I can honestly think of no other wine that offers such a splendour of vibrancy, minerality, lightness and just sheer “˜joie de vivre’ as German Riesling. It is terrible to admit this, but I wish I drank it far more regularly than I do (terrible because, really, I should be drinking them all the time). They always put a smile on my face and tap into such an innate drinking pleasure.
Though I have attended various new release tastings for German wines over the past few vintages, it had been 3 years since I travelled to Germany to spend time with the growers and to taste the wines “˜sur place’. It is always a more enlightening experience as not only are the wines in their natural environment (particularly important if they are vat or barrel samples), but it also puts the vintage in a comparative light against other recent vintages – wines that we typically have while eating or even in the tasting rooms.
The 2011 is a vintage that was easy to like from the get go. Unlike the more luxurious 2009s and the more powerful 2010s (which really do need time, most notably the dry wines), 2011s seem to easily disperse on the tongue, full of chiselled minerality. Though wonderfully ethereal and flowery, they still offer an impressive depth of fruit and while they did not have the same level of acidity as 2010 (which have some of the highest on record), they are still very lifted and fresh. Jancis Robinson’s right hand German man, Michael Schmidt also thinks they are exceptional and has even wondered if they could possibly replicate the legendary 1811 and 1911, based on their similar growing conditions.
But for the producers, many compare them as a blend of 2007 and 2009. They offer the same sculpted feel as 2007 but with some of the extroverted aromas and flavours as in 2009. Some producers have slightly lower acidity than 2007 while others producers, like JJ Prum, have higher acidity in 2011.
These wonderful wines were produced from a less than predictable growing season. The weather was quite topsy turvy with early flowering followed by bouts of frost, coolness, sun and rain. These fluctuations pushed back the ripening cycle enabling the grapes to ripen at a slow pace encouraging excellent phenolic ripeness yet enabling the grapes to retain good levels of acidity. All-in-all, they are incredibly balanced and will offer wonderful fruit for those who want to tuck in early. And they are beautiful in all sweetness styles whether the wines are dry, off-dry or sweet.
We are offering our 2011s right now and are delighted to be adding Willi Schaefer as well as two excellent Pinot Noir producers, Fürst and Ziereisen. They are all wonderfully delicious wines!