VON WINNING – DEIDESHEIM, PFALZ
Von Winning has holdings in no less than 8 Grand Cru vineyards in the famous villages of Deidesheim and Forst in the Pfalz. They ferment all of their GGs in 500L barrels.
2015 Grainhübel GG – MAGNUM ONLY $102.40 (regular $128)
Kinetic and energetic with the vineyard's trademark pineapple cream and greengage crunch in a vintage that's completely ready to party. The GG category in its entirety has a tendency to forget that wine can be fun... this is a very welcome reminder.
2016 Kalkofen GG $54.40 (regular $68)
DO NOT MISS THIS. Wine being a moving target, I hesitate to assert superlatives, but this has to be a contender for the best dry wine of the vintage (Wagner-Stempel produced another, read on!). It's a cosmic doughnut iced with chalk and Himalayan pink salt with the wildest, most appealing aromas and assertively caressing textures that I've experienced at this address.
2016 Ungeheuer GG $49.60 (regular $62) / 2015 Magnum $119.20 (regular $149)
VW's 4-hectare holding makes this irresistibly affordable compared to their other Grand Crus from Forst. Simmering shiitake mushroom broth, bone marrow and tarte tatin framed in a structure that highlights the exotic and licentious innuendos.
2016 Pechstein GG $79.20 (regular $99)
Even more so than Ungeheuer, this is the most explicit expression of basalt soils and its definition and alignment of flavour and aroma is stunning. Herbal in an almost Mediterranean way with perky spice rack and rooibos tea dustings. It's insanely good.
2016 Jesuitengarten GG $99.20 (regular $124)
500 Liters for the world to fight over and 12 bottles in Canada. Along with Kirchenstück, this vineyard is the pride of Forst and the wine is an assertive, taut, smoldering essence of beauty, perhaps lacking some clarity at this very early stage of its development. It tastes as natural as rain water yet as complex as advanced calculus.
WAGNER-STEMPEL – SIEFERSHEIM, RHEINHESSEN
Daniel Wagner organically grows Rieslings of unparalleled exuberance from volcanic porphyry soils.
2016 Heerkretz GG $63.20 (regular $79)
The Musigny of Siefersheim. It's perfectly at peace with itself and as its secrets unfold, it never fails to surprise and impress. The shading, detail and elegance is showstopping and the arrangement of flavours are highly original. Along with Von Winning's Kalkofen, this is a contender for the best 2016 dry Riesling that I've experienced. But the Kalkofen is a supermodel and this is an ascetic on the precipice of nirvana.
SPREITZER – OESTRICH-WINKEL, RHEINGAU
Andi and Bernd Spreitzer make the most delicious GGs on offer here. The balance is always impeccable and fruit is always rambunctious.
2015 Rosengarten GG $52 (regular $65)
From the Spreitzer's front-yard comes one of the most buoyantly, fervently tasty GGs imaginable. The site seems to be able to harness the essence of hundreds of heirloom apple varieties and weave them into a wine that exudes charm and harmony above all. It's for pounding...
2015 Wisselbrunnen GG $52 (regular $65)
This is the first time that this wine has ever been in Canada. More sleek than Rosengarten this year with almost hyperactive acidity holding together all the pistachio and walnut oil. Probably more complex, too, if slightly less hedonistic, but bottom line is that it's an excellent expression of one of the truly great vineyards of the Rheingau.
LEITZ – RÜDESHEIM, RHEINGAU
Johannes Leitz’ Rieslings are mineral monsters and are some of the most mindblowing white wines on the planet. I find his 2016s to be on the very dry side of dry, but having enjoyed so many great examples of these from the ‘90s, I’m more than willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.
2016 Berg Schlossberg GG $54.40 (regular $68)
Stoic and stern but with alluring aromatic levity. A laser-beam of flavour, far more stony and herbal than fruity. It’s a sleeping masterpiece but needs time.
2016 Berg Rottland GG $52 (regular $65)
Brooding and confident and in addition to being the veritable fruit euphoria that one expects from this vineyard, there’s also carob, cookie dough and a tonic edge. Again, a few years of patience should reveal a powerfully delicious wine.
2016 Berg Kaisersteinfels GG MAGNUM ONLY $100.80 (regular $126)
Super intense, like a Mountain Dew slushie made with dry ice. Also impressively delicious at this point but with lots of rocks and minerals and fruit to unfold. The altitude of the vineyard shows in a really good way, this being one of Germany’s most fascinating and singular GGs.
2016 Berg Roseneck GG JEROBOAM (3L) ONLY $209.60 (regular $262)
A bevy of red and black fruit, kiwi and all sorts of other exotic and happy flavours that don’t often arise in young Leitz wines - but the stern minerality goes without saying. Selection of a 3L bottle denotes that in a few years, the pulling of the cork will make you an instant hero and your evening and instant party.
(the following two producers are not VDP members, but if they were, these wines would be GGs...)
A.J. ADAM – DHRON, MOSEL
Is anybody else in the Mosel this gifted at making dry wine?!? (And I’m old-school – I count the Saar separately). I’m very familiar with the usual suspects that might be going through your mind right now, and I’m not convinced. To my palate, Adam’s dry wines are more complete than anybody else’s… and they’re not just for Riesling nerds or acid-hounds.
2016 Häs’chen Riesling Trocken $46.40 (regular $58)
This is from a tiny (0.3 hectare) monopole of ungrafted, east-facing vines planted in 1930. The wine is like levitating electricity – you can feel it reverberate weightlessly above your tongue. It offers more richness than the 2015 but happily this isn’t accompanied by undue weight. Fermented in one 60-year-old 500 L barrel (that’s right, 666 bottles for the entire world).
2016 Hofberg Riesling Trocken $55.20 (regular $69)
Among my top five favourite Rieslings of the vintage, it’s aromatically laconic at present but there’s a murmuring undercurrent of hazelnut, mocha and the classy tropicality that I love so much about this vineyard. The palate is an understudy in slate, garnished with red cherry and pineapple and again, the unimposing acidity gives it a welcome sense of richness without compromising any levity. The underlying impression here is of a seriously satisfying sense of harmony and a serene achievement of stillness.
2016 Goldtröpfchen Riesling Trocken $70.40 (regular $88)
It’s more exotic and herbaceous than the two above – broader-shouldered too and an anomalous enigma through its interplay of disparate but highly successful flavours. The vineyard, of course, is legendary but also bloated, and Adam has a tiny parcel of 70-year-old vines in a prime, terraced location above the hamlet of Ferres. There’s just over 100L this year, and we got our usual 24 bottles so I shouldn’t promote it so enthusiastically… but it’s amazing and I can’t help myself.
EVA FRICKE – ELTVILLE, RHEINGAU
Eva makes wines of unprecedented purity and precision and is the reigning queen of the forgotten village of Lorch where the Rheingaus segues into the Mittelrhein.
2016 Krone Riesling Trocken $57.60 (regular $72)
A miracle of slate, sunshine and borderline unctuous peach fruit. Supremely elegant and eloquent and such a dedicated interpretation of the site that the “Rieslingness” seems to disappear. Though cellar time would be rewarded, it’s hard to keep the cork in right now… 24 bottles in Canada.