tributary valleys; for Germanspeakers, it is the southeastern slopes of the Alps, which separate the Mediterranean Basin from transalpine Europe. Two important crossings here, the passes at Brennero (Brenner) and Resia, have accommodated traffic between the Adriatic and Germanic Europe for two millennia. Merano (Meran), now a spa town with a permanent resident population of about 39,000, was the seat of the county (Grafschaft) of Tirol between the middle of the 13th century and 1420; Tirol is also the name of the federal Austrian state centered at Innsbruck, just beyond the spine of the Alps. The region has been part of Italy since the end of World War I, included in what is now the autonomous region of Trentino–Alto Adige. Italian is the dominant language south of Bolzano, the region’s largest city, which is sited at the conf luence of the Adige and Isarco rivers, while primarily German is spoken from Bolzano north. The entire region, especially its northern half, is a dramatic landscape of fertile valleys rimmed with snow-capped peaks, warm enough in the summer to attract all manner of climbers, hikers, and campers, but cold enough, and with sufficient altitude, to support an array of snow-based winter sports from November through April. Orchards cover 18,000 hectares here; the Alto Adige produces 30 percent of Italy’s fresh apples, most of them from small, quality-oriented estates. Dairy farming has been encouraged in recent decades and is now practiced by more than 9,000 small farms. Sheep, goats, and free-range poultry are all thriving businesses as well, and garden vegetables such as caulif lower and radicchio are successful sidelines for many farmers. There is some industry on the valley f loors, but most vistas are unspoiled: a grand mountain landscape of small, verdant pastures and vineyards that often seem suspended above valleys, with no obvious access. At the beginning of the 21st century, the region finally seems at home with its dual Italian and Germanic personality. The Alto Adige/Südtirol contains subregions of considerable diversity. Starting near

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the nexus at Bolzano, the Oltradige is a picturesque, castle-studded area on the west bank of the Adige between Appiano (Eppan) and Termeno (Tramin), surrounding the Lago di Caldaro (Kalterersee). Northwest of Merano, the Val Venosta (Vinschgau) is the true upper course of the Adige, a broad valley of huge importance for orchard and field crops. Northeast of Bolzano, the Valle Isarco (Eisacktal), its postcard landscape slightly scarred by an autostrada and a rail line, climbs 1,100 meters to the Passo del Brennero. Viticulture is quantitatively most important south of Bolzano, where the Adige Valley is broadest, especially between Termeno and a line that divides the Alto Adige from Trentino. This end of the Alto Adige is its warmest and wettest subregion. Mediterranean inf luence is most palpable here; north of Bolzano, where elevations increase, temperatures are cooler and there is (generally) less rain. At Bolzano, summers are warmer than in any of the Riesling-friendly sites north of the Alps: the average daytime high temperature is 29°C in July and August, while overnight lows hover near 17°C. On the other hand, budbreak comes late, so a bit of additional summer heat is welcome and sometimes essential to ripen grapes completely. Winters are actually a trifle milder than at Krems on the Danube, however, with the average daytime high from December through February 7°C and the low just –3°C. Historically, this has led to some concern about winter-kill of grapevines, but better viticultural practices and climate change have mitigated this problem in recent decades. Geologically, it is easier to talk about individual vineyards than to generalize about regions. The Alto Adige is a patchwork quilt, a bit like Alsace, with all manner of soils and baserock cheek by jowl. However, the Val Venosta and the Valle Isarco are built mostly of soils weathered from crystalline rock, predominantly gneiss, quartz, and mica, while limestone and volcanic topsoils are more common in the Oltradige. Vineyard is more scattered than spread in the Alto Adige: 5,300 hectares of vines over a

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total land surface of 74,000 hectares. Even relatively large estates are actually collections of tiny pieces, and the region has many skillful cooperatives that process and market wines made from the grapes of many producers. Given the overwhelmingly mountainous terrain, most vineyards are planted on moderate to very steep slopes. Although white grapes are 60 percent of production here, autochthonous Lagrein, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Pinot Noir have joined the declining stands of Sciava to diversify the Alto Adige’s portfolio of reds. Gewürztraminer, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, and Chardonnay each account for around 500 hectares of vineyard. Seven other white varieties, including Riesling, account for smaller slices of the pie. Many of these now pass for local specialties. According to Edmund Mach (1846–1901), the agricultural chemist turned enologist who founded the respected Istituto agrario di San Michele all’Adige in 1874 and wrote important books about viticulture and winemaking, Riesling was first planted in the Alto Adige during the 1840s. Mach was not especially complimentary about Alto Adige Rieslings, claiming that “they lack the pleasant acidity that is characteristic of the Rhine wine” and “are more evocative of Marsala” (Babo and Mach 1923). His comments make one wonder if early plantings of Riesling here may have been farther south than the variety is grown today, in what would have been rather warm turf even in the cool 19th century. In any case, whether for this reason or for some other, Riesling had difficulty gaining traction here. Even today the Centro di sperimentazione agraria e forestale (Research Centre for Agriculture and Forestry) in Laimburg, the region’s most important center of viticultural research, advises prospective growers very conservatively about Riesling, telling them that it is a difficult variety prone to both good and bad botrytis, that its wood may be damaged in very cold winters, and that only a few corners of the region are optimal for it. But Laimburg’s own winery still works with Riesling in a single 3.4-hectare vineyard called Seeburg, in the Valle

Isarco near Bressanone (Brixen). A consensus seems to have emerged in recent years that this area and the Val Venosta may be the local promised land for Riesling, which tolerates high altitude, likes good air circulation, does well with low precipitation, and manages in thin, porous soils that reduce mold-related problems. Several Valle Isarco producers now work successfully with Riesling. At Weingut Pacherhof, north of Bressanone, Andreas Huber grows 2.5 hectares of Riesling on a southwest-facing hillside between the 650- and 700-meter contours, planted in 2003 and 2007. In 2004, he made an award-winning wine from two-yearold vines: bright, tart, dry, and mineral, with about 8 g/L of acid and 6 g/L of residual sugar. Huber says that only global warming has made Riesling possible here—winters were simply too severe 30 years ago. Almost across the road from Huber, Günter Kerschbaumer (Weingut Köfererhof) planted Riesling in 1999, 2000, and 2002 on a slope composed mostly of slate, granite, and glacial debris, about 650 meters above sea level, and made his first vintage of Riesling in 2003. Kerschbaumer, who had previously sold his entire grape harvest to the Abbazia di Novacella, which is sited directly below the estate, decided on Riesling because he wanted to work with a variety known for producing ageworthy wines, so that “10 or 15 years from now I could say, ‘This is my wine and it is really good.’” He says that Riesling “has potential, but you have to work at it in order to harvest its potential,” and thinks that it works well in slate and gravel and in sites that are not “too dry” in the winter, cautioning against sites that are vigorous, since then “you get big clusters and big berries.” The 2010, 2011, and 2012 vintages, tasted in 2013, were salty wines with dense minerality, a white-fruit impression, flavors of lemon custard, and some impression of botrytis. They are friendly Rieslings, bright and very slightly tart, wrapped with fruit and residual sugar that is generally equal to or slightly greater than total acid. No Rieslings from the Valle Isarco have attracted more attention, however, than those grown by Peter Pliger at Kuen

Hof, just south of Bressanone (see page 268). With some vines planted in 1993, Pliger currently tends the Val Isarco’s oldest Riesling. The Val Venosta, northwest of Bolzano, has some properties in common with the Val Isarco: abundant sunshine, less than 400 millimeters of precipitation annually, and strong prevailing winds. Here the pioneers were Franz and Bernadette Pratzner at Weingut Falkenstein, who planted Riesling in 1989 on south-facing hillside land outside Naturno (Naturns). Franz Pratzner had been an orchardist but found that growing apples on hilly land was not economically viable, and thus he replanted his trees to grapes. Now 7 of 11 hectares are dedicated to Riesling, while the rest are planted to Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir, and Sauvignon Blanc. Pratzner’s estate is sited on a 40 percent slope, with 1 meter of topsoil surmounting about 2 meters of marl and crystalline bedrock. He planted densely (between 9,000 and 12,000 vines per hectare), farms organically, and picks in multiple passes between mid-October and early November. In 2011, however, he was considering conversion to a single earlyish pick to reduce the wines’ finished alcohol content, which sometimes has been above 14°. Of the vintages I tasted in 2011, the 2009 was minty, clean, and mineral, made entirely from botrytis-free grapes, fermented to between 4 and 5 g/L of residual sugar, with about 7 g/L of total acid. The 2008 was also excellent, redolent of green apple and citrus, with a long, tight palate. Martin and Gisela Aurich studied the Pratzners’ example before choosing a site on the Juval Hill, about 4 kilometers west of Pratzner, for their own estate in 1991, where Unterortl (the site) and the Castel Juval brand have become a benchmark for Alto Adige Riesling (see page 269). It is perhaps evidence of Riesling’s traction here—though it still involves only a tiny surface, 12 hectares in 2013—that the village of Naturno now hosts annual Rieslingtage featuring wine tastings for the public during harvest season. The attention to the Val Isarco and Val Venosta notwithstanding, most of the Alto Adige’s investment in Riesling is in neither subregion

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but in the Adige Valley south of Merano and in the Oltradige. The oldest Riesling vines still producing are said to be in vineyards farmed by the Kellerei Meran Burggräf ler on south- and west-facing hillsides southeast of Merano, which are now about 40 years old. At Cornaiano (Girlan), Karl Martini and his sons grow

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Riesling, as does Elena Walch in two blocks of the Castel Ringberg vineyard overlooking the Lago di Caldaro. By far the most interesting producer of Riesling in this area, however, is Ignaz Niedrist (page 273), also domiciled at Cornaiano, whose investment in Riesling is described in part II.

maps

Riesling in Western Europe Riesling in North America Alsace Nahe, Rheingau, and Rheinhessen Pfalz Lower Austria Alto Adige Finger Lakes Niagara Peninsula (Ontario) Okanagan and Similkameen (British Columbia) Willamette Valley (Oregon) Columbia Valley (Washington) San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara (California) Salinas Valley and Adjacent Areas (California) Napa and Sonoma (California) Mendocino (California)



10°E

DENMARK

Newcastle

North Sea

Gda Rostock Hamburg

Manchester

Bremen

ENGLAND

Berlin

Amsterdam

Poznan

HOLLAND

Rotterdam

Swansea Cardiff

GERMANY

London

Dortmand

Lille

Dresden

Cologne

Brussels

Mosel

BELGIUM

Koblenz

Wroclaw

Rheingau Prague

Frankfurt

50°N

Rheinhessen

Trier

Nahe

Metz

Paris

CZECH REPUBLIC

Worms Mannheim

Pfalz

Strasbourg

Stuttgart

Alsace

Lo

Krems

Linz

Munich

Vienna

Bratisl

Mulhouse

Zurich

Basel

Dijon

Nantes

AUSTRIA

Innsbruck

FRANCE

Graz

HU

SWITZERLAND Geneva

Alto Adige

SLOVENIA

Trento

ATLANTIC OCEAN

Lyon

Milan

Zagreb

C R O AT I A

Venice

I TA LY

Turin

Bordeaux

Verona

Bologna

BOSNIA HERZEGO

Florence Toulouse

Bilbao

Split

Monaco

Marseille

Sarajev

Adriatic Sea

MONTEN

Corsica Valladolid

N

Barcelona

SPAIN

0

Madrid

Rome I TA LY

0

200 miles 200 kilometers

Naples

Bari

Sardinia

40°N

Valencia



Mediterranean Sea

Me 10°E

10°E

LITHUANIA

20°E

DENMARK

RIESLING INKaunas WESTERN EUROPE Gdansk Rostock Minsk

Hamburg Bialystok

Bremen

Berlin

Poznan

Warsaw

POLAND

LAND

BELARUS

GERMANY Dortmand Dresden

Cologne

Mosel

UM

Koblenz

Wroclaw

Rheingau Prague

Frankfurt

Rheinhessen Worms

Trier

Nahe

Metz

Kraków Lviv

CZECH REPUBLIC

Mannheim

Pfalz

Strasbourg

SLOVAKIA

Stuttgart

Alsace

Mulhouse

Vienna

Bratislava

AUSTRIA

Graz

HUNGARY

SWITZERLAND

eneva

Alto Adige

SLOVENIA

Trento

on

Milan

Verona

ROMANIA

Zagreb

C R O AT I A

Venice

I TA LY

Turin

MOLDOVA

Budapest Innsbruck

Belgrade

Bologna

BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA

Florence Split

Monaco

Bucharest

SERBIA

Sarajevo

Adriatic Sea

KOSOVO

MONTENEGRO

Corsica N 200 miles

Naples

Sofia

BULGARIA

Skopje

Rome I TA LY

200 kilometers

Kosice

Salzburg

Zurich

Basel

50°N

Lower Austria

Krems

Linz

Munich

UKRAINE

MACEDONIA

Tirana Bari

ALBANIA

Istanbul Thessaloniki

Sardinia

40°N

GREECE

editerranean Sea

Mediterranean Sea 10°E

20°E

TURKEY

120°W

110°W

BRITISH COLUMBIA

A L B E R TA

Okanagan Valley 50°N

100°W

90°W

S A S K AT C H E W A N

Calgary

MANITOBA

Kelowna

O

Vancouver WASHINGTON

Seattle

Columbia Valley

Yakima

NORTH D A K O TA

M O N TA N A

Lake Superior

M I N N E S O TA

Old Miss Peninsu

Richland

Portland

Minneapolis

Willamette Eugene Valley

SOUTH D A K O TA

IDAHO

OREGON

Boise

WISCONSIN

WYOMING

Milwaukee

IOWA

Mendocino

ILLINOIS

Salt Lake City N E VA D A

Denver

U TA H

Napa/Sonoma

COLORADO

Napa

Louis

KENT

CALIFORNIA

Nashv

Las Vegas

OKLAHOMA

Santa Barbara ARIZONA

Memphis

ARKANSAS

NEW MEXICO

PI

Los Angeles

TENNESSE

SIP

Salinas Valley

Phoenix

SIS

Dallas

San Diego

MIS

Santa Barbara

TEXAS PACIFIC OCEAN

ALABAMA

LOUISIANA

30°N

San Antonio

Houston

New Orleans

Gulf of Mexico

N

0 0 120°W

INDIANA

MISSOURI KANSAS

San Francisco Salinas

MI

Chicago

NEBRASKA

40°N

Trave Ci Lake Michigan

300 miles 300 kilometers 110°W

100°W

Tecomán

90°W

Orizaba

100°W

90°W

80°W

70°W

RIESLING IN NORTH AMERICA

AT C H E W A N MANITOBA

50°N

O N TA R I O

NORTH D A K O TA

Lake Superior

M I N N E S O TA

QUEBEC

Old Mission Peninsula Minneapolis SOUTH D A K O TA

WISCONSIN

NG

Montreal

Lake Huron

Niagara Peninsula

Traverse City Lake Michigan

Milwaukee

IOWA

Quebec

MICHIGAN

Detroit

Lake Erie

ILLINOIS

OHIO

INDIANA

KENTUCKY Nashville

Charlotte

SIP

PI

MEXICO

MIS

SIS

Dallas TEXAS

Atlanta ALABAMA

DE

NORTH CAROLINA

Memphis

ARKANSAS

40°N

NJ

VIRGINIA

TENNESSEE

OKLAHOMA

Washington DC

RI

New York

Philadelphia

WEST VIRGINIA

Saint Louis

CT

P E N N S Y LVA N I A MD

MISSOURI

OLORADO

Boston

MA

Finger Lakes

Portland

NH

YORK

Buffalo

Cleveland

Denver

VT

Toronto

Lake Ontario Rochester N E W

Chicago

NEBRASKA

MAINE

Ottawa

SOUTH CAROLINA Charleston

GEORGIA

ATLANTIC OCEAN

Savannah

LOUISIANA San Antonio

Houston

30°N

New Orleans Orlando

FLORIDA

Tampa

Miami Gulf of Mexico

100°W

Tecomán

90°W

Orizaba

80°W

70°W

7°E

7°30'E

Marlenheim

36

D1004

Schiltingheim

Ittenheim

D225

Bergbieten 225m

1

4

21

D30

Strasbourg

Dahlenheim

Kehl

Eggersheim

D422

E52

Molsheim

Mutzig D1420

E

Dorlisheim

Lutzelhouse

6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22

D1420

36 3

Barr D425

Erstein

22

D1083

Schwanau

Andlau

D5

E35

Benfeld

Epfig Villé

D1422

Lahr

36

Dambachla-Ville

5

D424

Gerstheim

D5

A35

D253

D35

Hilsenheim

4465 3

N59

Kintzheim

Sélestat

Ettenheim

5

D20

E35

D424 D18

D42

12

Ribeauvillé

14

A35

3

D415

Riquewihr

Lapoutroie

18 Niedermorschwihr

2 D10 D417

Guémar

Beblenheim

Marckolsheim Ostheim

Wyhl

17

16 Kaysersberg 251m

D417

6 11

7 19

Herbolzheim

E25

Bergheim

D415

D18

GERMANY

Houssen

Ingersheim

5

A35

Colmar

3

E35

D468

Turckheim

E35

D246

Valff

8

Rhine

BAS RHIN

D35

Altenheim

e

5

A35

Obernai

Rhin

4

48°30'N 5

C

3

Altenberg de Bergbieten Brand Clos Windsbuhl Engelberg Frankstein Geisberg Grafenreben Kastelberg Kessler Kitterlé Muehlforst Osterberg Saales Rangen Rosacker Saering Schlossberg Schoenenbourg Frapelle Sommerberg N59 Sonnenglanz Spiegel Thalberg Wiebelsberg

A

2

Marlen

A352

N353

S

1

Illkirch

A35

48°30'N

ALSACE

Willstätt

36

D52

Bötzingen

415

13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22

Osterberg Saales Rangen Rosacker Saering Schlossberg Schoenenbourg Frapelle Sommerberg N59 Sonnenglanz Spiegel Thalberg Wiebelsberg

Epfig Villé

Gerstheim

D5

A35

D253

D1422

5

D424

Lahr

36

415

Dambachla-Ville D35

Hilsenheim

4465 3

N59

Kintzheim

A

12

Sélestat

Ettenheim

5

D20

E35

D424 D18

D42

A35

Bergheim

3

D415

Riquewihr

Lapoutroie

Niedermorschwihr

2 D10 D417

D18

D415

Wyhl

GERMANY

Houssen

S

18

Beblenheim

Marckolsheim Ostheim

17

16 Kaysersberg 251m

Guémar

7 19

e

14

6 11

Rhin

12

Ribeauvillé

Herbolzheim

E25

3

Ingersheim

E35

D468

Turckheim

5

A35

Colmar

Bötzingen

D52

D417

Gundelfingen

31

Munster

Breisach

3

Neuf-Brisach Sainte-Croixen-Plaine

L

48°N

D27

Freiburg

Merdingen

48°N 31

D83

HAUT RHIN

Rouffach

D2

D468

A35

D430

9 20 15

Guebwiller 324m

E35

E25

Bergholtz

10

5 3

Hirtzfelden

Issenheim

Bad Krozingen

D2

Heitersheim

A

E512

Ensisheim

D468

Thann 343m 7°E

Cernay

Wittelsheim

Rhin

Müllheim

A35

D430

VieuxThann E512

0

e

D83

13

N

D5

Mulhouse

A36

Ottmarsheim 7°30'E

3

0

5 miles 5 kilometers

7°30'E



9

61

Lorch

NAHE & WESTERN RHEINGAU

Rh

ine

1

Rheinböllen

50°N

A

3035

42

Bacharach

Assmannshausen

E42 E42

H

R

9

42

34 3320 42

Oestrich-

Johannisberg

31

165m Kiedrich

22

3272

33

1 9 18

24

Eberbach

I

E

G

N

ine

Rh

-Winkel

111m Geisenheim

60

Rüdesheim Bingen

41

R

Berg Schlossberg 2 Dellchen 3 Felsenberg 4 Frühlingsplätzchen 5 Goldlach Simmern 6 Halenberg 7 Hermannsberg E42 8 Hermannshöhle 9 Kaisersteinfels 10 Karthäuser 11 Kertz 12 Kirschheck 13 Klamm 14 Kupfergrube 15 Löhrer Berg Gemünden 16 Pittermännchen 17 Rheingrafenberg 18 Berg Roseneck 19 St. Remigiusberg

260

Ingelheim am Rhein

61

16

5 10

19

H

Rummelsheim E42

E

Stromberg

50

Grolsheim

Laubenheim 48

H

E

15 Langenlonsheim 100m

41

61

Sprendlingen

41

Wörrstadt

Bad Kreuznach

420 420

A

421

Simmertal

155m Monzingen

6

4 41

17

Schlossbockelheim

3 14

7

41

Oberhausen 130m

Bad Sobernheim Meddersheim 160m

2 12

271

48

Bad Münster am Norheim Stein-Ebernburg Niederhausen

11 8 13

420

61

N

327

Alzey

48

27 63

Alsenz

420

Meisenheim 270

Flo

48

420

N 270

Lauterecken

0

5 miles 47

0

7°30'E

420

270

5 kilometers

48

63

8°E



9

Lorch

Rh

ine

Assmannshausen

H

R

9

42

24

3

RHEINHESSEN & EASTERN RHEINGAU

Martintal

20

66

21 22

34 Eltville

3320

24

Mainz

ine

25

50°N

Rh

-Winkel

111m Geisenheim

23

643

42

Oestrich-

Johannisberg

31

165m Kiedrich

22

3272

33

1 9 18

N

I

E

G

Eberbach

U

A

3035

42

ch

Wiesbaden

260

26 27

60

28 E42

Rüdesheim 41

R

Bingen

Ingelheim am Rhein

40

29 30

4465

31

mberg

16

5

Rummelsheim E42

E

61

10

19

33 34

H

50

Laubenheim

15

48

ne Oppenheim

Schwabsburg

Sprendlingen

Rhi

Nierstein 90m

433

I

61

41

9

N

Wörrstadt

Bad Kreuznach

420 420

A

32 30 29

41

Trebur

Nackenheim

H

Langenlonsheim 100m

2 12

35

63

Grolsheim

E 420

271

48

Bad Münster am Norheim Stein-Ebernburg Niederhausen

11 8 13

H

7

32

66

Aulerde Brunnenhäuschen Doosberg Frauenberg671 Gräfenberg Hochheim am Main Hubacker 40 Kirchenstück Kirchspiel Rüsselsheim Morstein E42 Ölberg E42 Pettenthal Rotenberg Rothenberg 9 Schloss Johannisberg Steinberg Zellerberg am Schwarzen Herrgott

63

420

61

E 9

S

Alzey

48

271 63

Alsenz

Monzernheim

Flomborn

Osthofen

Westhofen 135m Bermersheim

25

Rhine

271

E

48

20

S

28

61

27

21

9

Dalsheim 47

meters

35

23

Mölsheim Monsheim 48

63

8°E

271

NiederFlörsheim

Pfeddersheim

47

HohenSülzen

N

5 miles

Worms

47

26

61 9

8°10’E

8°20'E 271

9

Grünstadt

Eisenberg

E50

E50

6

47

Grosskarlbach

271

E50 6

61

e

Freinsheim

9

Rhin

Z

Frankenthal Weisenheim am Sand

2 9

49°30'N

49°30'N

Mannheim 13

Leistadt

Kallstadt 150m

Bad Dürkheim

650 650

Ludwigshafen

L

37

37

Wachenheim 130m Forst

8 3 11

61 9

6 Deidesheim 140m

4 10

Meckenheim Schifferstadt

A

Königsbach Haardt

Mutterstadt

271

12 9 5

39

44

Friedelsheim

65

Mussbach

1

Neustadt

49°20'N

61

49°20'N

39

F

Hanhofen 39

Geinsheim

Speyer Dudenhofen 39

9

ine

Rh

Edenkoben 272

P

65

PFALZ Lingenfeld

Hochstadt

1 2

272

3

Albersweiler

7

10

Birkweiler Ranschbach

4 5

Landau

6 7

Bellheim

8 9

49°10'N

Impflingen 38

65

8°10’E

0 0

9 10

N Rüzheim 3 miles 3 kilometers

11 12 13

Bürgergarten Goldberg Hohenmorgen Germersheim Idig Jesuitengarten Kalkofen Kastanienbusch Kieselberg Kirchenstück Mandelgarten Paradiesgarten Pechstein Saumagen

Phillipsburg

35

Graben

36

K 21 A

15°40'E Zöbing

15°30'E

1 2 3 4 6 8

12

15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23

Lengenfeld

L73

Dross Senftenberg

L7040

4

Nöhagen

L73

L7085

U

H

A

Dürnstein

18

9

13 20 16

3

3

Mautern an der Donau 204m

19

Krems An Der Donau

37a

Palt L7071

S5

S33

be

11

Joching

33

10

L49

35

nu

A

C

3

Rossatz

7

L114

Mitterarnsdorf

223m Spitz

Oberbergern

Krustetten Paudorf

Danube

Oberarnsdorf L109

L5014

48°20'N

N

L5042

17

3

Maria Laach am Jauerling 15°20'E

L7140

33

0 Gansbach Aggsbach

15°30'E

43

Traismauer

L5012

Theyern

L100

0

Grafenegg

Da

Viessling

Gedersdorf

37

L T A

Wösendorf

217

L7080

S

Weissenkirchen in der Wachau

L7126

W

35

14

Rehberg

1

3

Hadersdorf am Kamp

Stratzing

15

L78

217

34

Imbach

L78

L81

Strass im Strassertal

218

12

Mühldorf 360m

M P T 6A L

Langenlois 219m

L7052

L78

L7127

L55

M

11

14

37

Unter-Meisling

Loibenberg Mosburgerin Pelligen Pfaffenberg Rothenbart Schütt Silberbichl Steinertal Steinmassl Weinzierl Steinwand am Walde Zwirch

E

9 10

13

R

7

Scheutz

K

5

Achleiten Berg Bruck Ehrenfels Engelreich Gaisberg L7163 Grillenparz Heiligenstein Steiner Hund Kellerberg Kirchweg Klaus

22 8

TR AIS ENTA L

LOWER AUSTRIA

35 L7008

3 miles 3 kilometers

Wölbling

Inzersdorf ob der Traisen Statzendorf L100

15°40'E

2

5

23

L113

Reichersdorf

Getzersdorf

S33

48°20'N L5010

11°E

7

Varna

E45

N

Castelbello 577m

SS38

VE L VA

Ciardes

4

S O N

Bressanone 560m

4 kilometers

Parcines 325m

SS38

Rabla Naturno

9

Rifiano

4 miles

2

Elva

SS44

0 0

SP31

8

SP74

Merano

TA

6

SP29 E45

3 Sarentino Sinigo SS98

Lana SS508 SS38

Gargazzone

San Pancrazio

SS99

SS98

Vilpiano SS10

O

Santa Valburga

SS508

San Nicolò

E D I G R A L T

Nalles

SP238

262m

SS54

46°30'N

ALTO ADIGE: OLTRADIGE & VAL VENOSTA 1 2 3 4 5

Cardano

Bolzano A22

SS42

San Paulo

Castel Ringberg Falkenstein Terlan Unterortl Untersteiner

5

A22

Appiano

Fondo

SS12

SS42

Brez Laives

SS42 SS42

Cavereno

Mendola Bronzolo

Caldaro SP14

Romeno

Revò SS43 SS42

Caldes

SS43

11°E

Cles

Sanzeno

1 Lago di Caldaro

SP72

A22

SS12

S

11°30'E

7

8 Varna

E45

ALTO ADIGE: VALLE ISARCO

SP31

Elvas

6 7

SS44

9

9

Bressanone 560m

325m

S38

SP74

Merano

6

Bressanone see inset map left

SP29

O

11°30'E

San Andrea

Lazfons

E45

3

I

E45

C

Rifiano

8

SP30

Kaiton Köfererhof Pacherhof Seeberg

S

A

R

SP142

Chiusa

Sarentino

VA LL E

Sinigo SS98

Lana SS508 SS38

SS242d

Colma

Gargazzone

E45

SS98

SP24

Vilpiano

Telfen-Ianzin

Renon

O

SS10

SS508

E D I G R A L T

Nalles

Siusi

Collalbo SP24

262m

SS54

Cardano

Bolzano

E45

A22

SS42

46°30'N

Tires

San Paulo

5

A22

Appiano

Fondo

SP64

Castelrotto

S12

SS99

San Pietro

SS242

SS12 SS241

SS42

Nova Levante Laives

SS42

SS241

Cavereno

eno

Mendola Bronzolo

Caldaro

Carezza

SP14

1 Lago di Caldaro

Obereggen

SP72

A22

SS12

11°30'E

SS48

90

77°W 332

Waterloo

FINGER LAKES 1 2

20

5 6

96A

Lak e

nd aig ua

Gorham

8 9

Can a

F I N G E R Potter

14

7

90

Moravia

96

Lodi Himrod

Dundee

Cortland

k

6

a

ke La

89

11 Hector

Dryden

255m

14A

230

Urbana

3

13

Trumansburg

96

Ithaca

414

14

79

14A

54

1

226

13

13

keu

53

Groton

34

38

Finger Lakes National Forest

2

9

54A

42°30'N

81

34B

8 Pulteney

90

414

5

Prattsburgh

38

e Lak

Interlaken

41

90

10

54A

54

76°30'W

uga Cay

Ovid

Penn Yan

Branchport

11

89

Dresden

245

10

L A K E S

ke a La Senec

4

364

Hammondsport 226m

7

245

14A

Middlesex

38

414

s Oti

34

n

4

Lake

89

96

3

20

Argetsinger Black Diamond (Lamoreaux Landing) Falling Man 80 Hanging Delta ea (Fox Run) co L tel ak HJW es e La 41 Keuka (Dr. Konstantin ke Frank) Lake Dana (Fox Run) Round Rock (Lamoreaux Landing) Sawmill Creek Sheldrake Point Silver Thread Sk a

132m Geneva

20

Auburn

asco Ow

Canandaigua

20

Seneca Falls

14

38

79 228

Burdett

N

79 13

0

10 miles

96B

86

77°W

Watkins Glen

76°30'W

0

10 kilometers

42°30'N

79°30'W

Niagara-onthe-Lake

A E AR AG H O R I N ES K 2 LA

extent of larger map Queen Elizabeth Way

N 0

LAKE ONTARIO

2 miles

0

55

Beamsville Vineland

2 kilometers

5

St Catherines

ID’S S T DAV H C N E B

Niagara Falls 79°20'W

Grimsby Queen Elizabeth Way

87

81

Greenlane

Moyer Rd

79°30'W

NIAGARA PENINSULA (ONTARIO) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Carly’s (Tawse) Cattail Creek Cave Spring Nadja’s (Flat Rock) Paul Bosc Estate Rosomel (Hidden Bench) St. Urban Thirty Bench

43°10'N

26

81

18

34

TW

1

Fourth Ave

Vineland

EN 7

73

77

King S t

TY

MI LE 4

King

St 81

BENC H

Bruce Trail

103m S V Beamsville IL 3 6 LE BEN CH

406

Victoria Ave

t

Victoria Ave

18

gS

Cherry Ave

Kin

Merritt Rd

M

Mountainview Rd

43°10'N

EA

St Catherines

8 Tufford Rd

B

Queen Elizabeth Way

669

79°20'W

97

120°W

West Kelowna

119°30'W

97

Kelowna

33

344m

8

3

Westbank

97C

1 Peachland 97

an

ag

an

Ok ke

La

5

Summerland Naramata

97

Cedar Creek Gehringer Estate Mount Boucherie (Mission Hill) Mulberry Tree Naramata Ranch (Mission Hill) Schales Family Stoney Slope Tantalus

1 2 3 4 5 6

49°30'N

49°30'N

Penticton 385m

97

a Skah

7 8

Rd mata Nara

OKANAGAN AND SIMILKAMEEN (BRITISH COLUMBIA)

Lake

Kaleden

97

Hedley

3A

Okanagan Falls

7

3

6

Vaseux Lake

Olalla

97

Keremeos

4

Cawston

Oliver

Similkam

2 3

r Rive een

N 97 3

120°0'W

Osoyoos Lake 283m Osoyoos 119°30'W

0 0

3

5 miles 5 kilometers

123°30'W

123°W

Banks

6

26

6 8

47

8

WILLAMETTE VALLEY (OREGON) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

8

Cornelius

Amity Ana and Meyer Brooks Estate Corral Creek Elk Cove Estate Hyland Red House (Sokol Blosser) Ribbon Ridge (Trisaetum) Wascher Wind Ridge (Chehalem) Yamhill

45°30'N

45°30'N

47

Gaston

R son Ol

d

5

YA M

11

Hillsboro

Forest Grove

AL EH CH

10

26

47

HIL

EM

240

47

Newberg

Rd

2 9

99W

7 219

LE

Dayton

V

McMinnville 48m

N

18

c

99W

153

18

ver

n Ri

Hwy Ballston Rd 99W

22

123°30'W

y Rd

Amit

Bethel Rd

3

AMITY HILLS

18

o Salm

1

153

Sheridan Willamina

154

18

Amity

er Riv

M

EOLA

Muddy lley Rd Va

6

M

IN

221

tte lame

5 kilometers

St Paul Wil

0

IL

5 miles

219

Dundee 57m

99W

0

4

99W

Hill Rd

Lafayette

N

S

240

DUNDEE HILLS Worden bey

R LT O N

Carlton

OU NT AIN

North Valley Rd

Ab

11

L-CA

Yamhill 55m

10 8

M

24 153

5 99E

221

123°W

120°W

120°30'W

Rd 1 NW

4

97

mbi Colu a Ri

Ellensburg

90

47°N

90

119°30'W

To Stone’s Throw 11

Vantage 90

Moses

90

A N C I E N T L A K E S

F R E N C H M A N

ver

Kittitas

374m George

S H I L L 262

2

Royal City

26 243

26

O 82

Mattawa

24

W A H L U K E Selah

12

243

S L O P E Co lu

325m

Yakima

m

24

24

1

Moxee

bi

a

Ri

ve

r

24

46°30'N

9

240

Waputo Rd

Wapato

Y

Stephenson Rd

White Swan

A

82

Zillah

K

Toppenish

I

M

3 7

A

225

Sunnyside

Granger 223m

V 97

241

12

8

A

Grandview

22

L

L

10

82

E

a im Yak

er Riv

Benton City

6 Prosser

82 221

N 0 0 120°30'W

120°W

Richland 117m

Mabton

Y

224

10 miles 10 kilometers 119°30'W

Ken

Rd 1 NW

90

4

374m George

119°30'W

To Stone’s Throw 11

119°W 90

A N C I E N T L A K E S

17

47°N

F R E N C H M A N

New Warden

S H I L L 262

2

26

COLUMBIA VALLEY (WASHINGTON) 1 2 3 4

Royal City

5

243 26

6 7 8

Othello

9 10 26 17

Mattawa

13

24

W A H L U K E 243

11 395 12

S L O P E

Lind

Cold Creek Corfu Crossing DuBrul Evergreen Figgins Family Goose Ridge Harrison Hill Otis Red Willow Solstice Stone’s Throw Zillah Ranch Wallula

Connell

Co lu m 24

1

Kahlotus

17

260

395

bi

a

Ri

ve

r

Mesa

46°30'N 240

241

Riv er

395

225

Sn

nyside

8

randview

10

82

a im Yak

er Riv

Benton City

224

Richland 117m

124

Pasco

6

Mabton Prosser

82 221

Kennewick

bia lum Co

12

r

e Riv

W

Moses Lake

90

ake

W

N 0 0

10 miles

Wallula

To Figgins Family 5

12

Touchet

10 kilometers 119°30'W

13

120°30'W

101

1

SAN LUIS OBISPO AND SANTA BARBARA (CALIFORNIA)

71m

San Luis Obispo

ED 7

10

6

101

5 6 7 8

LEY

227

Pismo Beach

4

Orcutt Rd

VA L

2

3

A

Corbett Canyon Rd

2

N

227

1

9 10

Ampelos Claiborne Gainey Home Ranch Kick-On Lafond Oliver’s Paragon Rancho Sisquoc White Hills Wolff

Arroyo Grande

1 166

Nipomo

101

35°N

35°N

Guadalupe

Santa Maria

166

N

1

0 0

SA

Orcutt

5 miles 5 kilometers

N TA

PACIFIC OCEAN

101

M

8

A

R

1 135

Vandenberg Air Force Base

4

9

IA

VA

Los Alamos 174m

Fo xe nC an yo nR d

LL

EY 101

Los Olivos

1 246

Lompoc 32m

1 SANT A RI TA San ta Ro HIL sa R d LS

154

246

Buellton 109m

120°30'W

246

Solvang

5

1

Santa Ynez

101

3

121°30'W 25

101 156

San Juan Bautista

156

Hollister 88m 25

L

A Paicines

IE

Tres Pinos

C

Prunedale

eg en Ci

156

NE

101

d

VA

aR

GA

10

LL

Salinas 16m

183

EY

J1

25

68

101

dS

Ol d

G17

SA

ala Chu

Chualar

N

TA

r Can

1

Rd on

y

eR

v

tag

Ri er Rd

S

A

L

L

I

U

C

IA

36°30'N

Gonzales

25

N

A

HI

101

36°30'N

S

GH

146

LA

D

Riv

d

Soledad

rn ho

T

5

Elm

e Av

9

Greenfield 88m 101

tra

n Ce

G16

ve lA

G15

King City

N

0

5 kilometers

G14

R sis

121°30'W

101

Oa d

Big Sur

5 miles

R on Jol

0

1

Rd

Y

7

e

E

11

2

CO

10

11 2

SE

9

Los Coches Rd

Coastview J. Lohr Paraiso Rancho Tierra (K-J) Riva Ranch (Wente) San Bernabe Sanctuary (Jekel) Ventana Viento Los Padres National Forest Wirz Zabala

G15

L

7 8

8

YO

6

3

4

O

5

R

R

4

d

R

3

A

ill th

2

G17

L

Fo o

SALINAS VALLEY AND ADJACENT AREAS (CALIFORNIA)

A

S

er R

V

N

1

Pinnacles National Park

d

6

122°30'W

29

Calistoga 128

S il ver a do

NAPA AND SONOMA (CALIFORNIA) Tra i

l

1

Angwin

2

29

3 4 5

SPRING MOUNTAIN 5

6 7

6 Sprin

gM

29

ount

Silv e

Rd

Tra il

N

St Helena 77m

38°30'N

do

ra

ain

Henry Ranch (V. Sattui) Monte Rosso Scintilla Sonoma Scribe Smith-Madrone Stony Hill Trefethen

128

38°30'N

A P

128

A

V

Rutherford 29

A

L

12

L E

S

Kenwood

Y

O

Yountville Sil

N

rad ve

M

Rd

l

er

rai oT

d ee

O

tV

M

29

7

A

Glen Ellen

12

Oa

ll no

kK

Moon Mountain Rd

ol Arn

E Y L L V dA Dr

2

121

Boyes Hot Springs

12

5 miles

0

5 kilometers

Sonoma He Napa Rd

nr

1

121

4

Temelec

221 12

116

L O S

Petaluma

121

116

122°30'W

221

6m

d yR

0

Napa

26m

Broadway

N

121

Carneros 29

3

S C A Ral R N E R O d m Ra

MENDOCINO (CALIFORNIA)

1

2 3 4 5 6 7

Little River

Redwood Valley

123°30'W

Comptche

1

Potter Valley

Potter Valley Rd

Mendocino

3

101

Cole Ranch Greenwood Ridge McFadden Navarro V. Sattui Valley Foothills Wiley

ver Rd Eel Ri

1

241

20 20

Albion Flynn Creek

101

Rd

128 1

82m Navarro

7

A

Elk

Talmage

6

dR

2

d

4

S

R

wo o

E

ee n

D

lo

PACIFIC OCEAN

193m

N

Phi

Gr

Ukiah

128

O

N 1

0 0

39°N

5 miles 5 kilometers 123°30'W

N

253

Philo

V

A

1

L

L

101

E

128

Y

116m Boonville

5

253

39°N

This page intentionally left blank

EIGHT

Riesling Habitats in North America

n north america, riesling is grown

I

primarily in three large areas: the greater Great Lakes, stretching from the easternmost of New York’s Finger Lakes across the south shore of Lake Ontario to Michigan; the Columbia River Basin, including the valleys of several tributaries in Washington State, Oregon, and British Columbia, across the border; and several coastal valleys in California. This highlevel aggregation of many distinct regions that are more commonly viewed independently is to some extent heuristic since it masks important climatic differences, especially among the tributary valleys of the Columbia River, but we will examine those differences as they arise. The northernmost vineyards in these regions—those around the city of Kelowna on Okanagan Lake in British Columbia—are between 49° and 50°N and thus are similar in latitude to Riesling’s European habitats. The rest are scattered much farther south, between 34.6°N and 45°N. Geologically, the Greater Great Lakes area coincides with the Niagara Escarpment, an edge of thickly layered, erosionresistant rock of sedimentary origin that is

often manifest as modest limestone cliffs. But the pervasive importance of glaciers to the formation of this region’s land surface, and to its lakes, is fundamental for viticulture of all kinds, Riesling not excepted. There are only a few scraps of the escarpment as far east as New York’s Finger Lakes. Along the Niagara Peninsula in Ontario, however, it is the backbone of the main viticultural areas; in Michigan, it follows the west side of Lake Michigan, while the vineyards are on the lake’s eastern shore. In the Finger Lakes, approximately 840 acres (340 hectares) of Riesling are grown, all of it very close to the lakes’ shores, with the greatest intensity of planting around the region’s deepest lake. On the Niagara Peninsula, about 1,631 acres (660 hectares) are grown between the escarpment and the south shore of Lake Ontario; in Michigan, a statewide total of about 600 acres (243 hectares) are grown in vineyards found mostly on the Old Mission Peninsula, north of Traverse City, but there is also significant acreage on the nearby Leelanau Peninsula, which separates Old Mission Bay from the main body of Lake Michigan. On the

115

continent’s west edge, the Columbia Basin is home to more than four-fifths of all the Riesling in North America: 6,178 acres (2,500 hectares) are grown in the Columbia Valley itself and in the adjacent valleys of several tributaries, primarily within Washington State. Another 445 acres (180 hectares) are in British Columbia, in the Okanagan and Similkameen valleys. Downstream, less than 62 miles (100 kilometers) from the Pacific, the valley of the Willamette, which flows north into the Columbia from a watershed just north of Eugene, is home to about 865 acres (350 hectares) of Riesling, primarily in the lee of the coastal mountains that separate the Willamette from the Pacific. California’s best turf for wine grapes is its coastal valleys, notably those carved by the Santa Ynez and Santa Maria rivers and San Antonio Creek in Santa Barbara County, the Edna Valley in San Luis Obispo County, and the Salinas River Valley in Monterey County, as well as several coastal valleys and adjacent land in and near the Coastal Range north of San Francisco Bay. Statewide, about 4,300 acres (1,740 hectares) are planted to Riesling, half of them in Monterey.

FINGER LAKES New York State’s Finger Lakes define a roughly fan-shaped area whose base runs approximately west to east along the route of the New York State Thruway and the Erie Canal, parallel to the south shore of Lake Ontario, while the periphery of the fan traces a rough semicircle across the low mountains of western New York between 42° and 43°N. The lakes themselves, long, extremely narrow, and running largely north to south, are like the ribs of the fan. They are products of glaciation, their south ends sitting where the glaciers stopped, and usually tucked between steep hills; their north ends are surrounded by farmland, sometimes rolling and sometimes nearly f lat. Docks for recreational boating punctuate the lakeshores. The Finger Lakes are a kaleidoscope of picturesque landscapes, often very beautiful, and the area 116

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has been a favorite summer playground for downstate New Yorkers for more than a century. Elevations along the lakeshore vary widely between 460 and 1130 feet (140 and 340 meters) above sea level. The climate is continental, with hot, humid summers and frigid winters, despite latitude that is roughly equal to the French-Spanish border between Peripignan and Barcelona. At Hammondsport, on Keuka Lake in the area’s southwest quadrant, average high temperatures in January are below freezing, while average lows drop to about 18°F (–8°C). By contrast, the average high temperature in August is 79°F (26°C) and the average low is about 63°F (17°C): equable and warm, with little diurnal variation. Precipitation falls throughout the year and is substantial, averaging 30 inches (760 millimeters) annually, similar to that seen at Trier in the Mosel. Average precipitation exceeds 1 inch (25 millimeters) in every month except February, including all months of the grape-growing season. The long, finger-shaped lakes themselves are crucial to successful viticulture in the region. The largest ones, Seneca and Cayuga, extend about 37 miles (60 kilometers) from north to south but are no more than 3 miles (5 kilometers) across at their widest points. They are, however, very deep, their bottoms at their deepest points 591 feet (180 meters) below the surface and below sea level. The deep water holds summer heat through the autumn and into winter, sucking cold air off the surrounding slopes and eliminating “pools” of killer cold air. It also retains winter cold in the spring, delaying budbreak and mitigating the risk of vine damage and crop loss from spring frosts. The lakes’ moderation of nearby air temperatures is strongest, of course, where the lakes are widest and deepest, which is near their midpoints, although steep slopes toward the lakes’ south ends have also produced excellent grapes, especially those at the base of Keuka Lake. Even so, however, vinifera-based viticulture is necessarily defensive here. Morten Hallgren, a Denmark-born winemaker who came to the Finger

BOX 8A AMERICAN VITICULTURAL AREAS AND DESIGNATED VITICULTURAL AREAS IN NORTH AMERICA Commonly accepted names for vineyard sites do not exist in the United States and Canada. Essentially, all vineyards here are young and are usually identified by the names of their owners. When ownership changes, so too do the names. Similarly, winegrowing regions were not named or delimited until American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) were defined under U.S. federal law in 1978. Wine was then a small and scattered business; few areas had developed reputations needful of definition or protection, and names of states, counties, and a few undelimited regions sufficed for wine and other agricultural commodities. AVAs, approved seriatim as applications were made to federal regulators after 1978, were intended to be a U.S. alternative to European controlled appellation schemes, but AVAs were only perimeters that defined the surfaces entitled to use their names, and they involved none of the other requirements associated with controlled appellations in Europe. They were not reconciled with survey-based parcel maps, but they did (and do) unambiguously define perimeters with reference to official maps published by the U.S. Geological Survey, elevation contours, roads, and waterways, which can be correlated with land-parcel and ownership docu-

Lakes in the 1980s, often comments on the severity of winters here, which are “unlike anything I had seen before, even in Denmark.” To manage the bitter winters, most winegrowers “hill up” their vines after harvest in the fall, using soil from vine alleys to cover graft junctions, where variety-specific scion material joins rootstock. It is also common to leave two or more canes when the vines are pruned in the early spring. The “extras” serve as insurance if a cane is ruined by a late-spring freeze. But winter cold is not the only environmental challenge winegrowers face here. The combination of relatively abundant precipitation throughout the growing season and high relative humidity is hospitable to molds and mildews of several

mentation. Although regulators eventually also approved subappellations within individual AVAs, using similar criteria, they have resisted any process of delimitation associated with individual vineyard sites, despite the proliferation of singlevineyard and vineyard-designated wines. In principle, apart from the names of AVAs themselves, regulators do not approve the use of any geographic name on a wine label that is not either a political unit or an AVA. The countless “vineyard” names that appear on labels anyway are usually approved precisely because the applicant has persuaded regulators that it is not what it seems to be—an individual vineyard site—but instead is a brand or trade name, a distinction that has spawned lawsuits and confused consumers. By design and intent, U.S. regulators do not know which surface is defined when a vineyard name is used or have any information whatsoever about its location. Officially, therefore, vineyard names are brands, not physical locations on the earth’s surface. This astonishing Americanism is essentially duplicated in Canada, where regulators are similarly agnostic about geographic indicators below the level of a Designated Viticultural Area (DVA) perimeter.

sorts, which must be controlled with fungicides. Thin-skinned varieties such as Pinot Noir have an especially tough time in wet and humid vintages. While the dominant soil types are various kinds of glacial till, composed of broken rock, shale, gravel, and veins of sand mixed with loamy clay, that should drain well, surface soil is not always free to do so, owing to broad layers of shale below the surface that can prevent water’s passage, sending it sideways rather than down. Many of the lakes’ tributary streams are visible as waterfalls cascading off shale promontories near the lakeshores, and additional watercourses hide entirely underground. Even in well-sloped areas, abundant moisture can make many sites extremely vigorous, even if steps were taken

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during vineyard development to provide extra drainage. The combination of rain, high relative humidity, and warm temperatures in midsummer can also make vine plants grow like weeds, developing excess canopy. Viticulture is reported to have come to the Finger Lakes in 1829, when the rector of Hammondsport’s newly founded Episcopal church planted vines in the rectory garden. Additional plantings followed in the 1830s, 1840s, and 1850s, driven in part by the arrival of German immigrants with viticultural experience, and the first commercial winery, eventually distinguished for its Great Western brand of sparkling wine, was founded in 1860. There was, however, no vinifera until a century later, when a Ukrainian immigrant (Konstantin Frank), with a doctorate in viticulture from Kiev and special expertise in cold-climate viticulture, persuaded an immigrant from France (Charles Fournier), a Champenois who had been hired by Gold Seal Vineyards, that vinifera could be grown successfully despite the frigid winters. The two men worked together to import plant material, first from California and then directly from Europe. The Ukrainian’s legacy is preserved in his namesake winery, Dr. Konstantin Frank Vinifera Wine Cellars, which was founded in Hammondsport in 1959 (see page 281). No doubt because of its reputation for cold tolerance, Riesling was one of the first varieties to be planted here. Now the Finger Lakes AVA, founded in 1982 and covering a total surface of about 11,120 acres (4,500 hectares), counts 840 acres (340 hectares) of Riesling, most of them around Skaneateles, Cayuga, Seneca, Keuka, and Canandaigua lakes. The largest share surrounds Seneca Lake, not because Seneca has any special aptitude for Riesling or vice versa, but because Seneca, the biggest and deepest lake, has attracted the most attention from winegrowers, has broad shoulders on both sides that meet overall requirements for successful cold-climate viticulture, and offers significant mesoclimatic variation and a good assortment of soil types. Almost everywhere vinifera is

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grown in the Finger Lakes, a bit more of it is Riesling than any other single variety. Present viti- and vinicultural circumstances in the Finger Lakes, viewed against the broader circumstances of Riesling in North America, explain why the variety is important in this area. Land suitable for vineyards is still relatively plentiful and inexpensive here, and the region has convenient access to the New York metropolitan area, which is the country’s largest and most sophisticated wine market. Reasonable land values eliminate what is a handicap for Riesling in most other North American wine regions—that expensive land is profitable only when it is used to grow varieties that command high bottle prices, which Riesling does not yet do in the U.S. marketplace. Eighty percent of the Finger Lakes’ producers are small businesses that operate under so-called farm licenses and thus are exempt from the state’s general requirement that wine producers sell their product entirely through distributors. Farm licensees may sell directly to consumers through onsite tasting rooms, by mail, and online. The number of producers has exploded by an order of magnitude since 1979, growing from 13 to more than 130. In the past decade, Cornell University, at the south end of Cayuga Lake, a land-grant school that has always been concerned with agriculture, has developed a growing specialty in viticulture and enology that increasingly supports local vintners with research. Important work has been done at Cornell on TDN, the compound responsible for Riesling’s signature aroma of petrol. The university has also begun to collaborate with Finger Lakes winegrowers to import new clonal material from Europe (see chapter 6). The population of professionally trained winemakers in the region has also exploded in the past decade, growing from just a handful to several dozen. Many have set themselves up with small estate vineyards and successful boutique brands, thanks in part to the relatively reasonable price of land, and several of them are Germany-trained. Johannes Reinhardt, who grew up among vines in Franken, was instru-

mental in building the reputation of the Anthony Road Wine Company on the west shore of Seneca Lake between 2000 and 2013, following an internship at Dr. Frank’s; in 2013, he established his own brand, called Kemmeter, next door. Also in 2013, Johannes Selbach, the successful proprietor of Weingut Selbach-Oster in the Mosel, and California’s entrepreneurwinemaker Paul Hobbs purchased land on the east side of Seneca Lake, in the township of Burdett, for a joint venture focused on Riesling. Although undercapitalization is not likely to be a problem for the latter, it has bedeviled some earlier startups, leading to vineyards less well developed than they might have been otherwise and to machine-harvesting where hand-picking would produce better results. Despite the fact that Riesling is the single most planted variety in the region, normal practice here is to work with a fairly large palette of varieties planted side by side, in arrangements that are reminiscent of the “shotgun” plantings common 30 years ago in California, when winegrowers did not really know what would succeed and thus spread their risk across several varieties. Some of the same spirit seems to animate the current generation of Finger Lakes vintners: asked what makes a particular site especially good for Riesling, most say that they first think about sites as good for vinifera in general. If a site is good, growers plant whichever variety works best with the winery’s business plan. A project called Tierce is emblematic of the region’s seriousness about Riesling, its growing professionalism, and its strong spirit of collaboration. Since 2004, winemakers for three unrelated wineries on Seneca Lake (Fox Run and Anthony Road on the west shore and Red Newt on the east) have collaborated to make a single cuvée of dry Riesling, deliberately intense and austere, from six lots of wine. Two lots come from each winery, all from different vineyard parcels, which the trio then blend in the course of multiple component and preblend tastings held between December and February after the vintage, until all are satisfied that they have constructed a coherent wine that is expressive

of the vintage and the common properties of wines from around the area’s deepest lake. Five Finger Lakes vineyards are profiled in part II of this book, each notable for a considerable track record with dry, vineyard-designated Riesling. Dr. Frank’s original Keuka Lake Vineyard has the longest history of single-vineyard dry Riesling in the area, though recent vintages of its Estate Riesling have not been made as single-vineyard wines. Falling Man Vineyard is one of several named sites belonging to Keuka Lake Vineyards, less than 0.6 mile (1 kilometer) from Dr. Frank’s; the HJW Vineyard, at Hermann J. Wiemer on the west side of Seneca Lake, was originally planted in 1976. Argetsinger is a steep and stunning site on Seneca’s east side from which Ravines Wine Cellars makes one of the region’s most striking and driest Rieslings. Sheldrake Point is on Cayuga Lake’s west shore. Many other Finger Lakes sites are used to make lovely Riesling that is not dry by my standards; conversely, several dozen producers make delicious dry Riesling that is not sourced from a single vineyard. Mark Wagner’s Lamoreaux Landing on Seneca’s east shore is a fine example of both: his Round Rock Vineyard, an escarpment shale site planted in 2007 using 198 Gm on 3309 rootstock, has since 2009 produced elegant Rieslings that finish fairly dry and mineral but are often roundly sweet and fruity at midpalate. Vineyard-designated wines from his Yellow Dog and Red Oak sites are impressive wines, but they are not dry. Meanwhile, Lamoreaux Landing’s Dry Riesling, made primarily from a parcel called Black Diamond blended with fruit from Wagner’s other sites, is a delicious wine of which I have happily consumed several cases. Just south of Lamoreaux Landing, Red Newt Cellars, which does not own vineyards, makes a sometimes dryish Riesling from the Sawmill Creek Vineyard, whose palate impression varies considerably among vintages, sometimes bright, floral, and talcy (2010), sometimes herbal, minty, and long (2012). It has also been my pleasure to taste a vertical of Red Newt’s impressive Reserve

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Riesling from the 2003 through 2012 vintages, serious and intensely flavored wines that testify to cofounder Dave Whiting’s winemaking talents. Like other very good Rieslings, they develop exotic aromas with some bottle age, but their dryness varies. The 2006, tasted in 2013, was a standout, laced with coconut, almond, herbs, and macerated f lowers. The 2008 was herbal and peppery, very long, and very dry. Farther south on Seneca’s east side is Silver Thread Vineyard, acquired from its founder in 2011 by Paul Brock, a former winemaker at Lamoreaux Landing who teaches viticulture at Finger Lakes Community College, and his wife, Shannon. They already make interesting Rieslings here, and changes now under way to vine farming and cellar practices will probably result in even better wines in vintages to come. Across Seneca Lake, north of Wiemer, Fox Run Vineyards has farmed about 49 acres (20 hectares), much of it Riesling, for two decades and has been committed since 2010 to a quasiexperimental program in which, in principle, three wines are made in each vintage from two distinctive terroirs within the estate, one sandy and close to the lakeshore, the other glacial till, rockier and at a slightly higher elevation. The three versions of each terroir’s wine are stylistically and methodologically different. Fox Run’s longserving winemaker, Peter Bell, a Canadian with winemaking experience in Australia and New Zealand, was one of the first professional winemakers in the region, working for five years at Dr. Frank before moving to Fox Run in 1993. Finger Lakes dry Rieslings inevitably cover a considerable bandwidth of stylistic variation. Keuka Lake and Ravines wines are deliberately very low in residual sugar and very taut, and they sometimes need bottle age to soften their edges. At the other end of the dry spectrum, Sheldrake Point and Wiemer wines are fruitier and milder, containing from 7 to 9 g/L of residual sugar. Alcohols over 13° are unusual in Finger Lakes wines, and most wines from most vintages hover between 6 and 8 g/L of total acid. Finger Lakes Rieslings are well-structured wines with attractive combinations of cool-cli-

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mate tree fruit such as pears and apples, considerable depth, and length.

NIAGARA PENINSULA Geographically, the Niagara Peninsula is the area between Lakes Ontario and Erie, measuring about 22 miles (35 kilometers) north to south, extending from the southwest corner of Lake Ontario at Hamilton to the Niagara River, on the boundary between Canada and the United States. Viticulturally, the area is a much smaller appellation, covering less than a third of the geographic peninsula and confined to its north edge: a relatively narrow crescent of north-facing slope between Lake Ontario’s south shore and the Niagara Escarpment. The escarpment runs roughly parallel to the lakeshore, albeit closer to the shore at the appellation’s west end, and rises to between 98 and 131 feet (30 and 40 meters) above lake level. It is the exposed edge of very ancient strata that were marine deposits when the entire area was covered by an inland sea. These are now uplifted, broken, and tilted, and the most resistant strata are exposed as limestone cliffs of varying height. The surface of the appellation is composed of relatively flat and fertile land between the escarpment and the lakeshore, the benches surmounting the scarp, and suitable land, mostly rolling hills, immediately over the escarpment’s top. The proximity of Lake Ontario creates a lake effect similar to circumstances in the Finger Lakes: because it lies lower than the surrounding land, the lake provides a natural drainage for the coldest and heaviest air away from the vineyards. It also stores heat in the fall, extending the growing season, and cold in the spring, delaying budbreak. The coolest growing season and the mildest winter occur closest to the lake, especially where the shore is farthest from the escarpment. On the Niagara Peninsula, however, the sheer size of the lake and the proximity of the escarpment create complex airf lows that amount to a self-contained system. In the summer, warm air rises over the lake and

moves inland, while land away from the shore cools quickly at night. Gravity pulls cooler air downhill from the top of the escarpment to the lakeshore, while inversion moderates temperatures on the escarpment slopes. The result is slopes and benches that are warmer than the lakeshore, with greater diurnal variation. At St. Catharines, average winter daytime high temperatures hover around 32°F (0°C), while the average overnight winter low is about 16°F (–9°C). The average summer daytime high temperature is 83°F (28°C), and the average overnight low is 61°F (16°C). In the autumn, temperatures cool quite rapidly; by October, the average daytime high is 61°F (16°C) and the average overnight low is 46°F (8°C). Precipitation is abundant and falls throughout the year, averaging more than 2 inches (50 millimeters) each month, with about 3 inches (80 millimeters) per month in July and August. Annual total precipitation of 34 inches (872 millimeters) makes the Niagara one of the wettest Riesling regions in the hemisphere. Relative humidity is also high, averaging above 80 percent every month of the year. The escarpment is the source of many small streams that cut narrow ravines through the benches and lakeshore flatlands on their way to the lake. Most of them are known not by names but by their distance from the Niagara River: Twenty Mile Creek and the midpoint of Twenty Mile Bench are approximately 20 miles (32 kilometers) west of the river; the mouth of Twenty Mile Creek is at Jordan Harbour. The entire area was recontoured by glaciers, leaving soils that are largely unsorted mixtures of clay and sand, with broken limestone of local origin and waterwashed rocks from afar. Deep clay and sand predominate near the lakeshore, while rocklaced clay-loam is more common on the benches. The tills generally drain well, but, as in the Finger Lakes, the combination of abundant clay, plentiful surface and subsurface water, and high humidity can produce high vigor, drainage problems, and disease pressures. Circumstances of individual vineyards vary considerably, even where they are not far from

one another as the crow f lies. Although the relatively flat and sandy land near the lakeshore can make attractive, fruity, and variety-typical Rieslings—Cattail Creek Estate, working with some of the area’s oldest Riesling vines, is a good example—many of the most distinctive individual sites are found on the escarpment benches, especially in the subappellations known as Twenty Mile Bench, which runs between Fifteen Mile Creek and Cherry Avenue, and Beamsville Bench, which follows the escarpment east of Cherry Avenue. Profiles of three vineyards in this area—Cave Spring Vineyard, Nadja’s Vineyard of Flat Rock Cellars, and Rosomel Vineyard—are found in part II. Other outstanding Rieslings, albeit a bit sweeter than this book’s definition of dry, are made from vineyards at Vineland Estates Winery, in the Beamsville Bench subappellation; Tawse Winery, on the west edge of the Twenty Mile Bench subappellation; and Thirty Bench Wine Makers, also in Beamsville Bench. The Tawse Rieslings, which include four singlevineyard wines, are excellent examples of a distinctive style, classically expressed by Kabinette from the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer. Tawse winemaker Paul Pender picks Riesling for these wines around 10°, with a pH at or sometimes well below 3.0 and brimming with as much as 13 or 14 g/L of acid. He stops fermentation when about 30 g/L of sugar remain. While this protocol does not produce dry wine, the high acid and low pH do offset the perception of sugar, making the finished wines bright, bold, and relatively food-friendly. Grape growing based on vinifera varieties began immediately after World War II on the Niagara Peninsula, earlier than it did in the Finger Lakes. The pioneering winery was T. G. Bright and Company, originally established in 1874. Bright’s winemaker from about 1930 onward, a French chemist named Adhémar de Chaunac, is said to have imported both hybrids and vinifera varieties from France in 1946. The first evidence of Riesling here dates from the middle of the 1970s, but conflicting testimony about actual planting dates makes it difficult to

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say exactly who planted the first Riesling vines on the Niagara Peninsula or which are the oldest Riesling vines still bearing today. The 1970s-era plantings include those at Inniskillin, a pioneer producer of vinifera founded by a nurseryman with a horticulture degree from the University of Guelph (Donald Ziraldo) and an economist and home winemaker from Austria (Karl Kaiser), just north of Queenston; and those at the St. Urban Vineyard at Vineland Estates, on the Beamsville Bench, which took its name from the key role played there by Hermann Weis, a vintner (at St. Urbans-Hof) and nurseryman from Leiwen on the Mosel. Others were planted at Château des Charmes, in the St. David’s Bench subappellation, founded by a winemaker (Paul Bosc) with Alsace roots who was displaced from Algeria when that country gained its independence from France in 1962. There are also some vines from the 1970s at what is now Featherstone Estate Winery; in the block now called Carly’s, at Tawse Winery; at Cattail Creek; and at Cave Spring Vineyard (see page 277). The presence of Hermann Weis, first as a supplier of plant material to many would-be grape growers and then as the principal at St. Urban, became a fundamental part of Riesling’s story in the Niagara: his nursery at Leiwen supplied most of the scion material used here in the 1970s and afterward, making Weis 21, which is also known in an unauthorized form as NFPS 1, more planted in the Niagara than all other selections combined. Hermann’s daughter Anne followed him to Canada in the 1980s to assist in marketing vine material, and she later married Tom Pennachetti of Cave Spring Cellars and settled permanently in the heart of the peninsula. Most Niagara wineries are no older, however, than the 1990s. After Canada signed the Canada–United States Free Trade Agreement in 1988 (later superseded by the North American Free Trade Agreement), vintners who had enjoyed guaranteed access to their local markets, and preferential treatment if they bought local grapes, faced the prospect of having to compete with cheap jug wine imported from

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the States. To level the playing field, the Canadian government financed a onetime scheme to replace Labrusca and hybrid varieties with vinifera, tipping the balance decisively toward the latter. By 2012, with just under 14,826 acres (6,000 hectares) of grapevines on the Niagara Peninsula, Riesling accounted for about 12 percent of the region’s planted surface. Most of it is sold within the province of Ontario, which prefers its Riesling off-dry or sweet, but producers serious about dry and almost-dry Riesling constitute a noticeable minority. When good dry wines have been made consistently, as at Hidden Bench Vineyards and Winery, there has been strong interest from metropolitan and international markets.

MICHIGAN The Old Mission Peninsula sits about 230 miles (370 kilometers) northeast of Chicago, on the east side of Lake Michigan. Its tip lies almost on the 45°N parallel and about a degree north of Ontario’s Niagara Peninsula. The peninsula itself is long and thin, jutting north into Grand Traverse Bay from Traverse City, which is an increasingly upscale lakeside town with about 15,000 year-round residents and several thousand more in the summer. Base to tip, Old Mission is about 23 miles (37 kilometers) long and about 3 miles (5 kilometers) wide at its broadest point, where a finger of land protrudes on its west side to create Bowers Harbor, but it is barely more than 0.6 mile (1 kilometer) across at its narrowest point. Its orientation is just a few degrees east of north at the tip and west of south at the base, and it divides the lower half of Grand Traverse Bay into east and west arms. The peninsula and the surrounding bay are the work of glaciers that scraped up, mixed, and moved ancient seabed, leaving a topography of rolling hills and soils that are predominantly sandy, with just a thin layer of organic material. Clay appears here and there, like spots on a leopard. Such soils are poor enough that vine nutrition can be compromised; most serious grape growers now work with manure to avoid

wines that taste of stress. A hilly spine runs most of the peninsula’s length, and there are seven transverse rises. The M37 road, called Center Road for most of its length, threads through the rises, connecting Traverse City with Mission Point Lighthouse at the peninsula’s north end and offering intermittent views of both arms of the bay and pastoral and picturesque vistas that are increasingly coveted as building sites for extravagant summer homes. Indeed, summer is the pretty season here, with warm daytime average high temperatures (81°F [27°C] in both July and August) and cool overnight lows (55°F [13°C] in July and 54°F [12°C] in August). But winter is typically bitter and often snowy, with 28°F (–2°C) the average daytime high temperature in January, when the average overnight low is a bone-chilling 12°F (–11°C). Spring comes late, so budbreak does not occur until May and bloom not until the end of June, which pushes veraison out to the end of August. Although air temperatures cool rapidly into the autumn, the weather usually remains clement, making harvests as late as November entirely possible. Vines are trained high off the ground to mitigate frost damage, and vineyards are sited defensively so that the coldest air can drain downhill away from vines. There is some mesoclimatic variation from one part of the peninsula to another: the tip, where there is water on three sides, is the coolest and the base the warmest, and there is a bit more warmth on the east side, where the bay water is shallower. Yet individual site exposures tend to trump these differences. Basically, only the south faces of the transverse ridges, sometimes tilted southwest or southeast, are exploited for vineyard, despite the fact that the south faces, created by the glaciers’ forward motion, are often jagged and thus hard to contour and farm. By contrast, the north faces are smoother, prettier, and better behaved but too cold for most grapes in most years. Differences in altitude among the higher spots near the peninsula’s midpoint can translate into differences in fruit maturation, but these variations are not enormous—the peninsula’s highest-elevation vine-

yard and its lowest are not more than 98 feet (30 meters) different—and are generally regarded as less important than airflows, exposure, and proximity to water. Airflows not only mitigate freeze damage in the winter, but also are a helpful antidote to summer humidity, which can provoke botrytis in warm, wet years. Rain (or snow) falls throughout the year, for a total of about 33 inches (825 millimeters), but is heaviest in the summer months. Summers can also see “lake effect” drizzle, when the air is warm and the surrounding water cold. Vintage variation can be enormous. Before wine grapes debuted on the Old Mission Peninsula in 1974, initially planted by Edward O’Keefe at Chateau Grand Traverse, on the west side of Center Road near the Old Mission’s midpoint (see page 288), the peninsula was overwhelmingly cherry country, with some apples at higher elevations, plus hemp, potatoes, and pasture. Now cherries are an endangered species on the peninsula, due in part to residential exploitation of the land but mostly to unprofitability in the face of competition from Washington State and overseas. Something of an odd fellowship between cherries and vinifera has grown up—even Chateau Grand Traverse, the vinifera pioneer, derives a substantial part of its in-state revenue from the sale of cherry wine. Other producers make “beverages” that are combinations of cherry wine and one or more white vinifera varieties. Still, a small community of serious vinifera-oriented producers has emerged, and professionally trained, determined winemakers have been attracted to the area. Michigan now has 600 acres (243 hectares) of Riesling, up from about 198 acres (80 hectares) in 2002, divided approximately 60–40 between the Old Mission Peninsula and the neighboring Leelanau Peninsula. Part II includes profiles of Chateau Grand Traverse’s Molly Devine Vineyard, of Vineyard Block II at Bowers Harbor Vineyard (about 2 miles [3 kilometers] northwest of Chateau Grand Traverse as the crow flies), and of the Terminal Moraine Vineyard near the base of the Old Mission

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Peninsula. Excellent Riesling is also made by 2 Lads Winery in a stunning, modern, metaland-stone-clad production facility and tasting room toward the tip of the peninsula and overlooking the east arm of the bay. The two “lads” are a professionally trained winemaker from South Africa (Cornel Olivier) and a Traverse City native who has worked in local wineries since he was old enough to do so legally (Chris Baldyga). Although 2 Lads is a red wine specialist, the partners have planted about 1.25 acres (0.5 hectare) of Riesling on a slope adjacent to the winery. Lee Lutes, a skilled winemaker, creates excellent single-vineyard Rieslings at Black Star Farms, of which some are made dry, using grapes from both Old Mission and the Leelanau. Adam Satchwell, the winemaker for Shady Lane Cellars on the Leelanau, was exceptionally well trained in California and New York and now crafts very fine Rieslings in all idioms, including a dry cuvée from Shady Lane’s Leelanau estate vineyards that is bold and round but still dry overall, with just 8 g/L of unfermented sugar. Some dry single-vineyard Rieslings from Michigan have turned heads internationally. Jancis Robinson, who discovered the 2010 vintage of O’Keefe’s Lot 49 at a tasting in Sydney, Australia, in 2012, wrote that she “loved its energy and impressive array of wildflower aromas.” Vintage variability, however, makes it hard to identify particular vineyards as vocationally dry sites. More reliably dry wines can be created by blending, of course, and most dry Michigan Rieslings are in fact blends. More to the point, however, is that the overwhelmingly majority of Michigan Rieslings are sweet in some degree, and these enjoy the greatest market acceptance. Some vintners believe that Michigan succeeds best with off-dry and medium-dry styles, and there are reasons, including botrytis pressure, for supposing that such styles will form the area’s future mainstream as well due to climatic and site-based necessities. Tastes change, however, and more attention to dry wines will certainly create more and better examples.

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COLUMBIA RIVER BASIN: AN OVERVIEW The Columbia River, the mightiest in the Pacific Northwest, arises in the Rocky Mountains of Eastern British Columbia. It f lows northwest before it turns south and then southwest, crosses the Canada–United States border near Creston, and then arcs west from the mouth of the Spokane River to Wenatchee. There it turns south again, to the Tri-Cities of Central Washington, and f lows west through the Cascade Range to the Pacific. Its most important tributary is the Snake, which joins it at the Tri-Cities and drains most of Idaho, but viticulturally the main objects of attention are the Okanagan, which flows south into the Columbia from Kelowna and the lake of the same name; the Yakima, which joins it from the east at Richland; and the Willamette, which irrigates a broad fertile valley in western Oregon between the Cascades and the Coast Range. These define three quite different macroclimates. The Okanagan is a high-latitude, highaltitude area with a semicontinental climate moderated by the effects of a long, large, and very deep lake. The midcourse of the Columbia, home to more than 90 percent of Washington State’s vineyards, is climatically desert. In fact, it is the north end of the great Sonoran Desert, hostile to agriculture of any kind until the Grand Coulee Dam was built between the two world wars to tap the Columbia’s volumetrically massive water flow and the large gap between its upstream and downstream elevations to generate inexpensive electricity. The associated Columbia Basin Project channeled enough river water across the vast coulee left in the wake of the Missoula Floods, at the end of the last ice age, that a variety of field crops and grapevines now thrive in the erstwhile desert. They grow on bluffs cut by the river downstream of the Tri-Cities and in lateral valleys such as the aforementioned Yakima, also reclaimed from desert by irrigation. Finally, the lower course of the Columbia and the Willamette Valley is a semimaritime climate with abundant rainfall and mild winters.

Okanagan Valley This long, north-south-oriented, steep-walled, and strikingly beautiful valley extends about 124 miles (200 kilometers) from Vernon, at the north end of Okanagan Lake, to Osoyoos, on the Washington State line. Geologically, the highlands on the valley’s east side are the ancient west edge of the North American continent, their bedrock composed mostly of gneiss, while the highlands on the valley’s west side are a combination of granites, igneous and sedimentary rocks that were subsequently uplifted. The valley is a separation plane between the two, laced with faults and covered with mostly sedimentary soils—conglomerates, sandstone, glacial till, and f luvial deposits. Soil texture is mostly coarse, with significant admixtures of sand and gravel, but it does vary, affecting the rooting depth of vines, water-holding capacity, and fertility, but it is universally well drained. Straddling 49°N and 50°N latitude and well buffered from marine inf luences by the north end of the Cascade Range, the valley manages a growing season of about 185 days, ideal for the apples that made the region famous in the first half of the 20th century. The climate is extremely dry compared to other Rieslingfriendly regions (except the midcourse of the Columbia Valley; see below). Annual precipitation at Kelowna, the valley’s population center, totals about 14 inches (350 millimeters) but is evenly distributed, with between 0.8 and 1.2 inches (20 and 30 millimeters) each month except May and June, which average 1.5 and 1.9 inches (39 and 49 millimeters) respectively. Winter low temperatures are relatively mild, with average overnight lows in December and January about 27°F (–3°C) and average daytime highs about 37°F (3°C). Summers are lovely, with enormous diurnal variation: average daytime high temperatures in July and August hover around 86°F (30°C), while overnight lows average 55°F (13°C). There is substantial climatic difference between the valley’s cool north end, between Vernon and Kelowna, and its much warmer

south end, at Osoyoos. Vintner Ian Mavety, who farms vines south of Penticton (which is a transition of sorts between the two ends), has often described the difference as being like that between the south of France and the “relative cool” of Burgundy. Part of the difference is owed to altitude: the surface of Okanagan Lake, a postglacial body, is 1,116 feet (340 meters) above sea level, and vineyards are on the slopes and terraces well above the lakeshore. The Okanagan River at Osoyoos is 197 feet (60 meters) lower. More important, however, is the moderating effect of the lake, which ends at Penticton. Much like the largest of the Finger Lakes in New York but longer and deeper, Okanagan Lake extends 69 miles (111 kilometers) north to south but is never more than 3.7 miles (6 kilometers) wide. It is 761 feet (232 meters) deep at its deepest point. Storing cool in the spring and summer warmth in the autumn, it ensures a long and clement ripening season for wine grapes, without the extreme high temperatures that can prevail at the valley’s south end, where there is no lake to moderate heat accumulation in a dry climate. It is no surprise that red varieties, especially Bordeaux varieties, dominate in the south, while mostly white and cooler-climate varieties occupy the lion’s share of vineyard in the north. Viticulture in the Okanagan Valley began in the 1960s but depended on American and hybrid varieties until the end of the 1980s, when British Columbia’s chapter of the replanting schemes already described for Ontario was written. The first Riesling, however, had been planted a bit earlier, in the second half of the 1970s. At least several growers were involved, and early plantings survive at Penticton and Kelowna. The 1978 plantings by Martin Dulik are still farmed by what is now Tantalus Estate Vineyards (see page 304). Two Germans were also involved with some early plantings: Helmut Becker (1927–90), the internationalist director of what is now Geisenheim University, who visited British Columbia in 1976, and Hermann Weis, the vintner and nurseryman from the Mosel (see the Niagara Peninsula section,

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earlier in this chapter), who visited in 1977. But significant planting did not occur until the 1990s, and the first decade of the new century was responsible for most of what Riesling is now in the ground here. In 2004, 220 acres (89 hectares) of vineyard in British Columbia was dedicated to Riesling, and the Okanagan and neighboring Similkameen valleys together accounted for 90 percent of that total. By 2011, the 2004 figure had been doubled, making it the sixth most planted grape in the province, accounting for 8 percent of white varieties and 4 percent of total vineyard across British Columbia. The most Riesling-intensive subregions are Vernon, at the lake’s north end, and Kelowna, where there are vineyards on both sides of the lake, but Oliver and Osoyoos (although far south and significantly warmer) account for no less than 38 percent of British Columbia’s total investment in Riesling. It is typical of British Columbia that wine estates are small, most farming fewer than about 19.75 acres (8 hectares), and that most wine grown and produced in the province is sold within the province, either directly by the wineries or via the provincial alcoholic beverage monopoly. In a 2011 survey, 76 percent of wineries reported selling 90 to 100 percent of their production within British Columbia. In part II, three Okanagan sites systematically used to make dry single-vineyard Riesling are profiled: Tantalus Estate Vineyards, in Kelowna; Stoney Slope Vineyard, near Okanagan Falls, farmed by Wild Goose Vineyards; and Schales Family Estate, about 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) south of Okanagan Falls, owned and farmed by Bernd and Stefanie Schales. Part II also includes a profile of Mulberry Tree Vineyard in the nearby Similkameen Valley, which is climatically and geologically similar to the Okanagan. The largest producer of estate-grown Riesling, however, is Mission Hill Family Estate, on Mount Boucherie in West Kelowna. Founded in 1966 and twice bankrupt in its first 15 years, Mission Hill has been in the hands of its current owner, Anthony von Mandl, since 1981. The

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Canada-born son of European parents, von Mandl not only transformed Mission Hill into the province’s most visible and most visited winery, but also dedicated it to quality, hiring John Simes, the talented and successful winemaker for New Zealand’s Montana Wines, in 1992. Von Mandl’s vision of “world-class vinifera vineyards winding their way down the valley [and] seducing tourists from around the world” (Schreiner 2007) has animated the region and the industry ever since. Mission Hill now grows 49 acres (20 hectares) of Riesling in three of its five vineyards and regularly makes two wines, a reserve and a bottling called Martin’s Lane that is sourced from a vineyard adjacent to the winery and from vines on the Naramata Bench. Neither is reliably dry, but both can taste fairly dry, given pH values that are often below 3.0 and residual sugar from 12 to 15 g/L. The Martin’s Lane from 2012 was a standout in July 2013, showing beeswax, ripe pear, infused flowers, and herbs against a backdrop of dusty minerality. Very successful and genuinely dry Riesling is also made by Gehringer Brothers, overseen by two Canadians of German descent who studied viticulture and enology at Geisenheim and Weinsberg. They use a combination of estate fruit from the Golden Mile, south of Oliver on the valley’s west side, and purchased grapes, and their wines have clean, deep flavors, citric bite, and a very attractive herbal overlay. Cedar Creek, too, does well with Riesling, using fruit from the vineyard immediately around its winery in East Kelowna, not far from Tantalus, which Mission Hill Family Estate acquired in 2014. Despite quite high acidity and low pH, these wines are not really dry, however. JoieFarm, the husband-and-wife enterprise of two experienced sommeliers, Michael Dinn and Heidi Noble, has made a single blended Riesling each year since 2006 from a changing assortment of relatively old-vine vineyards in Kelowna, the Naramata Bench, and Okanagan Falls. Their hands-on winemaking is done by Robert Thielicke, previously winemaker at Mount Boucherie Winery. None of their wines is dry, but with total acid in the 9 to 11 g/L range and

residual sugar between 14 and 23 g/L (except in 2007, when the sugar was substantially higher), they are bright and enormously f lavorful editions of Riesling. The 2009 was my personal favorite of a 2006–12 vertical tasting in 2013, alive with bright spice, lime, and luscious fruit. The Okanagan has the distinction, as Stuart Pigott pointed out in a 2013 Wine & Spirits article, of producing “the world’s most acidic Rieslings” (Pigott 2014). Some have pH values well under 3.0, and ones closer to 2.7 are not unusual; nor is total acid well above 9 g/L and sometimes hovering near 12. But they are also tightly knit and exceptionally well flavored. It is not clear what combination of factors accounts for the very high acid, but the long, clement autumn, which produces full physiological ripeness in perfect conditions with exceptionally low humidity, probably has a good deal to do with the well-developed f lavors. The only real sadness about Okanagan Rieslings is that there is so little volume, and virtually no availability outside the region of production.

Columbia Valley between Wenatchee and the Tri-Cities Washington State, about half the size of Germany, has a split climatic personality: its western third, consisting mostly of land around Puget Sound plus the Olympic Peninsula, is green and wet, but its eastern two-thirds, east of the Cascade Mountains, consist mostly of sagebrush desert. Most of the state’s population lives in the western third, primarily in an arc between Seattle and Olympia, while central and eastern Washington are home to more than 90 percent of the state’s vineyards. This bifurcation has had a singular impact on the organization of Washington viticulture. Although vineyards are located east of the Cascades, most production is done on the west side of the mountains, requiring that grapes or juice be transported from one side to the other. And except for Walla Walla, “wine towns” are rare; the trappings of culture associated with wine regions worldwide are scarce in Washington.

Washington viticulture is a relatively recent phenomenon. Some “wineries” were established in the 1930s and ’40s, but most worked with fruit wines or hybrids, and their wines were mostly fortified. Nothing serious was done with vinifera until the 1960s, and nothing “big” was done until the 1980s: in fact, the Washington State wine industry as we know it today, the second largest in the United States after California’s, was not launched until the 1990s. With a few exceptions, vineyards in the middle reach of the Columbia Valley exist only because of the massive and complex system of irrigation built between the world wars, a network of canals and water channels fed by the Grand Coulee Dam near Wenatchee and by smaller-scale systems created in tributary valleys. A variety of field crops and grapevines now thrive in the erstwhile desert here, in lateral valleys, and on bluffs cut by the river downstream of the Tri-Cities. In the context of viticulture in general and Riesling in particular, the Yakima Valley deserves special attention. The Yakima River arises at Keechelus Lake on the spine of the Cascade Range, about 2,526 feet (770 meters) above sea level, and f lows generally southwest to the Columbia, which it meets at Richland, about 394 feet (120 meters) above sea level. Viticulturally, the important part of the valley is southeast of the city of Yakima, where the river arcs between the Rattlesnake and Horse Heaven Hills, creating a broad valley where several smaller rivers join it. Like the coulees on the west side of the Columbia Valley, the Yakima Valley was once inundated by the Missoula Floods, which deposited gravel, rock, and silt and eroded the basaltic baserock. The valley’s topsoil is inherently fertile, containing a good supply of organic material. To make it prime agricultural terrain, the missing ingredient was water, and, once diversions of the river and its tributaries through its own system of dams and irrigation canals enabled planting here, the area’s “big sky” scenery attracted ranchers, orchardists, farmers, and finally grape growers.

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Climate, as is generally typical of the central Columbia Basin, is determined most essentially by the rain shadow of the Cascades. At Zillah, total annual precipitation is barely 6 inches (150 millimeters), dependent primarily on more than 0.8 inches (20 millimeters) monthly between November and February, while virtually no rain falls at all between July and September. Overnight winter low temperatures hover around 23°F (–5°C), while daytime highs climb to 41°F (5°C), which is generally survivable for grapevines. By contrast, summers are hot, with average daytime high temperatures in July and August at 90°F (32°C), offset by cool nights averaging 52°F (11°C). Many principles of Washington viticulture are defensive, since winter freeze damage has often occurred in the course of especially cold winters. Yet the obverse effect, that very cold winters help to control many vine pests, while dry growing seasons decrease the pressure from all forms of mildew, makes this area vine-friendly. Springs are slow to warm, with frosts often occurring as late as May, and daytime high temperatures sink rapidly after the autumn equinox owing to high latitude and very low humidity. The valley’s west end is cooler than its east end due to its higher altitude (some west-end vineyards, such as Red Willow, actually sit on plateaus above the valley floor), cool-air drainage down valley from the Cascades, and some pooling of warm air around Red Mountain, where the valley’s exit point is narrow. The Yakima Valley was the cradle of Washington viticulture, partially by chance but also as a matter of strategic convenience: it is more easily reached from Seattle than many areas farther north and east. The first vinifera vineyard here was reportedly Otis, on the lower slopes of the Rattlesnake Hills, where Cabernet Sauvignon vines set out in 1956 are still in production. Otis was followed by Harrison Hill, near Sunnyside, in 1962. As evidence that even the 1960s were still pioneer days for Washington wine, the Harrison Hill planting was done by the founding members of Associated Vintners, which, despite its name’s corporate timbre, was actually a group of amateur winemakers on the

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faculty of the University of Washington. The first Riesling in Washington was planted at the Hahn Hill Vineyard, a south-facing site near the valley’s midpoint, in 1965; although it has now been pulled, contemporaneous Chenin Blanc survives. There were numerous Riesling plantings in the course of the 1970s, including those used to make the 1972 Chateau Ste. Michelle Johannisberg Riesling that bested Rieslings from California, Germany, and Australia in a 1974 tasting organized by Robert Lawrence Balzer (1912–2011), the most influential wine writer of the 1960s and ’70s. Among this era of plantings, the Riesling vines at DuBrul (see page 311) are still in production. The Yakima Valley AVA was Washington State’s first, approved in 1983, and remains its third largest, with just over 12,355 acres (5,000 hectares) of vineyard, or about one-third of the statewide total. In 2011, Riesling accounted for 22 percent of all grapes grown in the Yakima Valley and for 45 percent of all the Riesling grown statewide. The 6,301 acres (2,550 hectares) of Riesling in Washington State (as of 2011) are by far the largest concentration of Riesling in North America, and the numbers continue to increase, up from 4,398 acres (1,780 hectares) in 2006 and just 1,977 acres (800 hectares) in 1993. In the years since the approval of the Yakima Valley AVA, three smaller viticultural areas have been carved within it: Snipes Mountain, in the valley’s center; Red Mountain, at its east end; and Rattlesnake Hills, which is the land above the 738-foot (225-meter) contour on the valley’s north side. But many vintners use the Yakima Valley designation on labels, especially where white varieties are concerned, even when the wine would be entitled to one of the small subappellation names. If the bit of Riesling (about 69 acres [28 hectares]) grown in the Snipes Mountain AVA and the considerable surface (452 acres [183 hectares]) reported in the Rattlesnake Hills AVA were added to the figure for Yakima Valley, the Yakima Valley would account for 53 percent of the state’s Riesling. Although part II profiles only two Yakima Valley vineyards, DuBrul and Solstice—viewed

through the lens of wines made by Woodward Canyon Winery, Woodhouse Wine Estates, and Pacific Rim—numerous other Yakima Valley vineyards are used by several dozen producers to make a vast array of Washington Rieslings. Chateau Ste. Michelle, the state’s largest producer (see the sidebar), buys Riesling grapes from Zillah Ranch, in the valley’s cooler west end, and these are often an important component of its Columbia Valley Dry cuvée. At the extreme west end of the valley is the historic Red Willow Vineyard, owned by the Sauer family; while known primarily for red wines made from its fruit by the Columbia Winery, it is still home to Riesling that was planted in 1982. Until the 1990s, there was also Riesling in the ground at Otis Vineyard, near Grandview, first planted in 1957. Goose Ridge Estate Vineyard and Winery, with more than 2,000 acres (809 hectares) standing just west of Richland, adjacent to Red Mountain, some of it planted as early as 1997, furnishes Riesling grapes to several producers. Its in-house winemaker, Andrew Wilson, an alumnus of Walla Walla’s Long Shadows Vintners, makes an attractive off-dry Riesling for the Goose Ridge label. Other noteworthy Riesling sites, outside the Yakima Valley but within the Columbia Valley, between Wenatchee and the gorges that carry the river through the Cascades, include Chateau Ste. Michelle’s Cold Creek Vineyard, north of the Rattlesnake Hills, a major anchor of CSM’s Riesling program; the giant Evergreen Vineyard, outside the town of Quincy in the newly approved Ancient Lakes AVA; the Lawrence family’s Corfu Crossing Vineyard, in the Frenchman Hills; and the Wallula Vineyard, dramatically sited about 886 feet (270 meters) above the surface of the Columbia River (and 1,247 feet [380 meters] above sea level), overlooking it to the southeast. Evergreen and Corfu Crossing are profiled in part II. On an entirely different scale, Nefarious Cellars’ Stone’s Throw Vineyard, less than 2.5 acres (1 hectare) of Riesling (FPS 09 and FPS 12) on a hillside near the small town of Pateros, virtually astride 48°N, is Washington State’s

northernmost Riesling vineyard. Dean and Heather Neff, Nefarious’s owners and principals, have crafted very beautiful off-dry Rieslings from Stone’s Throw since 2006, marked with green apple peel, some stone fruit, hints of citrus, and intense f loral aromas. The 2008 stood out in a vertical tasting in 2012, the aforementioned properties wrapped with notes of wet slate and beeswax, making a bright, trebleclef, and nearly dry impression overall. Most vintages finish with about 15 g/L of residual sugar. Nefarious is domiciled at Chelan, about 15 miles (25 kilometers) south of Stone’s Throw, where several vintners farm about 42 acres (17 hectares) of Riesling in a lakeshore area that is akin to the Okanagan. Officially, in 2011, no Riesling was reported growing in the Walla Walla Valley, the southwest corner of the greater Columbia Valley made famous for Cabernet by Leonetti Cellar and known primarily for its reds, but Chris Figgins, the son of Leonetti’s founder, planted just under an acre (0.4 hectare) here in 2010 (see page 318). Most Washington Riesling is made by a few very large producers, preeminently Chateau Ste. Michelle, but also Columbia Winery and, more recently, Pacific Rim. But a number of small brands, many family-owned, are increasingly visible in the marketplace. Most Riesling is vinified off-dry or sweet in some degree, although the dry fraction of Chateau Ste. Michelle’s Columbia Valley bottlings has increased substantially since 2006. The state’s Riesling has a reputation for ample, firm, clean structures, forward fruit, and good acidity, though some vintners think the acid can be too generous for wine that is finished very dry. Some also shy away from cooler sites for dry Riesling, concerned that they display even higher acid than warmer terrain. Washington Riesling is also described as high in “phenolics.” Although this word properly denotes a wide range of compounds responsible for color, flavor, and texture in wines, it is loosely used to describe white wines that taste a bit harsh or bitter or of resinous herbs such as bay laurel and rosemary. The very high daytime high

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BOX 8B CHATEAU STE. MICHELLE Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, the corporate parent of Chateau Ste. Michelle, is by most estimates the seventh- or eighth-largest wine producer in the United States, farming 4,695 acres (1,900 hectares) of vineyard and selling just over seven million cases annually. It is also the world’s largest producer of Riesling, which accounts for a bit less than 10 percent of its total volume. The Ste. Michelle name dates from 1967, when American Wine Growers, founded in 1954 as a fusion of two post-Repeal fruit wineries based near Seattle, was purchased by a group of Seattle investors and rechristened. In 1974, it was acquired by U.S. Tobacco Company, infusing the company with resources sufficient to acquire and develop many hundreds of acres of vineyard in eastern Washington and to purchase wineries in and beyond Washington State. The company has been blessed over 30 years with visionary leaders who have engaged a talented succession of winemakers, turning out award-winning wines at many price points. Along with Columbia Winery, another child of the postwar years, which was sold in 2012 to E. and J. Gallo, Ste. Michelle is an essential driver of the vinifera revolution in Washington, experimenting with new varieties, rootstocks, and irrigation schemes; investing in production facilities on the east side of the Cascades; incubating winemakers who have gone on to build the reputations of important boutique brands; and acting as an generous champion of industry infrastructure, including the Washington Wine Commission. Ste. Michelle bet on Riesling early in the new century, buoyed by its almost instant success with Eroica in 1999 (see below), its joint venture with Ernst Loosen of Bernkastel-based Dr. Loosen, and by Loosen’s firm conviction that if there was to be any resurgence in Riesling’s popularity worldwide, “it would happen in the New World and not in Europe.” Not surprisingly, given the prevailing taste of the day, Ste. Michelle’s Riesling program was entirely sweet from its beginnings in the 1970s until the end of the 20th century. The main bottling today—in the beginning it was the only bottling—is a Columbia Val-

ley wine blended from multiple vineyards finished to between 11.5° and 12°, with approximately 20 g/L of residual sugar. This wine is now America’s best-selling Riesling. From 2009 onward, it was joined by an identically priced and even sweeter cuvée, analytically 10.5° to 11°, with 45 g/L of sugar, called Harvest Select Sweet Riesling. By 2013, the latter was only slightly less popular than the Columbia Valley wine, ranking as the fifth-best selling Riesling nationwide. A dry wine in the Columbia Valley range finally joined the portfolio in 1998. It is 12.5° to 13°, with just 7 g/L of sugar, and it has been nationally distributed since 2006. Sales of this wine now hover around 80,000 cases annually. Atop this foundation is a single-vineyard Riesling from the Cold Creek Vineyard, a 1970s planting of own-rooted vines in (despite its name) a warm location on the east side of the Columbia River, made to about the same numbers as the Columbia Valley wine; and two editions of Eroica, one similar by the numbers to the Cold Creek and Columbia Valley wines and the other made like a German Trockenbeerenauslese. The two Eroicas have become the country’s best-known “luxury” Rieslings. In the tasting room only, a second dry Riesling, called Waussie, has been sold since 2008. Ste. Michelle’s white-wine maker since 2007, Wendy Stuckey, is Australia-born and -trained, albeit California-experienced, and Waussie is her expression of Australia’s dominant Riesling style made with Washington grapes. The 2011 Waussie, tasted in 2013, was an exciting overlay of yellow peach and lime, with crisp acidity and mineral on the finish. The Columbia Valley Dry Riesling from 2011 was a bit rounder by comparison, but good acid on the back palate kept this wine tight, too, revealing hard spices with herbal edges. This wine invariably shows well in blind comparative tastings with wines that sell for several times its price. Most of the vineyards from which Ste. Michelle sources Riesling are large, and all but a few blocks of two vineyards—Zillah and Evergreen (see page 315)—are machine-picked at night, when the cool grapes can be hauled to process-

ing facilities with a lesser risk of damage or spoilage. The fruit is crushed and whole-cluster pressed in eastern Washington, as close to the source vineyard as possible, to minimize skin contact and phenolic extraction. It is then settled overnight, racked, and trucked over the Cascades to Ste. Michelle’s Woodinville facility. Here the juice is further settled with enzyme additions and racked again. Then it is warmed, and both yeast and nutrients are added. Fermentation temperatures are maintained between 13°C and 15°C. Each of the 150 fermentation lots is tasted daily, and all are eventually stopped with 3 to 50 g/L of sugar remaining. The last tanks to finish can be critical calls—every year some prematurely self-arrest. Stuckey speculates that in some late-picked sites, some nutrients needed to complete the fermentation may actually have been taken back into the plant from the grape in the final phase of ripening. She also notes that many recent plantings have involved cooler sites. Early in the year after the vintage, when Ernst Loosen is onsite, the winemaking team begins a complex choice and blending process to distribute fermentation lots among finished wines.

temperatures that prevail in central and eastern Washington’s desert climate are certainly at issue here, though ways have been found in recent years to manage vine foliage so that grape clusters are a bit more protected from the sun, which reduces the phenolic impression. Crushing grapes near the source vineyard, which is increasingly possible as facilities are built on the east side of the Cascades, is also helpful, since hauling uncrushed fruit over long distances, which leaves juice, skins, and stems in contact, accentuates the expression of phenolics in finished wine. Phenolics are also cited as a reason to leave substantial residual sugar in the state’s Riesling. Both acid and phenolics can be managed, however, and delicious dry Riesling from Woodward Canyon Winery and Figgins Estate, both profiled in part II, plus Chateau Ste. Michelle’s dry Columbia Valley

First they choose lots for Eroica, but because they have pretargeted a short list of growers and vineyards for this program, only 80 of the 150 lots are considered, representing residual sugar levels from 12 to 30 g/L. In a single day’s tasting, the 80 are winnowed to 30 viable candidates. Test blends follow until all tanks that will be used in whole or in part for Eroica have been identified. Next up are tanks potentially suitable for Waussie or the Columbia Valley Dry Riesling, a process that obviously privileges tanks with low levels of residual sugar. Stuckey notes that cooler sites are often deselected for the dry wines since their high acidity can be a challenge to balance. Cold Creek tanks are separately evaluated until those that will be used for that single-vineyard wine have been chosen. Finally, the Harvest Select and Columbia Valley wine are blended side by side. Emblematic of the rise of Washington State as a major player in American wine, this giant program, which is also admirably sensitive to nuance, has made the Ste. Michelle name a keystone of the worldwide Riesling story in less than 20 years.

cuvée and its very limited Waussie bottling, are ample evidence that Washington can be successful with dry Riesling when winemakers apply themselves to that objective.

Willamette Valley Oregon’s Willamette River is the last of the Columbia’s major tributaries before it meets the Pacific Ocean at Astoria. The Willamette’s valley is long and broad, stretching about 100 miles (160 kilometers) from its headwaters in the Calapooya Mountains south of Eugene to its conf luence with the Columbia at Portland, filling a west-east distance averaging 56 miles (90 kilometers) between the lee slopes of Oregon Coast Range and the west face of the Cascades. Although the basic contours of the land are the consequence of the same cataclysmic

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f loods that formed much of the Columbia Basin, the results were quite different here. The difference is partially because the valley was filled with water to an enormous depth, leaving a valley f loor of exceptionally deep, rich sedimentary soils punctuated here and there with volcanic hills, but mostly because proximity to the ocean and the mountains that define the Willamette’s west and east edges have established a temperate climate here. Generous rainfall is concentrated in the winter months but dampens most periods other than midsummer. The growing season is later to start than in California and can have a wet end—only midsummer is warm and reliably dry—but it is free of the desertlike heat that characterizes the inland Northwest. Although precipitation varies considerably across the length and breadth of the valley, the annual average for many locations hovers near 39 inches (1,000 millimeters), quadruple the average near the Tri-Cities, sustaining abundant agriculture friendly to vegetables and berries, Christmas trees, grass seed, orchard, hazelnuts, and hops, sometimes with little or no irrigation. Average winter temperatures remain mostly above freezing, ranging between 30°F and 45°F (–1°C and 7°C), while average summer temperatures generally f luctuate between 55°F (13°C) at night and 82°F (28°C) at midafternoon. The Oregon Coast Range blocks the inland spread of most oceanic moisture, establishing an important rain shadow, while the Cascades cut the valley off from the continental cold-winter, hot-summer climate that prevails in the eastern half of the state. The Willamette Valley is home to all of Oregon’s largest cities, most of the state’s population, and its mostused road, north-south-oriented I-5, which links Seattle with San Diego. While some grapes were planted by pioneers who settled Oregon in the middle of the 19th century, and there is some evidence that Oregon wines were appreciated in the 1890s, the f ledgling industry was not large enough to compete with California’s, and it collapsed at the beginning of Prohibition. For all practical

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purposes, the Willamette Valley’s viticultural history began in 1965 with Charles Coury and David Lett. Coury was a Southern Californian with a degree in climatology from the University of California, Los Angeles, and graduate training in viticulture and enology at the University of California, Davis. Lett, who was originally from Utah, earned his graduate degree from Davis two years behind Coury, but the two men knew each other in graduate school and were both fascinated with cool-climate viticulture. After separate European detours to study septentrional winegrowing there, they moved to Oregon the same year, planting vineyards in the northwest corner of the Willamette Valley, Coury on a hillside outside Forest Grove and Lett on a south-facing slope between Dundee and Lafayette. Although both spent more time in the end on Pinot Noir, they planted some Riesling at the outset, as did nearly all the pioneering winegrowers who staked out turf in the Willamette Valley later in the 1960s and throughout the 1970s. Myron Redford planted Riesling at Amity Vineyards in or soon after 1970; so did Dick Erath near Dundee in or about 1971, David Adelsheim on the south face of the Chehalem Mountains in 1972, and Bill and Susan Sokol Blosser near Lett’s vineyard in 1974. Erath, who also ran a vine nursery for several decades, supplied Riesling vines and cuttings to numerous freshmen vintners in the area. Although stories of suitcase imports from Europe still circulate, most credible evidence points to California as the source for plant material. Erath’s records are specific and detailed: the vines he planted and used for new plant material were all based on Geisenheim selections (mostly 110 Gm) that had been passed through a clean-stock certification process at the University of California, Davis. A 1981 survey of Oregon grape growers undertaken by the state’s Table Wine Research Advisory Board found 264 acres (107 hectares) of Riesling then planted, amounting to 21 percent of all Oregon vineyard. At that time, Riesling was the state’s third most planted variety, outpaced only by Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

Ten years later, the surface planted to Riesling had more than tripled (to 850 acres [344 hectares]) but had shrunk as a share of total vineyard (to 14 percent), total vineyard having almost quintupled in the meantime. The 2011 data confirm that Oregon viticulture was still growing at an impressive rate—with another 340 percent increase between 1991 and 2011— while Riesling has continued to lose ground to other varieties, especially Chardonnay and Pinot Gris. In 2011, just 3 percent of Oregon’s vineyard was dedicated to Riesling. These numbers notwithstanding, however, Oregon growers are once again planting Riesling, and more than 10 percent of the state’s wineries now produce it. According to veteran wine columnist Dan Berger, writing in 2012, “a number of Oregon Riesling producers are increasing their output and beginning to sell their wines across the nation” (Berger 2012). At last count, 39 Oregon Riesling producers had joined forces to create the Oregon Riesling Alliance, dedicated to promoting “their” variety. Harry PetersonNedry, Chehalem’s founder and a visible advocate for Oregon Riesling, told Berger that he “will be very surprised if . . . Riesling hasn’t regained its [earlier] dominance of the market” in 10 to 15 years (Berger 2012). The problem, however, is that the price paid for Riesling grapes, anchored in the price for which finished wine can be sold, substantially lags the price that is paid for Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, and Pinot Blanc, while its yield is only slightly greater. Riesling also tends to like the same sites where Pinot Noir can thrive, and Pinot Noir grapes sell for more than three times the price of Riesling. Put simply, the prices asked for Oregon Rieslings will need to rise before Peterson-Nedry’s prediction can be fulfilled. Not all of Oregon’s Riesling is found in the Willamette Valley. One example is the state’s very first Riesling vineyard, planted half a decade before Coury and Lett and still in production: Hillcrest Vineyard, outside Roseburg in the Umpqua Valley, south of the Willamette. Another is Brandborg, the second career project of a former San Francisco longshoreman,

located near Elkton and not far from Hillcrest, where Riesling was successfully planted in and after 2002. Foris Winery and Vineyards, another project born in the 1970s, on a highelevation site in the Rogue River Valley AVA, has a fine track record with Riesling, which is typically vinified dry. Most of the action does remain within the Willamette Valley, however, and especially in its northwest quadrant, west of the river and north of Salem. This region coincides with the most viticulture-intensive area of the state, home to three-quarters of its vintners, where six small viticultural areas were overlain on the large Willamette Valley AVA in 2005 and 2006, designating subregions with individual topographic and mesoclimatic profiles and some degree of internal homogeneity. Four sites profiled in part II each fall within one of these six smaller AVAs, but Riesling is found in all of them, and outside them, in the balance of the Willamette Valley AVA. Hyland, in the McMinnville AVA, sits in the foothills on the east side of the Coast Range. The oldest Riesling blocks here are among the oldest in the Willamette Valley still producing, having been planted in 1971. Although the prevailing soils in the McMinnville AVA are mostly marine sedimentary types, Hyland is built primarily on basalt, giving it similarity to sites in the Red Hills of Dundee and Eola–Amity Hills AVAs, farther east. About 9 miles (15 kilometers) north of Hyland, within the Yamhill-Carlton AVA and nestled in the foothills of the Coast Range, is Elk Cove Estate Vineyard, where Riesling was planted in 1977. Here the soils are based on marine sediments. The former Eola Hills Vineyard, now the Brooks Estate Vineyard, was planted in iron-rich basalt-based soil near the crest of the Eola–Amity Hills in 1976. Finally and rather more recently, Riesling was planted in 2004 in the Wascher Vineyard, which is technically within the perimeter of the Red Hills of Dundee AVA but, atypically for that AVA, has marine sedimentary soil. The largest Riesling producer in the Willamette Valley is Willamette Valley Vineyards, but perhaps the closest thing to a Riesling

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specialist is Brooks Winery, where Riesling now accounts for about a third of total production. Chehalem, in Newberg, began working with Riesling in 2003, first establishing a mother block of clonal selections at Wind Ridge, adjacent to its older Ribbon Ridge site called Ridgecrest and then adding Riesling to its Corral Creek Vineyard, which surrounds the winery buildings on the lower slopes of the Chehalem Mountains. Chehalem’s Riesling portfolio, evolving as this text is written, consists of vineyard-designated wines from Wind Ridge Block and Corral Creek, a blend called Three Vineyard, and a sparkling wine called Sext. Three Vineyard is now the main bottling, and the winery intends it to be the driest of the three still wines, effectively replacing what was previously the Reserve Dry Riesling. Yet in 2012, the Corral Creek wine (unintentionally) finished drier— with just 7 g/L of sugar against 8 g/L of acid and a pH of 3.1—while the Three Vineyard and Wine Ridge Block both clocked in between 10 and 11 g/L of sugar. No one is more persuasive about causes he embraces than Harry Peterson-Nedry, Chehalem’s founder, and no one in Oregon has been more enthusiastic about Riesling over the past decade; his daughter Wynn, trained at the University of California, Davis, and winemakerin-charge since 2011, is also extremely talented. Harry Peterson-Nedry argues that Oregon’s typical acidities demand residual sugars at or above 10 g/L for “balance,” and many Chehalem Rieslings from recent vintages have ranged between 17 and 25 g/L, albeit with acid (in 2011) as high as 11 g/L. Consistently, he professes affection for some botrytis, suggesting that his ideal would be an infection of about 15 percent. Most Chehalem Rieslings save for the Reserve Dry Riesling, and most vintages of Corral Creek before 2012, were a tad sweet for my palate, but I confess to great enthusiasm for the 2012, despite or because it is drier than Wynn Peterson-Nedry intended. To me, it is a perfect picture of the site and vintage, painted in lime and honeysuckle. Trisaetum’s James Frey, an artist and winemaker who pursues both domains concurrently, is Peterson-Nedry’s neighbor on Ribbon

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Ridge. He has also made a major commitment to Riesling, devoting his brand to it and to Pinot Noir. From each of three estate vineyards—on Ribbon Ridge, in the foothills of the Coast Range, and (since 2013) at the 656-foot (200meter) contour in the Red Hills of Dundee—he makes both a dry and a beyond-dry cuvée each year, of which the latter usually sells out first. To my palate, alas, even his dry wines do not taste convincingly dry, but the wines are nonetheless attractive exemplars of their type. Meanwhile, challenging but absolutely serious and fascinating Rieslings are produced in tiny quantities by the Portland-based Teutonic Wine Company, a collaboration of former restaurateur and restaurant wine director Barnaby Tuttle and his wife, Olga. Teutonic wines follow the best Mosel-Saar-Ruwer Kabinett traditions, using fruit from extremely cold sites picked quite late (even in early December) and at very low levels of potential alcohol. Their acid levels are more like the Okanagan Valley’s than the Willamette’s (12 to 13.5 g/L); pH values range from 2.8 to 2.9 and residual sugars from 20 to 40 g/L. Finished alcohols hover around 9°. These wines do not fit my definition of dry Riesling, but they are bright, edgy, mineral, “treble-clef” wines of considerable distinction. Crow Valley Vineyard, near Eugene at the south end of the Willamette Valley and planted to 35-year-old own-rooted vines in Bellpine soils at about 787 feet (240 meters) above sea level, is a favorite of Teutonic. In general, the Willamette Valley’s marine sedimentary soils favor round, slightly f lamboyant Rieslings and the expression of stonefruit f lavors. The volcanic, basalt-based soils yield slightly leaner, brighter wines with f loral and citrus-based f lavors. Very cold high-altitude sites such as Crow Valley are outliers. There is only a minority expression of minerality in most Oregon Rieslings, and petrol notes generally appear only with bottle age. The prevailing style is off-dry, with noticeable residual sugar: in 2012, at a tasting organized for journalists by the Oregon Riesling Alliance, only 10 of 35 wines from the 2011 and 2010 vintages

contained less than 9 g/L of residual sugar. Whether convincingly dry wines are gathering or losing traction here is unclear. Lynn PennerAsh told me in 2014 that a bit more residual sugar but a lower pH seemed to work best for her customers, while Anthony King of Lemelson Winery has intentionally dried out his Riesling program since 2000, cutting residual sugar by almost half. Either way, the increasing attention paid to Riesling here is encouraging.

CALIFORNIA’S COASTAL VALLEYS: AN OVERVIEW California’s coastal valleys are an echelon of scenic and generally fertile interstices between the parallel ridges of the state’s Coast Ranges. Both ridges and valleys are oriented northwestsoutheast, with the valleys generally opening to the ocean at their northwest ends unless they open instead to San Francisco Bay, which is itself wrapped within two ridges of the Coast Ranges save for its access to the open ocean through the Golden Gate. Most of the state’s population lives in its coastal valleys, especially around San Francisco Bay and in Los Angeles, where a uniquely large gap in the Coast Ranges separates the Santa Monica Mountains north of the city from the San Joaquin Hills south of it. The true coast—narrow littoral, headlands, and the valleys’ mouths—is a climate unto itself, often described as Mediterranean Heather since sage, sagebrush, lilac, manzanita, and gooseberries account for much of the natural foliage. Marine inf luence north of the Golden Gate, the product of cold ocean currents close to the shore, manifests as chill winds and fog through most of the growing season, with daytime high temperatures in the summer not much warmer than the same maxima in the winter, startling tourists who imagine that California is universally bathed in sunshine. Winters are conversely extremely mild and often very wet by California standards, albeit drier than much of Northern Europe’s. With few exceptions, the north coast is unsuitable for viticulture of any sort; there is simply not

enough heat here to ripen even cool-climate wine grapes reliably. South of San Luis Obispo, where cold ocean currents chill the coastline less than they do north of San Francisco, a few wine grapes grow within sight of the ocean— a new viticultural area has recently been approved for Malibu, on the coast northwest of Los Angeles—but most of the land here, covered with urban sprawl, is simply too valuable for commercial and residential use to support viticulture. East of the Coast Ranges, between their lee side and the Sierra Nevada, is the state’s enormous Central Valley, half the size of New York State, hotter in the summer and colder in the winter than the coast and coastal valleys, and drier, too, but still only semicontinental. It is one of the most productive agricultural regions on earth, albeit almost entirely irrigationdependent. The Central Valley is home to three-quarters of California’s total vineyard but produces little of its very good wine—grapes here are farmed for high yield and low price points. Hot daytime high temperatures prevail in the Central Valley throughout the growing season, combined with relatively high overnight lows. These cause early ripening overall: grape sugars accumulate faster than f lavors, and grape acidities deplete prematurely, making very good wines hard to produce. In between, the coastal valleys and parts of their peripheral ridges can be the promised land for wine grapes. Countervailing inf luences create a wide range of temperate mesoclimates in a macroclimate that is decidedly uncontinental and Mediterranean. On the one hand, the ridgetops of the Coast Ranges, which rise to between 2,953 and 3,609 feet (900 and 1,100 meters) near the Oregon border and up to twice that east of San Diego, are high enough to block most weather systems that make landfall on the coast. On the other, persistent summer heat in the Central Valley works like a vacuum cleaner. The hot valley f loor heats the trapped air above it, which then rises, while cool marine air is sucked into the coastal valleys, creating the ebb and f low of fog and overcast that, in

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partnership with afternoon sunshine, creates an exceptionally temperate zone that is sprinkled with well-known and respected viticultural areas. The suitability of many subzones for viticulture and orchard was recognized by European immigrants in the 19th century: J. Q. A. Warren, the son of an English immigrant, baptized the vineyards around San Jose as “modern Edens” in 1863. Silicon chips now have chased grapes and peaches out of this area, but viticulture persists in the Santa Cruz Mountains and east of San Jose around Livermore, and the coastal valleys north of San Francisco, especially Napa, Sonoma, and the Russian River, are home to some of the state’s most respected vineyards. Elevation, distance from the coast, height of the ridges in between, and the aperture of each valley control the specific circumstances of each single location, creating areas that are variously perfect for grape varieties with quite different phenologies. Some of these locations are ideal for Riesling. The coastal valleys of importance for good Rieslings are spread between Fort Bragg and Point Conception (the valleys north of Fort Bragg are generally too cold to support most viticulture, and those south of Santa Barbara are too valuable for commercial and residential uses). This translates to about 5 degrees of latitude from the 34°N to the 39°N parallels, which is more than twice the distance between the northernmost and southernmost vineyards in the Rhine Basin. Within this space, mesoclimates differ dramatically from south to north, a function of latitude, but also of ocean currents and macrogeographic features. In the coastal valleys of Santa Barbara County, between the 34°N and 35°N parallels, winters are extremely mild, with average low temperatures at Lompoc in December and January hovering around 48°F (9°C), while average highs are almost sunbathworthy at around 61°F (16°C). Summer averages here are only slightly warmer, at 54°F (12°C) and 64°F (18°C) respectively. (Santa Maria has cooler lows, slightly warmer highs, and more diurnal variation: 39°F [4°C] and 66°F [19°C] in December and January, 54°F [12°C] and 75°F [24°C] in

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July and August.) There is no snow, of course, and total annual rainfall averages barely 12 inches (300 millimeters), or half of what is normal in most Riesling-friendly areas of the Rhine Valley. Virtually all precipitation falls between November and March, and summers are almost always bone-dry. Statistics for San Luis Obispo, which is a good surrogate for the Edna and Arroyo Grande valleys in San Luis Obispo County, Santa Barbara’s northern neighbor, are quite similar. In the wine-centric valleys north of San Francisco Bay, between the 38°N and 39°N parallels, winter temperatures are higher than they are in the valleys that open to what most Californians describe as the South Central Coast, though not by a lot. The signal difference is that July and August high temperatures are much warmer: 90°F (32°C) at Calistoga in the Napa Valley and at Occidental in western Sonoma, and 85°F (29°C) at Philo, in the “deep” end of Anderson Valley in Mendocino County. The northern coastal valleys are also much wetter than the South Central Coast, averaging about 18 to 19 inches (450 to 480 millimeters) annually, but rainfall is almost entirely confined to the months between November and April. Soledad, between the 36°N and 37°N parallels in the heart of Salinas Valley wine country, about halfway between the South Central Coast and North Coast valleys, clocks in with summer high temperatures in the North Coast range but the lowest average rainfall of all: about 11 inches (290 millimeters). It is important to note, however, that the microclimate of an individual vineyard can vary significantly from what is measured at nearby weather stations. Before the middle of the 19th century, when the Gold Rush spawned an enormous population increase in Northern California, the Los Angeles Basin—then as now the state’s largest population center—was home to most of its viticulture. The first vineyards were planted in the 18th century by Franciscan padres around the missions they founded between San Diego and Sonoma. Commercial vineyards followed, first in Southern California and then farther north, as towns grew up around the missions

and an unprecedented wave of European immigration swelled the population of the state’s northern half after 1850. By the 1870s, Sonoma had become the most viticulture-intensive region in the state, and viticulture was well established in most of the better-protected coastal valleys, including the Santa Clara and Livermore valleys, at the south end of San Francisco Bay, and Napa Valley, at its north end. In the smaller, remoter, and often cooler coastal valleys, viticulture had little or no toehold until the second half of the 20th century, when the American wine business began to recover from the setbacks associated with phylloxera and Prohibition. Until about 1850, the California wine business depended almost exclusively on a single variety of vinifera, the Mission grape, brought by the Franciscans via Mexico. In 2007, DNA analysis revealed that Mission was identical to Listan Prieto, a variety once widely grown in the northern and central Iberian peninsula but now found mostly in the Canary Islands. Immigration from France, Germany, and Switzerland in the 1850s, and from Italy a bit later, changed the scene fundamentally, inundating the state with a flood of European varieties that included Riesling. The first person to import Riesling (along with Silvaner and Traminer) was likely Frank Stock, an immigrant vintner and nurseryman based in San Jose, probably in 1859. Another San Jose nurseryman, Louis Pellier (1817–72), offered “Frank Riesling” for sale in 1863, but it is impossible to say for sure if this was Riesling or Silvaner. Records show that other vintners, including the legendary Charles Lefranc (1824–87) and Napa-based George Belden Crane (1806–98) obtained Riesling vines and cuttings from Stock in the 1860s. Stock, Lefranc, and Crane all made award-winning Rieslings in the 1860s and 1870s. Another early importer was Emil Dresel (1819–69), a native of Geisenheim, who procured cuttings from Rheingau vineyards in 1859 that were planted at Rhine Farm, Dresel’s partnership with Jacob Gundlach (1818–94). It survives to this day as Gundlach Bundschu, outside Sonoma.

Dresel and Gundlach Bundschu Rieslings are said to have had “remarkable reputation[s] for high quality” in the 1880s (Sullivan 1998). A third claim to early importation is made in the name of Agoston Haraszthy (1812–69), a colorful figure in California wine and the founder of Sonoma’s Buena Vista Winery. Haraszthy solicited subscriptions to a giant vine-import scheme in the 1860s and imported a significant quantity of plant material. But a combination of misidentifications, unhealthy vine material, and exaggerated claims makes it doubtful that his imports had a significant impact in the end. It is clear, however, that despite the preponderant attention paid across Northern California to red wine grapes (overwhelmingly Zinfandel) by the 1880s, Riesling was taken seriously from the 1850s to the end of the 19th century and was responsible for some of the state’s finest white wines. In the 1860s, what is now Orange County (because of the eventual triumph there of citrus orchards) was an important grapegrowing region. The “king” of its wines, a Bavarian named Benjamin Dreyfus, made a successful white blend based on Riesling. By 1877, the firm of Kohler & Frohling, which had been founded in Los Angeles in 1854 and later grew into the single largest producer of wines (and brandies) in California, was making a well-regarded Riesling. Dresel, a confessed partisan of German varieties, claimed in 1880 that “gutedel, riesling and burger” were the state’s leading white varieties (Sullivan 1998), while Hiram Walker Crabb, a Ohioan who had come to California in 1853 and reinvented himself so successfully as a grape grower and winemaker that newspapers called him the “Wine King of the Pacific Slope,” cited Riesling, Chasselas, and “White Pinot” (probably Chenin Blanc) as the state’s leading white varieties. An 1891 directory of grape growers in the so-called Sonoma Viticultural District showed no fewer than 28 working with Riesling, and the World’s Columbian Exposition, organized in Chicago in 1893 to celebrate the quadricentennial of Columbus’s landing in the Americas, featured a number of California

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wines, including apparently varietal whites labeled as Riesling. Around 1910, the California Wine Association, a giant firm that had incorporated Kohler & Frohling, made a Riesling called Vine Cliff, which was the most expensive of its whites not classified as dessert wines. Most of what carried the Riesling name in the 19th century probably was Riesling in fact, and honest merchants, according to Charles Sullivan, “usually labeled German-style blends as Hock, taking advantage of a well-established nomenclature borrowed from the English wine trade” (Sullivan 1998). Although there was some misappropriation of the Riesling name to denote other varieties in the 19th century— George Husmann (1827–1902), for example, advertised “Missouri Riesling” vines for sale in 1883, making clear that this was not a variety of vinifera—widespread application of the Riesling name to cover unrelated varieties came later, especially after World War II, when Wente Brothers enjoyed huge commercial success with Trousseau Gris, a minor variety from the Jura, which they bottled as Grey Riesling. At about the same time, Silvaner, which had been appreciated for its own merits in the 19th century, was sold as Franken Riesling. Thus a good picture of Riesling’s fortunes, especially before Prohibition and after Repeal, is difficult to reconstruct. When Frederic Bioletti, a professor of viticulture at the University of California, created a list of “recommended grapes” in 1907, he did not include Riesling. Twenty-two years later, his view of Riesling apparently had not significantly improved; he cited it in 1929 only as a blending grape (see Sweet 2009). A 1921 estimate of planted acreage showed about 1,977 acres (800 hectares) of “Riesling” in California vineyards, which was about 9 percent of the state’s total vineyard surface, but this figure was probably inclusive of surface planted to Riesling imposters such as Silvaner and Trousseau Gris (Sweet 2009). By 1960, reasonably reliable data counted fewer than 284 acres (115 hectares) of true Riesling in the ground. In 1976, however, following a period of frenetic

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growth for California wine not seen since the 1850s, a proper survey of the state’s vineyard found almost 8,649 acres (3,500 hectares) of true Riesling (then called White Riesling or Johannisberg Riesling) in the ground, and Riesling had risen to fourth place among widely planted white varieties, lagging only Colombard, Chenin Blanc, and Chardonnay, the latter so unfamiliar that one Russian River grower who planted it early in the 1970s said he had to write the name on a piece of paper to avoid forgetting it (Haeger 2004). The force of the Chardonnay wave was inexorable, however, driving Riesling into decline after 1983. The rise of Chardonnay coincided with a general shift in consumer taste in white wine away from the slightly sweet style that had become prevalent for American-made Riesling, faux Riesling, Colombard, and Chenin Blanc in the 1960s and ’70s toward the drier wines represented by the prevailing and increasingly international styles for Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Although Riesling in Germany was emphatically dry from the end of the 1970s through the end of the century, Chardonnay enthusiasm made it easier to abandon Riesling in California than to change its style, and to grow a new generation of white wine consumers around Chardonnay, a variety with no prior stylistic baggage but a generally good image as the centerpiece of White Burgundies. California’s Riesling surface declined by 84 percent between 1983 and 2003, to barely 1,853 acres (750 hectares), while Chardonnay exploded by 350 percent. In 2009, about 3,089 acres (1,250 hectares) of Riesling were standing in California vineyards, ref lecting a modest improvement in the variety’s fortunes since the turn of the new century. Most of it, as noted earlier, is in coastal valleys between Fort Bragg and Point Conception.

Coastal Valleys South of San Francisco Three valleys in Santa Barbara County—Santa Ynez, Los Alamos, and Santa Maria—are important for Riesling, accounting for approxi-

mately 300 acres (120 hectares) of planted surface. The west end of the Santa Ynez Valley is the Sta. Rita Hills AVA, devoted overwhelmingly to Pinot Noir. Yet Santa Rita Hills pioneer Richard Sanford planted a bit of own-rooted Riesling in his famous Sanford & Benedict Vineyard here in the 1960s. A bit of it remains, now budded over to Pinot Noir. Not far east of Sanford & Benedict on Santa Rosa Road, Lafond Winery planted Riesling in the 1990s. Ampelos Cellars’ Peter Work followed suit in 2013, planting a tiny block of Riesling on a steep hillside in his 81.5-acre (33-hectare) Ampelos Vineyard, on the south side of Highway 246, using extremely tight spacing and CTPS 49 from Alsace. At the much warmer east end of the Santa Ynez Valley, a significant stand of Riesling planted in 1983 is still in production at the Gainey Vineyard’s Home Ranch, a giant property that Daniel C. Gainey and Daniel J. Gainey (father and son) purchased in 1962 to ranch cattle and raise Arabian horses. When Daniel J. became seriously interested in wine at the beginning of the 1980s, he planted Bordeaux varieties in one corner of the ranch while dedicating about 15 acres (6 hectares) to Riesling. It is reported to have been “Clones 1, 239, and 49,” all on their own roots, but these scion identities do not square easily with what was then available. Gainey has remained loyal to Riesling for three decades, making primarily a round, full-flavored wine that finishes with 6 to 14 g/L of residual sugar depending on the vintage, which tastes sometimes dry, sometimes offdry, and sometimes noticeably sweet, depending on vintage. Southwest of Gainey, on Alisal Mesa Road outside Solvang, Coquelicot Estate Vineyard planted 58 acres (23.5 hectares) of vineyard in 1999, including some Riesling. It is reported to be UCD 10, from which Coquelicot makes an attractive wine that tastes dry or offdry, depending on the vintage. In the 1970s, several hundred hectares of Riesling were planted at the White Hills Vineyard in the Los Alamos Valley, but it has been replaced by Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. A few hectares of Riesling have since been planted

nearby, however, at Kick-On Ranch (see page 333). Harold Pfeiffer, the original manager of James Flood’s Rancho Sisquoc, one of the first vineyards in the Santa Maria Valley—although it became such almost by accident, as Sisquoc was devoted primarily to cattle ranching—also planted Riesling (and Cabernet Sauvignon) between 1968 and 1973 (Graham et al. 1998). Some of it is still bearing, and it is made as a vineyard-designated wine both by Rancho Sisquoc itself and by Graham Tatomer (see page 336). Other 1970s plantings of Riesling in the Santa Maria Valley have largely succumbed to Chardonnay’s ubiquitous popularity. North of the Santa Maria River, in San Luis Obispo County, Riesling was among the early plantings executed by the Talley family in the Arroyo Grande Valley and by the Niven family in the Edna Valley (the story of the latter is told in part II; see page 337). The old plantings are long gone in both locations, but some new Riesling was set out in the Nivens’ Paragon Vineyard in 2006, and the Talleys planted Riesling in Oliver’s, one of their Edna Valley vineyards, the same year. There are also small stands of Riesling at Wolff Vineyards on Orcutt Road and at Claiborne & Churchill on Carpenter Canyon Road (see page 326). More than half of California’s Riesling, and by far the largest concentration—accounting for 44 percent of the state total in 2013—is found in the Monterey County portion of the Salinas Valley, the biggest of the state’s coastal valleys. The downstream end of this valley, where the Salinas River approaches its mouth at Monterey Bay, is a broad, flat, fertile plain of sandy soils that are exploited for lettuce, strawberries, tomatoes, spinach, broccoli, and caulif lower. Upstream of King City, at the confluence of the Salinas River and San Lorenzo Creek, where the weather is significantly warmer, agriculture turns to crops that like more sun than humidity. Like other coastal valleys, the Salinas Valley functions as a wind tunnel, upriver warmth sucking fog up the valley during the growing season but reversing course in the winter, when the upper reaches of the valley are cooler. As

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elsewhere along the Mission Trail, the first grapes here were planted around a mission, this one at Soledad, toward the end of the 18th century. Serious commercial viticulture was scarce, however, amounting to less than 99 acres (40 hectares) until the 1960s, when four of California’s largest wine producers, based in neighboring Santa Clara and Contra Costa counties—Paul Masson, Almaden, Mirassou, and Wente—which were all under pressure from massive urban and suburban growth on their home turf, planted huge vineyards in the Salinas Valley. Since the Wente plantings in particular have a huge impact on the supply of vine material to other California growers and vintners, and therefore on the subsequent history of Riesling statewide (and in Oregon), it is worthwhile to summarize what is known. Most of the Wente plantings were in Arroyo Seco, essentially a seasonal tributary of the Salinas River that joins it just north of Greenfield, having descended from the Coast Ranges. By common agreement among the Big Four wineries who invested simultaneously in Monterey, only registered plant material would be used in their new vineyards, making them early customers of Foundation Plant Services (FPS), then the sole source of registered vine materials. The scale of their plantings also dictated that some of their vineyard blocks would be “increase blocks,” that is, blocks farmed entirely with certified material, monitored for signs of disease, and used as a source of clean stock by others. Increase Block 36, in Wente’s Arroyo Seco Vineyard and dedicated to Riesling, was originally planted between 1963 and 1968. The first vines were based on cuttings from at least two and perhaps as many as five vines in the foundation vineyard at Davis. At least one of these was 198 Gm, and some or all the others may have been 110 Gm. Nancy Sweet, whose work on the history of Riesling selections at FPS has been devotedly precise, thinks that the material sent to Wente in 1963 may have been a mix of three Gm clones: 110 Gm, 198 Gm, and 239 Gm (Sweet 2012). Yet, 50 years later, it is impos-

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sible to say for sure what selections Wente’s customers may have received when they purchased Riesling budwood from Block 36. Some combination of the three Geisenheim selections is the best that can be said now. The trail is further attenuated by the fact that Wente changed the composition of its increase blocks over time to accommodate the waxing and waning popularity of various varieties. In the 1970s, a second increase block, which Wente called Block 113, was planted in part to Riesling. The cuttings used to populate this block were apparently a combination of what were then known as White Riesling 05 (which was heat-treated progeny from 110 Gm) and White Riesling 10 (a heat-treated instance of a California heritage selection from Martini’s Monte Rosso Vineyard that survives today as Riesling FPS 28). Wente customers receiving cuttings from Block 113 might, therefore, have received either or both of the above. Unfortunately for those who care deeply about such details, most of Wente’s customers knew only that they received plant material from Wente, birthing references to a Wente clone of Riesling. Nothing of the sort ever existed—what was loosely called “Wente Riesling” was some combination of Geisenheim clones and the California heritage selection from Monte Rosso. The pioneer plantings in and around Arroyo Seco in the 1960s were followed in the 1970s by two “local” investor-driven ventures: the Monterey Vineyard and the Monterey Peninsula Winery. Between 1972 and 1974, more than 22,239 acres (9,000 hectares) of vines were put in the ground, of which a large fraction were probably Riesling. Some of these plantings remain, but a pattern of incremental small losses and countervailing gains from new planting has come to characterize Riesling here, according to the University of California Cooperative Extension farm advisor Larry Bettiga. That the same land can be planted to Chardonnay, whose average price now hovers 30 to 70 percent above that of Riesling, contributes to the losses, while the revival of interest in Riesling since 2000 accounts for most of the gains.

This pattern, which involves a dynamic and continuing succession of small replantings and field-grafting projects in which new scion material is attached to existing vines, makes it difficult to create an accurate list of the county’s Riesling vineyards or to say which vineyards now constitute its largest stands. Most local sources say that the single largest stand is now found in the Indelicato family’s San Bernabe Vineyard near King City, where it feeds, in part, the Indelicatos’ own Loradona brand. But various sites owned by Ray Franscioni’s SMD Vineyards are also mentioned, along with parcels owned by various members of the McFarland family, some of which were originally developed by Jerry McFarland (1930–2013) in the 1970s and ’80s, when McFarland figured among the founders of The Monterey Vineyard and Smith & Hook. Scheid Vineyards, most of its vines located between Greenfield and King City, also farms Riesling, as does Paraiso Vineyards, the large wine estate at the south end of the Santa Lucia Highlands appellation originally planted in 1973 by Richard and Claudia Smith, where 42 acres (17 hectares) of Riesling are both used to make Paraiso’s own wines and sold to clients. There is also some Riesling in the 905 planted acres (366 hectares) at the Sweetwater Vineyard, also near King City, which was purchased by Vintage Wine Trust, a real estate investment trust, in 2006. Arroyo Seco remains long on Riesling. In addition to Wente, Kendall-Jackson and Hopland-based Fetzer Vineyard, which may be California’s largest Riesling producers, have vineyards here. Kendall-Jackson’s Arroyo Seco holdings include 95 acres (38.5 hectares) in the Clark, Rancho Tierra, and Panorama vineyards. Some of the fruit from Clark and Panorama go to make Carmel Road’s Unoaked Riesling—Carmel Road is owned by Kendall-Jackson—and the rest, plus grapes purchased from “grower-partners,” feeds K-J’s Vintner’s Reserve bottling, a tasty semidry wine that usually contains about 8 g/L of acid and 22 g/L of residual sugar. Longtime local producers, notably J. Lohr and Jekel Vineyards, also farm Riesling in Arroyo Seco,

making wines that are sweet in some degree. A few acres of Riesling remain in the Ventana Vineyard, originally developed by Doug Meador at the north end of Arroyo Seco; this site is covered in part II. In Zabala Vineyards, which consists of nearly 988 acres (400 hectares) of vines nestled on flat and extremely rocky benchland between Los Coches Road and the Arroyo Seco River, just 1.2 miles (2 kilometers) south of Ventana, old Riesling from the 1970s has been removed, but 44.5 acres (18 hectares) of new Riesling were planted in 2007. As vineyards have changed hands and market conditions have evolved, it has been possible for landless boutique vintners to purchase small quantities of Riesling from large vineyards, quite a few of which have been used to make dry wines. One example is Sabrine Rodems’s Scratch Wine, which takes Riesling from Ventana (profiled in part II). Another is Mike Callahan of MaidenStoen, who contracts for all the Riesling in an 8-acre (3.2-hectare) parcel at Zabala. MaidenStoen is so far an allRiesling wine project that made an outstanding vineyard-designated Riesling from Zabala grapes in 2013: lean and tightly wound upfront, then showing an avalanche of dried herbs and macerated f lowers, with casaba melon on the palate and resolutely dry. If this performance continues in subsequent vintages and with additional vine age, it will become a benchmark among American dry Rieslings. MaidenStoen also makes Riesling from the Coast View Vineyard in Chualar Canyon, about 6.2 miles (10 kilometers) northeast of Zabala. This is a higher-elevation vineyard in which Syrah and Riesling are virtually side by side on eroded hilltops approximately 2,297 feet (700 meters) above sea level, not far from Danny’s, another part-Riesling vineyard farmed by a branch of the Franscioni family. Technically beyond the Salinas River basin, on the northeast side of the Gabilan Mountains in the Cienega Valley AVA, Riesling vines planted by the Wirz family in 1962 are still bearing. The site is eroded granite mixed with limestone, and the vines are dry-farmed and

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head-trained. Big Basin Vineyards’ Bradley Brown makes a painfully small amount—generally fewer than 50 cases—of delicious dry Riesling from Wirz. It is very full-f lavored but quite dry and redolent of lime and stone fruits. In 2012, Nicole Walsh, the principal winemaker for Santa Cruz–based Bonny Doon Vineyard, used grapes from Wirz to make a still dry Riesling for her own brand, called Ser. The fermentation turned out too dry for her comfort, so she induced a secondary fermentation, creating 40 cases of bottle-fermented sparkling Riesling instead. Walsh says she may try again for a dry still Riesling from Wirz in 2015. Meanwhile, between 2007 and 2009, Eric Laumann, a Bonny Doon alumnus with a good deal of large winery experience, made a few vintages of extremely promising dry single-vineyard Rieslings from several Monterey Country sites under a label called Ludwig (for Ludwig van Beethoven), sourcing grapes from the Sweetwater Vineyard, from an Arroyo Seco site called Lorelei, and from the Hillside Vineyard, located near the center of the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA. Unfortunately for the Ludwig project, which has lapsed, and for the cause of artisanal dry Riesling, Laumann was lured back to corporate winemaking in 2010; in 2014, he was named winemaker for Castle Rock Winery.

Coastal Valleys North of San Francisco Less than 6 percent of California’s Riesling is grown here: about 133 acres (54 hectares) in Napa County, less than 4.9 acres (2 hectares) in Marin County, and the rest dotted here and there in Sonoma and Mendocino counties, in coastal and quasicoastal valleys opening directly or indirectly to the Pacific and on their associated ridges. Most of this surface was planted before 2005, but since then, a bit of new surface has also been dedicated to Riesling. Napa County is now home to the oldest Riesling vines in the state, planted in the 1940s (see page 344). The thin and scattered distribution of Riesling in the state’s northern precincts is primarily the consequence of prices 142

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for vineyard land, which have soared since the 1970s, first in Napa, as that valley found its vocation tied to Cabernet Sauvignon, and then farther west, in the cooler parts of Sonoma and Mendocino, as those areas were rededicated or developed as sources of “coastal” Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Since Cabernet, Pinot, and Chardonnay, grown in the coastal valleys, all sell for much higher prices than Riesling, the last now thrives only where isolated winemakers are willing to pay a price for grapes that is well above average for the variety or where a grower is so dedicated to Riesling that economic considerations are relegated to a back seat. Part II profiles five sites in the northern coastal valleys where small surfaces are devoted to Riesling: Corda Ranch in Marin County, on a northwest-southeast-oriented ridge that extends almost from San Pablo to Bodega Bay; Greenwood Ridge, on another such ridge between Mendocino’s Anderson Valley and the coast; Stony Hill and Smith-Madrone, two sites high on Spring Mountain, above Napa Valley’s northwest corner; and Platt Vineyard, on a ridge between the hamlet of Freestone and Bodega Bay. Platt is the only recent planting in the group and exists only because a renowned viticulturist persuaded the owner to take a chance on a tiny stand of Riesling just a stone’s throw away from blocks of Pinot Noir for which demand routinely exceeds supply. But other vineyards in the coastal valleys north of San Francisco are also an important part of Riesling in California today. Close to San Francisco Bay, there are 7 to 12 acres (3 to 5 hectares) of Riesling in the lower part of V. Sattui’s Henry Ranch, tucked in a fold of grasscovered hills near the Artesa Winery, in the Los Carneros AVA, which encompasses the cool ends of the Napa and Sonoma valleys. Most of this is used to make V. Sattui’s own Riesling, which is not dry, but some of its grapes have been purchased by other small vintners for boutique projects. Nile Zacherle and his wife, Whitney, made an attractive dry Riesling under the Zacherle label from this vineyard in 2010,

which was redolent of tarragon, mint, and menthol but also crisp, with good acid and rewarding structure. There is some Riesling in Robert Sinskey’s Scintilla Sonoma Vineyard, also in the Los Carneros AVA, but it is not used to make varietal wine. Instead it adds acid and bright f lavor to Sinskey’s proprietary white blend, which is composed mostly of Pinot Gris. Not far from the north edge of the Carneros AVA, at the south end of Sonoma Valley and northeast of Sonoma’s main square, about 3 acres (1.2 hectares) of Riesling, planted in 2007, are at the heart of an interesting story. The property, on which an old hacienda still stands, once belonged to Emil Dresel, whose role as an early importer of Riesling has already been mentioned. By 2007, with the Dresels long gone, the hacienda dilapidated, and the site used to farm turkeys, it was purchased by Adam and Andrew Mariani, two brothers from Winters, near Davis. Imagining a wine project for which they eventually coined the Scribe Winery name, the Marianis planted mostly Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay, but also 1 acre (0.4 hectare) of Silvaner and the aforementioned Riesling as an homage to Emil Dresel and his family. Scribe has made a completely dry Riesling here since 2009. North and slightly east of the Henry Ranch and Scintilla Sonoma, in Napa Valley’s Oak Knoll District AVA, Trefethen Vineyards has remained loyal to Riesling since its founding in 1974, making a dry Riesling in every vintage. Two blocks of Riesling are currently in production at Trefethen, one planted in 1997, sandwiched between small blocks of Malbec and Petit Verdot, and the other set out in 2008 between more Malbec and a block of Chardonnay. These blocks produce a classy warm-climate wine that is most often compared with Rieslings from Alsace, showcasing a considerable range of citrus fruits including lime, blood orange, and pink grapefruit. In Sonoma County, only 44.5 acres (18 hectares) of Riesling were standing in 2005, to which about 11 acres (4.4 hectares) have been added since, including the 3 acres (1.2 hectares)

at Scribe and a small surface at Platt, on the coast near Bodega (see page 340). The rest is scattered in small parcels, mostly in the Russian River Valley AVA. In Mendocino County, Riesling gets a bit more attention—and certainly more lip service—than it does in Sonoma. In 2010, 38 acres (15.5 hectares) of Riesling were growing where they make eminently good sense, in the Anderson Valley, which is Mendocino’s principal true coastal valley. This long, narrow, V-shaped valley stretches from Yorkville to the mouth of the Navarro River, about 10 miles (16 kilometers) south of Mendocino. Riesling was first planted here in 1968 by Tony Husch, a Harvard-trained urban planner who had relocated from the San Francisco Bay Area to a remote valley where logging and sheep were nearly the only activities. Husch also created the valley’s first bonded winery. Several other pioneers followed his example in the 1970s, including Hans and Theresia Kobler, who founded Lazy Creek Vineyards, and Ted Bennett and Deborah Cahn, who established Navarro Vineyards. Sadly, the runaway success of Pinot Noir since the 1990s has all but eradicated Riesling from the Anderson Valley, despite local winegrowers’ nostalgic and symbolic attachment to what they call “Alsace varietals” and to the International Alsace Varietals Festival, held here annually in February. Varieties here are now overwhelmingly Pinot Noir, Gewürztraminer, and Pinot Gris, plus what Riesling remains. Husch’s 1968 planting is still bearing, at Greenwood Ridge on the valley’s southwest side. At Navarro, on the valley’s opposite side, a 3.5-acre (1.4-hectare) block, in gravelly loam soil, is adjacent to and cooled by a tiny creekbed. Navarro’s Riesling program also draws fruit from a block known, logically enough, as Riesling Hill, in the neighboring Valley Foothills Vineyards, which was planted in 2006. Navarro’s main Riesling is a dry cuvée, a bit drier in the early years of the 21st century than it is now, whose flavor profile varies quite a bit from vintage to vintage: round, spicy, and nutty in 2002, 2008, and 2009, but citrusy, appley, and minty in 2003, 2011, and 2012.

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When I tasted in 2014, the most recent vintage was from 2013, an attractive, tight-knit overlay of grapefruit, lime, mint, and flowers on a base of flinty minerality. Circumstances permitting, Navarro also makes a “Cluster Select” wine when some grapes are affected by botrytis and a “Late Harvest” wine when it had planned to make a Cluster Select wine but botrytis bypassed the vineyards. The rest of Anderson Valley’s Riesling, to the best of my knowledge, is now at V. Sattui’s Boonville vineyard (Sattui’s Carneros vineyard has already been mentioned) and at Wiley, northwest of Philo, at Anderson Valley’s cool “deep end.” On the east side of the ridge that separates Anderson Valley from the Ukiah Valley, there is an important stand of Riesling at Cole Ranch. This 173-acre (70-hectare) property is also an American Viticultural Area of its own, planted to Cabernet Sauvignon and Riesling in the 1970s by John Cole, an engineer by profession, who built a house on the ranch, as well as a dam used to accumulate runoff water from higher elevations that is deployed to irrigate the vineyards. Cole Ranch is a relatively high-altitude site, between the 1,181- and 1,378foot (360- and 420-meter) contours, in the hills between the landlocked and generally quite warm Ukiah Valley and the cooler, more coastal Anderson Valley about 5 miles (8 kilometers) south of Ukiah. Cole sold his grapes, and the Riesling was used inter alia by Richard Arrowood, whose reputation as a master vintner was originally forged at Chateau St. Jean, and by Doug Nalle, a Dry Creek–based Zinfandel specialist, who made three vintages of very attractive dry Riesling from Cole Ranch between 1997 and 1999. About 30 acres (12 hectares) of the original Cole Ranch vines, including most or all of the Riesling, are still in production and are farmed today by the Sterling family. Once ranchers in California’s Central Valley, they have become respected players in Sonoma and Mendocino wine, sagely and opportunistically

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acquiring undervalued vineyard in both counties since the 1980s. The Sterlings purchased Cole Ranch in 1999 and have since used more of the fruit to make their own wine, which is sold under the Esterlina label. In most years, they have made both a dry and an off-dry cuvée of Riesling (Cole Ranch is a good site for dry Riesling because its relatively high elevation compensates for the overall warmth of the Ukiah Valley). Several vintages of Esterlina’s dry cuvée (2002, 2005, and 2011, tasted in 2013) illustrate what the site can do: these were silky wines with good length and some expression of minerality, inflected with citrus, pear, tarragon, and thyme. With about 6 g/L of acid, more than 8 g/L of residual sugar, and pH values above 3.1, however, even some vintages of the dry cuvée can feel borderline off-dry. To complete the picture of Riesling in Mendocino, one moves east to Potter Valley, 18 miles (29 kilometers) northeast of Ukiah, near the headwaters of the Russian River’s East Fork. This is indisputably warm country, with average daytime high temperatures in July and August above 91°F (33°C) and virtually no precipitation, but it is also well irrigated thanks to water diverted from the nearby Eel River, and its soils are loamy. Summer overnight low temperatures help to offset the daytime highs, typically falling to a chilly average of 52°F (11°C), which helps to preserve natural grape acidity. Guinness McFadden, a New Yorker who discovered wine during his service in the U.S. Navy, has farmed grapes, herbs, and garlic, among other things, here since 1970. With mature vines in the ground now, McFadden is a favored source of Riesling grapes for many California wineries, including Dasche Cellars, but he has also produced estate Riesling since 2003. To my palate, these wines resemble Washington State’s Rieslings, albeit with lower acid: they tend to taste phenolic, robust, and heady. Altogether, Mendocino County reported 67 acres (27 hectares) of Riesling in 2014, all of it planted before 2006.

part ii

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Introduction to Sites and Producers

receding chapters dealt with Riesling sites on a regional basis, looking broadly at latitude, elevation, topography, and macroclimate, as well as relevant elements of political, cultural, and social history. Part II explores 89 sites in greater detail, moving from the macroproperties of regions to specific details on individual vineyards, or even blocks within vineyards where local and customary use has conferred distinct identities to such blocks or (in North America) where a wine estate systematically calls parts of a larger vineyard by different names. The geographical span of these sites is enormous; Riesling seems as if it could grow well almost everywhere. The southernmost site in the Northern Hemisphere is Kick-On Ranch in California’s Los Alamos Valley, not far from the generally sun-swept Pacific coast at Santa Barbara, just above 34°N. The northernmost is Marienburg, at Pünderich on the Mosel, just above 50°N. This gap in latitude is approximately the same as that between Newfoundland and Florida. The highest-elevation vineyard is the top of Peter Pliger’s Kaiton Vineyard,

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at approximately the 700-meter contour, on the northwest side of the Valle Isarco (Eisacktal) in the Alto Adige; the lowest is the Ventana Vineyard, in California’s Salinas Valley, just 75 meters above sea level (although the Trefethen estate vineyard, discussed in chapter 8 but not profiled in this part of the book, is lower still, less than 20 meters above sea level). The smallest is Terminal Moraine, a 0.5-hectare scrap of southfacing slope near the base of Michigan’s Old Mission Peninsula; the largest, by two orders of magnitude, is Schlossberg de Kientzheim, near Colmar, which in 1975 became the first of the Alsace grand cru appellations to be approved. Almost every soil type capable of supporting viticulture of any kind has been planted to Riesling somewhere. Some Riesling landscapes are f lat, while others are steep enough to seem almost vertical. Some are dry as desert, while others are challenged with excess water. Some are so rocky that it is hard to speak of soil at all, while others sit on deep topsoils of all textures and compositions. Many of the 56 European sites covered here enjoy legendary reputations among winemakers 147

and connoisseurs. Some, such as Achleiten, Heiligenstein, and both the Alsace and Rheingau Schlossbergs, have been planted continuously to vines for centuries. In other cases, vines are relative newcomers to the site, or viticulture has been interrupted there for long periods, sometimes owing to climatic change, but more often to economic vicissitudes. Just as oil from shale is profitable only when the price of oil is relatively high, so also the price of wine must exceed certain thresholds to make viticulture profitable in hard-to-work and low-yielding sites. Ehrenfels, in the Kremstal, is a good example, abandoned after World War II and not redeveloped until the 1990s. Many legendary European Riesling sites have been “classified” as vineyardclassification schemes have been devised for various countries and regions, sometimes with official sponsorship and recognition, sometimes privately (see pages 83, 85, 89, and 102 and references in the following text to the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée [AOC] Grand Cru in Alsace, Grosse Lage and Erste Lage in Germany, and ıötw in Austria). Not all the European sites described in the following pages are either famous or classified, however. Traditionally, the reputation of vineyards in northern Europe has depended heavily on their relative warmth; hence the premium attached to perfect southern exposures, to hillsides, and to elevations that are not too high. But when the effect of rising temperatures on viticultural suitability is considered, especially since around 1970, some vineyards that were conventionally not included in lists of top sites may now produce wines as good as those with eminent reputations. It also happens that soil types not traditionally associated with structured and long-lasting wines, such as sandy alluvial soils, can make Rieslings of great varietal typicity and purity; observers and insiders may disagree on whether such wines are as good as wines from shale or crystalline rock, but they are absolutely interesting comparatively. Add to this that classifications, as they stand today in Riesling-friendly regions across Europe, must be regarded as works in progress

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at best. In most German and Austrian areas except the Rheingau, such schemes have so far been driven by membership organizations of winegrowers, privileging the sites that members work while excluding others. And more than 35 years after vineyard classification began in Alsace, anomalies abound. Not least is the excessively generous delimitation of many sites and the provisional agreement—by the Alsatian wine interprofession (CIVA) and the national wine appellation agency (INAO)— since 2013 to “supplement” the grand cru designation with premier cru and with non-cru rubrics for certain villages and varieties. The list of sites in the following pages includes some European vineyards that are neither historically legendary nor classified. The 33 North American sites in part II are a different matter altogether. Few of these have been used for viticulture for more than a handful of decades, and some for much less. This difference ref lects the much shorter history of viticulture, especially vinifera-based viticulture, in North America, despite its stunning growth since the 1970s. With very few exceptions, North American vineyards have short track records compared to European avatars, and those track records usually are confined to a single producer. Most American vineyards are what would be called monopoles in Europe; that is, they are wholly owned by a single producer. Producing vines are also usually much younger on average in North American vineyards than in Europe, although Flurbereinigung in many German regions has tempered this difference, as has new vineyard development in northeastern Italy. Finally, there has been no effort in North America so far to classify vineyards qualitatively, whether for Riesling or for any other variety, although something roughly analogous happens indirectly when vineyarddesignated wines are scored by critics. Given the wide geographical distribution of this book’s sites, differences of circumstance among European regions, and the historical gulf between Europe and North America, description without qualitative evaluation is the

most useful approach. Each site profile covers the site’s physical properties and proximities, planting configurations, plant material, viticultural practices, harvest protocols, and, of course, the insights and sensitivities of the remarkable men and women who farm these sites and make wine from them. Each site profile also includes a description of some dry Rieslings made from its grapes, always tasted across several vintages, and, where possible, describes wines made from that site by more than one producer. Although some mysteries associated with terroir are gradually being explained (see chapter 2 for a summary of what is now known), how site imprints on wine is still only partially understood. I am content for now to be descriptive about differences; to celebrate them, for they are what makes very good wines interesting; and to be tantalized by similarities among sites far removed from one another. Qualitative

ranking can be left for another day. The 89 sites profiled in the following pages are not a list of the “best” Riesling sites or even a list of personal favorites. Every one has, however, produced at least a few vintages of very good dry Riesling in the hands of at least one maker or, in some cases, many vintages of such wine from many makers. Taken together, these sites constitute a good picture of the present state of the art. Specific information about soils, weather, planting history, clonal selections, and harvest dates for individual vineyards in the profiles that follow generally is not sourced via direct citation. Most of it has come from the winegrowers who work with the sites, who were also usually my guides when I visited. In some cases additional information has been available from other experts: academic specialists in relevant disciplines, local historians, geologists with a special interest in viticulture, and climatologists.

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RHINE BASIN Alsace Altenberg and Thalberg Bergbieten, Bas-Rhin

The Altenberg vineyard occupies the south face of a geologically “old” hill that separates the villages of Traenheim and Bergbieten, just west of the N4 highway and about 10 kilometers from the north end of the Alsatian Route des Vins. The hill is isolated and endowed with a unique microclimate. Not itself part of the Vosges foothills, but surrounded by them on three sides and shielded on the remaining (east) side by the Scharrachberg, the Altenberg is simultaneously protected from marine storms of occidental origin and from erratically squally weather that sometimes arises in the Rhine Valley. In its special bowl, the site receives limited rainfall, enjoys good air circulation but only light wind, and benefits from sun exposure throughout the day, from sunrise to sunset. This configuration also means that it is not surrounded entirely by other vineyards, but also by orchards, especially cherry, and an assortment of field crops, ensuring a heterogeneous ecosystem. The Altenberg vineyard itself is a roughly triangular parcel suspended, as it were, from a hilltop water tower in its northwest corner; the hypotenuse of the triangle jogs northeastsouthwest across the bottom of a south- and southeast-facing hillside that slopes gently from about 265 meters above sea level at the top to 215 meters at the base. The perimeter encloses 29 hectares of sedimentary calcareous clay soil that was once seabed, now uplifted and studded with bits of gypsum and quartz. Local winemakers think the gypsum may be a key element in Altenberg’s terroir, giving its wines a distinctive saline quality. They also observe that while the site is slow to warm up in the spring, the soil’s substantial content of clay and gypsum retains heat nicely in the second half of the growing season, and enough moisture to keep the vines healthy even through very dry summers. The top of the vineyard is nearly flat,

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testifying to a long history of erosion, and most of the hillside is a fairly even slope, if slightly steeper at a few spots in the center of the vineyard. This, according to some winemakers, working in combination with the relatively low overall altitude and the absence of forest at the top of the hill, contributes to slow and even ripening. It also helps that soils are relatively homogeneous across the entire site, if a bit shallower where the slope is more pronounced. Most parcels can be picked in a single pass, although a few growers find enough difference of maturity between the steeper and less steep portions of certain rows that they elect to pick these portions on different days. Forty percent of Altenburg is currently planted to Riesling, and the site is regarded first and foremost as a Riesling terroir; another 40 percent is planted to Gewurztraminer. Pinot Gris and Muscat were once important here, but little of either now remains. Altenberg wines are marketed by the giant négociant firm of Arthur Metz, based in Marlenheim, by the Cave coopérative vinicole de Traenheim, and by six estates. The two benchmark estates among them are also the ones that combined forces, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, to create the specifications and the application that established Altenberg de Bergbieten (not to be confused with either Altenberg de Bergheim or Altenberg de Wolxheim) as a grand cru in 1983: Domaine Frédéric Mochel, of Traenheim, and Domaine Roland Schmitt, which is the only winery that now remains in the village of Bergbieten (see profiles of both below). The classification raised eyebrows back in 1983, when the reputation of Alsace depended almost entirely on vineyards closer to Colmar than to Strasbourg. Today the local management group for the appellation, composed of representatives of its growers and producers, is notably active, considering requirements that exceed those that apply to all Alsatian grands crus, including the complete elimination, over time, of Pinot Gris and a ceiling of 10 g/L of residual sugar in Altenberg Riesling.

Overall, Altenberg Rieslings are high-acid wines with elegant structures and great balance, a salty-savory edge, a white inf lection of fruit, and long, persistent minerality. Domaine Frédéric Mochel farms multiple blocks in the Altenberg, mostly in the center of the vineyard, treated at harvest and in the cellar as if they were five discrete parcels, that aggregate to about 3 hectares of Riesling. Their vines are planted in north-south rows in line with the slope, and the cover crop is tilled between every second row to manage vine vigor. The oldest of Mochel’s vines were planted in 1955 at the top of the vineyard adjacent to the water tower, and the youngest in 2000, also near the vineyard’s top edge. For the new planting, the scion material is CTPS 49 on 161–49 rootstock. However, fruit from the youngest vines is not yet used in the estate’s Altenberg-designated wine; Guillaume Mochel, the vigneron, thinks these vines need a few more years to “settle in” before they can produce consistent results from year to year. Domaine Roland Schmitt also farms multiple Riesling parcels in Altenberg, mostly in the southwestern quadrant of the vineyard, which were planted variously in 1980, 1986, and 1997. There are also two small parcels on the vineyard’s west edge, near the top of the hill, planted in about 1970. Schmitt began a transition to organic farming in 2004 and has been fully organic since 2010. Since 1985, Mochel has made two Rieslings in most years from Altenberg: a straight grand cru and an old-vines bottling called Cuvée Henriette from the parcel planted in 1955. (In problematic vintages such as 2006, only the straight Altenberg is made.) Tasted in 2012, the 2010 Cuvée Henriette was an elegant, sober, whitefruited, and white-f lowered wine, bright and taut, with long, persistent minerality, a saline edge, and a midpalate filled with pear. Whitefruit and f lower aromas, especially pear, were front and center in the 2009 and 2008 wines, too, superimposed on pepper, mint, and notes of petrol. In older vintages, herbal elements occupied more of the wines’ organoleptic space. In these wines, the remaining fruit-based com-

ponent was expressed primarily as pear, white peach, and apple skins. The Altenberg site seems to hold acid nicely, even in warm years; the seven Henriettes I tasted in 2012 rarely measured less than 8 g/L of acid, except in 2007 and 2005, which both clocked in at 7.2 g/L. These are enormously attractive wines; not hedonistic, perhaps, but utterly rewarding. I have had less experience with older vintages of Roland Schmitt’s Altenberg Rieslings, since the estate retains very little wine for its library. However, the 2011 and 2010 Altenbergs, also tasted in 2012, demonstrated more aromatic drama than Mochel’s and had some complex spiciness involving ginger, mint, and pepper, but they were otherwise reassuringly similar. By agreement among the vintners of Bergbieten, Westhoffen, Traenheim, and Balbronn, an array of mostly noncontiguous vineyards, some of which abut the west edge of Altenberg, have been designated Glintzberg. Although the Glintzberg moniker cross-references to specific sites that aggregate to a total surface larger than Altenberg, the point of the name is to designate wines from clay marl soils that show regional typicity rather than the imprint of any specific terroir. However, one piece of Glintzberg, on the upper west edge of the Altenberg, has received special attention from the Schmitt estate. This is the lieu-dit called Thalberg, barely 0.6 hectare, planted to 40-year-old vines. Bruno Schmitt, the estate’s marketing director, says that Thalberg always produced better wine than did the rest of the estate’s Glintzberg sites, albeit less rich, intense, and mineral ones than Altenberg. In 2007, the estate began to bottle Thalberg separately. It is a rewarding decision for those fortunate enough to snare a bottle: a herbal-smoky signature reminiscent of tobacco gives way at midpalate to long, palate-cleansing minerality.

D OMAINE FRE´DE´RIC M OCHEL 67310 Traenheim

Mochels have lived in Traenheim since at least 1669, functioning for many generations as

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subsistence farmers but also making wine, which was initially sold in bulk to négociants. Guillaume Mochel is the present vigneron; his grandfather commenced estate-bottling after World War II, and his father, Frédéric, working with Roland Schmitt of Bergbieten, was responsible for the promotion of Altenberg to Alsace grand cru status in 1983. Guillaume assumed the reins in 2001 after years of work at his father’s side, training in enology at the Centre de Formation Professionnelle in Rouffach, and stints at Pojer e Sandri, an innovative and award-winning house in Italy’s Trentino focused primarily on aromatic white wines, and at Sherwood Estate in Waipara, New Zealand. About half of all Mochel’s vines lie within the Altenberg and the rest in Traenheim. An astonishing 70 percent of production is sold directly to individual customers. An experienced group of local pickers, some of whom have worked for the estate for 30 years, harvest fruit manually. Riesling grapes are whole-cluster pressed and the new juice is settled for 15 to 20 hours without filtration, though bentonite is added as necessary to help precipitate proteins. A new cellar, finished in 2010 and fitted with small stainless-steel tanks holding between 10 and 30 hectoliters, gives the estate a choice among new stainless and wellused foudres (large wood tanks); decisions generally follow logistical considerations. Fermentations rely on indigenous yeast except for those destined to make crémant or late-harvest cuvées; reluctant fermentations can be started or restarted with leaven created from a small quantity of grapes and naturally occurring yeast, called a pied-de-cuve. Fermentation temperatures are controlled to ensure that the process is not rushed, and the new wines are racked after the primary fermentation is complete. Since the objective is dry, food-friendly wines, interventions to arrest a fermentation are very rare; nonetheless, the estate’s reliance on natural yeast, and the unavoidability of botrytis in some vintages, means that some lots do finish off-dry, and some cuvées (the classic Riesling in 2010 and the Henriette in 2009, for example)

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end up with slightly more than 10 g/L of residual sugar. After sterile filtration, the AOC Alsace Riesling is usually bottled in March after the vintage, but most bottling takes place much later, though always before the following vintage.

D OMAINE R OL AND S CHMIT T 67310 Bergbieten

Until the generation that came of age after World War II, the Schmitt family of Bergbieten, like many others, pursued subsistence farming, raising a bit of everything from vegetables to pigs and chickens and even a cow, plus the purple plums the Alsatians call quetsch and vines. In the 1970s, Roland Schmitt specialized, creating one of the most respected family wine estates in the Bas-Rhin. After Schmitt’s untimely death in 1993, his widow, AnneMarie, Neapolitan by birth but Alsatian by adoption, took over all aspects of the family business, from tending vines to marketing the finished (and estate-bottled) wines. In 1999, Julien, the younger of the couple’s two sons, fresh from formal training in viticulture and enology at the Lycée viticole in Rouffach, joined the business, gradually assuming primary responsibility for both vines and vinifications. Their second son, Bruno, armed with a degree in history, followed in 2002, focusing his attention on sales to local restaurants and export accounts. The domaine’s vineyard holdings are just in excess of 7 hectares, devoted mostly to Riesling and Gewurztraminer and to lesser quantities of Muscat, Sylvaner, and all three Pinots. Although the estate makes fine lateharvest wines, the balance of its portfolio has remained loyal to genuinely dry wines, even through the heady days of creeping residual sugar in the 1990s. Riesling grapes are pressed as whole clusters, slowly and gently, and sulfur dioxide is added at the press. Press cycles for AOC wines generally last about five hours; Altenberg wines get six to seven hours. The juice is normally set-

tled without additives for as long as 48 hours (additives are used in very humid years such as 2006, when it was impossible to avoid rot and botrytis). Fermentations rely on indigenous yeast, occasionally assisted with a pied-decuve, and are temperature-controlled to remain under 22°C. In pursuit of finished wines that are as dry as possible, Schmitt allows fermentations to continue until Christmas without racking. After a first racking, says Bruno Schmitt, the wines are kept “as long as possible” on “as much fine lees as possible”—6 to 10 months for AOC wines and 8 to 10 months for Altenberg wines—but every tank is checked twice daily, and additional rackings are done if reduction is detected. Schmitt says that his father “hated malolactic fermentation and bought powders to interdict it.” But when all the estate’s 2007 Rieslings were found to have spontaneously undergone malolactic conversion without objectionable results, malolactic fermentations were thereafter permitted, though not encouraged. Finished wines are filtered with diatomaceous earth and sterile pads, and they are bottled in July after the vintage.

Engelberg Dahlenheim and Scharrachbergheim, Bas-Rhin

The hill called Scharrachberg sits 18 kilometers due west of downtown Strasbourg, about halfway between the Rhine and the crest of the Vosges Mountains. The village of Dahlenheim clings to its east slope and Scharrachbergheim to its north, while the Mossig, a tributary of the Bruche, flows south along its west flank. A 300meter outcropping of limestone with striking views from its summit across much of northern Alsace, the Scharrachberg has long been an important regional source of building materials, both stone and lime, quarried mostly from the hill’s southern flank, whence the limestone is easily accessible. Engelberg, the third most northerly of Alsace’s grands crus, also occupies part of the Scharrachberg’s south face, specifi-

cally a 15-hectare swath parallel to the D118 road, between the 250-meter contour and the summit, divided into an eastern and a western section by the Engelgrube, a now-abandoned quarry. Engelberg’s topsoil is a relatively thin layer of calcareous clay strewn with white chunks and pebbles and even veins of sand; the subsoil is fissured limestone. The slope is steep enough that much of Engelberg is farmed as terraces, but vine rows planted in line with the slope (and therefore oriented north-south) exist on some parts of the site. The southern exposure gives Engelberg abundant sunshine dawn to dusk throughout the growing season, while cool nights resulting from the hill’s altitude (the top is more than 300 meters above sea level) mean that it is picked later than vineyards closer to the D118 road and those farther south and east. The slope is surrounded by a diversity of agricultural activity, including grains and even a few cattle, and by woodlands, so natural predators keep insect pressure low. Most of Engelberg is farmed by a handful of vignerons, at least two of whom are domiciled in Dahlenheim, and by growers contracted to the Cave du roi Dagobert, a Traenheim-based cooperative. Gewurztraminer was the main variety grown in Engelberg until quite recently, but Riesling has been increasingly planted since about 1990, while Pinot Gris, important earlier in the 20th century, is now disappearing. Domaine Pfister (see below), domiciled in Dahlenheim, tends 10 hectares in Engelberg, of which 0.75 hectare is Riesling, planted in 1990. The scion material is CTPS 49 on SO4 rootstock. The vines are located on two adjacent terraces, one 10 meters above the other, just east of the abandoned quarry. Pfister’s practice is to cultivate every other alley between vine rows while leaving a cover crop of mustards, turnips, and legumes intact between the other rows. This mixture of cover-crop plants actually substitutes for cultivation: since each species has a different root structure, the combination mimics the effect of tilling. And when the earth is tilled in the spring and fall, the nitrogen-rich plant mixture becomes green fertilizer for the soil. Some

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green harvesting at veraison (the point, usually in midsummer, when green berries acquire mature colors) limits yields to about 50 hectoliters per hectare, which is about 10 percent less than the maximum permitted for Alsatian grands crus. Vine spacing is adapted to the dimensions of each terrace but averages 1.5 meters between rows and 1.1 meters between vines. There is no use of chemical fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides, or copper; only elemental sulfur and “phytopharmaceutical molecules,” per the domaine, are used as a fungicide. Pfister’s Engelberg Rieslings are extremely elegant, sometimes white- and sometimes yellow-fruited wines, with minty and peppery spiciness, the racy minerality that comes from limestone, and an almost lacy structure, especially in cooler vintages. Tasted in 2012, the 2009 was serious and concentrated, with the hints of orange marmalade and apricot that often show up here in warm, “solar” vintages; it was spicy and minty on its long finish, with just 3 g/L of residual sugar. The 2008, from a cooler vintage, was impressively fresh, long, dry, and almost crisp with minerality, and was minty again on the finish. The 2005 and 2002 vintages showed some evolution: faint notes of butterscotch, honey, and even a hint of caramel in the case of the 2002, overlaid impressions of pepper, mint, lemon zest, and rosemary. Robust acidity and minerality remained strong despite the evolution. Both vintages were exceptionally flattering and impressive.

D OMAINE P FIS TER 67310 Dahlenheim

The Pfister family has farmed vines, grains, and vegetables around Dahlenheim since the late 18th century. Alfred Pfister (b. 1911), the family’s sixth-generation vigneron, was the first to finish and bottle his own wines, in the 1960s; his son André (b. 1951) was the first to manage yields by green harvesting, in the superabundant vintage of 1982. It was also André who consolidated the family’s holdings in the best

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local terroirs, invested seriously in cellar equipment, and committed the estate to careful and sustainable farming. Mélanie Pfister (b. 1981), the middle of André and his wife’s, MarieAnne, three daughters, joined her father both in the vineyard and the cellar in 2006, armed with exceptional credentials. The eighth generation and the first vigneronne in an unbroken line of vignerons, Mélanie was trained at the École nationale supérieure des sciences agronomiques de Bordeaux (diplôme d’ingénieur en agronomie), the Institut universitaire de la vigne et du vin in Dijon (diplôme national d’oenologue), and the Forschungsanstalt Geisenheim, now Geisenheim University. She also worked stages at some of France’s most luminary estates, including Zind-Humbrecht, in Turckheim; MéoCamuzet, in Vosne-Romanée; Cheval Blanc and Yquem, in the Bordelais; and at Craggy Range, in New Zealand. In 2012, the estate consisted of 10 planted hectares, of which 3 are Riesling. There is also Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Muscat, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir. In the impressive new multilevel, temperature-controlled cellar, built in 2010, stainless steel has entirely replaced wooden vessels, except for the barriques used to raise Pinot Noir. In addition to the f lagship Engelberg Riesling, Pfister makes a second dry cuvée, called Silberberg until 2010 and Riesling Tradition since 2011, from five parcels in the Silberberg vineyard, southwest of Dahlenheim. Silberberg covers a fairly large hillside surface, roughly crescent-shaped, variously exposed from southeast to southwest, lower in elevation than Engelberg and with somewhat heaver soils. In 2009, growers with holdings in Silberberg drafted new specifications for Silberberg, with a view to restricting the land surface entitled to use the Silberberg name to the portion of the existing vineyard that is labeled as Silberberg on Dahlenheim’s official cadastral map. Because the Pfister parcels are scattered and only some would be entitled to the name if the new specifications were approved, the Pfisters decided to abandon use of the Silberberg name

entirely. Hence the name change that became effective with the 2011 vintage. Ripening is carefully monitored in the weeks before harvest begins, and it is usually staggered and sometimes discontinuous. In 2007, for example, grapes were picked just one day each week over a three-week period. Grapes are sorted, sometimes rigorously, around a long, angled sorting table that is carried into the vineyard; the harvest team is deployed around the table, or to pick fruit, in numbers that vary from hour to hour as a function of the grapes’ condition. Clean fruit means more pickers and fewer sorters, but pickers are retasked to sort whenever the table needs more attention than the vines. On the crushpad, whole clusters are pressed over a four- to fivehour period in a pneumatic press; the juice then runs by gravity into cooling tanks, where it is cold-settled for 24 hours. Since 2011, the pneumatic presses in Pfister’s cellars have been equipped with rechilling jackets; new juice now leaves the press cold, and fermentations usually begin spontaneously with naturally occurring yeasts as the cold juice rewarms. Pfister’s commitment to picking ripe (but still early enough to retain plenty of acid and minimize selfarrested fermentations) and its careful temperature control in each fermenter are usually sufficient to ensure that the Rieslings finish dry. But the estate’s commitment to a genuinely dry style for Riesling—firm since the 1960s—is serious, and selected yeast is added if it is necessary. Cooler, “classic” vintages naturally favor the estate’s dry style: in 2008 and 2005, the Engelberg Riesling finished naturally with less than 5 g/L of residual sugar. In 2009, a much warmer vintage, Pfister chose to pick Riesling, not last as usual, but before Gewurztraminer, and thus even this warm vintage of Riesling fermented naturally to just 3 g/L of residual sugar. After fermentation, the new wines are racked to eliminate the gross lees but are left on their fine lees for several months before being filtered with diatomaceous earth in late spring following the vintage. Bottling is done just prior to the following harvest.

Owing to a combination of careful and sustainable viticultural practices, impressive investment in a state-of-the-art cellar, and the widely sourced expertise that Mélanie Pfister has brought to the domain from her formal and internship training, Pfister has emerged rather quickly as a top producer in the Bas-Rhin. It is also probably fair to credit the Pfisters substantially for the revolution of Engelberg’s reputation, which was seriously tarnished at the beginning of the 1990s (see Stevenson 1993).

Geisberg, Osterberg, and Kirchberg de Ribeauvillé Haut-Rhin

Ribeauvillé, a picturesque town of 5,000 still partially surrounded by its medieval walls and hugely popular with tourists, lies between the Strengbach, one of many streams arising on the east side of the Vosges that eventually turn into tributaries of the Ill and the Rhine, and the base of a transverse pre-Vosgian ridge that separates the town from Thannenkirch and Bergheim. Ribeauvillé’s three grand cru vineyards occupy approximately 45 hectares on the south and southeast faces of this ridge, between the 250- and 350-meter contours. Geologically, the three sites are relatively similar: their fertile, marly, argillitic topsoil is mixed with water-washed and fragmented rock and sometimes bits of gypsum, and is underlain with marl of various ages, layered irregularly with shell-based limestone and the sandstone known locally as grès des Vosges. Topsoil depth is about 0.5 meter above the 320-meter contour, a bit more at midslope, and 1 to 1.5 meters toward the base of the hill. The three vineyards are quite differently exposed, however. Kirchberg, the westernmost of the trio, faces south and southwest, catching almost the full force of afternoon sun; Osterberg, the largest, faces east and southeast, exposed to full sun during the cooler part of the day. Geisberg, shaped like a half-moon, nestles between the two, facing due south immediately above the walls and roofs of

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Ribeauvillé. The smallest of the three, Geisberg is also the most homogeneous in terms of soil, slope, and exposure. Steep almost to its top, it is mostly terraced, but each terrace is a minislope of its own, planted in line and not across the slope. Seen from the town below, Geisberg gives the impression of a patchwork quilt hung across the face of the hill. The midslope portions of Kirchberg and Osterberg are almost as steep as Geisberg, though only occasionally terraced, but in these vineyards the slope is less even and is less acute at the top, where, for 100 or so meters, the two abut. In fact, all three crus come together at the top of the hill, since an arm of Kirchberg wraps over the hilltop east of Geisberg to share a bit of boundary with Osterberg. When the first wave of Alsatian grands crus was being delimited in the 1970s, many local vintners proposed forging a single grand cru from these three lieux-dits. François Kientzler and Jean-Baptiste Faller, who felt strongly about their separate identities, are due most of the credit that all three survived independently. All but a few fractions of a hectare of Geisberg is now planted to Riesling, which gives wines of breed, finesse, elegant minerality, and great structure; fine examples are made by Kientzler, Faller, and Maison F. E. Trimbach. As would be expected from the vineyards’ differing exposures, Osterberg Rieslings show a bit less intensity than their Geisberg cousins and often are white-fruited in their youth, while conversely, Rieslings from Kirchberg express more power and depth but have less finesse and can be slower to show optimally. Osterberg Rieslings are more approachable in their youth. André Kientzler (see below), François’s son, owns and farms 1.44 hectares in Geisberg, in 20 parcels distributed across the cru. The lowest is at the very bottom, adjacent to his mother’s house on the edge of Ribeauvillé, which was built when she and her husband retired. The highest is above the 330-meter contour. Internally, the estate refers to the lowest parcel as the première étage (first floor) of Geisberg. Midslope parcels are called les petits carrés (little squares) because their rows, in line with the slope, are

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short, making each parcel appear relatively square. The troisième étage is higher-elevation parcels, and for this reason a bit less steep, and rows here are longer and appear rectangular from a distance. The first-floor and some thirdf loor parcels are usually picked and vinified together, as are most of the petits carrés. In all parcels, vine rows are approximately 1.4 meters apart, oriented as close as possible to northsouth for consistency with the slope, and a bit less than 1 meter is left between individual vines in each row. The estate encourages a cover crop to minimize erosion, and it cultivates alternate alleys and uses organic farming techniques. On average, the vines are more than 60 years old, and the parcels are farmed to maintain that average as much as possible. This means that the estate replaces some individual failing vines, using scion material from other vines in the same vineyard. The estate has a strong preference for in-line rows, even in vineyard parcels that have been exploited as terraces, with walls separating each from the next, for reasons of “beauty” and, of course, sun exposure: on a south-facing slope such as Geisberg, in-line rows run north-south, so there is an almost perfect distribution of sunlight on both sides of each vine. No one who has spent time in the vineyard can doubt the great steepness of Geisberg, or the extreme difficulty of farming the site. André Kientzler is fond of telling a story in which one of his importers complained that the price Kientzler asked for Geisberg wines was too high. After climbing the slope, clutching ropes and vine stakes to avoid falling, he changed his mind, assuring Kientzler that the price asked was, after all, entirely reasonable. At 24.6 hectares, Osterberg is nearly three times the size of Geisberg and produces almost twice as much Riesling. Unlike Geisberg, Osterberg also contains considerable surface devoted to both Gewurztraminer and Pinot Gris. Unsurprisingly, a larger assortment of vineyard-designated Osterberg Rieslings are made and marketed than Geisbergs; Domaine Louis Sipp, Sipp-Mack, and Mittnacht Frères (see page 176) make Osterberg Rieslings, as does Ribeauvillé’s

cooperative, the Cave de Ribeauvillé. Kientzler’s Osterberg Rieslings are only slightly less impressive than his Geisberg bottlings. The Osterbergs are powerful, with iron-fisted minerality, but just a bit less intense. While they share the Geisbergs’ elegance, they show it less prominently. Eight vintages of Kientzler Geisberg, tasted in 2012, gave excellent insight into the properties of this exceptional cru. Structurally, all vintages showed fine tension, great strength, and enormous length, with just enough fat to be noticeable at midpalate but not enough to interfere with a long, pure, dry finish. The 2010, 2005, 1995, and 1990 showed manifestations of lemon, sometimes as peel, sometimes as lemon verbena, and finally as a hint of lemon custard in the oldest wine. Many vintages were also floral, with hints of white pepper, or lightly herbal, tending toward mint or bay laurel. The natural distinction between warmer and cooler vintages (between 2009 and 2010, for example) tended to disappear with time in bottle. Alcohols varied between 12.6° (in 2000) and 14° (2010), and total acid between 9.9 g/L (2010) and 6.5 g/L (1990 and 2000). The driest wine contained 2.4 g/L of residual sugar (2009). The highest residual sugar came in 2008 (7.5 g/L)—one lot of this wine, still fermenting in August 2009, was finally stopped by racking— but with 8.6 g/L of acid, even this vintage finished long, dry, and elegant. The 2005, bright, taut, linden leaf–f lavored, and still tightly wound, was a standout in an amazing series. Domaine F. E. Trimbach (see page 177) uses its holdings in Geisberg and Osterberg to create its distinguished Cuvée Frédéric Emile, drawing from each in almost equal shares since 1996. Trimbach’s Geisberg parcels are at the bottom of the vineyard, immediately above its cellars, where 0.67 hectare bounded by three paths climbs the hill, plus an upslope parcel that Trimbach purchased from the Couvent des Soeurs de la Divine Providence in 1989. The Osterberg holdings include one 1.5-hectare parcel adjacent to Trimbach’s parcels on the east edge of Geisberg, and a 0.5-hectare parcel about 100 meters farther east. Although the cuvée, which has been made since

1967, when it succeeded another called Grande Reserve, is neither pure Geisberg nor pure Osterberg but a blend of the two, it seems to express properties of both sites with an exuberance neither site shows by itself. Five vintages (2009, 2008, 2005, 1998, and 1989), tasted in 2014, were cases in point. The 2009 was a veritable festival of floral aromas, with anise, ginger, and white-yellow fruit underlain with minerality from the combination of calcareous clay and sandstone soils. Even brighter, if also tighter, the 2008 was a hedonistic explosion of fruit, mint, and salinity. The three older vintages showed evolution. The 2005 displayed more mouthweight and even a bit of midpalate fat, along with orange blossom, depth, and harmony. The beautiful and crystalline 1998 showed a concerto of minerality and freshness strewn with orange and lemon peel, dried peat, nutshells, and anise, just tinged with botrytis. Smoke, bacon, herbs, mint, walnuts, coconut, and honey appeared in the 1989, building toward a flatteringly mature, dry finish reminiscent of aged fino at its best but alive with the magic of Riesling.

D OMAINE A NDRE´ K IENT ZLER 68150 Ribeauvillé

Kientzlers have been farming grapes near Ribeauvillé since before the French Revolution, but until the 1970s the family were also grocers, and the current wine-production facility, a modern building surrounded by vines on the road between Ribeauvillé and Bergheim, was not built until 1973. The Kientzlers farm all the grapes they use and make only about 2,000 cases per year, of which 25 percent are Riesling. Thierry, born in 1973, is the current winemaker and viticulturist, but his father, André, and his brother are active participants in the business, and all are involved with blending decisions, which they take very seriously. Thierry earned a brevet de téchnicien supérieur (BTS) in viticulture and enology from the Centre de formation professionnelle et de promotion agricole at Blanquefort (Bordeaux) in 1995 and worked

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internships at Villiera Wines in Stellenbosch (South Africa) in 1997 and at Dry River in Martinborough (New Zealand) in 1999. A core principle of Kientzler winemaking is to ferment as many separate lots as possible and to blend these lots at the latest possible moment. From the estate’s Geisberg parcels, there are typically four or five fermentation lots. Grapes are slowly pressed as whole clusters in manually operated pneumatic presses. The juice is immediately chilled to between 12°C and 14°C and settled for 12 to 24 hours without interventions. In vintages where grapes are in less than perfect condition, a second settling may be performed a few hours after the first. Both stainless-steel tanks and foudres are used for fermentation, which may last from one to five months, although small vintages may be made entirely in stainless. Although an occasional lot is not yeasted, the standard protocol here is to rely on selected yeasts. Thierry Kientzler finds that these yeasts have less appetite for nitrogen than do naturally occurring yeasts from his vineyards and cellar, resulting in fewer stuck fermentations. Since the house style is to make Rieslings that are as dry as possible, the Kientzlers place a premium on fermentations that finish reliably. “I never forbid myself anything,” says Thierry, “but you have fewer options if your main objective is to make genuinely dry wines.” When the primary fermentation has finished, the new wine is not racked immediately but rests on the fine lees until it is filtered with diatomaceous earth sometime between March and May after the vintage. Then it is returned to tank and remains there until bottling, which can be done as early as July after the vintage or as late as September. Vineyard-designated Rieslings from Geisberg and Osterberg are made in every vintage, along with a “classic” Riesling from estate vineyards in Ribeauvillé and Hunawihr and a Réserve Particulière made from vines more than 50 years old, plus declassified lots from Geisberg or Osterberg. In vintages when quantity suffices, and when it is possible to get a “perfectly” dry wine (meaning less than 4 g/L of residual sugar) from Geisberg and Osterberg, Kientzler may

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also make a small amount of Cuvée François Alphonse, named for Thierry Kientzler’s grandfather, great-grandfather, and great-great-grandfather. Vendange Tardive and SGN Rieslings are also made when conditions permit. Information about the history of Domaine F. E. Trimbach, and its winemaking, is found on page 177.

Grafenreben de Zellenberg Haut-Rhin

Midway between Beblenheim and Hunawihr, the picturesque village of Zellenberg, once a castle but now devoted almost entirely to wine, sits off and above the D1B road atop an anomalous hill made of especially resistant calcareous limestone. While the grand cru Froehn vineyard, known almost exclusively for rich, fruitdriven Gewurztraminer and Pinot Gris, wraps the south, southeast, and east flanks of the hill, there are Riesling-friendly terroirs northeast of Zellenberg, especially Grafenreben, a roughly rectangular lieu-dit covering approximately 15 hectares, bounded on the west by the route du Vin and on the south by the adjacent lieux-dits of Rittenreben and Kirchengueter. Geologically, Grafenreben is an extension of the east-west ridge that begins with the Schoenenbourg vineyard overlooking Riquewihr and continues, as the ridge becomes a bit f latter, across Kronenbourg toward Zellenberg. Grafenreben itself is a shelf of land tilted very slightly to the southeast and the Rhine, creased by sandy draws that are usually dry in midsummer, between the 230- and 200-meter contours. The topsoil is fairly generous calcareous clay laced with the f lat, water-washed stones called galets calcaire oligocène in French, which, as one would expect, are more generously distributed at higher elevations, while clay is more plentiful downslope. Row orientations vary from parcel to parcel, sometimes approximating northsouth but more often following the gentle slope, and the parcel boundaries are often deliberately irregular to allow several neighbors access to a

natural water source. The site gives Rieslings with exuberant fruit-dominated f lavors, sometimes suggestive of peach and apricot, that are more about intensity than finesse. They are large-framed but not massive wines, with round edges, alive with freshness, concentration, and minerality, and sometimes finish with a saline edge. Many growers are contracted to the Cave coopérative vinicole Beblenheim, which has made a site-designated Grafenreben Riesling since 2006, but the benchmark editions come from Marc Tempé in Zellenberg and Domaine Bott-Geyl in Beblenheim (see below). Jean-Christophe Bott farms two small parcels of Riesling in Grafenreben. The first is a 0.3-hectare triangular parcel on the west side of the lieu-dit, just northeast of the Hôtel au Riesling, fronting on a tertiary road called the Berheimerweg. The second, quite nearby, is a 0.28-hectare rectangular parcel, closer to the center of the lieu-dit. Both are on the higher side of Grafenreben, where the clay-loam soils are well laced with rock. The average age of vines across the two parcels is 30 years, and the scion material is massale selections on 161–49 rootstock. The vines are laid out in rows about 1.4 meters apart, with 1.1 meters between vines, for a overall density of 5,800 vines per hectare. In 2012, I tasted the 2008 and 1998 vintages of Grafenreben at the estate; the following spring, I was able to taste the 2002 and 2000 vintages during a visit to Paris. All four wines testified to Grafenreben’s vocation for intensity and midpalate roundness, plus an avalanche of flavors and a long mineral finish. Still young, the 2008 was awash in white peach and pear highlighted with dried flowers and a saline finish. The 2000, perhaps the loveliest of the four and a genuinely impressive wine, its color just beginning to turn from straw to pale gold, offered intense aromas of herbs, honey, and petrol; menthol, thyme, and white pepper on the palate; and a long, clean, elegant and firmly mineral finish. Marc Tempé, the best-known vintner domiciled in Zellenberg, farms two parcels in Grafenreben, both planted entirely to Riesling, with a combined surface of 0.3 hectare. Both have

picture-postcard views across the lieu-dit called Rittelreben to the Zellenberg hill. The older of the two was planted in the 1950s and the younger in 1977. The soils are quite similar to those in Bott’s parcels: about 60 to 100 centimeters of sand- and gravel-laced, lime-rich clay as topsoil, underlain with clay-limestone subsoil similar to that in neighboring Schoenenbourg. Tempé does not always vinify these parcels as a Grafenreben cuvée; in some vintages, the Grafenreben fruit joins grapes from Burgreben to make a Zellenberg cuvée. In 2012, I tasted the 2009, 2008, and 2005 vintages. The 2009, from a warm vintage, was the headiest of the three, at 14.6°, with a hefty 7.8 g/L of acid and 21 g/L of residual sugar. This was a long and spicy wine redolent of fennel and bright with a dry finish, but the substantial residual sugar was very noticeable at midpalate. The 2008 (13.5°, 6.5 g/L of acid, and 5.7 g/L of sugar) was gorgeous, with a finely chiseled structure and bright persona, then deeply flavored and very dry toward the finish, full of orange peel and a slight nuttiness. The 2005 showed much like the 2008. It was very slow to ferment, taking three years to finish, but was simultaneously rich and crisp, with orange peel and bright, spicy flavors.

D OMAINE B OT T-G E YL 68980 Beblenheim

Jean-Christophe Bott has been in charge of Domaine Bott-Geyl since 1993. The Bott in the domaine’s name is the Bott family of Ribeauvillé; Geyl is the Geyl family of Beblenheim. The families have been related since Jean-Christophe’s grandfather Paul Bott married Andrée Geyl, the daughter of vigneron Édouard Geyl (1873–1948) and Marth Hauth, at the end of the 19th century. The present estate was created when Jean-Christophe’s father, Édouard Bott (1930–2008), left the Bott family’s namesake wine business (Bott Frères) entirely to his older brother, Pierre, in 1958, setting out on his own in Beblenheim and eventually serving as the town’s

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mayor for 24 years. By the time Jean-Christophe, still in his 20s, assumed the reins at Bott-Geyl, he had already amassed impressive wine credentials: formal studies of both enology and viticulture, first at Rouffach and then at the Centre de formation professionnel et de promotion agricole at Macon-Davayé in Burgundy; tutelage from his iconic Alsatian neighbor Léonard Humbrecht; three months in 1991 at Henschke and at Rolf Binder’s Veritas Winery in South Australia’s Eden Valley; three months in 1992 at Koopmanskloof in Stellenbosch (South Africa); and, finally, a formative stage with Dominique Lafon at the Domaine des Comtes Lafon in Meursault. Initially intrigued by some of the largeframed, ripe wines he had discovered in the New World—wines he now describes as “Parkerian”—Bott found himself increasingly drawn to viticultural methods that favor the expression of terroir, to cellar practices that are not “excessively Cartesian” but leave a “little space for mystery,” and to serious wines made from physiologically ripe fruit that are nonetheless “delicate and elegant.” Bott places huge emphasis on careful, thoughtful, and sustainable viticulture; all of the estate’s 75 vineyard parcels, in seven communes, have been farmed biodynamically since 2002. Riesling is picked fully ripe (“when a few berries are just f lecked with violet”) and is whole-cluster pressed, very slowly, in cycles that last from 6 to 18 hours, with the longest cycles reserved for grapes from grand cru sites. The juice is settled without treatment or intervention for 12 hours to eliminate just the heaviest sediment, and fermentations are allowed to begin with naturally occurring yeast. Both stainless steel and wood are used in the BottGeyl cellar, but virtually all Riesling is fermented in 2,000- to 3,000-liter casks coopered from staves that were air-dried for three years. Bott likes fermentations that last through the winter into February or even March, and he is generally content to have each fermentation finish as dry or as sweet as it is naturally inclined to do. Sometimes he intervenes to stop a sluggish and listless fermentation that “drags

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on” without converting much additional sugar, chilling them and/or adding sulfur. Wines are left undisturbed on the fine lees until July or even September after the vintage, when they are racked, filtered, and bottled. Bott-Geyl wines are never fined, acidified, or treated with enzymes. All vineyard-designated bottlings of Riesling are marketed very late, with the driest wines placed on sale two years after the vintage, and botrytis-affected and late-harvest wines are held until their third or fourth anniversaries. The Riesling program consists of a blended, all-estate cuvée called Les Éléments that is made to showcase fruit rather than site; vineyarddesignated wines from three lieux-dits in Zellenberg (Burgreben, Grafenreben, and Kronenbourg, though Burgreben fruit is sometimes declassified into Les Éléments); and grand cru wines from Schoenenbourg, Mandelberg, Schlossberg, and Sporen. Burgreben and/or Grafenreben are usually the driest of the lieudit wines. Similarly, Schlossberg is usually Bott-Geyl’s driest grand cru Riesling, and Mandelberg is invariably the sweetest though also the highest in acid. The Schoenenbourg Rieslings, impressively earthy, are often the longest lived. Those from Sporen are massive wines, with good acidity and great depth of flavor. Recognizing that this variability can create consumer confusion but feeling strongly that fermentations ought not to be manipulated to meet stylistic targets, Bott-Geyl assigns an indice de sucrosité to each finished wine that is based on the balance of residual sugar to total acidity. While 1/9 will taste reliably dry to almost all palates, 2/9 generally indicates residual sugar above 9 g/L, unless the acid is exceptionally high. BottGeyl Rieslings are exceptionally serious wines made without artifice from carefully grown grapes and across a broad stylistic palette.

D OMAINE M ARC TEMPE´ 68340 Zellenberg

Marc Tempé and his wife, Anne-Marie, both Alsatian to the core and children of local grape

growers, set up their estate in 1993 on the bottom f loors of a 19th-century house on Zellenberg’s narrow, steep main street. Marc’s mother was born in nearby Kientzheim; his father worked at a box factory in Sigolsheim. The estate’s first vineyard parcels were inherited from the couple’s families, but they have since purchased a few, and the estate now farms a total of 30 small parcels with a combined total surface of 8 hectares in 5 communes, none of which is more than about 15 minutes from their cellar door. Tempé’s formative experience came from work making wines for a local cooperative; 11 years at the Institut national des appellations d’origine, much of it devoted to the delimitation of Alsace’s 25 first grands crus in the 1970s; and a long friendship with the legendary Léonard Humbrecht, the original champion of lower yields in Alsace and subsequently of biodynamics, both in the service of better quality. These days, Tempé is a passionate observer of his vines, a committed practitioner of biodynamic viticulture, and a genuine minimalist in his cellar, making wines like no other in Alsace. Tempé’s vines can look unkempt during the growing season, but everything done or not done in the vineyard is carefully considered, and grapes on his vines often taste ripe 10 or more days before the same can be said of a neighbor’s grapes just a few meters away. Vines are not hedged because (in the view of biodynamic practitioners) a tall vine is more likely to root deeply. The natural cover crop is not tilled or mowed in hot, dry years, so that the soil retains moisture and ripening is delayed, and grape clusters are sufficiently exposed to sunlight that the balance of acids in the fruit favors tartaric acid over malic acid. Tempé equates physiological ripeness with complexity in finished wine, so he never picks grapes until they are fully ripe, which means good f lavors and potential alcohol of 13° to 13.5°. Entire parcels are harvested in a single pass; multiple trips are unnecessary since the fruit has been farmed to ripen evenly. Tempé thinks the modern pneumatic press is a white-wine maker’s best friend, and he

presses his fruit as whole clusters over six or more hours per press load in order to keep pH low and maximize acid retention. He presses fruit from grand cru vineyards where yields are especially low even more slowly, given that the berries are smaller and the skin-to-juice ratio higher. Settling, however, is rigorous, and Tempé may even decant the new juice twice to achieve his desired clarity. From this point onward, however, the wine really is left to make itself. Only settling takes place in stainlesssteel tanks; fermentations take place in foudres 50 or 60 years older than the winery, or in wellused Burgundy barriques. Tempé bought the foudres from neighboring vintners who were switching to stainless steel in the 1990s. He relies entirely on naturally occurring yeasts, adds no enzymes, bentonite, or other fining agents, and uses only a bit of sulfur before bottling. He never intervenes to stop a fermentation and thereby to retain an arbitrary (i.e., winemaker-determined) level of sweetness. Nor does he encourage a sluggish fermentation to achieve a drier wine than the yeasts can make on their own. He is prepared to wait as long as it takes for each fermentation to finish naturally. “Sometimes fermentations take two years to finish,” he explains, “and a cask of Pinot Auxerrois from the 2005 vintage did not stop fermenting until 2009! Furthermore,” he adds controversially, “if you block a fermentation, you will taste the residual sugar. But if the fermentation stops naturally with 8, 10, or even 12 grams of sugar, it will still taste dry.” Whether a fermentation finishes early or late, Tempé’s new wines invariably remain on their fine lees, unstirred, for at least two years before being racked. He reports that he finds a lesser volume of lees in the bottom of casks undisturbed for two years than in casks racked after just six months, and he theorizes that wines that have “reabsorbed” their lees gain in complexity and f lavor. The long period of fine lees contact means that most Tempé wines undergo malolactic conversions naturally and more or less inevitably. The malolactic conversions are unproblematic, according to Tempé,

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since his viticultural practices, which favor the development of tartaric acid over malic (see above), mean that there is usually little malic acid to convert and therefore little lactic signature in the finished wine. Two years after the vintage—or longer if a fermentation has been exceptionally persistent—the wines are racked, sometimes filtered with diatomaceous earth (but sometimes not filtered at all), lightly sulfured, and bottled. “I do my winemaking in the vineyard [ je fabrique dans la vigne],” Tempé summarizes. “In the cellar, the wine does what it wants to do.” It follows that Tempé’s Rieslings are not reliably dry. They are dry when the fermentations finish on their own with very little residual sugar, but otherwise they end up off-dry or even sweeter. Yet for Tempé, the outcome is quite predictable when the grapes are picked. If the vigneron has renounced fungicides in the vineyard, has picked ripe and not yeasted, and if he has left each new wine to its own devices, then botrytis, he explains, becomes the independent variable. In general, light, sandy sandstonebased and granitic soils, because they drain well, are associated with relatively low botrytis pressure. Soils high in clay tend toward higher pressure. These tendencies are accentuated, in one direction or the other, in very dry or very wet years. So Tempé’s Riesling from two parcels in the commune of St-Hippolyte, on the border where the Haut-Rhin and Bas-Rhin départements meet and the soil is sandy, is usually his driest bottling, even in a warm year such as 2009. His 2010 St-Hippolyte is a light-bodied, extremely pretty wine redolent of lemons, with minerality that builds slowly from midpalate to finish, and just a hint of the lemon peel–based bitterness that presents more obviously in the 2009. Mambourg, the only grand cru source for Riesling chez Tempé, is one of Alsace’s warmest sites, but its relatively deep and heavy soils are conducive to botrytis. Ergo, more years than not, Tempé’s Mambourg Riesling finishes with 12 or more g/L of residual sugar. Rich, sometimes spicy, often floral, and touched with wax, bay laurel, and yellow peach, it is a complex and

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impressive wine but is rarely dry. Grafenreben is the interesting middle case in Tempé’s Riesling portfolio. Always more robust than the StHippolyte, it can be very dry and precisely chiseled, simultaneously bright and deeply flavored, as in 2008, or spicy, long, and dry to finish but still perceptibly sweet at midpalate, with savory flavors such as fennel, as in 2009.

Kastelberg and Wiebelsberg de Andlau Bas-Rhin

Andlau, an attractive town of 2,000 astride a river of the same name, occupies what floor exists in a V-shaped valley that spills, barely a kilometer east of town, onto the plain between the Vosges foothills and the Rhine. Andlau is known primarily as the site of an important 9th-century abbey, some of whose buildings survive as parts of the Basilique de Saint-Pierre et Saint-Paul, which is near the center of town. The hillsides on the north side of the Andlau River are home to many vineyards, notably two of the town’s three grands crus: Kastelberg and Wiebelsberg. A third grand cru vineyard, Moenchberg, is on the south face of the hill that separates Andlau from the neighboring town of Eichhoffen. Kastelberg, 5.8 hectares due north of Andlau’s town center, and Wiebelsberg, 12.5 hectares northeast of town, are simultaneously quite similar and very different. Both sites face primarily south-southeast and wrap slightly around their respective hills, which are adjacent. Both occupy the slope between about 220 and 320 meters above sea level. Both are Riesling sites par excellence: Kastelberg is planted entirely to Riesling, and about 95 percent of Wiebelsberg is Riesling, while the balance is two small parcels of Pinot Gris and one of Muscat. Both sites were identified by Jean-Louis Stoltz, a surgeon turned vigneron and autodidact ampelographer who made his home in Andlau after 1802, as highquality vineyards “where the winter snow melts early” (Stolz 1994). Wiebelsberg, however, is a moderate and well-behaved slope that loses about 1 meter of elevation over each 4 or 5 meters

of lateral distance, and it is planted entirely in line with the slope, resulting in vine rows that are oriented approximately northwest-southeast. The D62 road, which links Andlau with neighboring Mittelbergheim, traverses the southeast corner of the cru. Kastelberg is steeper overall, approaching a 40 percent slope in many places, and significantly harder to farm. Most of Kastelberg, too steep for in-line rows, is planted in terraces that wrap horizontally across the slope, resulting in vine rows that run generally but imperfectly east-west and impressive retaining walls made from rock extracted from the adjacent earth. Only a small part of Kastelberg, located below the access road that bisects the vineyard at approximately the 280-meter contour, is planted to in-line rows. The two crus share a common east-west boundary, separated by nothing more than a narrow track and tiny stream that cascades through the draw between adjacent hills. This draw is actually a significant geological fault, and it is the key to the main difference between the two crus: different baserock and different soils derived primarily from the weathering in place of each cru’s bedrock. Kastelberg rests on so-called Steige schist, named for a small town in the Vosges about 12 kilometers southwest of Andlau. It is effectively a fusion of schistous and granitic rock that manifests as a conglomerate of schist, quartz, mica, and chlorite, endlessly layered like a stone millefeuille, porous and well drained, rich in iron and magnesium. The rock is dark overall, but scattered with crystalline bits, and quite distinctive when you bend down, take a scrap in hand, and have a close look. On the Wiebelsberg side of the fault, the bedrock is not metamorphic at all, but sandstone, and Weibelsberg’s topsoil is a multidecker sandwich of clay and sand, both mixed with broken rock, much of it quartz or quartz-based conglomerates. Sandy soil dominates the upslope area; admixtures of sand and clay are more common at lower elevations. Significantly, Wiebelsberg’s soils warm up more easily and retain daytime heat a bit longer than Kastelberg’s, and it is the earlier of the two sites to ripen.

Wiebelsberg and Kastelberg each has just a handful of proprietors: six for Kastelberg and fewer than a dozen for Wiebelsberg. Unusually in Alsace, the average holding in each cru is generously sized—about 1 hectare—and more than half of each cru was farmed organically or biodynamically in 2013. Arguably the best producers in both vineyards are Andlau-based family firms: Domaine Marc Kreydenweiss and Domaine Rémy Gresser (see below). In Wiebelsberg, Kreydenweiss farms two adjacent parcels below the D62 road totaling a hefty 1.5 hectares and 0.3 hectare on the cru’s west side. They are a mix of vines more than 40 years old and plantings done in the past 15 years. Some older vines are CTPS 49, but Kreydenweiss has used massale selections, first from Hugel but more recently from its own vines, since the end of the 1990s, grafted to 3309 and V. riparia rootstocks. In Kastelberg, the Kreydenweiss parcels are in the upper half of the vineyard, planted in approximately 1.1-meter rows with 0.8 meter between individual vines. Biodynamically farmed, the Kreydenweiss holdings in both sites are cultivated, as appropriate, with plows pulled by a horse, a winch, or a tractor, but a natural cover crop is left in place throughout most of the growing season. Gresser, meanwhile, owns and farms 1.2 hectares in Weibelsberg, divided among several parcels of varying ages, and 1.1 hectares in Kastelberg, all of these in the vineyard’s lower half. Like Kreydenweiss, Gresser farms biodynamically. In recent years, to compensate for global warming, Gresser has paid special attention to leaf surface management relative to crop size, seeking to extrapolating the latter from evidence that can be observed immediately after flowering. Wiebelsberg gives Rieslings of finesse and delicacy, sometimes redolent of flowers, which usually finish with persistent, slightly saline minerality. Citrus, pear, and white-peach f lavors are typical. Kastelberg gives bigger, almost muscular wines that are slow to open but exceedingly long-lived. They are always stone-flavored wines, sometimes yellow-fruited,

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tinged with iodine; some tasters describe them as “smoky,” others as “tannic.” Recent vintages of Kreydenweiss’s Wiebelsberg (2010 and 2008), tasted in 2013, were complex, chalky wines, stuffed with tension and texture, with almost endless length. The 2010 showed notes of citrus and confit of lemon peel, hints of herb, and bright acidity, wrapped in multiple layers of texture. Despite its relative youth, the 2008 was already a truly lovely wine, showing notes of honey and petrol, waning fruit, and waxing minerality, giving an overall impression of size, length, and elegance. Gresser’s 2008 Wiebelsberg, tasted in 2012, also displayed slightly saline minerality, but it was rounder at midpalate, less texture-driven, and fruitier overall. Kreydenweiss’s Kastelbergs, tasted in 2013, were distinctive. Believing that the site’s power and size are well adapted to élevage in small oak casks, Kreydenweiss makes tense, impressive Kastelberg Rieslings that finish with mouthcoating minerality but are still redolent, in varying degrees, of anise, menthol, bay laurel, camphor, and vanilla from their contact with oak. Gresser’s 2008 and 2010 Kastelbergs, similar in minerality and structure, were more fruit-expressive, featuring green-fleshed melon and apple peel and showing tannin expressed as fresh-brewed black tea.

D OMAINE M ARC K RE YDENWEISS 67140 Andlau

Kreydenweisses have lived in Andlau since at least the 16th century and have farmed grapes more or less from the outset. The great-greatgrandfather of the current vigneron (Antoine, b. 1982) was a négociant who sold a full truckload of Alsatian wine to Parisian customers and retailers each week, some of which was estategrown and -produced. But the Kreydenweiss estate was then small, consisting of only 3 hectares. It was Antoine’s father, Marc (b. 1948), who fundamentally transformed the estate, expanding the family’s Alsatian holdings to 12 hectares, concentrating impressive energy on

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export markets, and embracing biodynamic farming long before it was commonplace. Antoine, who earned a brevet de technicien supérieur from the Lycée viticole de Beaune in 2002 and subsequently worked a highly formative stage for Jean-Louis Trapet in Gevrey-Chambertin, worked alongside his father from 2003 to 2007. He assumed full responsibility for the family’s business in Alsace from 2008 onward, after Marc had relocated to Manduel, in the Costières de Nîmes, to devote full-time to vineyards he had purchased and planted there beginning in 1999. The Alsace domaine occupies modest but historic half-timbered premises on the rue Deharbe in Andlau, squarely between what remains of the old abbey and the Kastelberg vineyard. In addition to the Kastelberg and Wiebelsberg wines, the Riesling program consists of an Andlau bottling, made from vines below Wiebelsberg on the same hill and from declassified grand cru lots, and a vineyard-designated wine from Clos Rebberg, a steep, slate-schist terroir northeast of Andlau, once abandoned, which the Kreydenweisses purchased and redeveloped beginning in 2000. Riesling vinfications begin with whole-cluster pressing in press cycles that can last 8 to 12 hours. The juice is settled without additives and is moved by gravity from the crushpad to the cellar. Wines are fermented and raised entirely in wood tanks, some old and some young, mostly large-format, but a few 600-liter barrels are used (see above) for about one-third of the crush for each year’s Kastelberg. Fermentations rely on naturally occurring yeasts, which typically self-start four or five days after the juice has been transferred to tank; recalcitrant fermentations may be restarted, if necessary, with a pied-de-cuve. No sulfur is added at the press or in the tanks, and neither tanks nor cellar are temperature-controlled. When harvest begins, the ambient cellar temperature can be as high as 22°C, but it cools as winter approaches. The new wines stay on their full fermentation lees for 11 to (since 2009) 26 months, during most of which time some primary fermentation activity usually persists. Malolactic conversions take place simultane-

ously but are usually short, occurring near the midpoint of the ongoing primary fermentation. Given the long period of lees contact, it follows that primary fermentations are never stopped and that the wines are allowed to finish as dry as they will naturally, which is typically when about 5 g/L of sugar remains. For the moment, all wines are filtered before bottling, but Antoine Kreydenweiss believes the wines would be stable without filtration and vows to experiment with unfined and unfiltered production “when the time is right.” Even at bottling, sulfur additions are minimal. Kreydenweiss says he was “profoundly influenced” by the importance of terroir during his time in Burgundy, and he stresses that he seeks a considerable distinction between his village wine (e.g., the Andlau Riesling) and the grands crus—the former is “about fruit” while the latter are “about terroir.” Going further, he argues that it is appropriate to sacrifice even varietal identity for terroir. This orientation lies behind his unconventional élevage protocol for Kastelberg. Some palates may find that, owing to that protocol, Kreydenweiss Kastelberg is varietally atypical, but Kreydenweiss responds that he is faithful to the site.

in neighboring Eichhoffen, and the other from Duttenberg, a clay-soils lieu-dit south of the Andlau River. The top wines are from Andlau’s three grands crus: Moenchberg, Weibelsberg, and Kastelberg. When making dry wines, Gresser uses a pump to move the fruit toward the press; this pump lightly crushes the berries and establishes prefermentation skin contact. Pressing is done is with a computer-assisted press programmed to adapt its cycle to the condition of the berries, so that flavor and solids are extracted without bitterness. The juice is then cold-settled without additives for 36 hours. Fermentations are yeasted only if naturally occurring yeasts prove problematic and are not temperature-controlled except to reduce juice temperatures that exceed 23°C. Gresser does racking and diatomaceous-earth filtration in February after the vintage to avoid malolactic conversion. Afterward, the new wines are held on their fine lees until June in large wood casks or stainless-steel tanks. Pad filtration is done before bottling.

Kitterlé, Saering, Kessler, Spiegel, and Belzbrunnen Guebwiller, Haut-Rhin

D OMAINE R E´MY G RESSER 67140 Andlau

Gressers have been winegrowers in Andlau since at least 1520, when Thiébault Gresser, identified in the record as a vigneron, was named prévôt for Andlau—effectively its chief administrator—on behalf of François 1er, the first of France’s Valois kings. The current vigneron is Rémy Gresser, an enthusiastic proponent of terroir, biodynamic farming, and dry styles with modest alcohols for Alsatian whites that are not intentionally picked to make late-harvest wines. He has been president of the Conseil interprofessionnel des vins d’Alsace (CIVA) for more than a decade. From his 10-hectare estate, Gresser fashions a considerable portfolio, including six dry Rieslings. The list begins with an Andlau blend and two sitespecific wines: one from Kritt, a gravelly terroir

Four Alsace grand cru vineyards wrap around the southeast end of the Schimberg Hill, on the north bank of the Lauch River midway between Colmar and Mulhouse. In aerial view and looking north, the vineyards assume roughly the shape of a classic ship’s anchor: Kitterlé is the anchor’s left arm and the bottom of its shank; Saering is the right arm; Kessler makes up the middle of the shank; and Spiegel is its top. Lieux-dits used to designate vineyards not classified as grands crus cling like barnacles to the anchor’s right side; the one named Belzbrunnen fits neatly, like a piece of jigsaw puzzle, downslope of Kessler between Saering and Spiegel and deserves special attention. Instances where multiple contiguous grand cru vineyards share a single slope or hill are unusual in Alsace, where a single grand cru surrounded by less-venerated lieux-dits is a

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more common configuration. At Ribeauvillé, where Kirchberg, Geisberg, and Osterberg line up side by side, some argued at the time of delimitation that all three sites, or two of the three, were sufficiently similar that they could be combined. Such an argument is difficult to imagine in the case of Guebwiller’s four grands crus: albeit adjacent, they are radically different from one another. They might, in fact, have been more than four, because both Spiegel and Kitterlé are noticeably heterogeneous. Kitterlé, the left arm and bottom of the anchor, overlooks the town of Guebwiller. Because its 26 hectares wrap around three sides of a rocky outcrop, individual parcels’ exposures vary enormously across about 140 degrees, from southwest to southeast. Individual parcels also differ dramatically in elevation, from the 270meter to the 360-meter contours. The promontory is vertiginous, and slopes are as steep as 50 percent. In many spots, stone-walled terraces, laboriously maintained by masons, are indispensible to viable viticulture. The subsoil is mostly a conglomerate of sandstone and quartzite; near the vineyard’s west end, the sandstone is mixed with volcanic material. Granulated sandstone, semipulverized mica, and scattered lenses of fine-grained clay compose the light, meager topsoil. Kitterlé is a notoriously lowyielding site, usually giving less than 25 hectoliters per hectare. Rieslings from Kitterlé often present smoky minerality on the nose and can seem opulent overall, but they also make a clean, crystalline impression on the palate. The northeastern extension of Kitterlé is Kessler, a touch larger at 28 hectares. The elevation at its top edge, where the vineyard meets the treeline, is also a bit higher than the top of Kitterlé. Steep like Kitterlé, and also terraced, Kessler actually surrounds a southeast-facing bowl from which it takes its name—Kessel is one of several German words for a kettle, a cauldron, or a geological basin with a kettlelike shape. In fact, this core of Kessler is separately designated as a lieu-dit called Heisse Wanne, which translates into English, a bit misleadingly but with incontrovertible logic, as the “hot tub.”

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The Heisse Wanne designation was used on wine labels as early as the first half of the 19th century, and Dirler-Cadé still uses it to designate Silvaner from an old parcel of this variety that stands in the heart of Kessler’s kettle. The bowl-shaped configuration and the prevailing topsoil—which is reddish, iron-rich, sandy clay—combine to collect and concentrate heat, making Kessler the warmest of the Guebwiller vineyards despite its altitude. Unsurprisingly, given the variety’s affection for both heat and clay, Gewurztraminer is the majority tenant here, producing what most observers consider Kessler’s best wine. Rieslings from Kessler are rich, round, generously mineral wines with some tropical fruit flavors (pineapple, for example) and a tendency toward honey with a few years of bottle age. The northeast corner of Kessler abuts the southwest corner of Spiegel, which is 18 hectares of east- and south-facing slope that looks away from Guebwiller toward neighboring Bergholtz. Shaped rather like a bent nail, Spiegel is mostly a long, narrow finger of land, lower (between the 260- and 315-meter contours) and gentler of slope than Kitterlé or Kessler but very visibly rocky, its topsoil consisting mostly of colluvial deposits from higher altitudes, mixed with very little clay, on a base that is primarily sandstone. The layer of rough-edged rock fragments that masquerades as topsoil is probably responsible for the vineyard’s name—Spiegel is German for mirror, and the rock-strewn surface can seem reflective of the summer sun. As in Kessler, a lieu-dit in the heart of the vineyard is still known by a name used on labels in the 19th century: Stein, cognate with English “stone” and ref lecting Kessler’s rocky persona. Gewurztraminer occupies more of Spiegel than does Riesling, but the site makes consummately bright, elegant, racy Rieslings redolent of green citrus fruits such as yuzu and lime and of herbal infusions. Some Spiegel Rieslings also convey a savory or saline impression. Saering, spelled Saehring in the 19th century, is the fourth Guebwiller grand cru vineyard. It lies on the north side of the D5 road

between Guebwiller and Bergholtz. The D5 forms the vineyard’s long southeast edge, while its irregular west edge, determined by elevation contours, abuts Kitterlé, and its north edge brief ly follows the south end of Kessler, then the south end of Belzbrunnen. Saering consists largely of rounded east- and southeast-facing knolls with summits similar to those found in Spiegel, but the geology here is quite different. The subsoil is calcareous, while the topsoil is a mix of calcareous loam and decomposed sandstone. The vineyard is far from homogeneous, however—its west side is loamier and sandier than its east side, where there is generally more clay. West-side parcels tend to produce subtle, racy Rieslings redolent of citrus in their youth but then turning strongly mineral with additional time in bottle. Racy minerality is, of course, quite typical of limestone-based sites. East-side parcels, for reasons locals do not pretend to understand, often display exotic aromas and flavors such as quinine and ginger. Belzbrunnen is a site of considerable interest despite its differentiation from the neighboring grands crus. Its approximately 10 hectares of southeast-facing slope, planted in line with the slope, feature soils similar to Kessler and Spiegel—sandy, with a light admixture of clay—but the Belzbrunnen soils are very deep. Domaines Schlumberger, founded by Nicolas Schlumberger in 1810, is Guebwiller’s giant estate. Still controlled by its founding family, it owns more vineyard than any other Alsatian estate—now more than 130 hectares. This enormous surface includes an astonishing three-quarters of Kitterlé, Kessler, and Saering and more than one-quarter of Spiegel, and Schlumberger was instrumental in making the case for these vineyards as grands crus in the 1970s. Arguably, however, the area’s benchmark producer of dry Riesling, especially in the past decade, is the house of Dirler in Bergholtz, now operating as Dirler-Cadé, which is nearly an order of magnitude smaller than Schlumberger (see below). Only Dirler-Cadé makes vineyard-designated Rieslings from all four of the grand cru sites and the lieu-dit of Belzbrun-

nen (until 2012, it also made a vineyard-designated Riesling from another lieu-dit, Bollenberg). Despite an enormous portfolio covering all of Alsace’s permitted varieties, Riesling cuvées are Dirler-Cadé’s centerpiece. In Kitterlé, it farms four adjacent parcels (one currently out of production) totaling 1.06 hectares in the vineyard’s northeast corner, of which about half is Riesling. These parcels are owed entirely to its merger with Cadé in 2000. The house’s Kessler Riesling vines (5.89 hectares) are in the vineyard’s southeast quadrant, just above the road that separates Kessler from Belzbrunnen; a smaller parcel on the south-facing side of Heisse Wanne, devoted entirely to old vines of Silvaner and Riesling, is vinified and bottled separately. In Spiegel, the Dirler-Cadé Riesling is in a 0.22-hectare planting and a 0.36 supplementary planting toward the vineyard’s north end, as well as a small parcel on the vineyard’s east side. Like most Alsatian growers, the Dirlers privilege Riesling where the soil is rocky and Gewurztraminer where it contains more clay. As the house replants vines, it prefers to establish vine rows that follow the direction of the slope, rather than terraces and cross-slope rows, wherever the slope is not too extreme. The higher elevations of Kitterlé and Kessler are too steep for anything but terraces, however. Since tractors cannot navigate the terraces, Dirler-Cadé cultivates these parcels with a horse-drawn plow. (Having discovered the hard way that “horse-drawn plowing is a business of its own,” the Dirlers now contract a specialist for equine work.) Vine spacing is necessarily adjusted to the terrain, but the estate generally targets 1.6 meters between rows and 1 meter between vines in the same row when redeveloping parcels. Scion material for new vines is taken from old vines in Dirler’s own vineyards, or from neighbors; the cuttings are mostly custom grafted to 3309 rootstock by a local nursery. In 1997, Jean-Pierre Dirler and Jean Dirler took a course in biodynamic viticulture offered by the Centre de formation professionnelle et de promotion agricole (CFPPA) in nearby

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Rouffach. Convinced that they should experiment with biodynamic protocols, father and son converted two parcels that year, working especially to see if they could manage mildew without fungicides. Beginning in 1998, they converted their entire estate, and it was biodynamically certified in 2001. All alleys between vine rows are now plowed to promote a healthy population of microorganisms in the soil, and newly planted vines are hand-spaded for their first four years. Vine hedging has been discontinued. The 2007, 2008, and 2009 vintages of Dirler-Cadé Riesling from Belzbrunnen, tasted in 2012, were a reminder, if any was required, that unclassified sites adjacent to grand cru sites often give impressive wines and can be an exceptional value. The 2007, which finished very dry at 5 g/L of residual sugar, was bright and slightly f loral, with f lavors of yellow apple and clementine; a dense midpalate gave way to an impressive and distinctive savory saline finish. Bright again but a trif le less dry at 7 g/L, the 2008 showed bay laurel and some midpalate creaminess but again had a long herbalsaline finish. In 2009, a much riper vintage, Dirler-Cadé’s Belzbrunnen refused to ferment dry, finishing at 13 g/L, with an impression of orange-f lower honey. Compared with the grands crus, Belzbrunnen is perhaps most like Spiegel, sharing its tendency toward citrus expression, herbal tones, and a long, dry finish. The 2008 Spiegel, mostly from that stony core parcel in the center of Spiegel called Stein (see above), was alive with bright acidity and proclaimed both citrus flavors and salinity, but it showed more elegance and femininity than Belzbrunnen, and its f lavors were more sustained from attack to finish. A bottle of 2002 Spiegel revealed the site’s intrinsic elegance through the lens of a decade’s bottle age: hints of honey up front, custardy lemon at midpalate, overtones of thyme and tarragon throughout, and a long, lean structure with lingering minerality. The 2008 from neighboring Saering was a standout among all vintages and vineyards tasted, showing the exuberant minerality of its calcareous subsoil on a deli-

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cate, almost lacy spine, with irresistible flavors of honeysuckle and lemony citrus. The 2010 Saering was impressive, too, perhaps because it was (for me) the driest of the 2010s: simultaneously taut, citric, delicate, and irrepressibly mineral. There is a tendency among critics to represent Kitterlé and Kessler, Guebwiller’s two higher-elevation vineyards, as better sites overall and as better sites for Riesling in particular. Although I recognize some historical precedent for this view, I do not share it. Granted, Kitterlé and Kessler, despite their elevation, are warmer, and warmer sites were once appreciated above all others, but this is much less true in the age of global warming. Certainly Kitterlé and Kessler do show richer f lavors and more muscle, stuffing, and masculinity. Dirler-Cadé Kesslers from 2008 and 2000 made this point plainly. The 2008 (8 g/L of residual sugar) presented as chewy, smoky, mentholated, and very structured, with hints of bitterness on the back palate. The 2000 (12 g/L) was rich, long, round, and dryish, despite a very perceptible note of demerara sugar. Even in years such as 2010, when Kitterlé made a beautiful and wonderfully dry Riesling with just 3.5 g/L of residual sugar, the wine was almost military in its bearing, showing a strong badge of lime peel with some tarragon, challenging the consumer for now while promising great rewards downstream. Yet the Saering and Spiegel wines show brilliant elegance and are often my personal favorites.

D OMAINE D IRLER -C ADE´ 68500 Bergholtz

Today, Jean-Pierre Dirler is happy to share xerographic copies of a price list that his great-grandfather Jean produced in the late 1870s, offering wines such as “Clevener 1874 de Guebwiller,” “Riesling 1876 de Ribeauvillé,” and “Bourgogne (Nuits) 1876.” Even then Jean Dirler was a vigneron, making wine from estate grapes, but he called his business “J. Dirler, Gourmet, à Bergholtz, Haute-Alsace” since he functioned as

both vigneron and courtier, selling wines from other domaines and regions alongside his own. At the time, there was nothing strange or precious about Dirler’s use of gourmet to denote his profession: since at least the 15th century, this corruption of Old French groumet, derived from Middle English grom, had designated people who bought and sold wines from many sources. In preindustrial France, it was effectively synonymous with marchand de vin. One hundred forty years later, the trade in third-party wines has disappeared chez Dirler, and the family business is devoted entirely to wines made from estate-grown grapes in vineyards located within a few kilometers of the winery. Their 18 hectares are planted to every grape variety authorized in Alsace, save for Chardonnay. No fewer than 50 wines are for sale at any given moment, since Dirler deliberately keeps multiple vintages of the same wine on offer. Since 2000, the estate has fused the Dirlers’ vineyards and those that previously belonged to Léon Hell-Cadé (Jean-Pierre Dirler’s son, Jean, and Léon Hell-Cadé’s daughter, Ludivine, were married in 1998). The Riesling program is enormous. In addition to one vineyard-designated dry or off-dry (sometimes; see above) wine from each of Saering, Kitterlé, Belzbrunnen, and Spiegel and two from Kessler, the estate makes an entry-level multivineyard blend and, when the vintage allows, one late-picked sweet wine from each of Kessler and Saering. If it is instead a blend of the two, it is designated as Vendanges Tardives, without mention of either cru. Except for these late-harvest wines, the house aims for genuinely dry Riesling. Each vineyard is picked two or three times, and the entire harvest is completed in the course of 18 to 22 days across a harvest window that lasts 6 to 8 weeks. The first grapes picked are usually destined for the Riesling générique; later picks are used to make the vineyard-designated dry and sweet wines. Since a pneumatic bladder press was acquired in 1997, all grapes have been pressed immediately as whole clusters, and the new juice is settled without interventions or additions for

18 hours. Although the cellar is populated with both stainless-steel and wood fermenters, all Rieslings are fermented in stainless for “purity of expression,” per Jean-Pierre. Fermentations are temperature-controlled to between 20°C and 22°C and last anywhere from three weeks to three months. “Nature is complicated,” says Jean-Pierre. “Sometimes a fermentation selfarrests with 10 or 12 g/L of sugar remaining. We live with that because the less you touch a wine, the better it is.” Sometimes a stubbornly sweet lot is balanced by blending it with another from the same vineyard that has gone very dry, but when no same-vineyard blend is possible, the wine (for that vintage only) is simply allowed to finish off-dry. To mitigate the consumer confusion that can result when the same wine from the same vineyard tastes bone-dry in one vintage and off-dry in the next, Dirler-Cadé’s annual release letter contains extensive tasting notes for each vintage of each wine, expressly quoting residual sugar and suggesting appropriate food pairings. Once each fermentation has stopped, the new wine is racked, but it is then left on the fine lees until the summer after the vintage, at which time it is pad-filtered and bottled.

Muehlforst de Hunawihr Haut-Rhin

The lieu-dit of Muehlforst is the next best known, after Rosacker, of Hunawihr’s vineyards and is the name that is most seen on the labels of the area’s vineyard-designated wines. It is a roughly rectangular site bent into a very slightly concave arc, about 850 meters west to east and 280 meters south to north (or about 21 hectares), its southwest corner no more than 140 meters from Rosacker’s northeast corner. Its elevation is lower overall than Rosacker’s, its slope gentler, and its orientation almost perfectly due south. Its orientation, lower elevation, and greater distance from the pre-Vosgian upslope make Muehlforst noticeably warmer than its more reputed neighbor and a bit lower in malic acid. Its topsoils and substrata, though

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similar to Rosacker’s, are deeper overall, dominantly clay-loam at the surface, studded with chunks of broken sandstone and round, waterwashed galets, with layers of claystone and broken shale between the topsoils and the limestone bedrock. A gentler and relatively even slope enables row orientations that are almost universally north-south or skewed slightly northeastsouthwest. Like most lieux-dits, Muehlforst has never been formally delimited, but this work is now under way. Most Hunawihr winemakers say that the aforementioned rectangle is known to all and is well respected, despite interest from some vignerons in having the cru’s east edge extend a bit farther downslope in the direction of the Route des Vins. Muehlforst has attracted many of the same producers who have holdings in Rosacker, who respect it as a site of distinction and personality albeit without Rosacker’s signature focus and precision. Muehlforst’s mineral expression carries less salinity and less intensity overall than Rosacker’s, even when the vines are equally well established, and its wines show more grapefruit than other forms of citrus. They are less brilliant but more powerful than their cousins from Rosacker; some tasters describe them as tannic or rustic. Many producers bottle their vineyarddesignated Muehlforst earlier than the same from Rosacker, and Muehlforsts seem to evolve more rapidly, peaking in seven or eight years, an age when many Rosackers still seem young. Mader’s holdings in Muehlforst are on the west side of the lieu-dit, where it is steepest and perfectly south-facing, and are divided between Riesling and Gewurztraminer. Riesling, planted in 1993, shares space with Gewurztraminer at the top of a 0.67-hectare block that almost transects the lieu-dit from top to bottom; Gewurztraminer is planted preferentially at the bottom. North-south-oriented rows follow the slope. Mittnacht Frères farms a few northsouth rows of Riesling immediately west of the Mader parcel and two small parcels farther east: one was planted in 1978 on the south edge of Muehlforst about midway between its east

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and west edges, and the other, close to the lieu-dit’s east edge, was partially planted in the 1970s and partially in the 1980s. As in Rosacker, both Mader and Mittnacht Frères have avoided clonal selections when planting and replanting, preferring budwood from existing and successful vines grafted to rootstocks that are well adapted to calcareous soils, such as 161–49 and 3309, though some of Mader’s older vines are on SO4. The Riesling vines on the 1993 block are, unusually, on Gravesac, a rootstock that produces well-controlled yields in deeper and high-loam soils. Both domaines have farmed organically since the turn of the century, and Mittnacht Frères has been biodynamic since 1999. The two domaines are a good ref lection of Muehlforst, making some of the most impressive of all bottlings from the site. Mader’s 2011 and 2010, tasted in 2012, were delicious wines, beginning with an aroma of wet gravel followed by an avalanche of green apple and limeinf lected fruit. The 2010 was slightly iodized and the 2011 lively, powerful, and texturally rich on a long finish. At Mittnacht Frères in 2012, I tasted a slightly older Muehlforst, from the 2008 vintage: tight, bright, mineral, and grippy at the end, but also exotic and inf lected with hints of ginger, coconut, and macadamia. In 2013, I tasted Mittnacht’s 2004, a powerful but insistently dry wine that had developed a yellow-straw color, a lemon-pear nose, and an impression of white pepper—proof that the site is capable of very good wines indeed. Further information about Domaines Mader and Mittnacht Frères is found on pages 175 and 176.

Rangen de Thann and Clos Saint-Urbain Haut-Rhin

Thann, a town of 8,000 on the right bank of the Thur River where it emerges from a narrow valley onto the Alsatian plain, was first a toll barrier erected by the counts of Ferrette to derive revenue from foot and road traffic across the Vosges

Mountains. Later it became a favored place of pilgrimage for faithful from the lower Rhine Valley and the Baltic states, and from 1516 onward, it has been home to the Collégiale de St-Thiébaut, an especially fine example of Gothic religious architecture. At least as early as the 13th century, Rangen, the vertiginous vineyard across from Thann on the Thur’s left bank, was cultivated, both simultaneously and successively, by several monastic orders. In the 16th century, the fine appearance of the Rangen vineyard was recorded by Michel de Montaigne (1533–92) in journals he kept of a trip across Germany and Switzerland to Italy. By this time, the town of Thann had begun to regulate Rangenweine, restricting use of the name to wines made exclusively from the eponymous vineyard. Although textile and chemical industries kept Thann prosperous and Rangen in good repair through the 18th and 19th centuries, the vineyard faltered in the 20th, the consequence of two wars and of steep terrain that was ferociously expensive to farm and maintain. In 1966, with many parcels abandoned and overgrown, no estate producers left, and the value of land declining, the vineyard was restructured. Vignerons from other parts of Alsace acquired parcels in Rangen during the 1970s, notably Turckheim-based Zind-Humbrecht in 1977. Early in the 1990s, the new owners began to rebuild many of the dry-laid stone walls that make viticulture possible on steep slopes, gradually returning Rangen to the fine impression it made on Montaigne four centuries earlier. Rangen today, viewed uphill from an access road at the edge of the river, is a stunning but daunting site: 22 hectares of Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, and Riesling on a perfectly south-facing slope so steep in spots that it seems to make almost a right angle with the river. The entire hill is compressed dust from submarine volcanic activity, uplifted when the Vosges were formed. Its surface looks like a crumble of broken dark-red rock, barely mixed with anything recognizable as soil and studded with outcroppings of raw basalt, in which vines and scattered scrub seem to grow with diffi-

culty. Young vines do suffer in the rocky soil, but their roots eventually penetrate it, and they thrive after 20 or 30 years of effort, having found their way to subterranean veins of waterretaining clay. There is also brown andesite and sedimentary sandstone in places, and a bit of alluvial material toward the base of the slope. The top of the vineyard rises to 470 meters above sea level, while the bottom, which is barely 20 meters from the left bank of the Thur, hugs the 340-meter contour. Rangen is well protected from precipitation by the Vosges Mountains but is still substantially wetter than nearby Colmar, which is generally considered Alsace’s sunshine capital. It is also ventilated by cool air currents that descend the Thur Valley, helping to preserve acidity and to mitigate disease pressures; usually botrytis can be held off until late in the growing season, when it helps to produce stunning late-harvest results. The site is often hot in midsummer, its heat accumulation abetted by the dark color of the soil and surface rock, but it is still late-ripening, owing to a combination of late budbreak and high altitude, and therefore it is generally picked about two weeks later than vineyards close to Colmar. Today most of Rangen is planted in tightly spaced rows in line with the slope, both rows and vines generally less than 1 meter apart, although some dry-laid stone walls cut across the slope, resulting in a few eastwest-oriented rows, especially in the upper part of the vineyard. Approximately at midslope, the vineyard is divided by a narrow road that accesses a tiny octagonal chapel dedicated to Saint Urbain, a saint of dubious authenticity who is nonetheless faithfully celebrated in Thann. The first chapel dedicated to him on this site was built in the 15th century, but the present structure dates only from 1934. The 5.5-hectare part of Rangen that forms a crescent around and immediately below the chapel is the lieu-dit called Clos Saint-Urbain. More than half of the clos—since 1977 a monopole restored, owned, and farmed exclusively by Zind-Humbrecht— is planted to Pinot Gris, but there are also 40 hectares of Gewurztraminer and 2.1 hectares

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of Riesling, some vines planted as early as 1963, others as recently as 1999. Rieslings from Rangen, in warm vintages, are large-framed wines with enormous structure, ferrous flavors that manifest as smoke and gunflint, and fruit that features candied orange peel, with occasional hints of pineapple and coconut. Cooler vintages, unsurprisingly, are a bit brighter, featuring more lemon than orange, and sometimes seem almost floral on the nose. I tasted five vintages of the Clos Saint-Urbain wine spanning 2011 through 2005 in the early summer of 2013. Of the warmer, sun-dominated vintages, 2011 displayed such intense flavors, especially orange marmalade, and so much stuffing that it seemed almost heroic, with huge extract expressed as minerality, texture, and glycerine wrapped with just a bit of sugar. The 2009 seemed a strong cocktail of Peychaud’s Bitters, lemon, and tangerine peel that felt simultaneously oxidative and taut, with a long finish of tight, relentless minerality. The 2011 was 14.2°, with 5.4 g/L of total acidity, 6.2 g/L of residual sugar, and a pH of 3.3; the 2009 was 13.5°, with 5.4 g/L of acid, 7.5 g/L of sugar, and a pH of 3.4. From a cool vintage, the 2008 was an especially clean and nicely edged edition of Clos Saint-Urbain displaying floral-citrus aromas reminiscent of a lemon tree in bloom, lemon juice and peel on the palate, and long minerality on the finish. In the 2005, from a warmer year than 2008 but cooler than 2009 or 2011, primary fruit had given way to a generous expression of minerality, ferrous but finegrained, that left an overall savory (though not saline) impression. The 2008 and 2005 were slightly lower in alcohol, at 13.0° and 13.3° respectively, and significantly lower in residual sugar (4.0 and 4.3 g/L respectively), giving a brighter and drier impression than the 2011 or the 2009. It is important to note that while Rangen usually yields a Riesling that tastes dry, the 2001 finished with 12 g/L of residual sugar, and the 2006, from a warm but wet-finishing vintage, was strongly botrytis-affected and finished with very noticeable sweetness (31 g/L of residual sugar). (Rangen’s volcanic soils tend to inflate

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wine pH.) Tasters are likely to have polarized reactions to Rangen Rieslings, and especially to block-specific bottlings of Clos Saint-Urbain, because the wines are so strong and distinctive, especially when they are young. The young wines can be challenging to pair attractively with traditionally Riesling-friendly food. But these wines, however firm and bold, are nonetheless compelling. To illustrate the difference between old vines and young ones in this site, Zind-Humbrecht also produces a Thann bottling exclusively from its young Rangen vines in years when quality and quantity are sufficient. See page 188 for additional information about Domaine Zind-Humbrecht.

Rosacker and Clos Ste-Hune Hunawihr, Haut-Rhin

Hunawihr seems to be the quintessential Alsatian village. It nestles so perfectly in a fold of hills between Riquewihr and Ribeauvillé, irrigated by a tiny stream, that it is invisible from many angles until one is quite close. At this point, the profile of its roofs and half-timbered houses enhances the natural beauty of the surrounding landscape. There is little commerce here, save for businesses associated with wine, so Hunawihr boasts a population of fewer than 700 souls; a modest parking lot below the town is sufficient to accommodate its share of tourists. The town’s iconic structure is a rare example of defensive religious architecture in France: Église Saint-Jacques-le-Majeur, a fortified church and cemetery on the south side of town. Built incrementally between the 14th and 16th centuries, it served as a refuge for villagers in the often troubled times between the Reformation and the end of the Thirty Years’ War (Hunawihr itself lacked ramparts and gates). From another hill on the north side of town, the Rosacker vineyard, Hunawihr’s only grand cru, offers an excellent view of the church, which explains why a stylized image of the church, surrounded by vine rows, adorns the label of Hunawihr’s most iconic wine, the Clos Ste-

Hune Riesling from Maison F. E. Trimbach (see below). Like most wine towns in Alsace, Hunawihr sits where the pre-Vosgian hills meet the Rhine plain. Rosacker occupies 26 hectares of east-, southeast-, and south-facing hillside, rising from about 260 meters above sea level, where the vineyard touches the edge of town, to approximately the 330-meter contour, where the highest-situated vines meet the treeline. Its footprint is an irregular quadrilateral whose longest side runs a bit jaggedly east-northeast to westsouthwest along the edge of the village; the other long side is the vineyard’s high edge, oriented approximately northeast-southwest. The slope is longer on its west-east axis than from north to south. Rosacker is a cool site overall: average high temperatures are damped by close proximity to the forested hills that hug the cru’s west edge. Its altitude, which is higher than neighboring vineyards’, and its generally east-ofsouth orientation also moderate temperatures. Vine rows generally follow the slope within each parcel, so row orientations vary all over the map. The soils are relatively deep combinations of calcareous layers, including Muschelkalk and Lettenkohle, with clay, which are strewn at various depths with calcareous stones and bits of sandstone. About half of Rosacker is now planted to Riesling. Some of it is farmed by Hunawihrbased producers such as Jean-Luc Mader, SippMack, Mittnacht Frères, and Frédéric Mallo, but several exogenous producers also farm parcels here, as do numerous growers contracted to the wine cooperatives in Hunawihr and Ribeauvillé. Both cooperatives produce their own editions of vineyard-designated wine from Rosacker. The best Rosacker Rieslings are wines of exemplary finesse, defined by intense, fine-grained minerality. They sometimes display salinity and fruit that seems to express more citrus and apple than any of the stone fruits. Jean-Luc Mader’s (see below) holdings in Rosacker, which total approximately 0.8 hectare, more than half of it Riesling, are an interesting window into the cru: some tasters find his Rosacker Rieslings the finest examples of

the site, leaving aside the special case of Clos Ste-Hune. Mader’s parcels are an east-facing block on the north-central part of the site, just below the narrow road that links Hunawihr with Ribeauvillé, which was planted in 1979 on 16–149 rootstock. Vine rows in this parcel are oriented north-south. There is also Riesling in an older block in the highest (and steepest) part of the site, close to the west end of the town itself; this lieu-dit within the cru is known locally as Heitzberg. South- and southeast-oriented, Heitzberg develops higher daytime maximum temperatures than other parts of the vineyard, but it also stays colder at night owing to altitude, giving wines with an admirable combination of ripeness and well-retained acid. Mader’s holdings here were planted in 1951 and 1975 on a combination of SO4, 3309, and 16–149 rootstocks. Mittnacht Frères (see below) farms a total of almost 3 hectares in Rosacker, all of it Riesling, except for the bottom half of one block, which is planted to Gewurztraminer. Much of this surface is in the heart of Rosacker, immediately east (and downslope) of the Hunawihr-Ribeauvillé road, in two large and mostly east-facing blocks. The higher-elevation one was planted in 1978, and the lower, home to the Gewurztraminer, followed a decade later. A third block, which also dates from the late 1980s, faces south over Hunawihr, southwest of the first two. There are also two tiny blocks, one high-elevation and east-facing but just west of the Hunawihr-Ribeauvillé road, which dates from the late 1970s, and an even smaller parcel, less than 0.1 hectare, nearly at the east edge of the cru and above Clos Ste-Hune, which was planted in the late 1980s. All Mittnacht parcels were developed using massale selections from older vineyards custom-grafted to limestone-tolerant rootstocks. Vine rows are typically about 2 meters apart, with about 1 meter between vines. The Mittnachts have farmed biodynamically since 1999. Beginning in 2011, they also began a conversion to minimum-till farming, trying to disturb the fragile profile of the surface soil as little as possible. The natural cover crop is

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neither tilled nor mowed, but instead is rolled with a heavy drum that has been fitted with knifelike edges to flatten and bruise vegetation around and between the vines. Although this protocol changes the appearance of the vineyard, making it look wilder and less neat, it reportedly encourages the survival of the strongest plants, provides a hospitable environment for soil-dwelling fauna, and reduces the temperature of the surface soil, which seems useful as a buffer against climate change. Three tastings—one done in 2012 of Mader’s Rosacker Rieslings from 2011 to 2007; one in 2014 of Mittnacht Frères’ wines from 2012 and 2009; and one in 2012 of Mittnacht Frères’ wines from 2007, 2005, 2001, and 1994—provided a fine view into the properties of this exceptional cru. Younger vintages showed fruit ranging across a spectrum from peach to pear and mirabelle, plus citrus and green-f leshed melon. Older vintages presented mostly aromatic herbal notes and signals of maturity, including roasted nuts, orange peel, wax, and petrol. Several vintages were signed with a saline notes and white pepper, which many winemakers deem characteristic of Rosacker. There is plenty of minerality, and the wines are typically a rewarding combination of lively freshness with the roundness that soils with a significant mash-up of clay often bring to Riesling. In the Mader vertical, the 2010 impressed with just 13.4°, high acidity (9 g/L), and low residual sugar (3.8 g/L), beginning with an attack of lemon and pear sorbet, leading to a saline midpalate, and finishing as a long, delicious, saliva-inducing wine. The 2007 was another personal favorite: a bit less evolved than the 2008, it had a classically fresh and round shape, bright citrus, and white pepper, with hints of bay laurel and a suggestion of Provençal garrigue (13.8°, almost 8 g/L of total acid, and 5.5 g/L of residual sugar). Overall, the Mittnacht Frères editions were rounder wines than those from Mader, and a trifle more textured, and several Mittnacht vintages finished with higher residual sugar. The 2012 was exceptionally pretty: dusty, lemon-

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inflected, minty, herb-scented, and floral; then chalky, long, and very elegant, but not tight, with 5 g/L of unfermented sugar. Both the 2009 and the 2001 had self-arrested at 9 g/L of sugar and were not restarted. The 2009 showed considerable peach, some cinnamon, and a nice expression of Rosacker salinity. The 1994 was a special treat, despite Marc Mittnacht’s assurance that it was “a year with great acid but not a great year”: fresh, bright, citrus-edged, herbinfused, tastefully mineral, elegant overall, and still impressively young. The best-known section of Rosacker does not look especially different from the rest, but it has nonetheless developed an outsized reputation. This is the 1.6-hectare monopole called Clos Ste-Hune, in the cru’s southeast quadrant. Domaine F. E. Trimbach has owned all of this parcel since the 19th century, when Hunawihr was the Trimbachs’ family seat and the clos was a very short stroll from home. Clos Ste-Hune’s footprint is a skewed quadrilateral walled only on its south side, where it abuts the village, and partially on its east side. About 80 percent of its slope falls off to the east, but it is also tilted slightly south, and topography at the top of the slope interferes with cooler air arriving from the northwest, creating a microclimate within the cru. Vine rows are oriented east-west across most of the clos, though a few north-south rows are found along its east edge. Old vines and younger ones are interplanted, since vines are replaced individually as they fail—some between 70 and 80 years old are still in production. Newer vines are generated by customgrafting scion material from one or more of the clos’s older healthy vines to 161–09 or 3309 rootstock. The clos has been almost entirely botrytis-free since 1990 and has been farmed organically, using only copper and sulfur as additives, since 2008. No one knows why Clos Ste-Hune yields a wine substantially unlike any other from Rosacker, even when the latter are very fine. Even the Trimbachs are at a loss to explain the difference, although they also own a small parcel of Rosacker barely 4 meters distant from

Clos Ste-Hune’s northwest corner, across a narrow road, which is visually and otherwise indistinguishable from Ste-Hune. (The grapes from this adjacent parcel are used elsewhere in the estate’s Riesling program, not in the Clos Ste-Hune.) In 2014, I tasted four classic vintages of Clos Ste-Hune, 2009, 2008, 2004, and 2001, and an unusual botrytis-affected edition from 1989 called Vendange Tardive Hors Choix. The simple fact that the youngest Clos Ste-Hune deemed fit for tasting in 2014 was the 2009— and neither the 2008 nor the 2009 had yet been released—is the first clue to exceptionality: these are wines that open very slowly, age gently, and last almost imperishably. (People more fortunate than I have reported tasting Clos Ste-Hune wines between 20 and 30 years old in superlative condition; see, for example, Tom Stevenson’s notes on the 1966 and 1967 vintages, tasted in 1990 [Stevenson 1993].) Indeed, the 2009 was reticent, if promising: after a few minutes in the glass, its lacy, finely cut structure offered up chalk, spice, lemon zest, and casaba melon, prefiguring the profile it will eventually show. The 2008 was about ripe pear, a hint of white peach, the chalky minerality typical of limestone soils, and white pepper, but all were restrained and elegant, not exuberant, harbingers of hedonic greatness yet to come. The 2004 was the youngest of the vintages to be genuinely forthcoming. Its color had evolved toward a pale golden yellow; aromas of bay laurel, mint, walnuts, pepper, and coconut had appeared, while the impression of a citrusinf lected, white-f leshed wine persisted, and underlying minerality lent a long finish to the expressive midpalate. With the 2001, Clos SteHune had become irresistible: a slight nutty nose was rich with white-f leshed fruit and lemon zest turning toward orange. It was a sort of apricot-orange cocktail with an intensely dry finish, and its very intense fruit f lavors were underlain with a mix of fresh and dried savory herbs. The 1989 Hors Choix was, of course, something entirely different: a stunningly crisp and clean expression of very ripe and

botrytis-affected grapes perfectly seasoned with pine nuts, coconut, and orange-skin marmalade and supported with underpinning minerality. How this parcel should be so different from the surrounding cru is one of terroir’s micro-mysteries, to be savored for now rather than sorted out.

VINS D ’A L SACE M ADER 68150 Hunawihr

Jean-Luc Mader explains that his maternal grandfather, Théophile Fischer, was an estate wine producer before World War II, farming grapes, making wines, and (unusually for the time) selling finished wines in bottle. In the aftermath of the war, however, Jean-Luc’s father, Marcel Mader, changed course. Realizing that infrastructural damage and shattered markets had made his father-in-law’s business model impossible, Marcel came to see strong and technically sophisticated wine cooperatives as the best—and perhaps the only viable—alternative to an oligopoly of négociants. Marcel Mader chose not to produce wines of his own; instead he helped to found the Cave coopérative de Hunawihr and served many terms as its president. A generation later, however, when Jean-Luc was a young married man with two children, the situation changed again. The 1970s had brought impressive prosperity to Alsace, great vineyard parcels were available inexpensively, and circumstances seemed auspicious for small businesses. Following formal studies of enology and viticulture at the Lycée viticole de Beaune in 1979–80, Jean-Luc and his wife resumed estate production, creating Domaine Jean-Luc Mader in 1981 and gradually phasing out his father’s sales to the Hunawihr cooperative. The Maders embraced genuinely dry wines as their house style and sold directly to restaurants and private clients and to importers representing foreign markets. They also expanded their holdings of vineyard land to almost 10 hectares in four communes and built an enviable reputation for seriousness of purpose and for clean, pure, and

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refined Rieslings. Their son Jérôme, armed with a pair of Burgundian certifications—a brevet de technicien supérieur agricole (BTSA) from the same Lycée viticole that his father had attended, and a diplôme national d’oenologue (DNO) from Dijon—joined the domaine in 2001. As part of his formal training, Jérôme had also worked stages at Domaine Fontaine-Gagnard in Chassagne-Montrachet and with Ribeauvillé neighbors Trimbach and Kientzler. Between 2001 and 2005, he made time to work harvests in the Southern Hemisphere, at Huia Vineyards in Blenheim (New Zealand) and Hoopenburg Wines in Stellenbosch (South Africa). He has had primary responsibility for the Mader wines since 2005. Winemaking here begins with whole-cluster pressing that relies on long, gentle cycles. The new juice is cold-settled until turbidity is very low, so that it is “clean” before fermentation begins. The stainless-steel fermentation tanks are topped with inert gas to minimize oxidation. No extraneous yeast is introduced, but a pied-decuve, initially made from an already active fermentation of Pinot Blanc (which Mader picks before the Riesling) and then from each active fermentation of Riesling, is used to ensure that the next in line starts vigorously. Since Mader picks Riesling between 13.5° and 14° potential alcohol and seeks dry wine, it deems the pied-decuve essential to the avoidance of yeasting. Malolactic conversions often occur concurrently with the primary fermentation and are not discouraged; father and son agree that they generally do not see any malolactic signature in the finished wine aromas. Fermentations are relatively long, rarely terminating before February after the vintage, at which time the wines are racked, filtered, and bottled.

D OMAINE M IT TNACHT FRE` RES 68150 Hunawihr

In the cellar of Domaine Mittnacht Frères, on the road that links Hunawihr with the Route des Vins, there are a few wooden casks still in use 176

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that were coopered in the 1860s. Marc Mittnacht’s great-grandfather made them, and Marc’s grandfather Paul was the first Mittnacht to make wine commercially here. His father, André, and his uncle Louis, Paul’s two sons, created the Mittnacht Frères firm in 1963. Today this family enterprise, which makes about 14,000 cases of wine annually, is in the hands of cousins Marc and Christophe, each of whom holds a BTSA certification from the Centre de formation professionnelle et de promotion agricole in Rouffach, and their wives. Christophe and Yuka once lived above the old cellar, which is adjacent to a newer building that houses an elegant tasting room, but have recently moved a bit farther from the cellar and closer to the vines. Marc and Charlotte live barely 70 meters from the cellar, on the opposite side of the road. The estate farms 23 hectares of vines in Hunawihr and neighboring communes. The estate’s basic Riesling, called Les Fossiles, is a bright wine redolent of grapefruit and pear that finishes with strong minerality. It is exceptionally well made from young vines or “lesser” blocks in the estate’s grand cru holdings and from village sites in Hunawihr, and it is crafted to ref lect Mittnacht Frères’ commitment to dry wines with relatively modest alcohols. There is usually also an impressive Riesling from the Muehlforst vineyard (see page 169), plus vineyard-designated bottlings from each of Rosacker, Osterberg (see page 155), and Mandelberg (Mittelwihr), and, in some vintages, a late-harvest bottling from especially old vines. Winemaking begins with grapes picked by hand into small bins and pressed as whole clusters. Whatever triage is needed to eliminate damaged fruit has taken place in the vineyard beforehand. The juice is settled naturally, without use of enzymes or fining agents, and the true bottom of the tank, where there is more solid material than wine, is usually discarded. The cellar is a mix of wooden casks, some very old (see above), and stainless-steel tanks purchased in the 1970s and ’80s, but the wooden vessels are now used preferentially, especially for Riesling. Mittnacht picks a few

kilos of grapes from each vineyard a few days before the harvest truly starts and uses them for a pied-de-cuve to minimize problems with sluggish fermentations (fermentations rely exclusively on naturally occurring yeast). In the case of Riesling, each fermentation is allowed to go as dry as it will naturally, which is usually when between 5 and 6 g/L of sugar remain. In warm vintages with high potential alcohol, residual sugar can be a bit higher; in 2009, Mittnacht’s Rosacker Riesling contained 9 g/L of residual sugar. Allowing fermentations to finish naturally also lets the Mittnachts minimize additions of sulfur, since the new wine is relatively stable once the yeasts have ceased converting sugar. Les Fossiles, which privileges fruit over terroir, is usually racked fairly soon after the primary fermentation has ended. Singlevineyard wines are generally left on their full fermentation lees for several months or until May of the year following the vintage, provided no reduction develops, before being racked and lightly filtered but not fined. Additional pad filtration is done in conjunction with bottling.

D OMAINE F. E. TRIMBACH 68150 Ribeauvillé

The Trimbachs are among the oldest and most distinguished of Alsace’s wine-dealing dynasties. Jean Trimbach grew grapes at Riquewihr as early as 1626; his son and grandson subsequently served terms as Riquewihr’s mayor; the scion of the family’s eighth generation, JeanFrédéric Trimbach, served as mayor of Hunawihr after the family had moved there in 1840. It was, however, the success of wines made by Frédéric-Emile Trimbach, scion of the family’s 10th Alsatian generation, at the Foire internationale de Bruxelles in 1898, that established the Trimbachs’ modern reputation as growers, winemakers, and négociants, and it was FrédéricEmile who relocated the family enterprise to Ribeauvillé, where it sits today at the foot of the Geisberg vineyard, less than half a kilometer from the center of town. The enterprise is now in

the hands of its 11th and 12th generations, with Hubert Trimbach as semiretired chief executive and brand ambassador, Jean Trimbach in charge of commerce, and Pierre Trimbach responsible for the vines and the cellar since 1985. A large percentage of total production depends on purchased grapes, which anchor the classique and réserve tiers. The third tier relies entirely on estate-grown fruit. Within this tier, the most basic wine is a cuvée called Selection de Vieilles Vignes, which depends on parcels in Geisberg, Osterberg, and Muehlforst. Next up is Cuvée M, a single-vineyard wine from Mandelberg, a grand cru vineyard in Mittelwihr. The Trimbachs acquired their piece of Mandelberg in 1995, and, in 2012, they also bought a 1.9-hectare parcel in the Schlossberg grand cru (see page 178), of which 1.6 hectares were planted and bearing. Interviewed in 2014, Jean and Pierre Trimbach said that thought was being given to selling this wine under the Schlossberg grand cru name, marking a departure from Trimbach practice hitherto: like Hugel and Beyer, Hubert Trimbach had been unhappy with the process by which grands crus were delimited and the bloated size of many of them, and the firm categorically avoided the use of these designations for almost 40 years. At the apex of the Trimbach pyramid, at least for now, are the Cuvée Frédéric Emile, made from selected parcels in Geisberg and Osterberg, and Clos Ste-Hune. The Trimbachs explicitly design their winemaking protocols to serve their house style: all Rieslings (save for intentionally late-harvest wines) are made indisputably dry so that they will complement gastronomy. This by no means excludes the consideration of a proper equilibrium of wines given the properties of each vintage, but no normally harvested Trimbach Riesling leaves the cellar with perceptible levels of residual sugar. Since Pierre Trimbach is one of the many winemakers who believe that Riesling, qua variety, can be deficient in nitrogen and/or yeast nutrients, including “nanoproteins,” and therefore are prone to incomplete fermentation, he takes numerous measures to minimize this risk. In the vineyard, he

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seeks to avoid excessive competition for nutrients between the vines and the cover crop. Unwilling to do entirely without cover crop, he is nonetheless rigorous about nonchemical weed control in the space immediately around the vine plants, cultivating this area almost daily in the summer months and manually in the steep Geisberg vineyard, where heavy equipment is virtually impossible to maneuver. In the cellar, grapes are destemmed before pressing, and, although the juice is settled after pressing, it is not rendered excessively clean, since this, too, can interfere with fermentations that finish dry. Fermentations that start promptly and vigorously are also important, so Trimbach starts the first fermentation of each variety in each vintage by inoculation with a cultivated yeast—albeit one originally selected in Alsace—and starts all subsequent ones with pieds-de-cuve created from the first fermentation. Since 1990, most fermentation tanks have been stainless steel, but the cellar still contains old, large wood casks—“the same casks in use when I was a kid,” according to Pierre—and glass-lined cement tanks, all of which are temperature-controlled. However, Pierre does not believe that the material of which the tank is made is enormously important, so his choice of which vessel to use for which wine is usually determined by cellar logistics. Since it can be hot at harvest time, the juice is sometimes chilled before fermentation begins and thereafter is maintained at around 18°C in most years until each tank is as dry as it will go. This can mean that a fermentation continues into February after the vintage, but that is usually the outer limit. At this point, new wines are racked of the gross lees but kept on the fine lees, or clean fine lees may be readded to more completely racked wines for a few months of additional contact. Trimbach prefers that all the Rieslings, from the Classique to the Cuvée Frédéric Emile and the Clos Ste-Hune, be in bottle before the end of April or “late May at the latest.” Wines still in tank when the cellar rewarms during the summer after the vintage risk losing their freshness and edge, Pierre argues, and they can also be

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vulnerable to malolactic conversion, all of which is inconsistent with the Trimbach style.

Schlossberg Kientzheim and Kaysersberg, Haut-Rhin

Situated on the south face of the Bixkoepflé hill, overlooking the Weiss Valley between Kaysersberg (which it nearly surmounts) and Kientzheim (about 2 kilometers southeast), Schlossberg is the largest of the Alsatian grands crus and the first to have been approved and delimited, back in 1975. Its 80 hectares climb from the hill’s toe near the D28 road to the treeline, with a vertical rise of about 120 meters. The slope is steep; the narrow paths and roads that access the higher parts of the vineyard necessarily climb the hill diagonally. Schlossberg takes its name from the castle (Château de Kaysersberg) near its southwest corner. Now mostly ruined, the castle is still attractive to tourists and hikers, not least for the views it offers of the towns and valley below. Despite a very irregular perimeter owing to the realities of hillside topography, the footprint of the cru is an oblong: its length, which runs east-west, is nearly three times its width. Most of this is a single southfacing slope, slightly creased just east of its midpoint; at the top of the crease, the cru extends a bit into adjacent forest. There is also a noncontiguous parcel northeast of Schlossberg’s main slope, which faces east rather than south. Virtually the entire cru is terraced, although terraces lower on the slope are wider than those farther uphill. Unsurprisingly, the lower terraces also boast deeper soils, persistent erosion having inexorably moved topsoil down the slope. In the lower terraces, it has usually been possible to establish vines in rows oriented in line with the slope; upslope, where the terraces are narrower, vine rows are forced across the slope, an orientation that is avoided when possible since it creates one endlessly sunny side in each row while the opposite side receives little sun. Microclimates vary across Schlossberg: the higher elevations are generally warmer,

drier, and therefore earlier to pick, while the vineyard’s lower half is cooler, more prone to botrytis, and later to pick. That said, higher elevations are sometimes lightly affected by botrytis, which can give body and complexity to wines that might otherwise seem austere. Most of Schlossberg’s baserock is granite metamorphosed from shale and sandstone, while most of its topsoil is clay-laced sand. This puts it on a short list of granitic grands crus, along with Sommerberg at Niedermorschwihr (see page 185), Frankstein at Dambach-la-Ville, and parts of Brand at Turckheim; Sommerberg and Schlossberg are the most Riesling-intensive of the granitic sites. Local sources say that Riesling accounts for 75 to 80 percent of Schlossberg’s planted surface, with Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, and Muscat accounting for the rest. All other things being equal, granitic sites seem to work well for Riesling, which thrives in poor and rocky soils, and especially for Riesling made dry, because soils that dry rapidly after rain has fallen help to minimize botrytis. Granitic soils also tend to warm up quickly in the spring, compensating for Riesling’s varietal tendency to f lower late, and to retain heat well throughout the growing season, offsetting its tendency to ripen late. Domaine Weinbach (see below), just across the D28 road from Schlossberg, between the D28 and the Weiss River, is Schlossberg’s largest tenant. The domaine owns and farms 8 of Schlossberg’s 80 hectares, and more than 7 of those 8 hectares are planted to Riesling. Two are a single consolidated block in the vineyard’s upper half that spreads over two terraces. A core of vines on these terraces averages more than 40 years of age, but since 2003 the old vines have been surrounded on both sides by younger ones planted on land reclaimed from uncultivated scrub. Vine spacing is quite tight, with about 1.15 meters between rows and between vines. A natural cover crop fills the alleys and is periodically cultivated to minimize its competition with vines, and young vines are managed to compensate for their natural tendency to produce generously. Weinbach has

farmed all of its vineyard organically for more than two decades, and the estate was certified biodynamic in 2010. When the new vines in the consolidated block were planted in 2003, and as new plantings have been done in other parcels since, the scion material has been taken from well-performing vines elsewhere in Schlossberg, from Weinbach parcels in other vineyards, or from neighbors, which a local nursery grafts on 101–49 rootstock. The other 5 hectares of Weinbach’s Schlossberg holdings are lower on the slope. They spread over four terraces, two of which were planted in the early 1960s, one in the 1980s, and one in 2008. There is also 0.6 hectare of Riesling on the extreme west edge of the cru, upslope from the ruined castle. The various blocks are used in specific and quite different ways. The consolidated highelevation block—young vines excluded until they reached an acceptable level of maturity in 2012—is the backbone of the bottling called Grand Cru Schlossberg. This is Weinbach’s most elegant cuvée of Riesling: always dry, delicate, and finely chiseled, but also intensely flavored, sometimes because a bit of botrytisaffected fruit was deliberately included among the grapes crushed to make it. This crystalline wine is one of my favorite dry Rieslings of any provenance, almost irrespective of vintage. A vertical tasting of Riesling Schlossberg in 2013—the youngest a tank sample from 2012, the oldest from 1993—testified to the site’s delicacy, clarity, and minerality. The 2012 was all about white fruit and flowers on a base of clean, precise minerality; the 2005, a standout, showed huge extract, midpalate concentration, and length, with delicate highlights of white pepper and ginger. The 2004 was a brilliant expression of a cool vintage, redolent of flowers, mint, and pepper, plus dry minerality. The 1993, nearly golden in color and expressive of beeswax, honey, menthol, and white pepper, was finely structured at midpalate, seemed endowed with an endless finish, and certainly qualifies as one of the finest dry Rieslings I have ever had the pleasure to taste.

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The midslope and downslope parcels are used for three other cuvées: Riesling Réserve SainteCatherine, Grand Cru Cuvée Sainte-Catherine, and Cuvée Sainte-Catherine ‘L’Inédit.” The deeper soils in these parcels give wines with rounder mouthfeel and deeper flavor, tending toward an expression of yellow stone fruits such as mirabelle plum. The Schlossberg name is deliberately not used in conjunction with the Riesling Réserve Sainte-Catherine bottling since some of the grapes picked to make it come from a parcel at the toe of the hill that falls outside the perimeter of the cru. L’Inédit deliberately includes a substantial fraction of botrytis-affected fruit and is usually not dry by this book’s definition, with residual sugar hovering in the neighborhood of 22 g/L (and up to 28 g/L in 2004). In cool vintages such as 2008, any or all of these Sainte-Catherine wines can express the same brilliance and finesse as the Grand Cru Schlossberg, but in warmer vintages, in varying degrees, they have a profile so different that they can seem to have come from an entirely different site. Famously, Schlossberg was the first of the Alsace grands crus to be delimited and approved 40 years ago. No one could imagine, when the process began, that a name then believed by most local winegrowers to apply to no more than 40 hectares of relatively homogeneous hillside would end up bloated into a patchwork of 80 hectares by vignerons eager to be included in a prestigious appellation. The noncontiguous east-facing portion of Schlossberg mentioned in the foregoing description is one illustration of the bloat, but it is far from the only example. As other sites were promoted to grand cru status in the years following the approval of Schlossberg, a few avoided its fate, as their perimeters were confined to traditional understandings of designated surface, widely accepted in local usage. But in many other cases, political considerations trumped both geology and viticulture. Now many observers agree that the dissidents back in 1975 were right and regret that a way was not found to depoliticize delimitation before the Schlossberg error became endemic. Other producers of Schlossberg Rieslings

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are Domaine Paul Blanck et Fils, Domaine Schmitt & Carrer, and the cooperative Cave Kientzheim-Kaysersberg, all in Kientzheim, and Domaine Albert Mann, in nearby Wettolsheim. A few small parcels have been purchased by Domaine Bott-Geyl (see page 159) and, in 2011, by F. E. Trimbach (page 177).

D OMAINE WEINBACH 68240 Kaysersberg

Until the French Revolution, what is now Domaine Weinbach was the site of a monastery housing a community of the order known as the Capuchin Friars Minor, which split from the Franciscans around 1520. The monastic buildings and walled vineyard were then known as the Clos des Capucins, a name that Weinbach has preserved on neck labels for all its wines. Nationalized and sold after the Revolution, the Clos des Capucins was acquired in 1898 by two brothers of the Faller family, both successful Kaysersbourgeois, who passed the property to Théo Faller (1911–79), who was, respectively, their son and nephew. Théo laid the foundation for the estate’s contemporary reputation for fine wines from great sites and championed the creation of the Alsace appellation in 1971. His wife, Colette Faller, the gracious and formidable grande dame of Alsace wine, who ran Domaine Weinbach for more than three decades, passed away in February 2015, as this book was going to press. She admitted to knowing little about wine until Théo’s death, when it became clear to her more or less overnight that Weinbach was a “mission.” “If I was to be taken seriously [as a woman and a newcomer to wine],” she said later, “I had to be better than all the others” (quoted in Schroeder 2015). That Weinbach should be different, embracing elegance rather than fashion, especially in the case of its Schlossberg Rieslings, was Colette’s decision, years before her two daughters, Catherine and Laurence, joined her in the business, spawning the label that identified the domaine, in swash script, no longer as Faller Frères but as

the estate of Colette Faller et ses filles. In another cruel intervention, fate took Laurence, the winemaker, 10 months before her mother, of a cardiac attack at the tender age of 47. She made most of the Schlossberg wines reported on earlier in this profile, championed biodynamic conversion of the vineyards, received visitors along with her mother and sisters, and kept the torch lighted. Now the estate has passed into the care of Catherine and her son Théo, named for his grandfather, who is a trained viticulturist with some California experience at Tablas Creek Vineyard in Paso Robles. Théo has had responsibility for the vineyards since 2003. Today the domaine works exclusively with estate grapes from a total of 29 hectares, all within a few kilometers of the Clos des Capucins. The lion’s share of production is Riesling and Gewurztraminer, but the portfolio also includes Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Sylvaner, Muscat, and Pinot Noir. In addition to the Schlossberg wines discussed above, the Riesling program includes a basic “reserve” wine and a Cuvée Théo, both from the Clos des Capucins, and a Cuvée Sainte-Catherine to which the Schlossberg name is not joined. This last is made from vines grown in a parcel at the bottom of the Schlossberg slope, a portion of which lies outside the boundary of the grand cru. Cellar protocols for Weinbach Rieslings begin with whole grape clusters that are pressed slowly and softly, allowing some skin contact. Heavy press fractions are not used in the main cuvées. The juice is clarified statically for about 24 hours before fermentations begin. Fermentations take place in old, large, very neutral wood tanks, rely entirely on naturally occurring yeasts, and typically extend for as long as seven or eight months. In a typical vintage of average size, the Riesling Schlossberg ferments in two tanks, which are later blended. Most often, Weinbach allows all fermentations destined for dry wines to ferment as dry as each will go, but the cellar team occasionally intervenes to stop a fermentation, especially in high-acid vintages. After the primary fermentation has finished, the new wines are racked but are left in contact with their

fine lees for additional weeks or months. All the estate’s Rieslings are filtered before bottling.

Schoenenbourg de Riquewihr Haut-Rhin

Schoenenbourg occupies 53.4 hectares on the south face of the hill that separates the towns of Riquewihr and Hunawihr, about 10 kilometers northwest of Colmar. Its footprint is a seriously asymmetrical pentagon whose longest side is the east-west line at the vineyard’s top, about 370 meters above sea level. The bottom, about 300 meters above sea level at the southwest corner and 260 meters at the southeast, consists of two legs: one that follows the Sembach along Riquewihr’s medieval ramparts, and another that follows the D3 road from the southeast edge of town toward Zellenberg. The vineyard’s two short sides are its steep west edge, immediately above Riquewihr, and a gentler east edge, where Schoenenbourg abuts the neighboring lieu-dit, which consists of another 10 or so hectares of vines called Kronenburg. The topsoils in Schoenenbourg are generally described as relatively heavy, fertile soils containing abundant clay, laced with bits of gypsum, broken sandstone, gravel, and sand, over a base of marl and what geologists used to call keuper, for which the preferred labels are now mudstone or claystone. The mix of surface material on the middle and lower slopes appears blackish or gray overall; red clay, very visibly scattered with broken sandstone and fans of sandy gravel, dominates the top of the vineyard. As elsewhere, topsoil is deeper at the bottom of the slope than at the top: 1.5 meters at the bottom, less than 0.5 meter at the top. Erosion has flattened the top of the hill, so Schoenenbourg is steepest in its midsection. But generalizations are challenged in this sector of the subVosgian hills by omnipresent heterogeneity. Owing to a superimposition of stepped faults that run both north-south and east-west, and to complex patterns of erosion as different layers of base rock were exposed, the entire area

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around Riquewihr, including Schoenenbourg, resembles nothing so much as a three-dimensional checkerboard where no parcel is quite the same as any of its neighbors. Schoenenbourg’s overall south-facing orientation is also a generalization—the west end of the vineyard actually faces south-southwest, while the east end, which wraps around the hill toward the border with Kronenburg, slopes decidedly southeast. As elsewhere, family histories and generational divisions and redivisions of property mean that most vintners farm a scattering of noncontiguous parcels, but here parcel exchanges are hard to arrange. Some vintners argue that farming some parcels that ripen earlier and some that lag, some that display more vigor and some that show less, and having access to an assortment of vine ages are essential to good expression of site. Almost all of Schoenenbourg is planted in rows that follow the direction of the slope. This makes the typical row orientation north-south, but as the vineyard wraps around the hill, rows in some parcels run as much as 30 degrees off true north-south. Most growers now cultivate only between alternate vine rows, leaving a cover crop in place elsewhere and avoiding herbicides. Riesling accounts for the vast majority of vines on the west side of the site, while Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer are increasingly common near and beyond the line that separates classical Schoenenbourg from the Kronenburg lieu-dit. Hugel et Fils (see below) farms 30 parcels in Schoenenbourg that cover a total of 5 hectares. Most of these parcels are located around midslope, where, as noted, the soil is predominantly black or gray at its surface. At the top of the vineyard, Hugel farms a single parcel in similar soil, but here the soil’s surface is red, reflecting the presence of iron salts that were exposed to the air at some early point in geologic time. The surface soil in Hugel’s other higher-elevation parcels displays broken pieces of colorless or off-white crystalline rock composed mostly of dolomite, anhydrite, and calcite, plus broken limestone and gravel. Marc Hugel describes the

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scattered and quite heterogeneous holdings as “a great luxury” that enables the house to build wines from different soils, different exposures, and a wide range of vine ages. Since individual vines are replaced nearly every year, at any single point in time the youngest vines are just one or two years old, while the oldest survivors may be about 60, giving an average age that is “neither too old nor too young.” Farming protocols have been fully organic since the 2013 vintage and include leaf pulling on the shadier side of each vine at veraison. Hugel’s Jubilée Riesling, made since the company celebrated its 350th anniversary in 1989, is built entirely from parcels in Schoenenbourg. Essentially the same wine was made for almost a century before 1989, however, under names such as Réserve Exceptionnelle and Réserve Personnelle. As a matter of house policy, neither Jubilée, its predecessor blends, nor any other Hugel wine is vineyard-designated. Resolutely dry, typically containing between 4 and 7 g/L of residual sugar, and blended from a mix of parcels in different vintages, Jubilée is always a beautiful expression of Schoenenbourg and of vintage variation within a determination that the wine not only must be dry by the numbers, but also must taste unambiguously dry regardless of vintage. Schoenenbourg is actually not the easiest site from which to make dry Riesling successfully. Its relatively clay-rich soils, augmented by the site’s steepish south-facing exposure, seem to favor wines that are more opulent than mineral, while the soils’ moisture content and the humidity that arises from the Sembach give botrytis an above-average chance to flourish. Quite a few producers with holdings here find the site especially well suited to the production of late-harvest wines; nominally dry wines are often really off-dry and borderline baroque. Hugel’s Jubilée, however, is the exception that proves the rule. With multiple parcels from which to choose and the ability to vary the choice based on vintage-specific considerations, plus meticulous viticulture, the Hugels have made elegant dry and ageworthy Rieslings entirely from

Schoenenbourg vines for several generations. Grapes for Jubilée are generally picked after the beginning of the harvest in Schoenenbourg, leaving the first-picked fruit to anchor other bottlings. Sometimes very slightly round at midpalate, sometimes both charpenté (structured) and ripe, sometimes slightly saline, and sometimes (in humid vintages) kissed with petrol, Jubilée can show melon, vervain, mint, and white pepper in a warm, dry year such as 2007, or citrus peel and spicy minerality in a “classic” but moister vintage such as 2005. In vintages that permit Marc Hugel to make a Riesling VT (for Vendange Tardive), it, too, is built from Schoenenbourg fruit, but for this wine he privileges parcels with an older average vine age. Although older vintages of VT can taste almost dry, this cuvée is typically made from significantly riper grapes than the Jubilée, and some vintages may contain as much as 60 g/L of residual sugar. A tasting in the late spring of 2014 of the 2007–10 vintages of Jubilée and the 1963 Réserve Exceptionnelle was rewarding. The 2010, from a cool, high-acid vintage (7.8 g/L of total acid and 6 g/L of residual sugar), showed as the young wine that it is, fresh and bright, with an explosive nose of mint and whitefleshed fruit, abundant midpalate herbal properties, and good minerality on the finish. The 2009, with slightly less acid but identical residual sugar, was dusty, dry, and tight, but with attractive latent fruit and considerable anise. The 2008, a late vintage that finished with blessedly modest alcohol at 12° but had as much acid as the 2010, was a personal favorite, loaded with anise, tarragon, summer savory, and abundant bay laurel, with a very dry finish, and was totally delicious. The 2007 showed the properties remarked on above, plus macadamia and quinine, a soft, round midpalate held in place with relatively high acid (7.5 g/L), and good minerality. Unsurprisingly, the 1963 was a treat: a beautiful, brilliant color and redolent of bay laurel, vanilla, truff les, and botrytis. Dominated almost entirely by secondary and tertiary aromatics, this wine was still fresh and clean from nose to finish.

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68340 Riquewihr

This giant among Alsace wine estates, always family-owned and -operated but represented in wine markets worldwide, has been in business for nearly four centuries. Resistant to adversity when Alsace was annexed by Germany after the Franco-Prussian War and when Germany illegally occupied Alsace in 1940 and resilient when recovery was possible, Hugel et Fils has steadfastly championed the highest possible quality at all price points and international visibility for Alsace wines whenever and wherever the world’s best wines have been lined up. The estate’s leader in the second half of the 20th century, Jean Frédéric Hugel (1924–2009), was so well known at home and abroad that much of the wine trade called him Johnny. Trained in viticulture at Montpellier in the years immediately after World War II, he joined his family’s business in 1948. Universally respected, he was almost universally loved as well, his enthusiasm for wine and people captured in his oft-repeated insistence that “people who like wine are nicer than people who do not.” He was a tireless advocate for genuinely dry editions of Alsatian white wines, insisting that such wines were Alsace’s truest vocation. At the same time, he was the main architect of the strict rules now accepted for Alsatian noblesweet wines, notably that production of these wines require advance declaration of intent by the vintner, inspection before harvest to ensure the grapes naturally shriveled on the vine, avoidance of both chaptalization and reacidification, and proactive approval based on official peer tasting. His colleagues’ affection was tested when Johnny objected vehemently to the enormous surface proposed for Schlossberg as the first Alsace grand cru was delimited in 1975, arguing that such delimitation was viticulturally and historically unjustifiable. He resigned rather than make peace with a delimitation he found viticulturally unjustifiable. The Hugel estate, in the hands of Jean Frédéric’s nephews Marc, Etienne, and

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Jean-Philippe since 1997, now farms a mindboggling 300 estate-owned parcels totaling 27 hectares, entirely within the communal limits of Riquewihr. It also purchases grapes from another plus-or-minus 70 hectares held to similar standards of viticulture and harvest protocols, and it sells more than 100,000 cases annually, of which an astonishing 90 percent is exported. The entire production is vinified in the estate’s labyrinthine cellars in the heart of Riquewihr; for this house, there has been no expansion toward the edges of town. Marc Hugel is the winemaker and viticulturist in the current generation. Trained initially in business in Colmar and Paris and then in viticulture and enology at the Lycée agricole de Mâcon-Davayé (now ECVS Mâcon-Davayé), Marc also spent half of 1980 at Weingut Bürklin-Wolf in the Pfalz and half of 1981 at several Australian wine estates. He joined the family business later in 1981. The Riesling program rests on a basic estate wine called Classic Riesling “Hugel,” made mostly from purchased fruit, and a Riesling “Tradition Hugel,” made from younger vines in estate parcels. Both are dry. The aforementioned Jubilée or, more precisely, Hugel Jubilée is the estate’s top-quality dry cuvée. Estate parcels are usually picked later than nonowned parcels, and Hugel picks a bit late overall, but substantially earlier than neighbors such as, for example, Zind-Humbrecht. The house philosophy is that grapes should be picked when they are ripe enough to avoid any hint of sour flavor, but not so ripe that terroir disappears behind a veil of exuberant fruit. Looking at wines across the world, Marc Hugel perceives “a race for greater maturity worldwide that is negative for terroir, finesse, and ageability in bottle,” and he avoids it. On the one hand, he is at pains to avoid juice pH values under 2.75, which can produce hard wines and cause some fermentations to stick prematurely; on the other, he wants wines that are perfectly dry at around 13° for elegance and finesse. Hand-picked fruit, raised in elevators from ground level to the press pad, is pressed as whole clusters without maceration. The new

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juice, moved through stainless-steel pipes by gravity alone, is then settled for 12 to 14 hours to achieve “perfect turbidity,” determined by a combination of visual assay for appropriate translucence and analysis of centrifuged juice samples for solids content. Marc Hugel argues that a golden mean of turbidity, neither too dense nor too clear, is fundamental “both to wine quality and to successful fermentations.” He also takes care to farm vineyard parcels so that the juice will contain a sufficiency of amino acids, as it is widely believed that nitrogenrelated deficiencies (along with the aforementioned very low pH values) are associated with incomplete fermentations. In the Hugel cellars, all fermentation tanks are made of wood, and about half were coopered in-house. Hugel observes that his great-grandfather was a vigneron-tonnellier—both a winemaker and a cooper. About the first third of each fermentation relies on naturally occurring yeast, but a mixture of multiple cultured strains of Saccharomyces is then added to minimize the risk that any tank will stop prematurely. Hugel avoided malolactic conversions until 2008, but since 2010 the winery has systematically added malolactic starter simultaneous with the addition of cultured yeasts. Marc Hugel had found that he prefers malolactic conversion to residual sugar when a counterbalance is needed for high acid; he argues that it gives the wine additional gras (body). Fermentation temperatures have been controlled since 1982 to a maximum of 20°C, a protocol Hugel credits to his experience in Australia the previous year. (Hugel says he remembers a few fermentations in the 1970s that reached 40°C, cooking fruit expression almost entirely out of the wine.) To minimize the use of sulfur throughout winemaking, Hugel removes a juice sample from each tank as fermentation begins and exposes it to air for two to three hours. If the sample does not darken, no sulfur is added. Riesling is a “very stable variety,” he says; if juice exposed to air does not oxidize within an hour’s time, the new wine will remain stable without extrinsic protection. Typical fermentations last from four to five weeks, but

some continue for much longer. The new wine is left on the full fermentation lees for one to two months after fermentation ends, at which point each tank is racked. Blends are made in March or April after the vintage, and the finished wines are lightly filtered and bottled in May or June.

Sommerberg Niedermorschwihr and Katzenthal, Haut-Rhin

Sommerberg is among the most dramatic of the Alsace grand cru vineyards, commanding the south-facing slope of the Trois-Épis hill that separates Katzenthal, astride the tiny Dorfbach, from Niedermorschwihr, which nestles in the Weidbach valley about 5 kilometers west of Colmar. The hill rises sharply above Niedermorschwihr, dominating the small town, averaging 45 degrees of slope and so rugged, broken with outcroppings of granite and terrain too rough to plant, that only 15 hectares of its 28-hectare surface are currently farmed, some parcels having been abandoned during and after the 20th century’s two wars. Sommerberg is geologically quite homogeneous, as its perimeter was drawn to coincide with topsoils made almost entirely of crumbled granite on a base of granite flecked with mica. From west to east, however, the cru is like a broad strip of crinkled ribbon, here concave and there convex, such that individual parcels rarely face due south but rather southwest or southeast, climbing the hill from the 270-meter contour to just above 400 meters. Microclimates therefore vary considerably within the vineyard: where the hill’s profile is convex to the valley, the vines can be sunshine-drenched, warm, and early to ripen; where it is concave and protected from direct sun for part of the morning or afternoon, or where higher elevation moderates temperatures, parcels ripen several weeks later. The steep terrain, combined with the unhappily widespread use of chemical herbicides, contributes to constant erosion, which carries bits of soil and fragments of rock downhill, obliging growers to reclaim it with carts

and baskets and return at least some of it whence it came. Parcels are planted so that rows sometimes follow the slope and sometimes cut across its face. The steepest parcels are often terraced with dry-laid walls. The dirt is rich in minerals but low in humus and clay, limiting yields. Riesling is the majority tenant by far, claiming 85 percent of planted surface. Most of the rest is planted to Pinot Gris. Domaine Albert Boxler (see below), whose cellars are literally situated at the foot of Sommerberg, farms numerous parcels in three zones of the cru, amounting to a total of approximately 3 hectares. The oldest parcels, covering 1.2 hectares in which the average vine age was 67 years in 2014, are in a lieu-dit called Dudenstein, a midlevel site toward the east end of the cru. Slightly southwest-facing, it is warm and precocious and gives wines redolent of yellow peach and orange peel. Most of the fruit from these parcels is vinified separately in most years and is designated Sommerberg D. Also at midslope but west of Dudenstein are parcels of various ages, including some that are quite young; these anchor Boxler’s main Sommerberg bottling, known simply as Riesling Sommerberg, which is apple- and citrus-inf lected but structurally roundish. A third cluster of parcels, covering 0.8 hectare, is near the top of the vineyard, between the 370- and 400-meter contours, in a lieu-dit called Eckberg. Planted mostly in line with the slope except for a few rows of younger vines, the average vine age here is between 35 and 40 years. Eckberg is very rocky terrain and a cool zone in the vineyard that is always the latest to ripen. It gives intense wines with a firm acid backbone and pronounced mineral f lavors. The best and most typical of Eckberg, like the best of Dudenstein, is usually vinified separately, and it is bottled as Sommerberg E. Farming has been organic since 2003, and a cover crop is encouraged between rows to minimize erosion. In the vintages I have tasted (2010 and 2008, tasted at the estate in 2012), Sommerberg E was a beautifully built wine of stunning purity. Fruit was manifest as pear, citrus,

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and apple. The fruit was highlighted with floral notes and herbs such as lemon thyme, Thai basil, and various mints. The minerality was strong but more reassuring than overpowering, underpinning the wine’s midpalate and finish, which was ample, well structured, and very long. Some tasters find hints of salt marsh and iodine as well. Boxler’s Sommerberg E may be the finest and most consistent expression of this site: it is almost always made very dry and develops felicitously in bottle for upward of 20 years. Other Sommerberg producers of note include another branch of the Boxler family, Domaine Justin Boxler, also domiciled in Niedermorschwihr; Domaine Paul Blanck of Kientzheim; and Colmar-based Domaine Schoffit. In 2010, Domaine Zind-Humbrecht acquired an abandoned parcel of Sommerberg near the cru’s high edge that it is presently redeveloping. Zind-Humbrecht does not plan to make a vineyard-designated Riesling from Sommerberg until after 2020, however.

D OMAINE A LBERT B OXLER

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68230 Niedermorschwihr

The Boxler family, originally from St. Gallen in Switzerland, first settled around Niedermorschwihr in the 17th century, taking advantage of the depopulation that followed the Thirty Years’ War. Jean Boxler, the man currently in charge of Domaine Albert Boxler, reports that his greatgrandparents ran a hotel-restaurant down the street from the present domaine at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries, and they made wine primarily to supply their guests. His cousin Justin Boxler still operates what is now called the Hôtel de l’Ange and still makes wine, but Jean Boxler’s grandfather Albert established a separate wine business in 1946. Albert had immigrated to the United States in 1925 at the tender age of 16, living in Montana, trapping animals, and working various jobs. He left the States to fight in World War II, returning to the family’s business in 1946. But vines, rather the hotel-restaurant, were

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thereafter his core business, and he took it seriously, selling bottled wines under a label of his own, designed by his cousin, from the outset. Albert’s son Jean-Marc succeeded him at the end of the 1960s before passing the baton to Jean in 1996. The domaine now farms a total of 13.8 hectares in and around Niedermorschwihr and makes just over 5,000 cases of wine annually, of which more than a third is Riesling. Young vines from several sites, on both granite-based and limestone soils, are the backbone of the estate’s basic Riesling and a reserve bottling, though the latter is built entirely from grand cru parcels. Surmounting these are the three dry Sommerberg-specific bottlings, plus a Sommerberg VT and SGN, either or both of which are sometimes produced as a block-designate from Dudenstein, and two wines from the Brand grand cru in nearby Turckheim. One of the two Brand wines is also a block-designated one, called K for Kirchberg, a lieu-dit within Brand. Boxler pays enormous attention to picking each parcel at its optimal maturity, which means that berries are tasted repeatedly as harvest approaches in an effort to avoid any hint of green f lavors on the one hand or overripeness (except for the VT and SGN wines) on the other. Grapes are pressed very slowly as whole clusters, using press cycles that last from 7 to 12 hours. After cold-settling, the juice is transferred to large oak tanks for fermentation. As far as possible, fermentations are left to start spontaneously, but Jean Boxler has at hand yeasts previously selected from each of his sites, which he adds in tiny quantity to lots that have not begun to ferment after three or four days’ wait. The quantities are so small, he says, that “an enologist would say that I have added nothing at all!” Boxler says he has found that most fermentation problems can be traced to weak vines, which is one reason he is fanatic about carefully farming his parcels, but he acknowledges that Riesling can also be hard to ferment “if it gets too ripe.” Fermentations are allowed to take as long as they will, typically three to four months, and to go as dry as they will. A

lagging fermentation may be encouraged by adding juice and solid material from a more active tank. Boxler avoids malolactic conversion “if at all possible” because he finds it inconsistent with “freshness.” In any case, he believes that the pH of his Rieslings is usually low enough to discourage malolactic bacteria. The new wines are left on their full fermentation lees as long as possible, ideally until bottling, which is not done until September after the vintage. If that is not possible—and sometimes it is not— Boxler prefers to rack as little and as late as possible. Use of sulfur is parsimonious throughout vinification: small amounts are added at the press, to the top of a fermentation tank but not stirred into the lees, and at bottling.

Clos Windsbuhl Hunawihr, Haut-Rhin

Clos Windsbuhl, which resembles a genteel and well-manicured farm, presides over a pastoral vale less than half a kilometer from the center of Hunawihr, on the VV111 road that winds southwest to Riquewihr. Now planted almost entirely to vines, Windsbuhl covers a modest south- and southeast-facing hillside, from the top of which Hunawihr’s famous fortified church is clearly visible. A large, threestory, mansard-roofed manor house constructed circa 1760 occupies the top of the farm, where arable land meets the treeline, about 350 meters above sea level. The bottom of the vineyard is bounded by the VV111 road, 50 meters downhill from the house. The Windsbuhl name dates from 1668, when an itinerant preacher named Joachim Stoll (1615–78) took up residence on the “windy hill” to escape an epidemic that was ravaging nearby Ribeauvillé. Before 1668, Windsbuhl had been called Erlach, a name that persists to this day as a lieu-dit within Clos Windsbuhl, while a hyphenated conjugation of both names—ErlachWindsbuhl—is used to designate a property larger than the walled vineyard, comprising adjacent fields, arable land, and chestnut forest.

Although some or all of the property was apparently leased to third parties for long periods between the 14th and 18th centuries, title was held by various members and branches of the Austrian Hapsburgs until 1648, when it passed (along with Hapsburg properties in various Alsatian towns) to the Kingdom of France under terms of the Treaty of Westphalia. After the French Revolution, ownership was transferred to a succession of wealthy Alsatian families, the Pasquays first, then the Hoffmanns, and finally Albert Meyer, a Strasbourgeois who acquired the entire property in the 1880s, substantially reconfigured the vineyard, and farmed it wisely. (See Becker 1912 for a reconstruction of its history at the turn of the past century.) Wines made at Windsbuhl in the 18th and 19th centuries enjoyed a considerable reputation, and the site—along with Geisberg (Ribeauvillé), Schoenenbourg (Riquewihr), Hengst (Wintzenheim), and Rangen (Thann)—appears in a list of exceptional vineyards compiled by Georges Spetz (1844–1914), an Alsatian industrialist, philanthropist, and gourmet whose books on Alsatian gastronomy and folklore were widely read at the turn of the past century and whose assessment of vineyards is still quoted by vintners. Yet the wines made from Windsbuhl fruit in the 1970s and ’80s by the Cave coopérative de Hunawihr, sold as Domaine de Windsbuhl, were reportedly undistinguished, owing largely to a tenant farmer’s disinterest, which had sent the property into steep decline. Windsbuhl’s historic reputation nonetheless attracted Léonard Humbrecht’s attention late in the 1980s. Humbrecht arranged with Bérengère Meyer, the widow of Albert Meyer’s son, that Zind-Humbrecht (see below) would assume responsibility for viticulture at Windsbuhl from 1987 onward, make Windsbuhl wines under the Zind-Humbrecht name from 1988 onward, and purchase all 6 hectares under vine outright in 1989. Humbrecht expected that Pinot Gris would emerge as the site’s best performer, and therefore he chose Pinot Gris and Chardonnay (the latter is now used, along with Auxerrois, to make Zind-Humbrecht’s Pinot d’Alsace)

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to replace the tenant farmer’s misconceived replantings. But Humbrecht also found that the Riesling the Meyer family had set out in the 1950s and ’60s in two perfectly south-facing parcels, one close to the manor house at the top of the vineyard and one slightly downslope, both of which he returned to sensible farming protocols, produced astonishing dry wine. Together the two Riesling parcels amount to just 0.9 hectare of loamy-clay soils strewn with broken limestone, their slope ranging from barely 15 to almost 40 percent. Vines are planted in northsouth-oriented rows in line with the slope, on two broad terraces separated by a single dry-laid stonewall, with about 1.1 meters between rows and a bit less between vines. These blocks were the origin of Zind-Humbrecht’s return to cultivation with a horse-drawn plow; there was little other choice, save handwork, since nothing mechanical could be fitted into the tight alleys of these older blocks. For the past 17 years, vine cultivation at Windsbuhl has been in the hands of an onsite team working directly for ZindHumbrecht. The cover crop in alternate alleys is tilled for aeration, while the other alleys are left intact to produce competition for the vines in, overall, a fairly vigorous site. When individual vines are replaced, only massale selections are used, custom-grafted to low-vigor rootstocks by a nursery in Wettolsheim. A combination of altitude, alkaline soils that retain water until the end of the growing season, and biodynamic farming (since 2000) creates a site that is cool and late to ripen but does so exceptionally well. Almost always the driest of the Zind-Humbrecht single-vineyard Rieslings (the 2007 fermented to just 1 g/L of residual sugar!), Windsbuhls are lively wines with very firm flavors, taut citrus, green apple, white peach, and salt-marsh character. I tasted five vintages covering 2001 through 2011 in the early summer of 2013. Unsurprisingly, the 2011 was the freshest and f leshiest vintage in the tasting, featuring green-apple pulp and peel tinged with kiwi and lychee, with handsome extract providing excellent midpalate texture.

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The high-acid 2010 was a good vehicle for the expression of the site’s salt-marshy side; at first f loral, then expressive of tarragon, ginger, green apple, and even pineapple. Exciting and brilliant on the palate, this wine already showed great length just three years after the vintage. Like the 2010, the 2008 opened with an impression of salt marsh but then turned broad, dense, and serious on the palate, with some fruit-peel chewiness and texture, but also an impression of sweetness, like a sweet cantaloupe. The 2007 was brilliant, bone dry, taut, and tightly wound, but also surprisingly round and approachable for such a dry wine. The 2001 showed beautiful evolution, including a touch of petrol on the nose, beeswax, sage, and a hint of honey and grapefruit zest. Its midpalate was almost off-dry, but it was chalky, dry, and insistently textured on its very long finish. In sum, these wines were a portrait of an outstanding, cool, late-ripening site that is now impeccably farmed.

D OMAINE Z IND -H UMBRECHT 68230 Turckheim

Although the eminent trio of estate-cum-négociant firms—Beyer, Hugel, and Trimbach—constitutes the best-known face of Alsace outside France, no Alsatian domaine has risen more spectacularly from relatively obscure beginnings just 50 years ago, or had more impact on its neighbors, than Zind-Humbrecht. The estate was built from 2 hectares in Gueberschwihr that Léonard Humbrecht (b. 1935) inherited from his parents in 1959, amalgamated with vineyard belonging to his wife, Geneviève (née Zind). These were augmented after 1970 with parcels acquired in grand cru sites from Rangen de Thann to Sommerberg in Niedermorschwihr; with several small crus monopoles (Clos Jebsal and Clos Hauserer, as well as Clos Windsbuhl) acquired in their totality; and with important surfaces in Herrenweg and Heimbourg (Turckheim). The new estate grew slowly to more than 40 hectares of vines about evenly divided among

Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, and Riesling, plus small surfaces dedicated to Muscat, Chardonnay, and Auxerrois. Reportedly curious, visionary, and restless after he had finished his training in viticulture and enology at the CFPPA in Rouffach, followed by apprenticeships in Burgundy and Anjou, Léonard noticed that the Alsatian vineyards with the greatest historical reputations were hillsides that had been neglected by his parents’ generation. He also observed that contemporary Alsatian wines were almost universally ordinary, that prevailing yields had grown extravagant by all historical standards, and that most Alsatian winegrowers had been reduced to subsistence farming. Determined to change this picture, he dedicated most of his adult life to the creation of an estate focused on wines made from hard-to-farm hillsides and rigorously limited yields. Although initially dismissed as a crackpot for his unconventional ideas, he was gradually acknowledged and respected as an advocate for the fundamental improvement of Alsace’s wines. In his own cellar—a modern, low-slung building with extensive subterranean cellars built in 1992 within the Herrenweg vineyard, on the south side of the D11 road between Colmar and Turckheim—he and his son Olivier (b. 1963), who joined the estate in 1989, have transformed the way that grapes, juice, and new wine are handled. Zind-Humbrecht’s reputation has attracted the sons and daughters of other Alsatian wine families, too, and its cellars have become a mecca for aspiring winegrowers (many of whom have worked stages here), vintners, wine traders, and journalists from around the world. Among the Alsatian producers covered in these pages, Tempé, Bott-Geyl, Mader, and Pfister owe part of what they are to experience gained in Turckheim. The same is true of Weingut Peter-Jakob Kühn, in the Rheingau. Olivier Humbrecht’s erudition, combined with his determination to understand how the relationship among terroir, winegrowing, and winemaking actually works (not just philosophically, but in terms of plant physiology,

microbiology, and fermentation science), has been essential to continuing change at the estate, including its conversion to biodynamics, ever-longer press cycles, and the abandonment of rognage (“hedging” of vine foliage). It is emblematic of the second generation at ZindHumbrecht (and the 12th generation of the Humbrecht family to cultivate vines in Alsace) that Olivier is France’s first Master of Wine and the president of Biodyvin, the international association of biodynamic winegrowers; that Olivier’s wife, Margaret, is a Scot keenly knowledgeable about the estate; that Zind-Humbrecht’s cellarmaster, Paul McKirdy, previously made wine in Victoria (Australia); and that more than three-quarters of the estate’s production is sold outside France. More than any other Alsatian estate (and with due respect to the work and wines of the major négociant houses), Zind-Humbrecht circa 2015 is the face of Alsace redefined. The Riesling program at Zind-Humbrecht begins with three blended wines: an estate wine marketed simply as Riesling, based primarily on vines in Herrenweg; Riesling Calcaire, based on limestone-rich parcels in Gueberschwihr; and Terroirs d’Alsace, created primarily for the French restaurant market. Village-designated Rieslings—from Gueberschwihr and Wintzenheim—which were made until the 2010 or 2011 vintage, have now been integrated into either Calcaire or Terroirs d’Alsace. Village wines from Thann and Turckheim are still made, largely because they are the object of a proposal, made jointly with other producers based in these villages, to create specific village appellations for these wines. (The proposal was approved in principle in 2013.) The balance of the program consists of an impressive array of single-vineyard wines from Herrenweg, Heimbourg, Clos Hauserer, Clos Saint-Urbain (in the Rangen vineyard), Brand, and Clos Windsbuhl. In addition to a normally ripe edition of each, the estate makes late-harvest bottlings from one or more of these sites as circumstances allow. Olivier Humbrecht says that, overall, he prefers a dry style for Alsatian

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Riesling, and most of the normally ripe singlesite wines finish, in most years, with less than 8 g/L of residual sugar. “I don’t mind botrytis,” he explains, “nor do I mind Riesling with 13 to 15 g/L of residual sugar, but for us between 1 and 7 g/L usually makes a better wine, and a wine that is more expressive of its terroir.” That said, it is an article of faith at Zind-Humbrecht that each fermentation must be permitted to behave according to its own lights, that each is given whatever time it needs to finish fermenting naturally, and that no fermentation is arrested by intervention. In most vintages, Clos Windsbuhl and Clos Saint-Urbain yield the driest of the Zind-Humbrecht Rieslings, and Clos Hauserer, Brand, and Heimbourg generally contain a bit more residual sugar. Vigilant viticultural and biodynamic practices, sensitive to the right marriage of site and grape variety, are designed to produce fruit that is perfectly ripe physiologically and relatively low in malic acid and can be harvested between 12° and 13.5°—ideally between 12.5° and 13.1°— of potential alcohol. Riesling, Humbrecht argues, is “not difficult” to get physiologically ripe. He grants that Pinot Gris and Auxerrois are easier than Riesling, but he says that Riesling is still easier than Muscat or Gewurztraminer. Grapes are pressed as whole clusters using Bucher presses and extremely long, gentle cycles that last 12 to 24 hours. No additions are made, save for a bit of SO2 in solution form at the press. The objective is to get clear juice that is rich in dry extract and colloids. The juice is cold-settled overnight, racked off “gross junk” that may have emerged from pressing, and transferred to large wood tanks. (Longer sedimentation may be needed if the grapes have experienced a “hard year”—an extremely dry year, for example, or a year of high rot and/ or botrytis pressure.) No yeast or nutrients are added; the fermentations rely entirely on a combination of vineyard and cellar yeasts. Tanks are chilled slightly to keep the maximum juice temperature under 22°C, which ensures that the fermentation will not race. (Humbrecht believes that Riesling can become hard if it fer-

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ments too quickly.) Tanks are typically 80 percent dry by the time winter weather naturally cools the cellar, at which point they become largely inactive until some time between April and June of the following year. Twelve months’ time before the wine reaches whatever level of dryness it can manage naturally is not unusual. In most vintages, most fermentations experience malolactic conversion. McKirdy, the cellarmaster, told me it is not unusual to smell some malolactic activity in December. Intervening at this point is always counterindicated, however; left alone, subsequent primary fermentation will erase any signature of malolactic activity when it resumes in the spring after the vintage. Humbrecht reports that a project at the Université de Bordeaux studied yeasts in Zind-Humbrecht’s fermentations of Rangen in 2001, 2002, and 2003. Each time the must was assayed, approximately 20 yeast strains were present, but at any given moment only three or four of them were active. The inactive strains did not die, however, and they became active again later in the life of the fermentation. The Rieslings here do finally become inactive 10 to 13 months after the vintage, at which point the wine is racked off the remaining lees, filtered, and bottled. Olivier Humbrecht says that he hopes to see the day when filtration is not required, but for now he is unwilling to risk refermentations should a few yeasts come back to life in the presence of residual sugar.

German Rhine Regions Rüdesheimer Berg Schlossberg Rheingau

Berg Schlossberg is nearly the westernmost of the four vineyards (Einzellagen) on the Rüdesheimer Berg, which stretches from the west edge of Rüdesheim to just beyond the ruins of Burg Ehrenfels, an early-13th-century castle. Erected at the behest of the archbishops of Mainz, the castle looms over the Rhine where its course shifts from east-west to southnorth. Ehrenfels is doubtless the Schloss from

which Berg Schlossberg takes its name. Notwithstanding some folkloric testimony that Berg Kaisersteinfels, the Einzellage that surmounts Schlossberg above the castle and then extends a bit farther west, was the first Berg vineyard to be planted—by no less than Charlemagne himself—it is likely that Berg Rottland, Berg’s largest Einzellage and the most accessible from Rüdesheim, was the first object of viticulture here, partially planted no later than the 11th century. Schlossberg and Kaisersteinfels, both 4 kilometers from Rüdesheim, probably remained a forbidding stony bluff until after Burg Ehrenfels was built in the 13th century, the new vineyards here and in Roseneck taking agricultural advantage of pathways that had been established to build and access the castle. Schlossberg is a vertiginous and spectacular site, facing due south across the Rhine to the mouth of the Nahe, climbing the slope at angles reaching 60 degrees, steeper above the contour of the castle than below it, beginning about 10 meters above the surface of the river and rising to 185 meters above sea level. The soil is visibly stony material weathered from quartzite and red slate, the latter testifying to air exposure (and therefore oxidation) in early geologic times. The soil is about 30 centimeters deep and lies over unweathered layers of the same mother rock. In lower parts of the vineyard, the slate is gray rather than red, indicating that it was submerged, rather than exposed to air, when it formed. The mother rock is friable, however, and penetrable by vine roots, which have been found as much as 9 meters under the surface. A combination of altitude and exposure to wind at this location, where the Rhine turns 90 degrees from east-west—across the Rheingau—to south-north through the Mittelrhein, creates a distinct and salubrious microclimate, especially in the site’s upper precincts: good solar warmth in daylight, plus cool nights and relatively low humidity, favors the production of very good dry wines. Meager soil also tends to slow sugar accumulation in the grapes and to give wines with understated alcohols. This distinguishes Berg Schlossberg from

Berg Rottland, almost next door, where humidity and air temperature can be much higher, especially at the end of the growing season, causing sugar accumulation to surge. From its planting until the middle of the 20th century, Schlossberg was a tapestry of hundreds of narrow terraces, many planted across the slope of the hill and secured with dry-laid stone walls, that began in the vineyard’s southeast corner, where the site adjoins Roseneck, and continued westward and upslope to the precincts of the castle ruins and beyond. As elsewhere, Flurbereinigung fundamentally changed Schlossberg, consolidating hundreds of small terraces into three much larger ones secured by important walls. Between 1969 and 1976, the new terraces were replanted with north-south rows in line with the slope, with alleys 1.6 to 1.8 meters wide and (generally) 0.9 meter between vines. Although this configuration enables vintners to plow alleys with Caterpillar tractors or chain-hoisted plows, a great deal of work is still done by hand across Schlossberg and Kaisersteinfels and in much of Roseneck—Weingut Josef Leitz (see below), a key producer here, estimates that fruit from vineyards worked by hand costs about eight times as much as fruit worked by tractor and requires four times as much labor for half as much crop. Through various political vicissitudes since the beginning of the 17th century, this part of the Rheingau has lived with several permutations of partible inheritance, which has made it difficult to keep vineyard holdings intact from one generation of owners to the next and has created a mosaic of tiny holdings. Flurbereinigung was an opportunity for onetime rationalization, as owners were given partially consolidated rows in exchange for previously scattered and subdivided holdings, but recent sales and land leases have restarted the inevitable processes of redivision. Weingut Georg Breuer (see below), whose holdings in Rüdesheim grew from 3 to 26 hectares between 1960 and 2000, now farms 130 separate vineyard parcels around the town. Weingut Leitz, which was

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even smaller than Breuer until the 1990s, farming just 2.6 hectares in 1985, now works a total of 29 hectares in Rüdesheim, divided among a mind- and cellar-boggling 250 parcels. Fortunately, enough of these are contiguous that Leitz can treat the 250 as if they were just 105. In Schlossberg, Breuer’s 3.53 hectares are divided among eight parcels spread across the site, some close to the river, some toward midslope, and two higher on the hill above the ruins of the old castle. All but 0.38 hectare is planted to Riesling, and the rest is Pinot Noir and a tiny experimental planting of Orleans. Leitz’s Schlossberg holdings amount to 1.1 hectares in five parcels concentrated in the vineyard’s high west end. All of Breuer’s Schlossberg vines date from the 1960s; Leitz’s oldest vines were planted in 1970. Both in Schlossberg and in Kaisersteinfels, Leitz works actively to redevelop previously abandoned parcels, rebuilding dry stone walls and replanting vines, usually with Geisenheim selections of scion material. Neither Breuer nor Leitz aspires to organic farming practices, which would be futile in an area where holdings are fragmented and neighbors apply sprays from helicopters, but both use manure in lieu of chemical fertilizers and seed their vineyards with a green cover crop, in part to minimize erosion and in part to augment the scarce organic material available to vines planted in rocky, dry sites. Breuer’s Schlossberg Rieslings are wines of extraordinary depth and length, elegant and complex irrespective of vintage, sometimes racy and even saline. The 2012, tasted in 2013, well before its prime, was already breathtakingly fine, intense, and long on the palate, with licorice notes and fine-grained minerality from midpalate to the finish. The 2009, tasted on the same weekend, was exceptionally bright and well defined and was seriously and deliciously dry, with just 2.5 g/L of residual sugar (but almost 7 g/L of acid) highlighted with what tasted like freshly scraped lemon peel and notes of minty licorice. The Leitz versions of Schlossberg are leaner and more muscular than Breuer’s, not surprisingly given that most of Leitz’s

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vines grow higher on the slope, but these, too, are bright, cool, elegant, and extremely long wines, kissed with hints of mint and citrus, that are genuinely thrilling to taste and drink. Most producers have used the Rüdesheimer Einzellage names only since the 1960s or ’70s. Before then, most wines from these sites went to market as Rüdesheimer Berg, or were sitedesignated with some of the many small and highly specific parcel names that disappeared with the 1971 wine law. In 1992, several estates, notably Breuer, began to use Erstes Gewächs in connection with their Schlossberg wine; in 1999 Erstes Gewächs became part of Hessian wine law. Now the VDP is at work to conform Rheingau practice with the rubrics used in other regions. At this writing neither Breuer nor Leitz used Erstes Gewächs, Erste Lage, or Grosse Lage on its labels.

WEINGUT G EORG B REUER 65385 Rüdesheim am Rhein

The Breuer estate traces its beginnings to the firm of Scholl & Hillebrand, a Rüdesheimbased wine merchant business that Peter Breuer, the present winemaker’s great-grandfather, purchased at the turn of the 20th century. Even then, the Breuer family, who lived in an elegant townhouse only a block away from Scholl & Hillebrand’s premises, owned bits of vineyard and made wine in their own cellar. On this modest foundation, Peter’s son Georg (1910–82) created Weingut G. Breuer alongside Scholl & Hillebrand, expanding his family’s vineyard holdings by an order of magnitude. The business grew further under the leadership of Georg’s son Bernhard, the first of his family to be formally trained in viticulture and enology, at the prestigious École nationale supérieure d’agronomie in Montpellier. Bernhard Breuer is also generally recognized as the father (or at least an early and essential champion) of German dry Riesling. Along with his friends Graf Matuschka-Greiffenclau of Schloss Vollrads, Hans Ambrosi of the Hes-

sische Staatsweingüter, and Helmut Becker of Forschungsanstalt Geisenheim, he cofounded Charta, an association dedicated to the promotion and marketing of good (and dry) wines from the Rheingau. When Bernhard died suddenly in 2004, at the age of 57, the baton passed to his brother Heinrich, who was already involved in production at Weingut G. Breuer, and to his daughter Theresa, who was finishing her secondary education, working a sales internship in Wiesbaden, and feeling torn between a career in sports and one in the wine trade. Fate having made her choice clear, Theresa Breuer then studied wine business and economics at Geisenheim from 2004 to 2007. Since 2011, she has managed the estate alone, albeit relying on longtime cellarmaster Hermann Schmoranz and a new cellarmaster from Sweden, Markus Lundén, also Geisenheimtrained, who also makes a small quantity of wine for his own family project under the Lundén & Cie insignia. The Breuers maintained the Scholl & Hillebrand name until 1989, using it to denote primarily négociant wines, but some wine from Breuer vineyards was also bottled under the Scholl & Hillebrand name, notably dry Berg Schlossberg from vintages in the 1980s, and both premises have been used since 1982 for the production of Georg Breuer wines. The old family cellar at Geisenheimerstrasse 9 is kept free of malolactic bacteria and is used for Riesling and Riesling-style wines, but everything raised in barrels is produced at Grabenstrasse 8, which had been the Scholl & Hillebrand space, where there is also an attractive public tasting room. Production is now overwhelmingly devoted to Riesling, but Pinot Noir, Gris, and Blanc are also made, along with tiny, quasiexperimental quantities of Heunisch and Orleans. The Riesling program conforms to the usual pyramid, resting on a foundation of Gutsweine (two at Breuer, one dry called Sauvage and one lieblich called Charm) and village wines, one each from Rüdesheim and Rauenthal. On top of this foundation, Breuer makes a blended wine from its Rüdesheimer Berg sites called Terra

Montosa, and single-vineyard wines from Roseneck, Rottland, Schlossberg, and Nonnenberg (the last of these is in Rauenthal, not on the Rüdesheimer Berg)—all are usually dry, unless a fermentation sticks on the cusp of trocken and halbtrocken, as happened with the Schlossberg and Terra Montosa wines in 2011, which are technically halbtrocken and atypical. Apart from the Schlossberg described above, the Roseneck bottlings merit special note, showing a f loral, savory, herbal, and (in some vintages such as 2011 and 2009) slightly resinous side that seems to grow with bottle age. In 2013, the 2008 was especially attractive. Breuer generally crushes Riesling clusters lightly before pressing but does not destem them. Skin contact is permitted for 6 to 12 hours if the vintage has produced high levels of acidity. The typical press cycle is fairly short, lasting for one and a half to two hours, partially because Breuer works with an open press. Sedimentation is done in small tanks, generally without additives or intervention. The singlevineyard Rieslings and the Terra Montosa wine are then fermented in wooden casks—none larger than 2,400 liters and some as small as 300 liters—without temperature control. The Gutswein is fermented in stainless steel, while stainless and wooden casks are used in about even shares for village wines. A single neutral yeast, used here for more than four decades, starts each fermentation, but studies undertaken by Geisenheim students and interns have shown that the yeast that controls the end of each fermentation every year is not the inoculant but a “cellar yeast”—a strain of Saccharomyces that apparently populates Breuer’s Riesling cellar uniquely. Despite the consistent dominance of this strain, individual fermentations lots behave differently, sometimes finishing with as little as 2 g/L of residual sugar but sometimes sticking with 10 or 12 g/L remaining (see above). The wines are racked once after fermentation to eliminate just the gross lees; the new wines are then left on the fine lees until some point between March and May after the vintage. Cellar tastings start in January, but

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the process of creating the blends can take several months, especially in years when the wines show quite differently each time they are tasted. Once made, some wines are bottled promptly, preceded only by pad filtration, but others are first returned to cask for four to six weeks. Theresa Breuer reports that it is rare for Breuer to fine a Riesling, and she attributes this to rigorous sorting when the grapes are picked. The single-vineyard wines are not released until March of the second year after the vintage.

WEINGUT L EIT Z 65385 Rüdesheim am Rhein

Leitzes have been involved with winegrowing since the 18th century, but the house, named for Johannes Leitz’s grandfather Josef, did not begin its meteoric ascent to international prominence until the 1990s, and the curve was not steep until the first decade of the 21st century. Josef Leitz physically rebuilt the winery after it was destroyed in World War II, but he worked with only 2.6 hectares of vineyard, little of which was in top sites. Johannes’s father inherited the business at Josef’s death, in 1957, but he died prematurely in 1966, leaving his wife to run the winery—along with a f lower shop— until Johannes had finished several years’ apprenticeship and a Meisterschule certification program in winemaking. Johannes made his first vintage at Weingut Josef Leitz in 1985; a few years later, he attracted the attention of the English wine writer Stuart Pigott and made his first visit to a foreign wine market (London) in 1991. It is not an exaggeration to say that his success in foreign markets, beginning with the United Kingdom and continuing with the United States, Norway, and Sweden, has been fundamental to his growth of the estate and the brand: 85 percent of Leitz’s production is sold outside Germany. The estate itself exploded from 2.6 hectares in 1985 to almost 40 in 2013, and newly labeled wines, their names designed to catch attention in the Anglophone world and to entice English-speaking consumers—

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consider Eins Zwei Dry, Dragonstone, and Leitz OUT—are sold almost entirely overseas. Leitz is a consummate businessman and a fine winemaker, however, who produces excellent wines at all price points and whose total portfolio, virtually all estate-grown, is a testament to the enormous quality of the vineyards on Leitz’s “Magic Mountain”—the Rüdesheimer Berg. The estate’s four single-vineyard wines from the Rüdesheimer Berg are its best; wine made from younger vines in these sites, along with any lot that “does not taste quite as it should,” per Leitz, is declassified into the Magic Mountain blend. Grapes are generally whole-cluster pressed but are sometimes destemmed (stems are never used in problematic vintages). The juice is settled until it is “quite clear,” usually without additives, and most fermentations take place in stainlesssteel tanks. Single-vineyard wines, however, are usually handled in large oak casks. Some fermentations start spontaneously, but most are eventually inoculated (usually with EC-1118, a Champagne yeast), typically when about onethird of the grapes’ natural sugar has been converted. Relatively short, two-week fermentations are typical, but some last as long as three months. “We will let each fermentation take whatever it does,” Leitz explains. All fermentations are stopped to achieve Leitz’s desired balance of acid and sugar, however, generally at 6 to 7 g/L of residual sugar. Postfermentation protocol varies from wine to wine and year to year, taking the lees’ condition into account. New wines may be racked immediately after fermentation or left on their full fermentation lees for a time; once the gross lees have been eliminated, contact with fine lees may or may not continue for an additional time. Single-vineyard wines are usually filtered and bottled between the end of April and the beginning of June after the vintage.

Haardter Bürgergarten Mittelhaardt, Pfalz

Neustadt, its name suffixed to become Neustadt an der Weinstrasse in 1935, is a small city

of about 50,000, 30 kilometers southwest of the Ludwigshafen-Mannheim agglomeration, and it divides the Mittelhaardt from the Südliche Weinstrasse. Bürgergarten, on Neustadt’s north edge, is the southernmost significant vineyard in the Mittelhaardt. The roughly rectangular site covers a bit more than 20 hectares immediately south of Herrenletten and southeast of Mandelring-the-vineyard. The Bürgergarten name is said to be a corruption of Bergergarten, meaning a hillside garden or vineyard, but this etymology is not persuasive. It could, uncorrupted, celebrate the wealthy bourgeoisie of Haardt, many of them winegrowers, whose stately houses, rebuilt from local yellow sandstone during a period of exceptional prosperity at the end of the 19th century, line Mandelringthe-street immediately west of the vineyard. The site slopes gently to the east, losing about 40 meters of elevation between the Mandelringstrasse and the bottom of the vineyard. The rectangle is slightly tilted north to south, making the vineyard’s northwest corner its highest point and its southeast corner the lowest. The prevailing eastward slope continues well beyond the vineyard’s east edge, until the sandstone benchland gives way to f lat alluvial soil deposited by the Rhine itself, notably in the sandy soils around Mussbach and Hassloch. Protected on the west from most inclement weather by the Haardt Mountains but entirely open on the east as far as the Rhine, the site compensates for its relative flatness by its excellent air circulation and its sun exposure from sunrise until midevening throughout the summer. The soil’s parent material is the same distinctive mottled-yellow sandstone that was quarried to build Haardt’s townhouses, which is found only in a small stretch of the Haardt foothills. Just a few kilometers north, around Königsbach, the parent sandstone changes from yellow to red and brown. Entirely redeveloped pursuant to Flurbereinigung in the 1960s, virtually all of Bürgergarten is now planted in southeast-northwest-oriented rows, with 2 meters between rows and 0.8 or 1 meter between vines. The oldest vines are now

about 45 years old. The sweet spot in Bürgergarten is its high northwest corner, where the topsoil is thin and visibly rocky; this corner of the vineyard is also cooler than its lower precincts and ripens a few days later. Three hectares in this corner, dubbed Breumel (or Fleumel) in documents as early as 1689 and apparently owned intact thereafter by a succession of sole proprietors, were separately walled in the late 19th century. Thereafter known as Breumel in den Mauern, the parcel was acquired by Weingut Müller-Catoir (see below) in 1994 and completely replanted in 1995. Müller-Catoir also owns two Bürgergarten parcels outside the walled section: a 1-hectare block in the vineyard’s northeast quadrant adjoining Herrenletten, in a relatively high-elevation area called Gehren; and a 2-hectare piece lower on the slope, in an area called Aspen. Müller-Catoir takes advantage of the unproblematic terrain and wide rows to do work such as cultivation and overcrop management by machine, which leaves ample time to do vinespecific work by hand. Alternate vine rows are plowed each year in midsummer, and the open rows are seeded with a cover crop composed of more than 30 individual plant varieties, including mustards, sunflowers, and legumes. For the Breumel parcel in 1995, and thereafter whenever individual vines have had to be replaced, the estate has relied on Goutorbe-Wagner Reben GmbH in Friedelsheim, a fastidious nursery that propagates grafted vines from scion material isolated in heritage vineyards, including a selection from Heiligenstein in Austria’s Kamptal. Farming has been organic since 2009. Because the estate parcels are large, it is possible to pick section by section, and thereby to optimize for full ripeness at picking. The estate is also able to declassify individual parcels of Bürgergarten in difficult vintages, sending an occasional parcel of Breumel into the Bürgergarten bottling, or a Bürgergarten parcel into the village wine (see below). Ironically, neither Breumel nor Bürgergarten was much seen on wine labels until quite recently— until the 1980s, most Haardt wines were

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sold simply as Haardt wines, or as Haardter Mandelring. Haardt Rieslings overall are signed with quite intense yellow-f leshed fruit (or white fruit, when the wines are young) on a background of substantial, well-behaved minerality. The grapes are almost always best picked with potential alcohol hovering around 12.5°, at which level the f lavors are impressively fresh. Yet Bürgergarten shows more intensity than neighboring sites and can support a trifle more alcohol without losing freshness. The MüllerCatoir Bürgergarten 2012, tasted in 2013, was already showing beautifully, with intense fruit, deep minerality, and an herbal-spicy edge. The 2014, tasted in 2015 as a cask sample, was no less impressive, opening with an elegant impression of yellow fruit edged with herbs before giving way to persistent minerality. Also tasted in 2013, the 2009 was exceptionally clean, bright, and borderline elegant, with a salty edge; the 2008 was deeper and aromatically richer, showing an earthier minerality, but still bright on the palate. The 2007, the only vintage to show any signs of evolution in bottle, featured deep fruit and mineral f lavors and some density. Vintage for vintage, Breumel, the Grosses Gewächs bottling, showed as an intense edition of Bürgergarten wine, superimposing exotic f lavors and a slightly rich elegance on Bürgergarten’s expression of a well-drained yellow sandstone site.

WEINGUT M U¨ LLER -C ATOIR 67433 Haardt an der Weinstrasse

The Catoir family, originally Huguenots from near Lille, in France’s northeast corner, settled in Haardt early in the 18th century. They were forced from France after the Edict of Nantes, which had protected French Protestants from Catholic persecution, was first ignored and then repealed, in 1685. Documents show that the wine estate was in business by 1744 and that Philipp David Catoir, the present proprietor, represents at least the ninth generation of

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his family to be involved with wine. Certainly the estate participated successfully and profitably in the prosperity that the Palatinate enjoyed at the end of the 19th century; in the 1890s, the family’s residence and its cellars on the Mandelring were elegantly rebuilt in a neoclassical style, as they stand today. In the 1960s, Philipp David’s father, Jakob Heinrich Catoir, working with the legendary cellarmaster Hans-Günter Schwarz, embraced policies and practices that distinguished this estate from its neighbors, catapulting it into the company of the finest wine producers anywhere. Catoir père had met Schwarz at the end of the 1950s, when both men were students at the Bayerische Landesanstalt für Wein- und Gartenbau, in Würzburg, and Schwarz joined Catoir in Haardt in 1961. To understand Schwarz’s significance not only for MüllerCatoir but for German wine overall, it is necessary to remember that in the 1960s, German winegrowing, focused on survival and profitability after World War II, was obsessed with generous yields and efficiency at any cost. Winemakers relied on volume-oriented clonal selections, machine-assisted farming, cultivated yeasts, abundant use of sulfur, repeated clarifications and filtrations, and long élevage in large wood casks. Schwarz charted a different and (for the time) quite revolutionary path based on conventional farming, severely limited yields, fully ripe grapes, indigenous fermentations, and a single racking followed by light filtration before bottling. In the course of his tenure at Müller-Catoir, which lasted until 2002, Schwarz made the estate a magnet for young winemakers from near and far— Hansjörg Rebholz, Theo Minges, Rainer Lingenfelder, and Emmerich Knoll all worked for a time at Müller-Catoir. So widely were his protocols adopted by quality-oriented producers, especially in the Pfalz and Rheinhessen, that they became a sort of common currency, without which fine German winemaking as we know it today could not have been reassembled from its postwar disarray. To his everlasting credit, Jakob Heinrich Catoir gave Schwarz

a free hand in the vineyards and cellar, confining his own attentions entirely to sales and business. In this new century, a new team is at the helm. Philipp David Catoir has replaced his father, and Martin Franzen, a Mosel-raised and Geisenheim-trained winemaker, who worked previously at Schlossgut Diel in the Nahe and at Gut Nägelsförst in Baden-Baden, has replaced Schwarz. Franzen and Catoir fils bring new emphases to their common enterprise: terroir, genuinely sustainable farming—the estate has been fully organic since 2009—and dry Rieslings of purity and distinction whose apogees are not often reached until 8 or 10 years after the vintage. Both men are nuanced tasters and admirably patient. In 2003 and 2004, as the replanted Breumel parcel of Bürgergarten came online, Müller-Catoir experimented with three wines from the vineyard, one apiece from Breumel, Gehren, and Aspen. Breumel was the clear standout among these wines in two utterly different vintages, and lesser differences showed between Gehren and Aspen. Thus the estate shrank the lineup from three to two—Breumel and the rest of Bürgergarten—from 2005 onward. From 2004 onward, a random mix of heritage selections has been used to replace failing vines or vine rows; Franzen is convinced that the “modern clones” (e.g., Geisenheim clones from the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s) deal badly with the vacillation between heat and cold associated with climate change. The estate Riesling program follows the VDP pyramid: two Gutsweine, made mostly from the fruit of young vines; three village wines apiece, of which two are dry, from Haardt and Gimmeldingen; a lieblich Kabinett wine from Mussbach; the aforementioned singlevineyard dry wines from Breumel and Bürgergarten; a dry wine from Herrenletten; and one Spätlesen apiece from Bürgergarten and Mandelgarten. Across the board, Franzen says his objective is a balance of fruit and freshness, and he is firm about picking before the grapes lose their capacity to make fresh-tasting wine. The cellar protocol is light crushing but no destem-

ming before the gentle pressing (“to liberate the enzymes that express fruit,” Franzen says) and 12 hours’ static settling of the juice. Fermentations follow, mostly in stainless-steel tanks, at 18°C to 22°C “to extract ripe fruit flavors.” The first tank or two is started with “a classic Riesling yeast”—Franzen especially likes the aforementioned isolate from Heiligenstein in the Kamptal. Subsequent fermentation lots are left to rely on whatever combination of yeasts have come in with the grapes and populated the cellar. Fermentations take from four to six weeks and generally finish before Christmas, at which point the cellar temperature is reduced (if it has not already fallen naturally) to 10°C to 12°C. The new wines are left on the full fermentation lees until March or April after the vintage, and only the residual-sugar wines, not the dry ones, are sulfured. Clarification depends on a mix of two protocols: some lots are racked and filtered with diatomaceous earth, and others are filtered without being racked. The final blends are a mix of the two. Because cellar work is done by a single team—the same team, in fact, who handled harvest and fermentations—the wines are finished sequentially. The estate Rieslings are racked first, in January, and the village wines follow in April. The single-vineyard wines are finished in May, except for Breumel, which is done in June.

Oestricher Doosberg Rheingau

Doosberg and Lenchen sit like fraternal twins on the gentle south- and southwest-facing slope that arises from the Rhine behind the town of Oestrich, squarely in the middle of the Rheingau and approximately equidistant from Lorch and Wiesbaden. Re-delimited pursuant to the 1971 Wine Law and substantially recontoured by Flurbereinigung a few years later, both vineyards are huge, covering nearly 100 hectares each, and have similarly vigorous soils: loess and loam on top of clay-loam and quartzite, with veins of quartzite more plentiful in Doosberg than in

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Lenchen. Neither is a high-elevation or steep vineyard, and both are near the Rhine—the bottom of each one follows the Rechte Rheinstrecke railroad tracks around the 90-meter contour— but Doosberg rises slightly higher than Lenchen, especially near its northeast corner, while Lenchen falls off to the west and the south, where the Pfingtsbach has cut a small transverse valley through the Taunus foothills. The high ends of both vineyards offer an attractive and panoramic view across vines and roofs to the Rhine, though the southern skyline is slightly sullied with the artifacts of industry and exurban development that punctuate the Rhine’s south bank between Mainz and Bingen. Doosberg sits between Lenchen and the K634 road that leads uphill from Hattenheim to Hallgarten; vineyards east of this boundary are in Hattenheim, not Oestrich. Doosberg was comprehensively rationalized by Flurbereinigung. Not only was the vineyard replanted from edge to edge, but metric tons of soil were imported from exogenous locations. Essentially all parcels in the “new” Doosberg were laid out in north-south-oriented vine rows in line with the prevailing slope, with about 1.8 meters between rows and 1.2 meters between vines, and virtually all of it was planted to Riesling. The overwhelming choices for scion material were Geisenheim clones, especially 239 Gm, on SO4 rootstock. Parcels replanted after the mid-1980s have sometimes used other clonal material and rootstocks such as 3309 and 161–49, which help to restrain the site’s high vigor, and they have occasionally been more tightly spaced; such shifts could not have occurred without changes to German winegrowing consciousness that were unthinkable in the first decades after World War II. Because of its giant size and tendency toward high yields, a lot of wine is produced from Doosberg grapes, but a substantial percentage of total production is declassified into regional or village wines or even into the production of Sekt. Peter Jakob Kühn (see below), an Oestrichbased vintner who now farms approximately 2.6 hectares (distributed among 18 parcels) in

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Doosberg, was among the first growers here to rethink the winegrowing catechism of the 1970s; to experiment with denser plantings; to abandon chemical fungicides, herbicides, and fertilizers; to replace entirely mechanized cultivation with a preponderance of handwork; and to forego government subsidies offered only to growers who toed the old line. The first few of Kühn’s parcels were converted to biodynamic farming protocols in 2002; by 2005, the entire estate was being farmed biodynamically. Compost based on cow manure but supplemented with virtually all the organic material produced on the estate—including vine trimmings and tank lees—is now the only soil amendment in use. Rather than use herbicides in the vine alleys, Kühn seeds a cover crop composed of 30 to 60 herbs and legumes, which he then tills or leaves intact for up to four years depending on vine vigor: the greater the perceived vigor of the vines in each row and parcel, the less the cover crop is disturbed, and vice versa. Citing evidence that a vine’s topmost shoots produce a hormone that decreases vegetative vigor, Kühn opts not to hedge his vines; instead he braids shoots around the top trellis wire. This approach also encourages air circulation across the vineyard, which reduces disease pressure overall and usually postpones the onset of botrytis until late in the growing season. Also in the service of air circulation, and to ensure some sunlight on grape skins, leaves are pulled aggressively in the fruiting zone. Kühn trims a few berries from tight grape clusters to give the remaining berries space to separate, and the open clusters are thus less affected by botrytis and rot. In 2010, when Kühn acquired a new parcel in the heart of Doosberg, he promptly replanted it with tighter spacing (1.7 by 0.6 meters), using massale selections of scion material grafted to 3309 rootstock. In 2013, he began seriously considering yet another great leap backward: the domain may replace tractors with horse-drawn plows to reduce compaction and increase natural soil aeration. Most of Kühn’s 18 Doosberg parcels are in the old core of the vineyard; locals are well aware of where

this historic core starts and stops, and of what was added when the vineyard’s perimeter was expanded in 1971. A vertical tasting spanning eight vintages of Kühn’s vineyard-designated wines from Doosberg between 2002 and 2011, organized on a rainy morning in September 2013, offered fascinating insight into the properties of this site. Fruit rarely dominates here, although younger vintages often display plenty of ripe citrus; instead the wines are overwhelmingly savory, floral, herbal, and sometimes spicy, with fleeting expressions of fruit and back-palate sensations of minerality, showing both elegance and density. These properties were consistently expressed across several modifications to the estate’s winemaking protocols, including a transition back from stainless steel to large wood casks beginning in 2002, decreased manipulation, and increased attention to wine texture. The 2002 was a personal favorite among the “mature” vintages: a wine of considerable extract, with lovely, mouth-filling body and hints of honey and caramel providing a counterpoint to resolute dryness. The 2007 and 2008 were an interesting pair, from warm and cool vintages respectively, the 2007 showing a bright floral-herbal nose accented with peppery arugula and something exotic that resembled lavender pastilles. The 2008 was bright, very elegant, and lovely, with strong minerality, high-toned citrus, and terrific freshness of flavor. The 2010, representing a long, cool year that was ultimately entirely ripe, boasting 8 g/L of acid and less than 3 g/L of residual sugar, was totally clean, pure, and savory, its herbal core wrapped with bright, exuberant citrus.

WEINGUT P E TER J AKOB K U¨ HN 65375 Oestrich-Winkel

Kühns have grown grapes in and around Oestrich since the middle of the 18th century, but the two generations active today have fundamentally reoriented the estate. Willing to risk unsympathetic judgments from Rheingau

colleagues that their wines were atypical, the Kühns have abandoned “common-sense fruity Rieslings,” says the estate’s current chief, Peter Bernhard Kühn, in favor of highly distinctive wines, reviving vineyard and cellar practices that prevailed early in the 19th century but were subsequently abandoned. Peter Jakob Kühn, just 24 years old when he took the reins of the estate from his ailing father in 1979, followed the traditional apprenticeship/theory/peerexamination route into winemaking rather than the university-based pathway than has now become standard. Increasingly restless with the status quo and concerned that the prevailing quadrafecta of generous yields, modest prices, exogenous additives, and interventionist cellar practices was unsustainable, he began a battery of changes in 1991–92. Many observers say he is a controversial figure, but it is difficult to quarrel with the questions he raised about farming and winemaking, and it is hard to argue that Kühn wines are not an exciting interpretation of Mittel-Rheingau terroirs. His son Peter Bernhard, who discontinued his study of economics at the Universität Mainz in 2008 to spend a year at Domaine Arlaud in Morey-St-Denis, came home imbued with Burgundian passions. He says he loved the “closeness of [my] two hands” to open-top fermentations, the “vine-by-vine” attention paid by organic and biodynamic producers, the elegance of Pinot Noir, and the subtle differences captured in Burgundian impressions of terroir. Formal study of viticulture and enology at Geisenheim and a four-month stage at ZindHumbrecht in Turckheim (see page 188) followed Peter Bernhard’s return from Burgundy. The time at Zind-Humbrecht helped him to “refocus on the potential of Riesling,” he says. Since 2010, father and son have worked together in both vineyard and cellar, while Peter Jakob’s wife and daughters handle the commercial side of the business: all estate production comes from 20 hectares in Doosberg, Lenchen, St. Nikolaus (Mittelheim), and Hendelberg (Hallgarten). The foundation of the Riesling program is a dry Gutswein called

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Jacobus, broadly sourced from parcels in several vineyards. On top of that foundation are Kühn’s Quarzit Oestrich Riesling, sourced from young vines in Doosberg, and Rheinschiefer Hallgarten Riesling, another “village” wine sourced primarily from vineyards in Hallgarten, especially Hendelberg, a polychrome slate-based vineyard, but also from estate parcels in Würzgarten, Jungfer, and Schönhell. In addition to the Doosberg bottling, there are also single-vineyard wines from Klosterberg, a sandy, quartz-based vineyard in Oestrich; from St. Nikolaus; and from Hendelberg. In most vintages, Kühn also separately vinifies parceldesignates—Landgef lecht and Schlehdorn, discrete vineyards before the wine law was changed in 1971 that sit within Doosberg and St. Nikolaus respectively. Landgef lecht is an old-vines block planted in deep clay soils toward the bottom of Doosberg; Schlehdorn is described by some critics as the Montrachet of Riesling. Winemaking for the best dry wines follows no recipe as far as destemming or prefermentation skin contact is concerned; choices are made in response to the vintage and vary from year to year. Just enough sulfur is added at the press to avoid excessive oxidation during pressing, but not enough to kill the naturally occurring yeasts, notably including some strains of Kloeckora, which the Kühns (unusually) find useful at both the beginning and the end of primary fermentation. Long press cycles last through the night, with the juice draining directly into the cellar. After a single racking the next morning, fermentation is allowed to begin, relying entirely on the naturally occurring yeasts. Additives are unusual, but Kühn uses micro-oxidation to guard against excessive reduction, and lees from another completed fermentation may be added if “reduction is too present,” says Peter Bernhard. All the best wines have been fermented in 2,400-liter wood casks since 2005. Fermentation temperatures are allowed to rise as high as 25°C to 26°C, though father and son are now discussing the merits and demerits of cooler fermentations.

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Before Christmas, the primary fermentations have usually converted all but the last 8 to 10 g/L of sugar, and the cellar is kept warm until mid-February, simultaneously reducing residual sugar to 3 g/L or less and ensuring malolactic conversions occur in most tanks. The new wines remain on their full lees until August after the vintage, when they are racked. Three weeks before the next harvest, they are racked again and bottled without filtration. “If you give the wine the time it needs, fining and filtration are not necessary,” explains Peter Bernhard Kühn. Which is, of course, exactly how most fermentations were handled, and behaved, at the end of the 19th century.

Nieder-Flörsheimer Frauenberg Wonnegau, Rheinhessen

This Wonnegau vineyard (which is not to be confused with Neefer Frauenberg, near Bremm in the Mosel) properly occupies about 20 hectares of east- and southeast-facing slope just west of the Flörsheim-Dalsheim agglomeration, about 15 kilometers from Worms. But the 1971 Wine Law more than quintupled its size to include a large expanse of nearly flat land at the base of the hill, so more than 100 hectares are now legally entitled to use the Frauenberg name. Its true footprint is an irregular polygon that fits inside the L-shaped Silberberg vineyard, which it abuts on its south and west sides, and its slope is significant, rising from about 170 meters above sea level at its base to almost 250 meters at its top. The top half of the slope is extremely rocky, with only 20 or 30 centimeters of topsoil surmounting fractured limestone in some places, and large chunks of angular white rock are visible everywhere on the surface. The rock is so ubiquitous, in fact, that removing part of it, or making it into piles or bits of wall, is a necessary prerequisite to planting vines. Predominantly eastern exposure and strong, persistent winds across the face of the hill make Frauenberg cool and late to ripen, especially for Riesling, but the wind also keeps the fruit clean

and botrytis-free, notwithstanding some mist on autumn mornings. Conversely, the site is protected from excessive rain by the Donnersberg, a 650-meter peak on the ridge that runs between Alzey and Kaiserslautern. Like many vineyards in Rheinhessen, Frauenberg was a coveted site in the late medieval and early modern periods, but thin soil, constant erosion, and omnipresent surface and subsurface rock made it hard to farm. In the past century, when most of Rheinhessen’s winegrowers aspired to nothing grander than Liebfraumilch, parts of the vineyard were planted to ordinary varieties such as Müller-Thurgau or abandoned. Hans-Oliver Spanier, the engaging and enthusiastic vintner behind the BattenfeldSpanier brand (see below), says he remembers walking through the Frauenberg when he was 17 and his family estate was composed primarily of holdings in lesser terroirs, vowing privately that “one day I want a vineyard here.” Now he farms 7 hectares of Frauenberg, distributed across several parcels. Occupying the highest and rockiest part of the site are 1.5 hectares; another hectare is newly replanted and not yet bearing. Spanier has, in fact, replanted all his Frauenberg parcels after acquiring them—in some cases, he had to restore Riesling where the former owners had farmed Dornfelder or Müller-Thurgau. The oldest parcel, now the anchor for BattenfeldSpanier’s single-vineyard Riesling from Frauenberg, was replanted in 1991. Spanier created miniterraces with some of the abundant rock, and he planted east-west rows across the face of the slope to mitigate erosion. Confessing that he “hates clones,” he sourced scion material from venerable vineyards in the Mosel and the Wachau, which were then custom-bench-grafted to several rootstocks by a local nursery. In the newest planting, he has tightened vine spacing to 1.2 meters between rows and just 1 meter between vines. Professing that he is “not naturally an organic kind of guy”—he admits to loving Porsches—Spanier has nonetheless farmed organically since he took the reins of the Weingut from his father, and he has observed biody-

namic protocols since 2003. Whatever else you choose, he says, “you must be organic or you’ll have dead dirt, and dead dirt has no chance of producing the best white wine in the world.” Frauenberg makes BattenfeldSpanier’s most respected single-vineyard Grosses Gewächs (gg) Rieslings. These magnificently elegant wines are irrepressibly mineral and finish nearly bone-dry, but also show impressive midpalate weight and appealing white stone fruit. The 2011, tasted from cask in the early summer of 2012, also displayed notes of white pepper and licorice and a hint of smoke. The 2010 added hints of tangerine and nectarine to the cocktail of fruit, minerality, and smoke and tasted surprisingly rich for a very high-acid vintage, probably owing to the long skin contact to which BattenfeldSpanier resorted to balance the acidity, not with sugar but with mouthfeel. A hint of petrol had appeared on the nose of the 2001, but this wine showed few other signs of evolution, remaining bright, taut, minty, menthol-inflected, and peppery over a foundation of white peach and chalky minerality, finishing with fruit peel that seemed almost chewy. A few Flörsheim vintners (Weingut Arno Göhring and Weingut Scherner-Kleinhanss inter alia) also make vineyard-designated Riesling from Frauenberg, but their holdings are mostly on the surface added to Frauenberg by the 1971 Wine Law. From the hillside section recognized by the VDP as Grosse Lage and thus entitled to the gg designation, Weingut Keller also makes a Spätburgunder gg.

WEINGUT B AT TENFELD S PANIER 67591 Hohen-Sülzen

The Spanier family has farmed grapes and made wine in the village of Hohen-Sülzen, on the south bank of the Pfrimm, a tiny tributary of the Rhine, since 1785. When Hans-Oliver took over in 1990, at the tender age of 19, he began a process—which continues two decades later—of reshaping the estate. He refocused on Riesling and Pinot Noir, plus Silvaner and Pinot

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Blanc, and on sites with abundant chalky limestone. In the distressed economic environment of the 1990s, parcels in the best sites were actually the easiest and cheapest to buy because they were the hardest and most expensive to farm. Gradually, Spanier was able to sell or exchange the family’s lesser parcels (which he now describes, with painful candor, as “rubbish”) for bits of vineyards with great, if partially forgotten, pedigrees. Frauenberg, Kirchenstück in Hohen-Sülzen, and (since 2010) Am Schwarzen Herrgott are now the estate’s jewels. Either one or two single-vineyard wines from each parcel constitute its f lagship bottlings: gg Rieslings from each site and a gg Spätburgunder from Kirchenstück. The balance of the estate’s Riesling program consists of a stunning blended Riesling of great purity from vineyards around Mölsheim, which is named for that village; a fruitier “village” wine from vineyards in HohenSülzen; a bottling called Eisbach made from younger vines in the estate’s four classified vineyards; and a Gutsriesling labeled simply as Riesling Trocken. All BattenfeldSpanier production relies entirely on estate-grown fruit. As uncompromising in the cellar as in the vineyard, Spanier allows at least 12 and sometimes as much as 56 hours (in 2010) of skin contact before pressing, and the juice is settled (but not centrifuged, filtered, or fined) for 10 hours thereafter, until it “looks like natural beer.” All fermentations except the Gutsweine take place in large wooden casks and depend entirely on yeast from the vineyard or cellar; the Gutsweine are made in stainless steel. Fermentations are never permitted to extend longer than two and a half months. “The wine must be dry,” Spanier insists, “between Christmas and New Year’s. If it takes longer than that to ferment, it risks becoming fat and boring.” Spanier reports that all but 4 percent of fermentations reach the ambitious house goal of 3 or fewer g/L of residual sugar in the prescribed time; the laggards end up as feinherb bottlings. He adds 30 to 40 g/L of sulfur in January to stabilize what has happened to that point, but the new wines remain on their full fermenta-

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tion lees until one day before they are racked, filtered, and bottled, normally in June or July after the vintage. After Hans-Oliver Spanier and Carolin Gillot (a Geisenheim-trained enologist) married in 2006, BattenfeldSpanier and Carolin’s family winery, Kühling-Gillot (see page 227), were merged as brands of a new business entity called Weingut Carolin Spanier-Gillot & HO Spanier. Cellar activities have been combined at HohenSülzen, and business activities at Bodenheim. The family lives in a stunning ultramodern house in Hohen-Sülzen, with a beautiful view of surrounding vineyards, adjacent to a glass-walled pavilion that serves as a play space for the children and a tasting room for special guests.

Monziger Frühlingsplätzchen and Halenberg Nahe

The town of Monzingen, which boasts an unusually large complement of townhouses dating from the turn of the 16th century, sits on the left bank of the Gaulsbach, a few hundred meters from its confluence with the Nahe. The small stream has carved a valley through the slate hills on the Nahe’s north bank, and Monzingen’s vineyards climb these hills both east and west of town, with the best sites, predictably, facing south and southwest across the river. Until the middle of the past century, most of Monzingen’s inhabitants were polyvalent farmers, tending field crops and animals as well as vines. Plenty of alluvial bottomland along the Nahe and relatively flat plateau atop the northbank hills worked well for grains, vegetables, and grazing. By the late 18th century, Monziger wines had begun to show up some distance from their origin and to fetch comparatively high prices. (They are mentioned in Bronner 2015 [1823], a survey of German vineyards.) Frühlingsplätzchen is Monzingen’s largest and most important vineyard. It consists of two noncontiguous pieces: about 50 hectares on the west side of the Gaulsbach Valley and 10 hec-

tares on the east side, on a separate hill called Niederberg. The etymology of its name seems clear enough: Frühlingsplätzchen translates as “spring places,” probably those parts of the hillsides where snow melted early and where spring therefore seemed to arrive early (early snowmelt was a typical indicator of vineyard quality before contemporary global warming changed viticulture in the northern midlatitudes). Both sections of Frühlingsplätzchen have irregular footprints, reflecting in part that it is, both in name and in fact, more an aggregation of small sites than a single coherent and homogeneous vineyard. The larger piece, upstream of Monzigen, contains the vineyard’s historic heart: the steep part of a slope between about the 180- and 220meter contours that loses 3 to 7 meters of altitude across each 10 meters of lateral distance. This slope is exposed mostly southwest, looking across the Nahe toward Merxheim. Its baserock is a hard, almost concretelike conglomerate formed from red slate, Rotliegendes, quartzite, and prehistoric alluvia, and the meager topsoil is mostly broken, pulverized, and otherwise weathered slate strewn with broken pieces of quartzite, visibly red at the surface. Until 1971, this “heart” was all of Frühlingsplätzchen, but the 1971 Wine Law quintupled its size to include lower slopes and upland plateaus, making it a textbook example of the excesses resulting from that law. Flurbereinigung came to Frühlingsplätzchen in the mid-1970s, not long after the law. Some narrow terraces were eliminated in favor of vine rows planted in line with the slope, and therefore usually northeast-southwest, typically 1.9 meters apart, with about 1.2 meters between vines. The scion material of choice for replanting was primarily DN 500, on SO4 or Börner rootstock; early experience with 5BB was not entirely positive. Today the oldest vines in Frühlingsplätzchen date from the early 1970s and are found uphill of the transverse access road, in the center of the vineyard. The parcels farmed by Weingut Emrich-Schönleber (see below) are mostly located in this area. Here the cover crop (sometimes seeded and sometimes

natural) is generally left undisturbed, in part because the Schönlebers aim for low (50 hectoliters per hectare) yields and prefer that the cover crop compete to some degree with the vines, and in part to minimize erosion, which might otherwise be problematic. Their vineyard crew works entirely by hand, hoeing as necessary around individual vines, green harvesting after veraison, and deleafing and dropping additional fruit in September to ensure that open space exists between all remaining clusters. Some pressure from fungal diseases, both good and bad, affects Frühlingsplätzchen, and fungicides are used to control both downy and powdery mildews, but late-onset botrytis is not discouraged. If September is a wet month and botrytis does develop, the vineyard may be picked in as many as four passes, first seizing the botrytis-affected fruit and then moving on to vines and bunches deemed suitable for dry cuvées. Around the old heart of the vineyard, on the west hill, another 35 hectares enjoy use of the Frühlingsplätzchen name. These are east and west of the heart, occupying gently sloping land adjacent to the B41 road, which follows the Nahe, and relatively flat hilltop plateaus. Downstream of Monzigen on the Niederberg is the eastern piece of Frühlingsplätzchen: separate from and discontinuous with the western piece, it sits above and east of Halenberg (see below) and incorporates at its top yet another piece of hilltop plateau. Parts of this piece are so steep and rocky that some parcels within its irregular perimeter are not cultivated because the cost of farming them would exceed the resources available to some owners. Despite their similarities, Halenberg, Monzigen’s other top-quality site, is a rather different story than Frühlingsplätzchen. The filet of the Niederberg hill, it occupies only 8 hectares. Its south side, like Frühlingsplätzchen’s, abuts the B41 road, and the slopes are similar, ranging from about 25 percent close to the B41 to approximately 60 percent higher up. But compared with Frühlingsplätzchen, Halenberg is a homogeneous site:

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all slope, no plateau. Its topsoil is more brown than red, the underpinning baserock is mostly blue slate, not red, and there is more quartzite here in both baserock and topsoil. The site faces due south and is drier than Frühlingsplätzchen owing to its different soil composition and to idiosyncratic thermal updrafts produced by its topography. Locals say that birds, notably some species of migratory cranes, are attracted by these thermals and hover preferentially above Halenberg. It is even suggested that the Halenberg name is somehow connected with migratory birds. Weingut Emrich-Schönleber now owns 5 of Halenberg’s 8 hectares, including a 0.64-hectare parcel, adjacent to a parcel called Lay that the Schönlebers had owned for some years. Overgrown and abandoned when the Schönlebers acquired it in 2006, the newly purchased 0.64-hectare piece was completely redeveloped in 2007: 3,600 vines were planted in 1.9-meter true north-south rows, with 1 meter between vines. Frühlingsplätzchen has a reputation for producing wines that are pretty, fruit-forward, and crowd-pleasing in their youth but develop strong minerality with age. I also find an exotic note in Frühlingsplätzchen that seems akin to coriander seed, which persists, irrespective of bottle age, in most vintages that were not significantly affected by botrytis. Halenberg is quite different, expressing apple f lavors, salty minerality, and serious structure from the outset, then developing combinations of citrus oils, exotic fruits, and anise flavors with time in bottle. Emrich-Schönleber’s twin editions of vineyard-designated Halenberg (a Halenberg trocken and a Halenberg trocken Grosses Gewächs; see below) from the 2012 vintage, tasted in 2013, were both impressive: the gg was more concentrated and more deeply f lavored, with stronger notes of anise and fennel. Retasted twice in 2015, the 2012 Halenberg trocken showed as a genuinely exhilarating wine, built like a ballerina, simultaneously lithe and powerful, its fruit expressed with clarity and precision and supported with stunning minerality. The 2004, tasted alongside the

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2012, was the first of the Halenberg wines to carry the gg designation, and it showed what a few additional years of bottle age can do: the wine was a fascinating cocktail of citrus-peel f lavors combined with black pepper, earthiness, and intensely salty minerality.

WEINGUT E MRICH -S CH ö NLEBER 55569 Monzigen

Emrichs have lived in Monzigen at least since the 1760s, functioning as subsistence farmers who grew grapes and made wine alongside their other crops. Wilhelm Schönleber (1928– 2004), originally from a small village near Stuttgart, married Hannelore Emrich in 1952, laying a foundation for the present business. He bottled his first estate wines in the 1950s and commenced selling estate assets not needed for wine production—starting with farm animals—a few years later. In 1971, Wilhelm’s son Werner assumed responsibility for the cellar after interning with Adolf Müller at the Staatliche Weinbaudomäne in Niederhausen. He sold most of the family’s cropland in the 1980s, often providently trading it for additional vineyard parcels, so that the family business could concentrate entirely on vineyards and wine from that time forward. Most of the extraordinary renown the estate enjoys today is owed to Werner’s strategic confidence, meticulous viticulture, and close attention to detail in the cellar. Since 2005, Werner’s son Frank Schönleber (b. 1979) has been at the helm in the cellar, having joined his father after earning a degree in enology and viticulture at what is now Geisenheim University. Werner remains in charge of viticulture. In the 1960s, Emrich-Schönleber worked only about 3.5 hectares of vineyard, but today its holdings exceed 18 hectares, of which all but 2.9 hectares are in Halenberg or Frühlingsplätzchen and all of which are within 3 kilometers of the winery. Additional parcels are acquired, and often redeveloped from scratch, as opportunities arise. In 2010, the estate built a sleek modern tasting

room at one end of a courtyard above the working cellars—it seems a perfect reflection of the spirit and quiet demeanor of this excellent estate. Understandably, given the estate’s considerable stake in Halenberg and Frühlingsplätzchen, these sites anchor the entire Riesling portfolio. In addition to the two dry bottlings from each of the two vineyards, which Frank Schönleber describes as “terroir-driven and very good” wines, as opposed to the more ordinary “wine that shows we have done the best that we can,” the estate also makes lieblich or noble sweet predicate wines from each site. Frank Schönleber explains that the gg bottling is not made from riper fruit or picked later—in fact, the converse is often true—but relies preferentially on small clusters with small berries showing a golden skin color, while slightly younger vines bearing a slightly larger crop go to make the vineyard-designated trocken bottling. “It is not about must-weight,” he says. “It’s about the aromatic quality of the grapes.” Emrich-Schönleber also produces a dry Gutsriesling and an off-dry Riesling called Lenz (even these are anchored with fruit from the estate’s holdings in Frühlingsplätzchen), plus another dry Riesling called Mineral and a lieblich Kabinett wine that carries the Monzigen name (both of which rely primarily on declassified lots). The vineyard-designated wines are made from grapes that are slightly crushed but not destemmed and are allowed three to four hours of skin contact before pressing. The juice is settled overnight without interventions or additives. Lots destined for the gg and single-vineyard bottlings are fermented in wood; other lots ferment in stainless-steel tanks. Today the gg and single-vineyard wines begin fermentation without inoculation, relying entirely on naturally occurring yeasts, but before 2012, some lots were inoculated. With temperatures maintained at 15°C to 20°C, the fermentations usually stay active until December or January. Interventions to stop a fermentation are rare, and each tank is normally permitted to ferment as dry as it will naturally go. New wines are left

on the full fermentation lees until the end of February, when each tank is either filtered (with diatomaceous earth) or racked. All Rieslings were bottled in April after the vintage through 2011, but, beginning with the 2012 vintage, bottling for the gg wines and the Halenberg trocken cuvée was delayed until June. The entire portfolio is characterized by stunning crispness against a background of full f lavors, and the dry Rieslings here are among Germany’s finest.

Freinsheimer Goldberg Unterhaardt, Pfalz

The Goldberg vineyard occupies 91 hectares of gentle, south-facing slope on the south side of the ridge that separates Freinsheim from Grosskarlbach, in the northeast corner of the Pfalz. The vineyard overlooks Freinsheim, an attractive town of cobbled streets punctuated with remnants of 15th-century walls. The top of the vineyard sits about 140 meters above sea level; the bottom, where the slope ends and the land turns essentially flat, is not more than 30 meters lower. Beneath its carpet of vines, the surface of the vineyard is a barely camouflaged sand dune, sandy to a depth of at least several meters. In places, the topmost centimeters are laced with organic matter that turns the soil brown. Toward the bottom of the slope, the sand is crisscrossed with thin veins of clay, retaining more moisture and supporting more plant vigor than soils higher on the slope. In fact, it could be argued that the top and bottom parts of the vineyard have little in common. They share the Goldberg name more for political than for terroir-based reasons. Most of the several dozen vintners who farm Goldberg have planted their vines in line with the slope, and their rows are oriented almost perfectly north-south. Although this layout is relatively easy to farm, and north-south rows are conducive to even ripening, erosion is an omnipresent hazard here, and its evidence is plain to see whenever and wherever heavy rains

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have washed the friable soil downhill. For this reason, the 2.3 hectares that belong to Weingut Lingenfelder (see below; all but 0.3 hectare is dedicated to Riesling) are laid out in east-west rows, across the slope, and the upper portion of its holdings, where the slope is slightly steeper, is planted as nine shallow terraces of two rows each. The height of each terrace above or below its neighbor varies based on natural topography but averages 1 meter. Within each row, the vines are 1 meter apart. The terraces are not retained with walls, however, but with grass banks. To discourage erosion, Lingenfelder farms the grass and weeds almost as carefully as the vines, reseeding annually, cutting the grass repeatedly, avoiding herbicides, and cultivating between vine rows with a special “notill” device that cuts the plant material just below the surface but does not turn over the soil. This eccentric configuration was created in 1959, when Rainer Lingenfelder’s father replanted the parcel from edge to edge, using N 90 on 5C rootstock for the Riesling and straight Scheurebe, more or less as Georg Scheu bred it in 1916, for the vineyard’s northeast corner. The unterraced rows were replanted again in 1985, 1987, and 1991, but the 1959 vines are still bearing on the terraces. “My father,” Rainer Lingenfelder explains, “was a 12th-generation grape grower who took a long-term view that was sensitive to the land. His approach required enormous handwork, and it still does.” Even by the Pfalz’s warm standards, Goldberg is a precocious location. Flowering now starts in the middle of June, and the last Riesling is usually harvested around the beginning of October. Flowering start dates near or after June 18 are considered late here, while start dates around or before June 10 are considered early. Both f lowering and harvest dates are about two weeks earlier now than the averages seen here in the 1970s, but overall hang time has been little changed by global warming. Very low rainfall vis-à-vis other Pfalz locations and exceptionally sandy soil, which warms up quickly in the spring, account for its precocity.

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Goldberg is the anchor for Lingenfelder’s dry Rieslings. The sandy soil and old vines give wines with impressive combinations of citrus and stone fruit–f lesh f lavors, especially pear and white peach, plus hints of white pepper and peppermint. The wines also have considerable staying power, demonstrating freshness and youthful vigor after a decade (or two) in bottle. Perhaps most distinctively, and perhaps because the sandy soil imparts little character of its own, fruit takes up the lion’s share of the organoleptic space. On the back palate, where dry-finishing minerality dominates wines from rockier sites, Lingenfelder’s Goldberg wines remain resolutely fruity—and sometimes f loral. Fruit from the old vines on the terraces is typically picked a bit later than fruit from the younger vines, and the older ones have enough natural sugar to yield wines of Auslese strength. The lower part of the vineyard is more often picked at Spätlese strength. Sometimes the two are blended; increasingly, however, Lingenfelder finishes them separately, and it is considering christening the wine from the terraces with a trade name. A tank sample of 2011 from the lower slope, tasted in the early summer of 2012, was redolent of grapefruit and white peach; an analogous sample from the terraces, almost Auslese in strength, showed less citrus, more yellowfruit f lesh, and noticeable minerality. The latter, tasted as a finished wine in 2015, was a showcase of yellow-f leshed melon and infused f lowers, with tarragon, mint, and bay laurel; it had good structure and some minerality. A 2002 Auslese Trocken, 10 years old and slightly inf lected with a whiff of petrol, displayed a counterpoint of lime peel and strong stone-fruit f lesh, even on the back palate, in a beautifully balanced, bright, dry package (13°, 7.7 g/L of acid, and less than 4 g/L of residual sugar). An exceptionally attractive 1991 Spätlese Trocken, blended from the upper and lower parts of the vineyard and still bright and vibrant at age 21, showed more citrus peel, manifested more as tangerine than as lime, plus infused flowers.

WEINGUT L INGENFELDER 67229 Grosskarlbach

For about four centuries, until 1951, the Lingenfelders were small farmers who grew grapes in Rhodt unter Rietburg, along the Südliche Weinstrasse, between Neustadt and Landau. Although they sold their wine to merchants, they also had an uninterrupted record of winemaking from 1520 to 1938. In the past three generations, however, a combination of wanderlust, war, and formal education has touched the family fundamentally, who have made the wine estate larger than ever before and established an international reputation for its wine. Rainer Lingenfelder says that his grandfather, born in 1894, “wanted to help the Kaiser conquer the world in about half a year.” After the war, he considered settling in one of Germany’s African colonies, Namibia or Tanzania. In 1938, after time back at home in the Pfalz, growing grapes but still struck with wanderlust, he bought a farm in Silesia, which is now southwestern Poland. Seven years later, World War II lost and the Germans expelled from Poland, grandfather and father returned once again to the Pfalz, penniless and “without a single vine or the smallest barrel,” compelled to work for more fortunate winegrowers, where they managed minimally until 1951. At this point, they were able to lease the property that the family now owns in Grosskarlbach. Although Rainer Lingenfelder, the family’s 13th-generation winemaker, was born in the house where he now lives, his remarkable biography involves a bit of world wandering as a young man: winemaking in Australia, New Zealand, and Egypt; formal training at Geisenheim; a stint as chief of oenology for H. Sichel Söhne, the makers of Blue Nun; time with Robert Mondavi in California’s Napa Valley; and a harvest at Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste in Pauillac. In 1979, when his father allowed him to make a Lingenfelder wine “on his own,” he made the family’s first dry Riesling, a Goldberg Spätlese Trocken. He took the reins at Grosskarlbach in 1990.

Whether because of or in spite of his training, Rainer practices comprehensively noninterventionist (“hands-off,” he says) winemaking in his cellar. Grapes are gently crushed and pressed straightaway. Sulfur is added at the press, but he does not use fining or stabilizing agents of any kind, either at the juice stage or later. Nor does he use cultivated yeasts, yeast nutrients or enzymes, or charcoal to manage botrytis. The stainless-steel fermentation tanks are not jacketed, but are nonetheless temperature-controlled: Lingenfelder covers each tank with bird-protection netting that is kept moist with a system of overhead sprinklers, and the natural evaporation of the dripping water cools the tanks. He believes the low-tech approach works better than refrigeration and is “easier on the carbon footprint.” The “yeast are happy,” he says, maintaining “steady and even” fermentations at approximately 18°C. Most fermentations of Goldberg fruit finish dry in the natural course of things, but if one sticks, as the Riesling Goldberg Spätlese did in 2012, Lingenfelder is happy to make a batch of off-dry (halbtrocken) wine. The new wines are racked after the primary fermentation is complete and are sterile-filtered before bottling in June following the vintage. In addition to the Goldberg wines, Lingenfelder’s Riesling program consists, in most vintages, of a traditionally sweet wine (about 10° and 35 g/L of residual sugar) from the Grosskarlbacher Osterberg vineyard, and both a dry and an off-dry wine (of Kabinett weight) from the Freinsheimer Musikantenbuckel vineyard. Lingenfelder explains the decision to make exclusively sweet wines from Osterberg as the result of “fermentations that stick more often than others” and his “willingness to adjust grapes from Osterberg to a predetermined style.” The Musikantenbuckel vines are young and better adapted to Kabinett-weight wines than to higher-alcohol styles. Lingenfelder is also serious about Scheurebe, and he makes a range of Silvaners, Pinot Noirs, a Dornfelder, and several blends. He also makes a long-tirage, allRiesling sparkling wine called Satyr from the

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Goldberg vineyard: he explains that it is never touched with extraneous sugar, that its base wine is not chaptalized, that there is no extraneous sugar in the liqueur de tirage, and that the final wine is not dosed.

Kiedricher Gräfenberg Rheingau

The Kiedricher Bach is one of many spring-fed streams that flow south or southeast out of the Taunus Hills toward the Rhine, irrigating the middle reaches of the Rheingau. The pretty village of Kiedrich, which boasts some of the area’s most pristine examples of Gothic architecture, sits astride the stream about 3 kilometers from the Rhine’s north bank. Two of Kiedrich’s best vineyards, Gräfenberg and Turmberg, cover the hillside that rises on the northeast side of the Kiedricher Bach, overlooking the village, and a third, Klosterberg, clings to the next hill to the west, between Kiedrich and Kloster Eberbach. Gräfenberg occupies about 10 hectares of southwest-facing slope, steeper toward the bottom, about 150 meters above sea level, and a bit gentler toward the top, where the vines give way to a tree-covered ridge at the 190-meter contour. Sandwiched between the forested upland and the stream below, the vineyard is a relatively cool site despite its southwestern exposure. The proximity of the forest and the conduit for upland air afforded by the stream ensure that Gräfenberg enjoys cool nights to offset warm days; finished wines from Gräfenberg exhibit excellent acidity. Like adjacent Turmberg (home to an eponymous tower, which is all that remains of Burg Scharfenstein, a 12th-century castle) and nearby Klosterberg, Gräfenberg is a mostly slate-based site, but the parent rock is phyllite, in which thin layers of mica and quartz alternate with layers of shale. Its soils are deeper than its neighbors’ and are interspersed with loess and loam to a depth of several meters, virtually eliminating any danger of water stress, even in dry years. Gräfenberg is entirely planted

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in line with the slope, in relatively large blocks that form five horizontal bands, separated by paths and access roads. Large portions of the vineyard are said to have belonged to Kloster Eberbach until the monasteries were secularized at the turn of the 19th century. Virtually all of it is now the property of Weingut Robert Weil (see below), whose glass-walled, ultramodern tasting room looks directly at the vineyard from the southwest side of the Kiedricher Bach. Although the Gräfenberg name has been associated with the site since at least the 12th century, when Rhenish counts (Rheingräfen) occupied Burg Scharfenstein, most wine from the vineyard was identified as Kiedricher Berg—a name that encompassed both Gräfenberg and Turmberg—until after World War II. Today, the oldest vines in Gräfenberg are more than 50 years old, and the youngest were just planted. Weil farms the site sustainably and quasiorganically, avoiding herbicides entirely, seeding a cover crop in alternate alleys, and relying on composts for whatever fertilization is needed, but still resorting to fungicides “as necessary.” Most blocks are planted in rows about 1.8 meters apart, with approximately 1 meter between vines, producing an overall density of between 5,000 and 6,000 vines per hectare. Yields average 50 hectoliters per hectare. Gräfenberg’s relatively deep soils and mashup of rocky, shale-based material with loams give wines that combine handsome minerality with exuberant fruit, a nice dusting of hard spices, and generous texture. A selective vertical tasting of Weil’s dry Rieslings from Gräfenberg in 2013 was instructive. The youngest wines, from the 2012 and 2011 vintages, were brilliant and very textured. The 2011 showed explosive flavors of pear and the textural sensation of pear and apple skins. The 2007 was a standout, featuring yellow fruit with a hint of mango, golden raisins, well-dried hard spice, a touch of petrol, and a slightly round mouthfeel. The 2001 was reassuringly youthful, with few signs of evolution and virtually no petrol; it was elegantly floral, slightly minty, redolent of lime peel, resolutely dry, and entirely delicious.

WEINGUT R OBERT WEIL 65399 Kiedrich

In the 1860s, Dr. Robert Weil (1843–1923) taught German at the Sorbonne, until events leading up to the Franco-Prussian War led him to rethink both venue and career. He returned to Germany, reinvented himself as a journalist in Wiesbaden, and spent time in Kiedrich, where his brother was the priest in charge of Pfarrkirche St. Valentinus und Dionysius. An essentially unmodified example of German Gothic architecture, the Pfarrkirche, then as now, houses the oldest playable organ in Hessen. In Kiedrich, Weil soon met Sir John Sutton, an English aristocrat and patron of the arts drawn to town by the Pfarrkirche, with its organ and associated musical traditions, who had become a major benefactor of the church. Sutton also built a residence for himself less than 200 meters from the church, employing an idiosyncratic half-timbered neo-Gothic style, and he lived there for much of the 1860s and ’70s, until his death in 1873. Weil, meanwhile, reinvented himself a second time, buying vineyard parcels in Kiedrich’s best sites, laying the foundation for Weingut Robert Weil. After Sutton’s death, he bought Sutton’s estate, which he repurposed as his own residence and winemaking premises. By the end of the 19th century, the Weil name was known across Western Europe and was spoken in the same breath as those of the best Bordeaux châteaux. Wilhelm II, the German emperor from 1888 to 1918, is reported to have conferred prestige on the Weil estate by purchasing a Weil Auslese from the 1893 vintage (see Frenzel 2013). Three generations later, always formidable and photogenic, the estate has grown to encompass 90 hectares of vineyard, a bit of parkland, Sutton’s residence, a cluster of associated buildings, some old cellars, and a completely modern, mostly underground winery. The estate is still in family hands, although the Japanese drinks conglomerate Suntory Holdings Ltd. became a majority co-owner in 1988. The man in charge

today is Wilhelm Weil, Robert Weil’s greatgrandson, assisted by a trio of cellarmasters. Weil’s Riesling program is built on four basic Gutsweine—one dry, one off-dry, and two classically sweet—and one Ortswein (“village wine”), called Kiedricher, which is dry. The dry Gutswein, called Rheingau Riesling Trocken, relies mainly on fruit from the Sandgrub vineyard, which is picked to finish between 11.5° and 12°, and it generally contains 7 to 8 g/L of residual sugar. It is the only dry wine in the Weil portfolio whose fermentation is deliberately stopped. The Kiedricher wine relies principally on grapes from the slate-based Wasseros vineyard, which partially encircles Turmberg and Gräfenberg like most of a horseshoe, and on young vines in Gräfenberg, Turmberg, and Klosterberg. It is quite a serious wine (Weil says it is like the Riesling trocken Spätlese his father made 30 years ago, with gentle minerality and half a degree more of alcohol than the dry Gutswein). The balance of the program consists of site-specific wines from Klosterberg, Turmberg, and Gräfenberg, but the offerings are complex. In each case, there is at least one dry and two classically sweet wines, the latter identified by the traditional Spätlese and Auslese predicates; in the cases of Turmberg and Gräfenberg, there are also late-harvest sweet wines identified with the Beerenauslese and Trockenbeerenauslese predicates. The estate treats only Gräfenberg as a VDP Grosse Lage; the dry bottling of Gräfenberg has carried the VDP-sanctioned Grosses Gewächs (gg) designation since 2012. An Eiswein is also made from Gräfenberg when the vintage permits. Weil explains that he adapts his winemaking parameters to the style of the finished wine and that more than 300 fermentation lots are processed in a typical vintage. Lots destined for the Gutsweine and Ortswein rely on whole-cluster pressing because these wines are intended to showcase fruit. Because minerality and complexity are desired in the dry site-specific wines, however, these typically involve partial crushing of the berries and skin contact times ranging from 6 to 12 hours. After about 12 hours’ settling

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without additives, the wines based on crushed fruit and skin contact are generally fermented in large wood casks rather than stainless steel. Increasingly, these are not inoculated, though yeasting was common in most vintages before 2009. Lots intended for dry wines are usually fermented between 16°C and 18°C. Their fermentations last from 6 to 12 weeks, and each fermentation is allowed to go as dry as it will. The new wines remain on the full fermentation lees for four or more months before being racked, and the lees are repeatedly stirred during this time. Gräfenberg lots are stirred the most, typically twice a month, and this treatment shows in the texture of the finished wines. The dry wines are racked, filtered, and bottled between May and August after the vintage. Sweet wines are held longer before they are finished.

Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle Nahe

The left bank of the Nahe River between Schlossböckelheim and Niederhausen, where the river bends almost 90 degrees, is a nearly unbroken ribbon of exceptional vineyards, all steeply sloped, looking variously southeast to southwest across the Nahe. Some command iconic, postcard views of Oberhausen and its Luitpoldbrücke, a stately sandstone construction dating from late in the 19th century. Many vineyards here have been planted to vines for several centuries; others, such as Kupfergrube and Hermannsberg, did not exist until after 1900. No site in this zone is held in greater esteem, however, than Hermannshöhle, which wraps around the left-bank hillside exactly where the river’s bend is most acute, barely half a kilometer from the center of Oberhausen, giving the vineyard a south-southwest exposure. Hermannshöhle is a relatively small site, just over 8.5 hectares, bounded by Hermannsberg on its west end and Klamm on its east, and is less than 400 meters from edge to edge. Its vine rows cover the slope from the bottom of the hill (about 130 meters above sea level) to the 210

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treeline at approximately the 180-meter contour. Although the hillside is continuous, access roads and a nicely signposted Wein-Wanderweg (vineyard hiking trail), the latter cleverly constructed in the 1980s to promote tourism, cut across the slope. Anchored with dry-laid stone walls, they divide the vineyard into broad lateral bands; atop one of these walls, high on the slope, the words “Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle,” spelled out in wooden letters and deployed like a giant billboard, identify the slope for visitors. The geology of the site, like most nearby, is exceedingly complex: here rocky red dirt of volcanic origin, there gray slate, and elsewhere sandstone, bits of broken limestone, and alluvial gravel from a time when the bed of the Nahe was much higher than it is today, with more slate and porphyry higher up and more sand toward the bottom. Vine rows follow the slope, so their true orientation varies. Older blocks are widely spaced, with about 2.4 meters between rows and 0.9 meter between vines, and newer ones are much tighter, with just 1.4 meters between rows. Locals explain that the village of Niederhausen was home to more than 55 vintners at the beginning of the 20th century, many of whom tended tiny parcels in Hermannshöhle. Yet all but five or six have since given up or sold out. At the time Flurbereinigung came to Hermannshöhle, in the late 1940s and early ’50s, authorities decided that only parcels smaller than 0.1 hectare should be consolidated, so many parcels of 0.2 to 0.5 hectare were left undisturbed and remain in production. The result is a patchwork quilt of relatively small very old and very new vine parcels, and a small group of owners with multiple but noncontiguous holdings. Superimposed on the site’s heterogeneous geology, this pattern may help to explain why Hermannshöhle wines are able to demonstrate subtlety, complexity, and consistency across the site and among producers. Riesling is virtually the sole varietal tenant in this vineyard. Weingut H. Dönnhoff, domiciled just upstream in Oberhausen, is by far the best-

known maker of vineyard-designated wines from Hermannshöhle and has been its largest single tenant since Helmut Dönnhoff rented 1.5 hectares from the new proprietors of the former Staatsdomäne in Niederhausen, bringing his total holdings here to 3.5 hectares. But Niederhausen-based Weingut Jakob Schneider (see below) is close behind, with just over 3 hectares spread across 11 parcels. Two of the 3 hectares are in Hermannshöhle’s northeast corner, almost adjacent to Klamm. (Planted in 1939, the grapes from these vines anchor a special bottling; see below.) Because the site is steep, especially in the upper half of the vineyard, and the meager topsoil extremely friable, most parcels must be worked entirely by hand, but with a bit of help from herbicides, especially within 20 centimeters on either side of the vine trunks. Hand-hoeing would be prohibitively expensive, Jakob Schneider Jr., the estate’s cellarmaster, explains, while grass close around the vine trunks, left unattended, would grow tall enough to compete for scarce water and even to cast undesirably uneven shade on grape clusters. Lower on the slope, closer to the Nahe, humidity becomes an issue, creating fog and demanding the application of fungicides. Meanwhile, the Schneiders fight erosion by deploying straw, using as much as an entire bale for every 10 meters of alley, which amounts (across all of their hillside holdings) to a mind-bending 3,000 bales per year. The straw mitigates erosion, reduces evaporation when the weather is hot, and ultimately breaks down to create humus, eliminating the need for nonorganic fertilizers. In recent years, the Schneiders have begun to experiment, when they have replanted, with narrower alleys so that adjacent rows can shade their neighbors during part of each summer day, slightly reducing the ambient temperature in the fruiting zone and slowing the accumulation of sugar. They have also begun to plant Riesling clones from the 300 Gm series (see page 78), looking for lower yields, smaller clusters, smaller berries, and a higher skin-to-juice ratio. Respected commentators have made Hermannshöhle the stuff of legend. American

importer Terry Theise says it “gives utterly miraculous wine,” insisting on its “complexity” and “nuance” (Theise 2003). Jakob Schneider Jr. calls Hermannshöhle wines an example of “eingeschlossenes Bild”—something like an all-inclusive picture, with no gaps or weaknesses. The dry Hermannshöhle wines I have tasted both from Dönnhoff and Schneider are drier and more acid-driven than those made from other nearby vineyards (such as Klamm and Rosenheck) where volcanic soils predominate: more mineral, more perfumed, and deeply and richly savory. Four vintages (2012, 2011, 2010, and 2008) of Schneider’s “regular” bottling of Hermannshöhle (hereafter Hermannshöhle Trocken) and its Magnus, the cuvée anchored with the oldest wines, tasted in 2013, were stunningly impressive. The 2012s were still babies, of course, the Hermannshöhle Trocken tense and tightly built, with explosive f lavors of tarragon, oregano, and summer savory, plus a hint of ginger. The Magnus was a bit more fruit-driven, or at least fruit pit–driven, and also more mineral, alongside the herbal edge. The 2008 vintage of Hermannshöhle Trocken was indisputably great: with an earthy, smoky edge, a savory nose, an accent of lemon-grapefruit peel, it was dry and very fine.

WEINGUT J AKOB S CHNEIDER 55585 Niederhausen

Weingut Jakob Schneider is the sort of familyowned winery that feels, looks, and behaves family-driven. There is an increasingly modern cellar and a homey, comfortable tasting room here, but no glossy patina or vast expanses of tinted plate glass. The premises spill across the Winzerstrasse in Niederhausen, and space for new cellar equipment was created by excavating almost invisibly into the hillside. The family is quite proud that Liesel Schneider, Jakob Schneider Sr.’s mother, personally sells about 65,000 bottles ex-cellar in a typical year and that Jakob Sr. personally delivers orders to

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private clients and restaurants within a few hours’ drive—when he is not working handson in one of the family’s vineyard parcels, for which he has primary responsibility. Since Jakob Jr. finished his formal training in viticulture and enology at Geisenheim in 2007 and a stage at Weingut Knoll in Austria, he has taken a lead role in the cellar. Winegrowers since the 16th century, Schneiders have been bottling wine in Niederhausen since the 1860s. At the turn of the past century, they were among the first German producers to ship wine to their customers throughout Germany, by rail. Some client families have been loyal to Weingut Schneider across five generations. Riesling is 90 percent of the business at Schneider, and the program is complex. Its foundation is two dry Gutsweine identified by trade names. Grauschiefer is blended from the family’s slate-based vineyards, mostly Niederhäuser Stein and Niederhäuser Rosenheck. Melaphyr comes primarily from sites that are mostly volcanic, such as Rosenberg and Felsensteyer. Grauschiefer is a decidedly mineraledged wine with admirable structure and intensity, blended from a majority of lots fermented in wood casks. Melaphyr is a more fruit-forward wine based on lots that were preponderantly raised in stainless steel. There is also a blended village wine called Niederhäuser, usually made halbtrocken. Everything else—sometimes as many as 15 wines— is vineyard-designated. In addition to the two dry Hermannshöhle bottlings, there are dry wines from Felsensteyer and Rosenheck and from Norheimer Dellchen; halbtrocken or feinherb wines from Felsensteyer, Kertz, and Rosenberg; lieblich predicate wines from Klamm, Kirschheck, and Hermannshöhle; and a handful of very late-harvest predicate wines, mostly from Hermannshöhle. The bottom of Hermannshöhle often combines high humidity with subfreezing temperatures in the postseason, enabling excellent Eisweine. As far as possible, every pick from every parcel in every vineyard is handled separately and kept separate until the final wine blends are

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made in the spring following the vintage. Toward this end, the cellar contains about 150 tanks, of which about 110 are used in a typical year. For obvious reasons, many are small, with capacities of just 600 or 1,200 liters. Some were traditionally coopered, and others are made of stainless steel. Jakob Schneider Jr. decides block by block and vintage by vintage which fruit should be whole-cluster pressed and which should be allowed prepress skin contact. Newly pressed juice is settled for 48 hours without additives, but the Schneiders like “clean” fermentations operating on clear juice, so the bottom of each settling tank is filtered before being reunified with the tank fraction that was racked off the settled sediment. Many winemakers worry that juice that is too clean ferments unreliably, but Jakob Schneider Jr. says that his clear juice presents few problems, perhaps because the cellar has grown a population of “good flora.” Some lots are allowed to begin fermentation with naturally occurring yeast; others are inoculated. Fermentation temperatures are controlled to between 16°C and 17°C when fermentations move quickly, but are allowed to rise higher (to between 18°C and 22°C) when and if the action slows. Fermentations that finish relatively early may be left on the full fermentation lees until February or March following the vintage; lots taking longer to finish see less postfermentation lees contact. Remedial racking is done only to deal with off flavors. Otherwise, the new wines are clarified just by filtration before bottling. The proliferation of small tanks makes blending an all-important exercise that typically consumes the month of March. To optimize for the entire portfolio of finished wines, blending decisions can be complex, and the contents of a single small tank may be divided among two or even three cuvées.

Königsbacher Idig Mittelhaardt, Pfalz

European vineyards, like most real property, often have complicated histories. They have

been divided and redivided over time in accordance with changing rules of inheritance; they have been bartered, sold, and resold, often in pieces; their names have changed; and the transactions and details were often imperfectly documented. Idig, in Königsbach, about 4 kilometers north of Neustadt, is an interesting exception, and one worth summarizing. In the second half of the fourteenth century, the bishop of Speyer and the secular ruler of the Pfalzgrafschaft bei Rhein, the latter ruling in the name of the Holy Roman Emperor, disputed a swath of territory between Königsbach, which was claimed by the bishop, and Gimmeldingen, which the Pfalzgraf controlled. The upshot was a 1387 treaty in which both parties agreed that 18 Morgen (about 4.5 hectares) “im Idischen” could henceforth be worked by farmers allegiant to the Pfalzgraf. The treaty is the earliest known mention of what is now the Idig vineyard, quite precisely sized. Almost four centuries later, exactly the same 4.5 hectares, still called Idig, showed up among aristocratic and ecclesiastical properties seized by the armies of the First French Republic, their ownership transferred to the Légion d’honneur. A bit later, when Napoléon began alienating state property to pay for his invasion of Russia, this slice of Idig, still 4.5 hectares, was sold three more times, always intact and undivided. The last buyers were a wealthy family in Forst, who transferred it as dowry when a daughter married Franz Armand Buhl (1837–96) in 1865. Both Buhl and his son Franz Eberhard Buhl (1867–1921) were successful politicians and vintners. After 1912, the wine estate created by the Buhls was renamed Weingut Reichsrat von Buhl; the Reichsrat title denoted the elective office that both men had held for various terms. This share of Idig remained in the hands of the Buhl family, and part of the Reichsrat von Buhl business, until 20 years after the death of the last Buhl heir in 1955. At that point, it was leased to the Winzergenossenschaft Königsbach, a wine cooperative that has since been amalgamated into a larger firm called Weinland Königsbach-Neustadt. The 1971 Wine Law,

meanwhile, had complicated the situation, expanding Idig from 7.5 hectares (the Kurfürst’s and the Buhls’ 4.5 hectares, plus 3 more) to 12 hectares by incorporating surface east of the vineyard’s historic perimeter. This surface was never owned by the Buhls, however. In 1978, Karl-Friedrich Christmann subleased the original 4.5-hectare parcel from the Winzergenossenschaft; he redeveloped it and finally purchased it outright from the Buhl descendants in 1988. This brings us to Weingut A. Christmann (see below), which farms Idig today. Idig’s footprint is a slightly skewed rectangle oriented almost exactly to the four cardinal directions, its west side just slightly longer than its east. The vineyard is bounded on its north and west sides by the village of Königsbach and on its south side by the Jesuitengarten vineyard. It slopes gently to the south, losing about 2 meters of elevation in each 10 of lateral distance, and a midslope wall divides it into two broad crossslope terraces. Each terrace is planted with northsouth vine rows. In older blocks, set out in the late 1970s, the rows are about 2 meters apart, with 1.2 meters between vines. Younger blocks have been planted about 1.8 by 0.8 meters for considerably greater density—almost 7,000 vines per hectare, versus just 4,500 among the older blocks. The topsoil consists of 1 to 1.5 meters of clay-limestone marl strewn with broken chunks of white limestone, surmounting limestone bedrock laced with sand. The site is warm, owing in part to its full-south exposure and in part to the robust protection from west winds afforded by the Haardt Mountains. Idig is almost, but not quite, a monopole: Gimmeldingenbased Weingut Thomas Steigelmann makes a Königsbacher Idig wine from parcels east of the old core that are part of neither the original 18 Morgen nor the surface added to Idig by the 1971 law. Other, similarly situated parcels are farmed by the aforementioned Weinland KönigsbachNeustadt, but in “cooperative” hands, the grapes from these vines disappear into anonymous regional blends. Neglect during the two decades following the death of the last Buhl had allowed the vineyard to

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deteriorate into terrible condition. Part of it was even used to make and store compost. Karl-Friedrich Christmann was therefore obliged to replant from scratch, working block by block over a period of several years. In addition to Riesling and Pinot Noir, he planted Sankt Laurent and Chardonnay, but he gave up early on the Sankt Laurent, for which Idig was too warm even then—the grapes ripened too early and were prone to rot. More recently, the blocks initially dedicated to Chardonnay were also removed, so that Idig is now dedicated entirely to Pinot Noir (82 percent) and Riesling (18 percent). For the replanting, Christmann first used a combination of Riesling selections at first, mostly DN 500 from Niederhausen, several selections from Neustadt, and massale selections from Mosel vineyards, grafted to SO4 or 3309 rootstock. In recent years, Christmann has used custom-grafted budwood whose upstream source is, remarkably, Idig itself: the Buhls once operated a nursery where they propagated cuttings from several of their vineyards, including Idig and Pechstein in Forst. First they propagated cuttings identified as “Idig 6248,” meaning that the mother vine was Vine 48 in Row 62, in their greenhouse, and then they planted them in a Buhl-owned vineyard in Friedelsheim. Since 2005, Christmann has taken second-generation cuttings from this vineyard for new plantings and replantings in Idig. Idig has been farmed biodynamically since 2002. A cover crop is maintained between alternate vine rows, and, to encourage deep rooting, lateral vine roots near the soil’s surface are cut once or twice each decade. Until the mid-1990s, Christmann made three dry wines from Idig— a Kabinett trocken, a Spätlese trocken, and an Auslese trocken. In 1996, this trio was replaced with a single dry wine designated as Grosses Gewächs (gg), and fruit from Idig’s younger vines is now declassified into a village wine that carries the Königsbach name (see below). Idig Rieslings are intense and tightly knit wines that are simultaneously elegant, supple, complex, and distinctive. The fruitiness they display when young is wrapped with a savory, sometimes earthy nuttiness that can evoke

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salted nuts or nutshells, with hints of citrus peel. There is also strong minerality in Idig Rieslings, especially noticeable on the back palate—not the exuberant minerality of some limestone-based vineyards, but a suave and polished one that enhances the overall impression of elegance. The 2012 and 2011 vintages, tasted in 2013, displayed these properties quite plainly, plus impressions of fruit pits, fruit peel, and herbs, while the 2008 and 2007 showed the supple elegance that emerges with a bit of bottle age. The 2008 was also a good illustration of the site’s warmth even in a cool vintage, and perhaps also of the polishing power of the moisture-holding clay in Idig’s topsoil. Steffen Christmann, now in charge of the estate, confirms that Idig tends to produce ripe and round wines even in cool years, and he says that care must be taken in warmer years to ensure that the wines do not give an overripe impression.

WEINGUT A . C HRIS TMANN 67435 Gimmeldingen

Arnold Christmann (1897–1972), for whom the estate is named, was the son of Henriette Häusser and Eduard Christmann, the first Christmann to be involved with wine. But it was Henriette’s grandfather Prof. Dr. Louis Häusser, who taught history at the University of Heidelberg in the 1840s, who purchased the estate’s first vineyards, in 1845. He was one of many academics and businessmen caught up in the wave of democratic debate that washed over most Western European countries in the 1840s and culminated in the revolutions of 1848. Häusser and his cousin Johann Martin Häusser were among a group who gathered periodically at the Buhls’ wine estate for political discussions. Apparently these discussions extended into wine, kindling keen interest in both Häussers. Karl-Friedrich Christmann, who bought and redeveloped Idig, was the sixth generation of the Häusser-Christmann lineage working with the estate; Steffen Christmann (b. 1965), who trained at DLR Rheinpfalz in Mussbach in viti-

culture and at University of Heidelberg in law, is the seventh. Like many German wine estates, Weingut A. Christmann prospered at the end of the 19th century and the dawn of the 20th but slipped into mediocrity after World War I. The renaissance did not begin until Karl-Friedrich took over in 1964, and the pace has increased under Steffen, who took the reins in 1996. The estate now covers 20 hectares, of which 14.5 are planted to Riesling, distributed over four villages, from Gimmeldingen, just beyond Haardt on the outskirts of Neustadt, to Deidesheim, 5 kilometers farther north. The Riesling program rests on the foundation of a single Gutsriesling labeled Riesling Pfalz and three village wines from each of Ruppertsberg, Gimmeldingen, and Königsbach. On this base, Christmann has built an impressive superstructure of vineyard-designated wines: in addition to the Idig, there are three other bottlings designated as gg, from the Reiterpfad, Langenmorgen, and Mandelgarten vineyards, and four from sites classified by the VDP as Erste Lage: Paradiesgarten, Biengarten, Kapellenberg, and Ölberg, the last of which has soils similar to Idig’s, albeit with a bit less depth and purity of limestone. Ölberg sometimes presents as a lighter, brighter cousin of Idig: still mineral from the underpinning limestone, less nuanced and concentrated, but very friendly. The vineyard-designated wines are made from carefully sorted, partially destemmed, and lightly crushed fruit, from which most botrytisaffected clusters have been eliminated. It is macerated for 3 to 16 hours before pressing. Settled overnight without manipulation or additives, the juice from each site is transferred to an approximately equal number of wood and stainless-steel tanks whenever total volume is sufficient to fill at least two tanks. Fermentations start naturally, without inoculation, and depend, according to Christmann, almost entirely on vineyard yeasts, not cellar yeasts, since major energy is invested to sanitize the cellar before each harvest. Since fermentation temperatures are controlled not to exceed 22°C and the small size of most tanks usually keeps them under 20°C, most lots are dry

and primary fermentation finishes before Christmas. Rarely is a fermentation stopped before it has finished naturally. (This regime, phased in beginning in 2005, is warmer than the one used for earlier vintages, when fermentations dragged on into March after the vintage, resulting, Christmann asserts, in wines that were harder to clarify and needed more aggressive filtration.) In the case of the occasional fermentation that lags prematurely, Christmann introduces a neutral yeast, isolated from Bürklin-Wolf’s holdings in the Pechstein vineyard, to reenergize it. Some malolactic conversion occurs concurrently with alcoholic fermentation, but Christmann thinks this is rarely noticeable, primarily because the ratio of malic to tartaric acid in Pfalz vineyards is low, accounting for less than 20 percent of total acidity. He also observes that most of his Riesling fermentations finish drier now than they did a few years earlier, perhaps as the result of biodynamic farming and consequently healthier vineyard yeast. Biodynamics also correlate with increased ripeness at lower levels of potential alcohol. For whatever reason, Idig fermentations tend to finish especially dry. New wines are left on the full fermentation lees until the new year has begun; basic wines are racked in January, and single-vineyard wines between February and April. High-acid vintages are usually left longer on the lees. All the wines are finished and bottled in July, however, so more time on the full less means less time on fine lees. Final clarification before bottling used to involve two filtrations with diatomaceous earth plus a final pad filtration, but, since 2005, many tanks have not needed treatment with diatomaceous earth and single-pad filtration has been sufficient.

Laubenheimer Karthäuser Nahe

Along the west side of the Nahe, between the mouths of the Trollbach and the Guldenbach, several important vineyards cling to south and southeast-facing slopes of transverse ridges running perpendicular to the river. The location

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gives these vineyards the same orientation as many in the well-known Rheingau, only about 6 kilometers distant (although the Rheingau vineyards overlook the broad Rhine, which at that point flows almost due west). The northernmost and largest Nahe vineyard in this zone, at 55 hectares, is Karthäuser, which climbs a mostly southeast-facing hill nearly on the river’s edge, immediately outside the village of Laubenheim. In the Middle Ages, Laubenheim was not a village but a monastery. Karthäuser vineyard is believed to take its name from the Carthusians, an order founded in the 11th century: the vineyard is presumed to have once belonged to the Carthusian charterhouse of Sankt Beatusberg in Koblenz. A draw, once carved by a stream but now dry, separates Karthäuser’s hill from the next ridge to the south, where the south-facing slopes are occupied by the Laubenheimer Krone vineyard, and Löhrer Berg, which belongs to the neighboring village of Langenlonsheim. (A small corner carved from Karthäuser has a separate identity: it is called St. Remigiusberg.) Because these transverse draws are open to the Nahe at their east ends but closed where they meet forested upland in the west, Karthäuser and its neighbors are sites with limited diurnal temperature variation. As everywhere, temperatures build throughout the day, but here they cool much less at night than do sites along the Trollbach and Guldenbach, which are open to prevailing winds from the west. Soils along the Nahe’s lower course change as a function of distance from the confluence of the Nahe and the Rhine. Karthäuser is an exposed instance of a soil stratum widely distributed across northwestern Europe called Rotliegend or Rotliegendes (the “red layer”), which is mostly disintegrated sandstone tinted red by abundant iron oxide. Adjacent St. Remigiusberg is a different geological story: its topsoil also appears reddish, but it is a volcanic protrusion, not Rotliegendes sandstone. Karthäuser’s footprint is roughly rectangular, and most of it is planted to rows in line with the slope, thus roughly north-south or northwest-southeast. Since a substantial number of winegrowers farm parts of the vineyard, cultiva-

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tion practices differ. Weingut Tesch (see below), domiciled in Langenlonsheim, farms 2.9 hectares in five separate parcels, most in the vineyard’s southwest quadrant. The Tesch vines were planted in the early 1960s, and the estate works hard to keep them in good health, occasionally interplanting when a vine dies. The scion material is a selection from Domäne Niederhausen, probably DN 300, and the rootstock is mostly SO4. Tesch farms without insecticides, herbicides, or chemical fertilizers and tills every other row. Vine spacing averages 1.5 meters between rows and 1.5 meters between vines. Pumice from the grape press is returned to the vineyard as compost, along with grass and leafy material. At the end of the 1990s and early in the new century, Tesch pruned and green-harvested aggressively to achieve yields of 35 to 40 hectoliters per hectare, but now it finds that yields closer to 60 hectoliters per hectare work better: lower yields produced riper fruit, but riper fruit translated into higher alcohol in the finished wines. In Tesch’s view, this obscured the wines’ expression of site and of the differences among sites in the region. The vineyard-designated Tesch wine from Karthäuser has enormous and distinctive character, seeming to express the red soil in a white wine. I find the flavor of red apple—and sometimes the slightly astringent sweetness of red apple peel—in most vintages. The wine is bright, muscular but not fat, and there are often hints of citrus. A bit of glycerin rounds the wine’s edges. The 2010, tasted in 2012, was especially expressive and brilliant, owing some of its impression to the vintage’s abundant acid. The 2008 seemed that it would be almost “ready” after just a bit of evolution, with some petrol on the front palate and a suggestion of lime peel on the finish.

WEINGUT TESCH 55450 Langenlonsheim

The Tesch family has made wine in Langenlonsheim since the beginning of the 18th century. Until 1996, it was fairly typical of the region,

growing a vast array of grape varieties indiscriminately and making a large family of wines in an chaotic assortment of styles, mostly sweet and off-dry. When Martin Tesch took the reins from his father in 1997, he made fundamental changes: more focus on fewer varieties, abandonment of vines in less-favored sites; improvements in viticulture and cellar work; and a reorientation of the family brand toward dry wines. To this point, the Tesch story is like many others played out in various parts of Germany at the end of the 20th century. But Martin Tesch’s background, orientation, and temperament were atypical. He had left home at age 15, traveled, worked in a brewery, earned a doctorate in biochemistry, and done research on primary metabolites formed in fermentation. He had not planned to return to Langenlonsheim, take over the family estate, or become a winemaker. Having returned, his approach was more revolutionary than evolutionary. In a single year, he turned the Tesch wine portfolio upside down. Not only were all the wines immediately dry, they were drier than almost any other. They were also repackaged. Colorcoded labels inspired by the London Underground replaced traditional labels with the Tesch name in Fraktur type. The goal was to improve market recognition for single-vineyard wines named for the vineyards themselves. Even if customers could not remember names such as Karthäuser or St. Remigiusberg, Tesch reasoned, they could at least distinguish a burnt-umber label and capsule from orange versions of the same. Corks were discarded in favor of clean-opening and invisibly threaded Stelvin Lux. Tesch found himself thinking iconoclastically about yeast (they are “a tool,” he says, not an “expression of terroir”); about alcohol (more than 12.5° obscures the expression of terroir in dry Riesling); about fermentations (long, wild fermentations produce esters, not real expression of fruit); and about yields (very low yields lead to excessively ripe fruit and “fat” wines). He is also pointedly straightforward about wine itself: “It is just a drink,” he says repeatedly, “not a luxury. It is not religion and

not sex. It is more like shoes. The appropriate questions are: Do they fit, and can I afford them?” This sort of rhetoric has put distance not only between Tesch and the previous incarnation of his house, but also between him and much of the international wine establishment, including many journalists. And it created a rough transition for the Tesch brand, which lost almost 50 percent of its sales before it could gather a new following. Tesch picks each vineyard four times: first to remove damaged fruit, second (and third) for the house’s “most important” wine, called Unplugged, and finally for the vineyard-designates, which are generally picked at between 12° and 12.5° potential alcohol, when the berries are “slightly pinkish.” Winemaking then operates with fruit that is partially destemmed because Tesch thinks whole-cluster wines are “too clean and too simple.” For any given wine and vintage, however, the percentage of intact clusters, which are pressed together with destemmed berries, may be as high as 70 percent or as low as 30. After the press juice has settled for two or three days in a fiberglass tank and the turbid fraction has been filtered, the settled wine and the filtered fraction are transferred to 5,000-liter glass-lined steel tanks for fermentation. In the 1960s, these tanks, now in use for a half-century, were a functional alternative to stainless steel, which was then unaffordably expensive. Fermentations rely on yeast raised in-house. Tesch’s father began isolating yeast in the 1960s, when the family had enough money to buy a freezer. (A Tesch yeast known originally as WT [for Weingut Tesch] 148 is now available commercially as CH3.) The ideal fermentation finishes between 20°C and 22°C and lasts about 30 days. Racking protocol varies by vintage— Tesch argues that “if you don’t balance acid with sugar, you have to balance it with something else, and lees are often a good choice.” Tesch wines are unfailingly dry, but he still stops fermentations before unfermented sugars drop below 4 g/L. This much, he says, is “a partner for alcohol and acid” and makes for “much more reliable aging.” New wines are generally racked

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off their fine lees in January, but are not sulfured. Tesch waits until late spring or summer before clarifying the wine with bentonite, filtering, and bottling. Tesch credits Helmut Dönnhoff as his mentor in winemaking but admits that his protocols are idiosyncratic. “We are a stealth winery,” he says. “We get no points from the journalists.” The wines, however, are very, very good.

Birkweiler Kastanienbusch Pfalz

The Kastanienbusch vineyard, which takes its name from the chestnut trees that have been widely planted in the southern Pfalz since Roman times, covers almost 80 hectares of south- and east-facing hillside southwest of Birkweiler, where creeks and small rivers arising in the Pfälzer Wald spill into the Rhine Valley rift. All but its northeast end, which is a knob facing south, southeast, and east over the town of Birkweiler and the river Queich, is an almost perfect south-facing rectangle on a single slope, slightly bowed like a boomerang, rising from about 200 meters at the base of the vale to 320 meters at the top. (The knob is entitled to a separate name, Köppel, a diminutive form of Kopf [= head], which some producers use alone or formulated as Köppel im Kastanienbusch.) The layout within the main rectangle is a half-dozen bands of vine rows, each running east-west across the slope. Within each band, vine rows are planted in line with the slope, creating essentially even sun exposure for all vines. The topmost band, above a dirt access road that traverses the slope, was planted in terraces with cross-slope rows until about 1970, when it, too, was converted to rows in line with the slope. As in most hillside vineyards, the bottom of Kastanienbusch, where soils are deeper and sunlit hours shorter, is rather different from its midslope and top, which are perfectly exposed to enjoy sun from early morning until late afternoon throughout the growing season. In Kastanienbusch, however, even the very top of the 218

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vineyard is prime: despite the altitude and the proximity of forest, thermal updrafts created when the prevailing west wind crosses the ridgetop ensures warm daytime temperatures even for the highest-situated vines, while the nights remain cool, preserving acidity in the grapes. The result is not only the highest Grosse Lage vineyard in the southern Pfalz, but also the latest to ripen despite its due-south orientation. The soil throughout Kastanienbusch is primarily Rotliegendes, the uplifted red shale and sandstone that was once deeply buried adjacent to primary gneiss and now has been weathered into a meager, porous topsoil in which vines are obliged to root deeply to access water. Growers must take care in such soils to maintain a judicious balance between vines and cover crops. While the latter are essential to minimize erosion, they also compete with the vines for water, especially when the vines are young. The balance is most critical in the topmost band of vineyard, where the topsoil is no more than 20 to 30 centimeters deep. In this soil, even well-established vines dehydrate in very hot, dry years. As elsewhere in Germany, vineyard irrigation was entirely prohibited here until the 1980s. Since the fierce drought and extreme heat of 1983, however, a group of 10 growers with holdings in the higher-elevation parts of Kastanienbusch have been able to organize a tiny irrigation cooperative that relies on one 70,000-liter underground cistern at the top of the vineyard. This amount of water is more like life insurance for their vines, however, than like a buffer against low yields. Weingut Ökonomierat Rebholz (see below) farms eight parcels in Kastanienbusch. The largest one (about 2 hectares) is a majority share of the topmost band of vineyard; the seven smaller parcels are distributed across the two bands immediately below the access road. The parcels aggregate to 3 hectares, which seems tiny against the approximately 80 hectares of total surface currently entitled to use the Kastanienbusch name. Yet they are significant, as they are a considerable share of the approximately 20 hectares that most serious growers recognize as Kastanienbusch’s “sweet spot.”

Rebholz’s holdings have been assembled gradually over the more than half-century since the present winegrower’s grandfather realized that the Kastanienbusch parcels that were hardest to farm and yielded the smallest crop (because they were steep and their soils were thin) actually produced the best wine. He found his neighbors more than willing to barter his lowerlying, higher-yielding parcels for their supposedly disadvantaged outliers. According to Hansjörg Rebholz, the current winegrower, the neighbors “thought my grandfather was crazy.” Today the oldest vines in the Rebholz parcels, all Riesling, were planted in the 1980s, and the youngest in 2009. An assortment of scion material is involved, mostly N 90, 239 Gm, and a selection from St. Urbans-Hof in the Mosel, and several rootstocks, but SO4 accounts for a majority of the latter. Vine spacing varies by parcel, but there is usually about 1 meter between rows and 0.8 meter between vines; average density is 5,000 vines per hectare. Yields average a parsimonious 30 hectoliters per hectare. In most vintages, Rebholz makes two Rieslings from his Kastanienbusch parcels, one called Vom Rotliegenden S, the other designated Kastanienbusch gg. Both are exceptional cuvées of great clarity, elegance, and complexity, with some characteristic “red” notes and crisp acidity that stem from the visibly red, ironinflected, slate-based soils. The S—a dry wine blended from fermentation lots deselected from the gg wine that Rebholz still finds typical of the prevailing soil type—is herbal, with tea and wildflowers. The gg shows red apple skin and a hint of raspberry over a foundation of deep, f linty, masculine minerality, plus enormous length. Older vintages of the gg (2008, 2007, and 2004, tasted in 2012) showed macerated yellow flowers, fleeting hints of yellow fruit pits, and cool nutty flavors, plus roundness to set off the substantial acidity, peppery spice, and petrol—all superimposed against the wines’ mineral core. In 2014, I also tasted a 2013 Kastanienbusch from Weingut Sven Klundt, domiciled in nearby Landau-Mörzheim. This wine shared the structure, peppery spice, and strong herbal

elements of the Rebholz ggs but expressed more abundant fruit, especially tangerineinflected pear. Overall, the Klundt was a more approachable wine than those from Rebholz but without the latter’s tension and precision.

WEINGUT Ö KONOMIER AT R EBHOL Z 76833 Siebeldingen, Südliche Weinstrasse, Pfalz

Rebholzes have lived in Siebeldingen for at least 400 years. The surname translates literally as “vine wood,” suggesting some involvement with vines or wine, perhaps as early as the Middle Ages. The family’s modern history as essentially full-time winegrowers began with Eduard Rebholz, the present winegrower’s grandfather, in the first half of the past century. To him the family owes its focus on exceptional sites, low yields, late harvests, unchaptalized and unresweetened winemaking, and careful observation of Mother Nature. Eduard’s son Hans, who died prematurely in 1978, transformed unresweetened winemaking into a house style dedicated almost entirely to fully fermented wines that finish as close as possible to bonedry. Looking within this space for wines with lean and “almost fragile” structures, sporting finished alcohol closer to 12.5° than to 13.5°, Hansjörg Rebholz, the present winegrower, has converted the estate to organic farming and is contemplating a project to isolate reliable indigenous yeasts from each of his vineyard sites. Riesling is grown in three of these sites and amounts to about 35 percent of the estate’s total production. Rebholz happily confesses an enormous debt to Hans-Günter Schwarz, the legendary former winemaker at Weingut Müller-Catoir, who mentored him after Rebholz’s father’s death but always respected the family’s distinctive stylistic aspirations for their wines. In addition to Kastanienbusch, and about 2 kilometers northeast of it, Rebholz farms Riesling in two separate and quite different—but almost adjacent—parts of the Siebeldinger Im Sonnenschein vineyard: a west-facing slope

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composed mostly of Muschelkalk, a chalky limestone derived from ancient seabed; and a small parcel on the west side of the road between Siebeldingen and Frankweiler known historically as Ganshorn, which is mostly Bundsandstein, a reddish sandstone geologically older than Muschelkalk. From these holdings and parcels in Albersweiler, the estate produces two basic Rieslings in most vintages, one of which is sold in 1-liter bottles; a Ökonomierat cuvée from earlypicked fruit that is normally about 11.5°; and three S wines designed to showcase each of the estate’s main Riesling terroirs: Vom Bundsandstein, Vom Muschelkalk, and the aforementioned Vom Rotliegenden. All these are in addition to the three flagship Grosse Gewächse: Im Sonnenschein, Ganshorn im Sonnenschein, and Kastanienbusch. In some vintages, the estate also makes a Riesling Spätlese with substantial residual sugar, especially if one or more fermentations have refused to ferment dry. The vintage determines which picks of which parcels are used to make each wine. Blending decisions are made in the spring after all fermentations have finished. Lots destined for the Ökonomierat and the Grosse Gewächse are chosen first, and the S wines are blended from what remains. Winemaking relies on two picks of each parcel. The second takes place as late as possible in each vintage, reflecting Rebholz’s determination to make his best dry wines from unambiguously ripe grapes. This protocol delivers a large pallet of wine lots to the cellar, which is equipped to ferment as many as 80 lots separately in stainless-steel tanks. “Lonely” botrytis—botrytis that has affected only a few berries in each cluster— is picked out by hand, but heavily botrytized clusters are discarded. Grapes are destemmed, crushed, and kept on the skins for up to 24 hours before pressing. Rebholz believes that both pectinase, a category of enzymes resident in grape skins, and time are required to extract terpenes, on which aromatic development depends in most white varieties. This amount of skin contact means that Rebholz wines contain a bit more tannin than most, but Rebholz likes the structure that derives in part from tannins and

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in part from dry extract. After pressing, the juice is settled for 24 hours without use of enzymes or other interventions and is cooled to 10°C. To minimize the risk of stuck fermentations—and to serve the ambitious house goal that all fermentations should finish with less than 1 g/L of residual sugar—about half of the fermenters are inoculated. “It is a bit difficult,” Rebholz explains, “to work exclusively with natural yeast when the objective is dry wines and the grapes are picked late and quite ripe.” From the very cool start, the juice temperature is raised to 15°C until the fermentation reaches its midpoint, at which point temperature control is eliminated. Rebholz also tries to retain as much carbon dioxide as possible in the new wine, so a hint of pétillance (a very slight fizziness, not visible as bubbles) is characteristic of Rebholz wines for their first three to five years in bottle. The new wine stays on the fine lees until spring after the vintage, when it is pad-filtered and bottled. Wines are neither racked nor fined. Many wines are released late; the Grosses Gewächs wines are normally released one full year after the Ökonomierat and S bottlings. Rebholz’s wines represent a nearly unique style in the firmament of top-quality dry German Rieslings: almost literally bone-dry, but also relatively low in alcohol. Deliberately precise, like an etching, rather than fleshy, like an oil painting, they rely with confidence on physiological ripeness, with as little sugar accumulation as the vines can be coaxed to produce. San Francisco–based sommelier Rebecca Fineman calls Rebholz a “rogue” producer, yet she also qualifies his wines as “perfect” and “simply delicious.” Indeed they are.

Pündericher Marienburg Rheingau

The village of Pünderich, at the end of one of many land fingers formed by the meanders of the Mosel, sits on the gentle slopes of the river’s right bank between Trarbach and Zell, a bit downstream of better-known towns such as

Ürzig, Graach, and Bernkastel. Directly opposite the village, on the river’s steep left bank, the Marienburg vineyard covers 19 hectares of steep hillside, rising from just above the river, at about 100 meters above sea level, almost to the hilltop, just short of the 200-meter contour. This ribbon of rocky slope, mostly broken slate at the surface and bedrock slate below, is almost entirely southfacing save for its upstream end, where the hill curls slightly to the west, creating a south-southeasterly exposure. It is broken in the middle by outcrops of sheer rock that are unplantable and sometimes inhospitable even to volunteer trees, and by a few spots where downslope erosion has created areas where humus and clay predominate against an otherwise omnipresent surface of broken slate. The 1971 Wine Law, which entitled huge expanses of undistinguished vineyard to use the names of better-known neighbors, expanded the perimeter of Marienburg almost fourfold, to cover another 60 hectares of relatively flat and gently sloping land on the river’s right bank between Pünderich and Reiler Golday, but the VDP has wisely excluded this quite unrelated surface from its definition of the Marienburg Grosse Lage. Marienburg soils are mostly gray slate, the commonest of the Mosel slates, but it is not hard to see, even from a distance, that the vineyard’s east and west ends are red. At the east end, the red surface is found in the adjacent vineyard called Nonnengarten, immediately below an Augustinian convent that has occupied the hilltop in one form or another since the 18th century; at the west end, above the tracks of the Moselstrecke railway, red slate dominates a section of Marienburg called Rothenpfad. Moving from Rothenpfad toward the center of Marienburg, one is first in Falkenlay, a gray-slate section broken by outcrops of bare rock that is sometimes regarded as the choicest portion of the slope. Abutting the east edge of Falkenlay is Fahrlay, its name taken from the left-bank terminus of a ferry (Fähre) that makes the crossing from Pünderich several dozen times each day from March to November, giving Pünderich vintners access to their Marienburg holdings

without an inconvenient and lengthy detour via the bridge crossing at Zell. Fahrlay is a blue-slate site, the only such part of Marienburg, and it is also exceptionally stony and therefore porous, forcing vines’ taproots deeper in search of water. Another few meters downstream, where the blue slate gives way to gray slate again, is the part of Marienburg called Treppchen, entirely replanted during Flurbereinigung in the 1980s and home now to vines younger than many found in Fahrlay, Falkenlay, and Rothenpfad. Across the slope, some of the site is terraced, the retaining walls made from slate claimed from the site, and vine rows are set out across the slope. In other areas, vine rows run in line with the slope or across it, with a preference in recent replantings for in-line rows that can be worked with winch-drawn cultivators deployed from the top of the hill. The view of the vineyard from Pünderich is arresting: a patchwork quilt of soil colors, terrace walls, and vine configurations. Seen from the access road at the top of the slope, it is vertiginous, descending sharply to the river across slopes generally varying from 50 to 60 degrees. So much of Marienburg’s 19 hillside hectares is now farmed by Weingut Clemens Busch (see below) that it is easier to explain what is not part of the domain than to identify what is. The Busch holdings exclude a large section in the center of Rothenburg between the railway and the treeline; a central section of Falkenlay between the river and the treeline; a mostly young-vines section of Falkenlay on the east side of the huge quarry that almost defines the center of Marienburg; the top of the slope above Fahrlay; and several parcels on the upper half of the slope between Fahrlay and the convent. This gives Busch nearly all of Fahrlay (making it effectively a monopole) and a huge stake in Falkenlay, including a parcel of vines more than 90 years old. Within Falkenlay, Busch vinifies two parcels separately. The first is Felsterrasse, a tiny 0.6-hectare microsite that hangs between outcropping rocks halfway up the slope. It is terraced and accessed by narrow steps that scale the bottommost retaining wall,

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and it was planted in the 1960s. The other is Raffes, which was reclaimed from fallow land and replanted recently, in 2010. Busch’s holdings in Rothenpfad are a work in progress: some parcels are more than 60 years old and others are currently being redeveloped, having been reclaimed from overgrown brush as recently as 2006. A majority of Fahrlay is terraced and is planted densely at more than 10,000 vines per hectare. Each vine is pruned as a single trunk, with two canes bent from the trunk to make opposing arcs. This configuration is harder to work than canes trained to horizontal wires, but Clemens Busch likes it and is happy to have vineyard teams who work it as patiently as he does. The vines are ownrooted, and clonal selections are avoided. When new vines are needed for replanting, they are propagated by Weis Reben, in Leiwen, from cuttings taken from Busch’s older vines or from vines in other Mosel vineyards. Busch has farmed his vines without herbicides or chemical fertilizers for almost 40 years, and his vineyards have been certified organic since 1986. The vines are a picture of perfect viticultural health, and much of the ground in the Fahrlay terraces is now covered with a lovely carpet of wild strawberries sweet enough that a neighboring vintner picks them for jam. Busch has produced a Fahrlay wine separately since 2000. It has been reliably dry, with precise, salty minerality, intense f lavors, and impressive structure since 2008. The delicious 2008, tasted in 2014, was simultaneously salty and mentholated, with some citrus peel, a hint of mushroom, a whiff of petrol, and just 12.5°. The youngest vintages—2012, 2011, and 2010—all showed a dusty, mineral intensity, with long, dry, salt-edged finishes and great freshness, and analysis showed they had between 6 and 8 g/L of acid and 5 to 7 g/L of residual sugar. Four vintages pre-2008 (2007, 2006, 2005, and 2002) were not dry but nonetheless were of compelling interest. The 2007 had 17 g/L of unfermented sugar covering the site’s signature salinity; the 2005, which had fermented for an astonishing 30 months,

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expressed honey, caramel, and coconut but finished with reassuring edge and grip. The exceptional 2002, which had stopped fermenting with 11 g/L of unconverted sugar, tasted essentially dry and entirely lovely: beeswax on the nose and hints of lemon and lime peel, newly cut hay, and infused f lowers on the palate. Already spectacular, it was still young and fresh.

WEINGUT C LEMENS B USCH 56862 Pünderich

Clemens and Rita Busch live in a restored, halftimbered 17th-century house near the river’s edge in Pünderich. The cellar is on the same street but on higher ground, where it is safe from the river’s propensity to f lood. Clemens Busch’s grandfather was the first of his family to stray from mixed agriculture into a special emphasis on wine, but the Busch vineyard holdings remained relatively small until the 1990s, when it became possible to acquire neglected or even abandoned parcels in the original hillside portion of Marienburg for quite reasonable sums. For better or worse, parcels of this sort were unattractive to Clemens’s neighbors. Clemens’s father had begun the transition to sustainable farming in 1974, ending the application of chemical fertilizers and herbicides. In 1984, when Clemens took over, farming became entirely organic. The holdings were certified organic in 1986, and some biodynamic protocols were introduced in 2005. The Riesling program rests on a basic Gutswein vinified dry, plus small quantities of lieblich Kabinett and Auslese. Superior qualitatively and usually picked slightly riper are two dry wines made to showcase soil type, one made from the gray-slate parcels in the midsection of Marienburg called vom grauen Schiefer, the other from the red-slate sites in Rothenpfad and Nonnengarten called vom roten Schiefer. The site-designated wines are the estate’s best: a Marienburg made from the hillside below and west of the convent, a Rothenpfad from the old vines at the

upstream end of Marienburg, as many as three wines from sections of Falkenlay (Falkenlay, Felsterrasse, and Raffes), and two wines from Fahrlay (Fahrlay and Fahrlay-Terrassen), the latter from vines more than 70 years old. As the VDP has agreed that all of hillside Marienburg, on the left bank of the Mosel, should be classified as Grosse Lage, each of these wines carries that designation and, when they ferment dry, the bottling is also designated gg. When residual sugar in the normally harvested wine exceeds the threshold for dry wines, or when very late additional harvests are done, Busch makes site-specific Auslesen, Beerenauslesen, and Trockenbeerenauslesen. Busch likes the effect of prefermentation skin contact on his wines, so he leaves partially destemmed grapes to macerate for up to 36 hours before they are pressed—provided that the fruit is clean enough. The juice is settled without additives or interventions, and fermentations rely entirely on naturally occurring yeast. Because Busch picks quite late, long and slow fermentations are typical, almost always extending through the winter and into the spring, and sometimes for as much as 36 months. Fermentations for the site-designated wines take place entirely in very old oak casks, and between 60 and 70 percent of lots intended for the basic wines are treated similarly. Fermentation temperatures are not controlled, though the juice may be chilled before fermentation begins if it has become too warm during settling. The new wine remains on the full fermentation lees for two to three months after the primary fermentation has finished before they are softly racked to eliminate the gross lees. Then the fine lees may be stirred every two to three weeks (for as many as 12 times total) before the wines are racked again, sulfured, and, two weeks thereafter, filtered and bottled. Busch thinks his wines need considerable contact with air and that long vinifications with prefermentation skin contact and postfermentation lees contact can be especially important in high-acid vintages. These long vinifications often lead to concurrent malolactic and alcoholic conversions, which are neither

encouraged nor resisted—like other producers who tolerate extended fermentations, Busch finds that concurrent malolactic conversions leave no adverse aromatic signature. It is not unusual for parts of several vintages to be in the cellar at the same time; in 2009, he bottled parts of three vintages in the same year. Clemens Busch’s wines, when they are dry, seem to me the most persuasive of Mosel dry Rieslings: rich with dry extract, flavor-ripe, and mineral-rich. I admire the estate for rescuing old vines of unimpeachable quality when others were prepared to uproot them. Sometimes the best things happen a bit outside the limelight.

Westhofener Morstein, Aulerde, Kirchspiel, and Brunnenhäuschen Wonnegau, Rheinhessen

Westhofen is an attractive half-timbered town (population 3,000) in the southeastern quadrant of Rheinhessen, astride the small watercourse known upstream from town as the Altbach and downstream as the Seebach, which flows into the Rhine between Worms and Nierstein. The north side of the Altbach-Seebach drainage is an east-west-oriented slope, mostly south-facing, that rises from the watercourse and the town, about 120 meters above sea level, to a relatively f lat summit 160 meters higher. The slope, including intermediate plateaus, is almost entirely planted to vines, divided among five or six Einzellagen, depending how one counts, all on the same limestone baserock, but with different topsoils, exposure, and altitude. The VDP has classified four of the Einzellagen, in whole or in part, as Grosse Lagen. The east end of the hillside, where it meets the Rhine River plain, is Aulerde, a large (90hectare) warm site with a barely 10 percent slope, much of which is windblown loess, but a kernel near its center is a quite distinct terroir that works very well for Riesling. Here the soil is marl strewn with small bits of broken limestone on a layer of sandy gravel. The combination of low altitude and southern exposure makes Aulerde the earliest

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site on the hillside to ripen and gives the round, borderline rich wines redolent of yellow fruit that Rheinhessen vintners describe as “Pfalz-like.” Some vines here are more than a half-century old. Surrounding Aulerde almost like an amphitheater on its north and west sides, but itself facing more east than south, Kirchspiel is a 45-hectare site that rises steeply up the slope, in cross-slope terraces and in-line vine rows, to an intermediate plateau about 170 meters above sea level. Kirchspiel’s topsoil is also marly, but its clay is much less heavy than Aulerde’s and is mixed with a much larger proportion of broken limestone. Because of its southeasterly orientation and 30 percent slope, Kirchspiel gets mostly morning and midday sun, with more shade than sunshine in the afternoon. A bit later to ripen than Aulerde but still relatively precocious, Kirchspiel produces wines in which yellow fruit is expressed more as fruit pits than as fruit flesh and in which the dominant impression is an exuberant, racy, and elegant minerality. Farther uphill and farther west, across the saddle called Steingrube, between 220 and 240 meters above sea level, is Brunnenhäuschen, about 35 hectares of marl and broken limestone mixed with veins of very red dirt loaded with iron oxides. The lower portion of Brunnenhäuschen is known as Abtserde. Brunnenhäuschen’s higher altitude, and the bit of exposure to west wind that comes with it, makes it a later-ripening site than Kirchspiel, capable of making elegant wines with great aromatic complexity, while the iron-rich soil gives a slight impression of red fruit even in white wines. Finally, above Brunnenhäuschen, between 240 and 280 meters above sea level and facing due south, lies Morstein. (Although the 1971 Wine Law extended the boundaries of Morstein to encompass at least 100 hectares of vineyard, only about 30 were part of Morstein historically, and fewer still are now designated as Grosse Lagen.) There is no iron oxide here, and the surface mix of marl and broken limestone is thin and sits directly on the limestone bedrock. Yet this bedrock is extravagantly fractured and therefore penetrable by vine roots. Morstein is the

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coolest site on the hill, owing primarily to altitude, and it is home to the latest-ripening fruit among these sites, but its fruit never suffers from drought because the deep-rooted vines have access to subsoil water throughout the growing season. Morstein also offers the grandest view across the Wonnegau’s fields of grains and sugar beets to the Odenwald, on the far side of the Rhine. Most growers with holdings here think Morstein makes their finest Riesling, and many observers believe it is one of the finest sites for dry Riesling anywhere. It makes serious, muscular wines of great intensity and huge minerality. Weingut Wittmann (see below), domiciled in Westhofen, grows Riesling in all four of the Grosse Lagen described above. Wittmann’s holdings are substantial: 2 hectares of old vines in the “sweet” center of Aulerde, several parcels totaling 2.5 hectares scattered across the top of Kirchspiel, 0.8 hectare in the Abtserde section of Brunnenhäuschen, and 4 valuable hectares in Morstein. The Morstein vines that are used to make Wittmann’s Grosses Gewächs (gg) bottling were planted between 1978 and 1986; Wittmann uses the younger vines in a Westhofener village wine. Since the estate converted to organic farming in 1990 and then to biodynamic protocols in 2004, the Wittmanns have tried to consolidate their parcels in each Lage in order to maximize the benefit they derive from avoiding chemical treatments and using biodynamic preparations. The estate prefers northsouth-oriented vine rows, with about 1.5 meters between rows and about 1.2 meters between vines in the same row, but in fact these parameters vary across its holdings as a function of topography and planting histories. When the Wittmanns replant parcels, they gravitate toward scion selections from vineyards in the Middle Mosel, such as Bernkastel 68, or selections from Weis Reben in Leiwen, usually planted on 161–49 rootstock, which works well in Westhofen’s chalky soils. A cover crop of legumes and herbs is left undisturbed between alternate vine rows; the other alleys are tilled. According to Philipp Wittmann, who heads the estate, biodynamic practices have resulted in

better phenological ripening with less sugar, and they give him more ability to fine-tune the way vines react to various parameters of each vintage, including excess moisture in the spring and drought stress in midsummer. Wittmann’s Morstein Rieslings are the estate’s most celebrated wines. The 2011, tasted in 2012 as a cask sample, was rich, intense, and unapologetically mineral, with a slightly honeyed and herbal edge and a sensation of apple and peach peel on the finish. The 2007 (total acid 7.5 g/L) displayed a slightly cooler texture than the 2011, and its strength was expressed as a combination of fruit-pit f lavors and peppery spice. The 2005, with 1.5 g/L less total acid than the 2007, showed fruit f lesh that was missing from both the 2007 and the 2011. Younger vintages of Morstein can be a trifle hard, especially in cool vintages, but open into an quilt of aromas and f lavors with a few years of bottle age. Wittmann’s Kirchspiel is a fine alternative for earlier drinking: the 2011, even tasted as a cask sample in 2012, was an engaging, aromatic Riesling redolent of spearmint and licorice, with just enough minerality to make it simultaneously serious and fun.

WEINGUT WIT TMANN 67593 Westhofen Bei Worms

Wittmanns have lived and farmed in Westhofen since at least the 17th century. The estate began bottling some of its own wine in 1921, made a major commitment to quality in the 1980s, and abandoned nonviticultural farming in 1990. Since 2007, the estate has been run by Philipp Wittmann (b. 1975), a Geisenheim-trained winemaker with experience at Weingut Dr. von Bassermann-Jordan in Deidesheim and at Weingut Siegrist in Leinsweiler, both in the Pfalz. For valuable perspective on approaches to Riesling qua variety in quite different sites, it helps enormously that he is married to another Geisenheim-trained winemaker, Eva Clüsserath, now responsible for her family’s Riesling-centric estate, Weingut Ansgar Clüsserath, at Tritten-

heim on the Mosel. Westhofen is the couple’s main residence, but both commute as necessary. Weingut Wittmann now farms 25 hectares of grapes (of which 16 are Riesling), buys some grapes from contracted growers, and makes about 17,000 cases annually. In addition to the aforementioned four gg Rieslings, the estate makes a formidable Westhofener village wine exclusively from declassified lots of wine from the gg vineyards, a excellent Gutswein based entirely on estate-grown fruit, and an entry-level wine called Hunderthügel (or “100 Hills” when shipped to Anglophone markets) from a combination of estate and purchased fruit. Winemaking at Weingut Wittmann begins with whole clusters that are lightly crushed and 3 to 18 hours of skin contact in the press. This is possible because pressing is “nearly static,” says Philipp Wittmann, meaning that the press turns very slowly, about three times in a sixhour press cycle, in order to achieve “a hint of tannins in the wine for attractive aging” without compromising Riesling’s natural “energy and purity.” The new juice is settled naturally, with no use of enzymes or fining agents and no intervention, except that the bottom of each tank is filtered and used in the estate’s basic wine. Fermentations rely on naturally occurring yeasts, but Wittmann has also, over time, isolated and frozen efficient yeasts from each of his vineyard sites, working in collaboration with specialists at the University of Mainz. In “about 2 percent of cases,” he resorts to frozen yeasts to ensure that all his fermentations actually finish dry. Fermentation lasts 3 to 16 weeks, but Wittmann prefers fast fermentation whenever possible to avoid unwanted “creaminess” in the wines. Eighty to 90 percent of wines are fermented and finished in 1,200- or 2,500-liter casks, made of German oak by an Austrian cooper. Afterward, the wines remain on the lees without racking; they are just topped regularly and treated with a bit of sulfur dioxide “for stability” and to discourage malolactic conversion before the final blends are created and the finished wines are bottled. Once a wine has been removed from its lees, Wittmann immediately

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queues it for bottling, as he prefers not to “to move it once more later.” Wittmann Rieslings are exceptionally brilliant, almost crystalline examples of dry Riesling. Each vineyard-designated wine is a transparent expression of its terroir, but the emphasis on cellar protocols that privilege very low residual sugar, clean fruit flavors, and minerality as strong as the site permits sets these wines apart.

Niersteiner Pettenthal Rheinterrassen, Rheinhessen

Nierstein, once a quasi-independent municipality dependent directly on Holy Roman emperors, is now a town of 8,000, 15 kilometers south of Mainz, where the Flügelsbach flows into the Rhine. Over time, it has given its name to a large and fairly motley assortment of wines. At the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries, so much wine was identified with the Nierstein name, especially in overseas markets, that the New York Times reported on August 17, 1907, that “more so-called Niersteiner is exported to the United States than is produced at Nierstein.” Six decades later, institutionalizing this lamentable commercial practice, Germany’s 1971 Wine Law created a Bereich (wine district) with the Nierstein name, which generously made almost anything grown anywhere in northeastern Rheinhessen into Niersteiner. Notwithstanding this confusion, a thin ribbon of vineyards surmounting Nierstein and the Rhine, plus one vineyard at the ribbon’s north end associated with neighboring Nackenheim, known collectively as the Roter Hang or Red Cliff, has maintained a reputation for distinction. These are Rheinhessen’s red-slate vineyards, built of about 50 centimeters of rocky, iron-rich topsoil weathered from parent shale over friable baserock that is easily penetrated by vine roots. Roter Hang vineyards are mostly steep (often very steep indeed) and have exposures ranging from south and southeast (at the Orbel-Ölberg end of the ribbon) to due east (at the ribbon’s north end).

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Pettenthal is often described as the Roter Hang’s “classic” vineyard. It faces almost perfectly east and rises sharply uphill, featuring a slope that is rarely less acute than 60 degrees and is often nearly 70, though the vineyard’s east edge was extended in the 1970s to include an essentially f lat zone at the bottom of the slope, which has little in common with the hillside above it. (The VDP excludes this part of the official vineyard delimitation from its definition of Pettenthal as a Grosse Lage.) The base of the slope is about 90 meters above sea level and just a few meters higher than the Rhine; at the top, vines grow at the 170-meter contour. The darkred topsoil absorbs heat easily, making good use of solar radiation. During the growing season, the vineyard basks in full sun—primarily cool morning sun—from sunrise until early afternoon. Once the sun has moved west of south, so that the hill itself has begun to block the direct rays, the vines make do with light reflected from the surface of the Rhine. This exposure creates a cool site overall, which is usually picked about two weeks later than neighboring vineyards, often after the leaves have fallen, leaving only grape clusters on the vines, during the first half of November. Pettenthal was entirely replanted early in the 1970s pursuant to Flurbereinigung, and its vine rows, entirely east-west and in line with the steep slope, are now 1.3 meters apart, with 1 meter between vines. No one I have consulted knows which scion materials and rootstocks were used for the replanting, although Geisenheim selections and SO4 would be good guesses. All vineyard work is necessarily done by hand, and then only when the soil is dry—the slope is impossible for machines at any time, and perilous for vineyard workers whenever rain has made the ground slippery. More than 98 percent of Pettenthal’s 30 hectares is devoted to Riesling, and proprietors are fairly numerous. Several Nierstein-based wineries farm parcels in Pettenthal, including Weingut J. & H. A. Strub and Weingut Franz Karl Schmitt. Nackenheim-based Weingut Gunderloch is also at work here, as is Bodenheim-based Kühling-Gillot (see below). In

1995, Kühling-Gillot acquired its first Pettenthal parcel—just 10 vine rows—and Roland Gillot says he first approached it as “a hobby.” In 1996, he was able to acquire 100 rows adjacent to the south side of his first holding, bringing Kühling-Gillot’s stake in Pettenthal to a total of 1.2 hectares. This has been farmed organically (and quasi-biodynamically) since 2004, its natural cover crop of wild plants, including some wild arugula, scythed by hand toward the end of the growing season to avoid excess vegetation at harvest, but also augmented in the spring and summer with straw to improve water retention and minimize erosion. Pruning to remove all but two clusters per shoot creates a maximum yield of 40 hectoliters per hectare and often substantially less. At the bottom of the slope, where the rows turn f lat, KühlingGillot has planted a small amount of Gewürztraminer, which the house uses to make a multivarietal blend; Riesling from the f lat ends of the Kühling-Gillot rows is declassified. The result is elegant, slightly round-edged wines with star-studded showiness that begins with explosive aromas and continues across a long midpalate to a mineraly finish. These wines are already expressive when they are young, often redolent of red grapefruit, but their attractiveness is amplified with bottle age, showing robust f lavors on the one hand and opulent texture on the other. The 2012, tasted in 2013, was all about yellowish fruit, with a savory herbal-citrus tang; the 2009 showed more of the site’s dusty minerality. The 2007 was about macerated flowers and savory gremolata, with hints of maturity; the 2005, showing younger and fresher than the 2007 owing to a cooler vintage, was expressive of orange fruit flesh, tangerine peel, and the same dusty minerality that had showed in the 2009. Another interesting window into Pettenthal comes from Weingut Schneider (see below), in Mainz-Hechtsheim, about 10 kilometers north of the vineyard. Schneider’s first vintage of Pettenthal (2011, tasted prerelease in 2012) was a showy, opulent, and exotic expression of the site, redolent of butterscotch, orange peel, can-

taloupe, and candied ginger, but also round, dense, and concentrated (7 g/L of total acid and 7.8 g/L of sugar).

WEINGUT K U¨ HLING -G ILLOT 55294 Bodenheim

Although both Kühlings and Gillots have made wine in the Rheinterrassen area for generations, the present firm was created when Roland Gillot married Gabi Kühling in 1970. Although their daughter Carolin was tempted throughout secondary school by other careers and began her postsecondary education in business administration, she transferred after one year to viticulture and enology at Geisenheim, worked subsequently with Dominique Lafon at Domaine des Comtes Lafon in Meursault, and took the Kühling-Gillot reins from her father in 2002. She made the 2003 and 2004 vintages, but by 2005, that responsibility was given to Hans-Oliver Spanier (see Weingut BattenfeldSpanier, page 201), who was then Carolin’s fiancé. After Carolin and Hans-Oliver married in 2006, their respective wine properties were effectively merged into Weingut Carolin Spanier-Gillot & HO Spanier. H. O. Spanier, Kühling-Gillot, and BattenfeldSpanier were treated as brands, business operations were consolidated in Bodenheim, and winemaking was brought under a single roof in Hohen-Sülzen. Winemaking protocols for the Kühling-Gillot and BattenfeldSpanier Rieslings are essentially identical, as vineyard practices have been since 2005. The differences are therefore expressions of Niersteiner versus Wonnegau sites, the former a bit friendlier and more approachable, with attractive fruit, and the latter more mineral-driven and a trifle more austere.

WEINGUT L OTHAR S CHNEIDER

UND

TOCHTER

55129 Mainz-Hechtsheim

Since 2002, Mirjam Schneider (b. 1982) has been in charge of the cellar at her family’s farm on the gentle hills in the southeast corner of

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Mainz, where fields and vineyards overlook the Rhine. There is a farmstand at the Schneiders’ front gate: Mirjam’s mother raises strawberries in adjacent fields, and there are potatoes, tomatoes, and vegetables nearby. Mirjam’s father still has principal responsibility for the family’s vineyard parcels in the Einzellagen called Edelmann, Johannisberg, and Kellersberg. The family has grown grapes at least since 1715, but until Mirjam’s father bottled the estate’s first wines in 1973, all wine left the premises in cask. Mirjam herself had formal training in viticulture and enology at the Staatliche Lehr- und Versuchsanstalt für Wein- und Obstbau (LVWO) in Weinsberg (Württemberg) and interned for half a year at New Zealand’s Neudorf Vineyard in 2006. Weingut Schneider makes a very tasty dry estate Riesling from vineyards in Laubenheim and Gau-Bischofsheim. The 2011 vintage of this wine, tasted in 2012, showed a combination of red apple peel and yellow stone fruit on the front palate, plus nice chalky minerality on the back palate and finish. The estate also makes a village-level Riesling from Gau-Bischofsheim, but it is usually not vinified dry. Apart from the Pettenthal project (see below), the estate’s best site for Riesling is the Edelmann vineyard in Laubenheim, and the best fruit from this site is used to make a vineyard-designated wine. The 2011 edition was very attractive: elegant and peppery, with some notes of resinous herbs; creamy at midpalate; and then long and very slightly grippy. The estate also makes Scheurebe, Silvaner, Pinot Gris, Portugieser, Pinot Noir, and a small quantity of Merlot. In 2011, Schneider joined forces with two close friends who are also 30-something women and winemakers: Christine Huff, of Weingut Fritz Ekkehard Huff in Nierstein, and Eva Vollmer, a graduate of Geisenheim University who had fashioned a winery from her parents’ mix of wheat, barley, and grape farming at Mainz-Ebersheim in 2007. The three vintners, dubbed the Winzerinnen-Trio by the media, share a small 0.4-hectare parcel in Pettenthal, leased for 25 years, which they affectionately call Tante Petti, describing its wines as feminine and

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emotional. Each of the three farms her own rows of the parcel, and each uses her own protocols to make her own distinctive wine. For Schneider, these protocols involve whole-cluster pressing followed by a 12- to 24-hour settling, then fermentation in a stainless-steel tank with naturally occurring yeast. It is Schneider’s practice that, if a fermentation does not stop on its own, she will usually stop it when 7 to 8 g/L of unfermented sugar remain “so that the wine tastes good.” At this point, the tank is chilled, the wine is racked, and sulfur is added, but new wine remains in contact with the fine lees until bottling in June after the vintage. All of Schneider’s vineyarddesignated white wines, including Pettenthal, are released in September after the vintage.

Meddersheimer Rheingrafenberg Nahe

Meddersheim is a small town of about 1,300 in an area of mixed agriculture in the so-called Upper Nahe, which is the stretch of the Nahe River upstream of Bad Kreuznach, where it f lows roughly west to east. Forested hills arise quickly from the valley f loor east, south, and west of town and are a haven for hikers, deer, and wild boar. The town’s two larger vineyards, Altenberg and Edelberg, occupy slopes below the treeline on some of these hills, facing southeast, overlooking, respectively, the Altenberger Bach and the Hottenbach, two small tributaries that flow north into the Nahe. Rheingrafenberg, considerably smaller than Altenberg and Edelberg but arguably the best of the three sites, is a rather different site. It is a pair of blind northeast-southwest-oriented valleys open to the Nahe at their north ends, respectively 2.5 and 3 kilometers as the crow f lies west of Meddersheim’s municipal limits, where the southeast-facing slopes have been planted to vines. Albeit noncontiguous, the slopes together compose Rheingrafenberg, which has a total surface of about 26 hectares, but each also has its own name. The valley closer to town is called Wingertschied; the other is Eisendell.

Wingertschied is larger and apparently has a longer history as a vineyard; it figures on the Nahe Weinbau-Karte für den Regierungsbezirk Coblenz dated 1901. Surface beyond its original southeast-facing slope has now been planted to vines: winegrowers attracted by ease of cultivation have planted on the valley floor, and there are even 1.5 hectares on its opposite side— unsurprisingly, these precincts are usually not used for Riesling but for less demanding (and less drought-tolerant) varieties such as Pinot Blanc and Portugieser. Eisendell, meanwhile, was not delineated on the 1901 map. This omission could mean that the vineyard was not yet planted in 1901, but other explanations seem more likely (see the sidebar on page 89). Elevations are similar—the bottom of the vineyard in both valleys is around the 170meter contour and the top around 240 meters— but the top of Eisendell is perhaps a few meters higher. Soils are broken quartzite and sandstone, some of it water-washed, mixed with a bit of sand at higher elevations and more sand toward the bottom of the slope; there are also streaks of loam at lower elevations. The disaggregated rocks, which account for 60 to 80 percent of the topsoil, are much redder in Eisendell, which probably explains its name: Eisen means iron, and oxides of iron are red in color. Although the soils are well drained, the steep slopes (up to 70 percent in Eisendell and 60 percent in Wingertschied) make erosion a recurring problem in both parts of the vineyard. Growers mitigate the erosion by spreading straw around vines and between rows, which they till into the topsoil when possible, but some erosion is inevitable nonetheless— after especially wet growing seasons, growers cart dirt back uphill to replenish what was lost. Flurbereinigung came much later to Meddersheim than to most German vineyards, restructuring Altenberg in the 1980s and Rheingrafenberg between 1991 and 1994. Local sources say that fully half of Rheingrafenberg’s growers had given up in the preceding 20 years—many wineries were too small to operate profitably,

and others had no willing heirs—which made it relatively easy to consolidate what had previously been a seriously fragmented site. The oldest vines here were, therefore, planted only in 1995. The scion material for Riesling is mostly Geisenheim selections, primarily 198 Gm and 239 Gm, and the prevailing rootstocks are Börner and SO4. Rows are laid out in line with the slope, and typical vine spacing is 2 to 2.1 meters between rows and 1.2 meters between vines. A set-aside for grassland was required when the vineyards were restructured; rather than sacrifice prime spots in the center of the slope, growers opted to create a grass belt at the perimeter, where the vineyard abuts the forest, chilling the microclimate around the most peripheral vines. In most years, the grass belt also mitigates damage from wild boar, which prefer acorns to grapes when they have a choice and which are safer from hunters in the forest than among the vines. Although between 6 and 7 hectares of Rheingrafenberg’s 26 hectares are farmed by growers contracted by the Meddersheim cooperative (confusingly called the Winzergenossenschaft Rheingrafenberg, though its largest volume comes from Altenberg and Edelberg), the largest single share of the vineyard belongs to Weingut Hexamer (see below). The estate farms 10 hectares, including almost all of Eisendell. It works sustainably, encouraging a cover crop in the alleys, using some herbicide between vines but not in the center of alleys, and tilling straw into the soil to increase its content of humus and to control erosion (see above). The house practice is to prune to a maximum cropload of 8 to 10 clusters per vine, to deleaf twice—once on the northeast side of each vine row and once on the southwest side later in the season—and to pick each vine twice, once for a basic wine (see below) and later for a vineyard-designated cuvée. Hexamer’s Rheingrafenberg Rieslings (which can include as many as three dry wines in a single vintage; see below) are truly beautiful: bright and salty, very mineral-driven, intense, persistent, and long. Depending on the

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cuvée and vintage, there can be notes of lime, grapefruit, apple skins, menthol, and pepper. Owing to the low lime content of Rheingrafenberg’s sandstone and quartzite soils, wines from this site retain acid very well, lending themselves to slightly tart, well-structured, and abundantly mineral expressions of Riesling. Two vintages of the Eisendell cuvée (2011 and 2012), tasted before harvest in 2013, were bright enough to accompany raw oysters; the 2011 was tightly woven and texture-rich, with terrific length. A 2003 Rheingrafenberg Spätlese Trocken, made entirely from Wingertschied fruit, was a delicious cocktail of strong apple flavors, honey, petrol, and pepper, with extraordinary length. The vineyard-designated Eisendell Riesling, an astonishingly underpriced and award-winning wine made from the Eisendell part of Rheingrafenberg, is sold only in Germany and has lovely mineral intensity and excellent length. The 2011 vintage (also tasted in 2013) showed a delicious and intensely textured counterpoint of minerality and apple skin.

WEINGUT H E X AMER 55566 Meddersheim

Before Harald Hexamer (b. 1968) took charge of his family’s wine estate in 1996, he almost became a professional chef. During his year of mandatory military service, he cooked with professionals in the officers’ mess in nearby Bad Sobernheim. Now some of his best friends are chefs, and he is passionate about raw materials and enjoys cooking when he is not tending his vines or working in the cellar. In lieu of formal training in the culinary arts, he earned a degree in enology and viticulture at Geisenheim University in 1996 and returned to Meddersheim. Here he has transformed the family business, expanding its vineyard holdings from 5 hectares to more than 22, trimming an overpowering 60-plus wines per vintage to about 30, acquiring important vineyard parcels in Schlossböckelheim (In den Felsen and Königsfels) while growing the family’s stake in Rheingrafenberg,

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arranging to have casks custom-coopered from local oak, shifting the winery fuel for heat and hot water from oil to wood, and building the winery’s reach into overseas markets (he has made a cuvée of top-quality Riesling exclusively for the Norwegian market since 2006). Three basic Rieslings anchor Hexamer’s Riesling program: a dry Gutswein, an off-dry wine made from purchased grapes, and a lieblich wine called Quarzit. Above this tier, all Hexamer Rieslings are vineyard-designated: the Eisendell (see above), dry wines from In den Felsen and Königfels, and an off-dry wine from In den Felsen called Porphyr. The best lots of In den Felsen and Rheingrafenberg are reserved for dry wines identified as “No. 1.” Hexamer also makes small quantities of lovely nobly sweet wines with residual sugar content ranging from 70 to 120 g/L. Winemaking for the best dry wines begins with destemmed fruit that is lightly crushed and given between two and six hours of skin contact time before pressing. Before 1999, Hexamer usually pressed some grapes as whole clusters straightaway, but he has since found that wholecluster-pressed lots give wine that is “too lean” for his taste. After the juice has settled overnight with an addition of enzymes, fermentations take place almost entirely in stainless-steel tanks, but a few lots are instead fermented in the customcoopered Stück and Halbstück casks made from local oak. He has come almost full circle in the matter of inoculation, having relied almost exclusively on naturally occurring yeasts until the 2000 vintage, when several casks fermented long into the summer of 2001. This experience led Hexamer to change gears: beginning with the 2001 vintage, he inoculated most tanks, using one of several cultured yeasts isolated from natural Riesling fermentations. Since 2007, he has adopted a hybrid protocol, allowing fermentation to begin with naturally occurring yeasts but adding a cultured yeast to between 30 and 50 percent of lots when the fermentation is about two-thirds complete. Fermentation temperatures are not proactively controlled, but the cellar is generally quite cold—if fermentations

lag, the cellar may be slightly warmed to encourage convincingly dry results. The dry wines represent the driest each fermentation could achieve naturally; fermentations are rarely stopped in the service of balancing acids with residual sugar. New wines are left on the full fermentation lees for three to six months after the primary fermentation has completed, at which point they are racked and filtered with diatomaceous earth. The new vintage is available for ProWein, the Düsseldorf trade show that is held each year in March, only as cask samples; the wines are not racked off the fine lees until late spring, then filtered and bottled. Like the period of skin contact before pressing, lees contact at the end of vinification is important to Hexamer, who strives for texture and structure in his wines overall, and especially in his best dry Rieslings.

Kallstadter Saumagen Unterhaardt, Pfalz

Kallstadt is smaller, less known, and less photogenic than towns a bit farther south along the Deutsche Weinstrasse, such as Deidesheim, Forst, and Haardt. Yet perhaps it deserves more recognition, at least in the United States, given that New York real estate magnate Donald Trump’s family hails from there—the family were once vintners—and it was the original seat of the family that founded H. J. Heinz and Company, the food conglomerate. West of Kallstadt’s town center, astride the road to Leistadt, Saumagen occupies 40 hectares of south- and east-facing hillside. The bottom of the vineyard starts about 120 meters above sea level; the top, where Saumagen abuts neighboring Steinacker, hugs the 150meter contour. Steinacker, in fact, constitutes a sort of rim for Saumagen: it is a horseshoe open only to the southeast, and it girdles Saumagen and Kallstadt on three sides. Saumagen’s perimeter includes sites that were limestone quarries in earlier times, and its brown, typi-

cally Pfälzisch sandstone- and loess-based topsoils are laced with very visible chunks of white limestone. Overall, the site ripens late—later than other Kallstadt vineyards such as Annaberg and most vineyards in the nearby Mittelhaardt—owing to its altitude and slightly cooler soil, which favors Riesling in general and those predicate wine styles that benefit from an extra 10 to 14 days of hang time. By common consent, the best sites within Saumagen are those that face due south, since they ripen most evenly. Slope varies from parcel to parcel, but 20 percent is a reasonable estimate of the average. Until the last war, the entire site was planted in terraces, but some terraces now have been consolidated and replanted to northsouth-oriented inline rows with enough space between rows to admit tractors. Most growers here harvest by hand but appreciate the economies that derive from tractor-based cultivation. Best estimates are that about half of Saumagen is planted to Riesling, but many other varieties are represented in the balance, from the Pinots to Silvaner, Dornfelder, and Muskateller. Weingut Koehler-Ruprecht (see below) farms 4 hectares of Saumagen, of which 3.5 hectares are Riesling. These are distributed across several parcels, acquired piecemeal over several decades, each replanted at least once since acquisition and now mostly owned outright. The estate uses the best parcels, south-facing and around midslope, for its highest-quality vineyard-designated wines, and one east-facing parcel is used primarily to make the estate’s vineyard-designated Kabinett Trocken. The oldest vines were planted in the 1980s and the youngest in 2008, making the average vine age about 15 years. The main rootstock is SO4 from Oppenheim, and the scion material consists primarily of selections from Geisenheim. Locally selected plant material, according to the estate, works best here. Nor do the estate managers apologize for replacing vines when they reach 30 or 35 years; they do not believe that grafted vines age as long or as felicitously as the own-rooted vines that prevailed before phylloxera. Vines are not irrigated, and

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chemical fertilizers and herbicides are avoided categorically. Fungicides are used only sparingly—“5 or 6 sprays in a season, not 10 or 12,” according to Dominik Sona, Koehler-Ruprecht’s general manager—and a “couple of blocks” are farmed organically, although they are not certified organic. The estate deploys a cover crop to control erosion, and it judiciously practices leafpulling to expose clusters to sunlight, thus encouraging slow ripening and avoiding sunburn. The large array of Rieslings that KoehlerRuprecht makes from the Saumagen site is unique. In the aggregate, these are wines of power and concentration that combine signature yellow fruit with f loral intensity, rich texture, saline notes, mineral underlay, and taut structure. These descriptors understate, however, the site’s elegance, which is never overpowered by the wines’ very perceptible texture. At the same time, the multiplicity of wines that results from picking the vineyard at least four and sometimes five times (each pick is targeted to produce a separate wine with a distinctive f lavor profile but not necessarily a distinctive chemistry) expresses the site in a way that no blending profile could do as well. What is unusual here is not the fact of picking a vineyard in multiple tris, but the way that the picks are translated into finished wine. Many producers pick early to make a “lighter” wine, lower in alcohol and higher in acid, for “easy” drinking; other producers pick in tris to create a palette for later blending. Koehler-Ruprecht picks several times expressly to create an entire portfolio, based on a single vineyard, in which the individual wines differ by f lavor only and not significantly by chemistry. A Saumagen Riesling Auslese from Koehler-Ruprecht does not necessarily sport higher finished alcohol or higher residual sugar than a Spätlese or Kabinett; typically, neither alcohols nor residual sugars differ much across the same vintage. Taken together, the array expresses the site stereoscopically. About 80 percent of Koehler-Ruprecht’s Saumagen Rieslings are dry; occasionally there is also an off-dry (halbtrocken) cuvée,

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and the rest are sweet. The ripest-picked wines can be tight and closed for several years after bottling, and all age phenomenally. The 2008 Saumagen Kabinett Trocken (tasted in 2012) was strongly mineral, with a hint of petrol on the nose, then slightly salty and leesy underneath intense white and yellow fruit. The 2009 displayed an herbal side against ripe peach; the 2010 (newly released) was alternately sweet and salty and slightly f leshier than the 2008 and 2009. Comparing the Auslese Trocken from the same vintages, tasted at the same time, the 2008 was a showcase for yellow fruit and salty minerality, while the 2009 was an intense, taut, and muscular expression of peach with salt-tinged minerality and a suggestion of bay laurel. The 2010 suggested peach margarita and orange peel at midpalate before finishing bone-dry and tense. A 2013 tasting of late-release reserve wines (designated with a predicate followed by R or RR, which indicates a late release; see below), some of them not yet released, from the 2004 through 2011 vintages was a further illumination of the Saumagen site. The Spätlese Trocken R and RR wines from 2011, 2008, and 2007 were all intense but reflected the taut, textured, fruit peel–driven face of Saumagen: always long, usually mineral, sometimes saline, and often citrus-inf lected. The Auslesen (variously called Trocken R and RR) from 2009, 2008, 2007, 2005, and 2004, picked later, showed Saumagen’s richer and rounder side, more fruit flesh– than fruit peel–driven and almost tropical and lip-smacking at midpalate, but always the roundness of the Auslesen yielded to impressions of extract, density, and length on the finish.

WEINGUT K OEHLER -R UPRECHT 67169 Kallstadt/Weinstrasse, Mittelhaardt, Pfalz

Weingut Koehler-Ruprecht, founded around 1920 by Ernst Koehler, was catapulted to international prominence by Koehler’s grandson Bernd Philippi, who was its hands-on leader

from the late 1970s until 2009. Lacking heirs, Philippi sold the estate to an American family. As part of the transaction, he agreed to give the property 60 days a year of his personal attention until 2019, and he installed Dominik Sona, a Geisenheim-trained viticulturist with prior experience at Weingut J. L. Wolf in nearby Wachenheim and at Flowers and Littorai in California. Sona also farms a half-hectare of his own vineyard near Sankt Martin and consults on a wine project between Beziers and Narbonne in the Languedoc that is owned by Belgians. Since 2011, the cellarmaster at KoehlerRuprecht has been Johannes Lochner. Winemaking decisions are taken jointly by Lochner, Sona, and Philippi. The Riesling program is firmly Saumagencentric, with only a small amount of fruit coming from other vineyards. The property’s basic Riesling is a dry Kallstadter Kabinett sourced mostly from the Annaberg vineyard; in some vintages there is also a dry vineyard-designated Annaberg wine that carries either a Kabinett or Spätlese predicate. Since 2008, the rest of the Riesling portfolio has been sourced entirely from Saumagen and carries that site’s name. In every vintage, Koehler-Ruprecht makes at least a dry Kabinett, Spätlese, and Auslese; in very good vintages, it may also make minuscule quantities of one, two, or three late-release reserve wines designated R or RR and further qualified with a predicate. Although KoehlerRuprecht predicates for both the “classic” and “reserve” wines respect or exceed the minimum sugar accumulations at harvest that are required by law, house practice associates the predicates primarily with the color of the berries when they are picked. Yellow berries are picked for Kabinett wines, gold for Spätlese, and amber for Auslese. Tiny, unfertilized “virgin berries” (Jung fernbeeren) are also picked for Auslesen. Sona insists that picking decisions (and guidelines) are always driven entirely by taste and color, never by chemistry. Once harvested, the fruit is not destemmed, and skin contact lasts “over one or two nights,” Sona says. The pressed juice is then centri-

fuged before being moved to neutral oak casks of various sizes (capacities vary between 300 and 2,500 liters) for fermentation. Fermentations rely entirely on natural yeast; yeast nutrients and enzymes are never added. No attempt is made to control fermentation temperatures. The estate is unusually patient with reluctant fermentations, never forcing them more than by a slight warming of the fermentation room and permitting primary fermentation to resume after a winter lull if the must remains cloudy at the beginning of the following spring. Sona reports that some fermenters go entirely dry naturally, others stop with 6 or 7 g/L of sugar left unfermented, and a few refuse to ferment naturally to less than 10 g/L. Blending takes care of whatever Mother Nature does not, or the reluctant lot is removed from the dry wine program and repurposed for sweet wine, which Koehler-Ruprecht also makes in most vintages. New wines are left on the fine lees until midsummer after the vintage, when they are racked. Bottling follows about four weeks later, at the end of August, preceded by a bentonite clarification and sterile filtration. Koehler-Ruprecht adds sulfur twice: once after fermentation and once again before bottling.

DANUBE BASIN: LOWER AUSTRIA Wachau Weissenkirchener Achleiten and Klaus Weissenkirchen

Barely 500 meters northeast of the center of Weissenkirchen, where the steep hills on the north side of the Danube tightly crowd the river, leaving barely the width of a two-lane road at the river’s edge, the Achleiten vineyard occupies 22 hectares of almost impossibly rocky southwest-, south-, and southeast-facing slope between the treeline and the S3 road. In plan view, the vineyard’s footprint has the shape of a long inverted comma, head overlooking the town, tail extending downstream parallel to the river. Klaus, a bit smaller than

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Achleiten but contiguous with it and similarly comma-shaped, sits slightly farther from Weissenkirchen. Its head lies downstream of Achleiten’s tail, while its tail, which extends upstream, is tucked between Achleiten and the river. Cross-section explains what plan view cannot: that the boundary between the two vineyards—a narrow road signed “Achleitenweg” that hikers favor for its spectacular views of the central Wachau—follows an important geological boundary. Klaus sits on primary rock composed of amphibolite and granite virtually without topsoil; Achleiten is uplifted sedimentary soil on a base of gneiss. At the vineyards’ southwest end, Achleiten actually surmounts Klaus, rising above the Achleitenweg, while Klaus falls off below it. At its “head” end, Klaus rises to almost the same elevation as the summit of Achleiten. Add to this that Klaus, viewed as the north side of the Danube Valley, is actually a convex site, cleansed by prevailing downstream breezes, while Achleiten, slightly concave across its midsection, is wind-protected, which has enabled the accumulation of sedimentary topsoils. In Klaus, vines grow in nothing richer than bare, fractured rock, but it is rock composed substantially of feldspar and therefore rich in potassium, which is said to improve Riesling’s resistance to dry conditions. Just a few meters from the edge of Klaus, in the lower part of Achleiten, vines live a dramatically easier life, growing in sedimentary soil that is chemically alkaline (pH 7.3 to 8.2). Farther uphill, Achleiten’s soils are rockier, derived primarily from gneiss weathered in place, and chemically acidic (pH ca. 6.4). Both vineyards are entirely and aggressively terraced, with enough space for only one or two rows of vines in the narrowest terraces. Stone walls that demand heroic maintenance hold the terraces in place. Klaus is notoriously late to ripen but is so windblown that botrytis almost never accumulates, while Achleiten is famously botrytis-prone at its concave midsection and toward its bottom, where centuries of wind have deposited enough loess that the soil retains a good deal of moisture.

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Klaus is planted almost entirely to Riesling; the top of Achleiten is also mostly Riesling, but the Riesling cohabits with Grüner Veltliner where sufficient topsoil has accumulated. Both Klaus and Achleiten have attracted special attention from some of the wisest and most intellectually curious of Austrian vintners, notably Joching-based Josef Jamek (1919– 2011), Weissenkirchen-based Franz Prager (b. 1925), and, more recently, Prager’s son-in-law Anton Bodenstein, who has held the reins at Weingut Prager (see below) since the late 1980s. Today Prager farms four parcels in Klaus, with a combined surface of 1.4 hectares, and nine in Achleiten, with a combined surface of 1.7 hectares. Prager’s two parcels in the west end of Klaus, immediately under the Achleitenweg, were planted in 1952 and 1969; the two parcels in the east part of Klaus, higher on the hill and sized at 0.35 and 0.45 hectares, were planted in 1947 and 1959. In Achleiten, the westernmost Prager parcels are southeast-facing, overlooking the river more than the town. One is at midslope, in alkaline soil; three are at higher elevations, in acidic soil; and the highest-elevation parcel is at the very top of the vineyard, next to the treeline. These parcels are relatively young, having been replanted in 1988 and 1990 (see below). In the middle of Achleiten, a single parcel, quite high on the slope but within the wind-protected bowl, consists partially of vines dating to 1953, but a section of this parcel was replanted in 1982. Three of the four parcels in the east part of Achleiten sit almost side by side on the slope just above the Achleitenweg, while the fourth, slightly lower, directly borders on it. These east-end parcels were planted, variously, in 1964, 1973, and 1990. For parcels planted or replanted before the 1960s, Franz Prager relied primarily on massale selections from vines in his own and other Wachau vineyards. In the late 1960s and ’70s, however, he also planted selections brought from the Rheingau by Josef Staab, the Domänenrat at Schloss Johannisberg after 1968, who had become Prager’s personal friend. These selections, identified as “Johan-

nisberger,” “Steinberger,” and “Rauenthaler” in the Prager records, were presumably taken from the vineyards at Schloss Johannisberg, from the Steinberg vineyard of the Hessische Staatsweingüter near Hattenheim, and from an unspecified vineyard in Rauenthal, respectively. But in Klaus and Achleiten, all these selections have (according to Bodenstein) behaved very much like 239 Gm. Franz Prager, formally trained in viticulture and enology at the Klosterneuburger Weinbauinstitut, had a strong personal interest in clonal selections throughout his active career. He set out the 1969 parcel in Klaus as if it were a clonal trial, using all the Rheingau selections that he had obtained from Staab alongside scion material chosen from several Austrian vineyards. Bodenstein did essentially the same thing, but with a larger array of selections, when he replanted two of Prager’s Klaus parcels in 1988 and 1990. At this time, Bodenstein methodically assembled clonal selections from several German regions, including 64, 94, 198, and 239 Gm, N 90, Weis 21, and clones reported by Bodenstein as Bernkastel 68, Trier 37, and Steinberg 99, plus budwood taken from Prager parcels in Klaus and Steinriegl and selections from neighbors in Weissenkirchen and Loiben. Much the same array of plant material was used in 1990 to plant Wachstum Bodenstein, a high-elevation section of the Hinterseiber vineyard half a kilometer from Achleiten. The Prager wines from Klaus and Achleiten, two geologically different sites that share a single hillside, are a perfect study in terroir, especially given Bodenstein’s insistence that all Rieslings made in the Prager cellars be treated identically so that terroir may emerge as the sole variable. In February 2014, Bodenstein and I tasted six vintages of both wines—all vintages between 2009 and 2012, plus 2007 and 2001. All 12 wines were enormously mineralexpressive, seeming to taste of wet stones, and linear, precise, and finely etched. In each vintage, Achleiten was the elegant, sometimes playful and sometimes exuberant wine, while

the Klaus featured deeper f lavors with greater density and concentration. If the two vineyards were string instruments, one could easily imagine Achleiten as a violin, while Klaus would “sound” more like a cello. In 2011, the Achleiten was minty and herbal, with f loral highlights; the Klaus was denser, darker, and richer, with f lavors of orange and apricot peel. In the remarkable and high-acid vintage of 2010, the Achleiten displayed an explosive nose and extravagant, almost celebratory fruit, while the Klaus was intense, with a darker expression of fruit, fruit peel, and orange pith with almost a hint of bitterness. The 2009s, from a warm vintage, were symphonic wines: Achleiten displayed an enormous, intense, and mentholated palate, while Klaus showed minerality wrapped in fruit peel and minty citrus. The 2007 wines, seven years after the vintage, showed enormous textural interest; Achleiten expressed this as tactile elegance, while Klaus had developed an exotic persona evocative of lemongrass and coconut. The 2001s were nothing short of magisterial, the Achleiten bright, slightly minty, and impressively elegant, while Klaus’s elegance was written in a lower key, expressing f linty minerality and dark orange peel. Except in the oldest vintages, Klaus benefitted from additional time in the glass: the 2012 seemed tight and aromatically mute when it was first poured.

WEINGUT P R AGER 3610 Weissenkirchen

Although ancestors of the Prager family acquired vineyards around Weissenkirchen in 1715 that had hitherto belonged to the Benedictine abbey of Michaelbeueren and seem to have grown grapes, more or less continuously, for almost three centuries thereafter, the modern history of Weingut Prager does not begin until 1953, when Franz Prager (b. 1925) graduated from the Klosterneuburger Weinbauinstitut with a degree in viticulture and enology. Prager reinvented his family’s traditional wine estate,

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dedicated it to the production of premium dry white wines, focused on Riesling and Grüner Veltliner, acquired additional vineyard parcels in an array of outstanding sites, and played a key role in the creation of Vinea Wachau in 1983. Late in the 1980s, Franz Prager’s daughter Ilse, university-trained in agronomy, married Anton Bodenstein, a Vienna-born agronomist, soil scientist, and historian, and Bodenstein learned winemaking on the job from his father-in-law. The couple assumed control of the estate in 1990, taking it to new levels of finesse and international acclaim. After floods in 1991 and 2002, a new cellar was built aboveground late in 2002, and the old cellars, one Gothic and one Baroque, were abandoned. Bodenstein possesses an academician’s interest in the history of Weissenkirchen and a scientist’s fascination with the complex and mysterious interactions of vine plants with their environment. He explains his insights to visitors with an engaging question-and-answer rhetoric, augmented as necessary with drawings he makes on the back side of any available piece of paper; together these devices usually make even the most abstruse idea seem obvious and clear. When he had the opportunity to purchase a parcel of Achleiten planted with an assortment of old and unusual Grüner Veltliner vines, he worked hands-on to cull old vines with noteworthy properties for propagation, striving to maintain genetic diversity within the variety. Observing persistently rising growing-season temperatures in some of his favorite lower-elevation vineyards, he determined (against the advice of his fatherin-law, who was skeptical) to replant part of the Hinterseiber vineyard 460 meters above sea level, theorizing that elevations then considered too cold to ripen grapes might soon become a perfect offset to global warming. In 1993, despite ill-placed concern that he might dilute the Wachau’s reputation for dry wines, he created a niche program for the botrytis-affected grapes he has rigorously excluded from his mainstream Rieslings and Grüners: a line of Beerenauslesen that have amazed many commentators with their delicacy and finesse. Meanwhile, Bodenstein,

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known locally as “Toni,” has now served six terms as the mayor of Weissenkirchen. The Riesling program at Prager constitutes more than 60 percent of its total production and consists—atypically—entirely of vineyarddesignated wines. The “basic” wine, if there is such, is a Federspiel-weight bottling from Steinriegl, west of Weissenkirchen, where the lower terraces can usually be picked two weeks before higher-elevation fruit, giving good flavors with quite modest alcohol. (In vintages I have tasted, it is a delicious wine, typically redolent of grapefruit, straw, and potpourri.) In addition to the benchmark wines from Weissenkirchen’s Klaus, Achleiten, Steinriegl, Weitenberg, and Wachstum Bodenstein sites, there are also Smaragd-weight bottlings in most vintages from Hollerin and Kaiserberg in Dürnstein. All are dry, save for the aforementioned Beerenauslese project, produced in what Bodenstein calls “homeopathic” quantities from the botrytisprone section of Achleiten or from an oddball fermentation lot that refuses to go dry, as one lot of Klaus did in 2005. Fruit is destemmed and very lightly crushed but is not sulfured before pressing. Skin contact times vary considerably from vintage to vintage; longer contact is permitted in cooler years when acid levels are high. The freshly pressed juice is settled in 4,000-liter tanks without additives or interventions and is sometimes cooled. Fermentations—done entirely in stainless-steel tanks—rely exclusively on naturally occurring yeasts, but Bodenstein starts each fermentation with a pied-de-cuve created from an earlier pick (about 100 kilograms) of fruit from the same site. Fermentation temperatures are normally controlled between 16°C and 17°C but sometimes rise to 18°C. Acid adjustments are never done, but for balance, fermentations in highacid years may be stopped before the must goes entirely dry. In 2010, for example, Bodenstein allowed 5 to 6 g/L of residual sugar in the dry cuvées, while in 2011, a significantly warmer year, the fermentations took residual sugar to less than 2 g/L. New wines remain on the full fermentation lees for two or three months, but

the lees are not stirred. A single racking and sterile pad filtration are done in May after the vintage, when the wines are bottled.

Viesslinger Bruck The Bruck vineyard is approximately 15 hectares of vertiginous slope on the north side of the Spitzer Graben, overlooking the village of Viessling, 4 kilometers from Spitz and the Danube. Although the Wachau wine region includes three even higher, colder, and windier vineyards farther up the Spitzer Graben, Bruck marks almost the outer margin of grape cultivation in the Wachau, and Viessling is actually better known for apricots than for wine. Phenologically, Bruck lags even vineyards at Spitz by a full week, and most Wachau producers agree that Spitz lags the rest of the Wachau (Weissenkirchen, Loiben, and Mautern) by another week to 10 days. The bottom of Bruck, which runs along the road that links Spitz with Mühldorf, is about 325 meters above sea level at its southeast corner and 350 meters at its southwest; the top is 100 meters higher. In between are a phalanx of terraces, hugging the contours of the hillside, that are mostly wide enough for only one or two rows of vines, generally planted across the slope, and an almost impossibly sinuous and partly paved access road that is shaped roughly like a bent paperclip. The walls that secure the terraces were originally built with large chunks of the reddish and gray-brown rocks extracted to make room for vines. More recently, whitish rock known locally as Wachauer marble, which is easier to mason, has been used for wall repairs and replacement. The soil throughout is schist laced with mica—essentially it is the underlying primary rock, high in iron, which has weathered in place—and it is healthy and permeable to vine roots when properly farmed but is far from vigorous. Although most of Bruck faces south, the shape of the slope varies across the vineyard and skews some blocks and sections of some terraces, here slightly southeast, there slightly

southwest, occasionally even due west. The site’s overall marginality means that tiny differences in elevation and exposure, to both sun and wind, can have a profound impact on grapevine phenology; some growers say each terrace has a distinct mesoclimate. The steep slope also makes it tough and expensive to farm here. Sometimes it seems difficult even to stand upright on the narrow terraces and walls. Sadly, more than a few growers have given up entirely: numerous parcels have been abandoned, and widows and children often sell when they can find a willing buyer. Half of Bruck is planted to Michael Grüner Veltliner, which must be irrigated because it is a thirsty variety. The rest is mostly Riesling, plus a bit of Neuburger. Most Bruck grapes are grown under contract to Domäne Wachau, which makes a vineyard-designated Federspiel Riesling from Bruck in most years. Three Viesslingbased members of Vinea Wachau—Weingut Högl, Weingut Graben-Gritsch, and Weingut Martin Muthenthaler—also make Bruck-designated Riesling. Since February 2008, Peter Veyder-Malberg (see below) has farmed tiny plots in Bruck. At first, it was just a single parcel in the southwestern quadrant of the vineyard, but Veyder-Malberg has since acquired additional parcels and now works with a total of about 1 hectare. He approached Bruck more like a garden than a farm, first restoring vines and terraces, then transitioning viticultural practices to organic protocols and away from the ruinous applications of herbicides and chemical fertilizers used almost universally in this corner of the Wachau, and encouraging edible herbs (“also delicious in salad,” he says) as a cover crop while gradually eliminating nonnative grasses and dandelions. For Veyder-Malberg, dandelion is an “indicator plant” for both soil compression (“dandelions love compressed soil”) and excessively abundant nitrogen, so he is happy when his hoeing and organic preparations force it out. He refers to the vines as “my kids” and sprays his treatments from a backpack. “I see every vine at least once every week,” he explains,

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“and I see each vine’s development from one week to the next.” Most of his Riesling vines are 15 to 45 years old, but he also has a bit of 60-year-old Grüner Veltliner. When a Grüner vine must be replaced, Veyder-Malberg uses scion material carefully selected from an old vine that displays small berries and open-cluster architecture, which is then custom-grafted. For Riesling, he uses a mix of selections from his own vineyards and nurseries. In 2012, I tasted Veyder-Malberg’s Bruck Riesling from the 2008, 2009, and 2011 vintages. The 2008 and 2009 were both based on the original single block; owing to a rare bit of botrytis, the 2008 displayed honey and some softness over a foundation of herbs, infused yellow flowers, and spice. In 2009, without botrytis, the wine again displayed the herbal and infused yellow-flower profile that is characteristic of the site, but this time without much honey or softness. In its place was some nicely chewy white-grape tannin and a hint of glycerin, plus the unmistakable aroma of passionfruit. The 2011 (incorporating fruit from several parcels acquired after 2009) was stunning: brighter, mintier, and fresher than the 2009; taut and dynamic; and with hints of citrus, green melons, and ginger. Veyder-Malberg’s Bruck is stunning ultra-cold-climate Riesling.

WEINGUT VE YDER -M ALBERG 3620 Spitz an der Donau

Peter Veyder-Malberg, born in Salzburg, trained first in lithography in Germany, and then in economics at the Wirtschaftsförderungsinstitut in Vienna. Working in advertising at the end of the 1980s, he realized that his passion for wine had become all-consuming. In 1990, he quit his job and headed to California, where he worked at Pine Ridge Winery, on the east side of Napa Valley, and took classes in viticulture and enology at Napa Valley College. After further formal training in viticulture at the Ingenieurschule at Wädenswil, on Lake Zurich in Switzerland, he worked at Schlossweingut Graf Hardegg, at

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Seefeld-Kadolz in Austria’s Weinviertel, where he eventually became chief winemaker and general manager, and worked stages and visiting appointments in Tuscany, Baden, and New Zealand. After 15 vintages at Graf Hardegg, and where he converted its vineyards to completely biodynamic production, it was time to create a wine project of his own. A rare outsider in the Wachau wine world, he was attracted by its terraces (where the soil had never been traversed by a tractor), by sites that could be dry-farmed, and by sites so difficult to farm that they could be purchased quite reasonably. He established Weingut Veyder-Malberg in early 2008, in Spitz, using a former butchery as its production facility and opportunistically cobbling together equipment. Production consists entirely of Riesling and Grüner; the Riesling program, thus far just two vineyarddesignated wines, is based on parcels in Buschenberg, next to the Danube at the northeastern end of Weissenkirchen, and on the Bruck parcels. The Buschenberg, made from vines that average 40 to 45 years old, is more approachable than the Bruck wine. It has a bit more stuffing while remaining fresh and lithe, expressing pepper, verbena, and yellow flowers, with a slightly savory edge. The 2011, first tasted alongside the Bruck wines in 2012 and retasted early in 2014, expressed herbs, dried chamomile flowers, and casaba melon, with hints of ginger, white pepper, and mint. The finish was long, tangy, and mouthwatering. Veyder-Malberg makes his Rieslings and Grüners identically, hand-harvesting grapes in flat trays, sorting to eliminate bugs, leaves, and other detritus, and crushing the fruit just enough to break the berries open. He is a resolutely early picker in all sites and nearly all vintages. He remembers that in 2011 he was “alone in the vineyards for two weeks before my neighbors began to pick.” Refusing to measure juice chemistry until after the grapes have arrived on the crushpad, he makes his picking decisions by checking the ripeness of the seeds (“biology makes the vine plant want to ripen its seeds”) and whether pulp pulls easily away from the seeds while leaving “the skin of the grape firm.” Con-

versely and controversially, Veyder-Malberg also argues that leaving grapes on the vine after the vine’s leaves have fallen, in search of additional “hang time” and “flavor,” is useless since “physiological ripeness does not increase beyond the point [when the leaves fall].” There is no destemming. Skin contact before pressing depends entirely on the grapes’ condition and chemistry: the higher the pH, the shorter the maceration. Pressure in a bladder press is gradually increased over four to five hours, and the pomace is then broken and pressed again. The objective is “clean, clear must and long contact of skin and juice”— exactly what Veyder-Malberg believes occurred naturally when basket presses were standard equipment. Fermentation occurs either in stainless-steel tanks or in an assortment of wooden casks with capacities of 600 to 1,500 liters, made mostly of acacia and custom-coopered to work optimally for Veyder-Malberg’s bright, clean house style. Fermentations are cooled only if the juice temperature rises above 25°C. Although all fermentations are allowed to go as dry as each will with naturally occurring yeast, the last Rieslings picked often stop prematurely. Veyder-Malberg says he accepts this as long as residual sugar does not exceed 10 g/L. When it does, he intervenes to increase the fermentation temperature or inoculates with a cultured strain of yeast. After primary fermentation, the new wine and the fine lees are left together as long as the wine “tastes and smells good”—until late spring, if possible—at which point the wines are racked, blended, filtered, and bottled. Veyder-Malberg plans to further increase the wines’ on-lees time in due course, when he moves production to a planned facility where wines in cask will be immune from harm due to warm ambient temperatures. Believing that potential alcohol at harvest is a poor indicator of ripeness, Veyder-Malberg rejects the “picking by sugar” protocol that underpins Vinea Wachau’s Steinfeder, Federspiel, and Smaragd terminology and chooses not to use these must-weight categories on his labels, and his winery is no longer a member of the association.

Dürnsteiner Kellerberg Immediately upslope of Dürnstein’s historic and now newly renovated Kellerschlössl, which Domäne Wachau now operates as an events venue, the Kellerberg vineyard covers 26 hectares of steep, southeast-facing hillside that was first planted to vines in the 13th century. More than two dozen terraces are quilted around numerous outcroppings of barren rock rich in quartz and feldspar. There is a bit of loess on the lower terraces, about 220 meters above sea level, where six or eight rows of vines can o