In-Shop Tasting: German Auction Riesling

Date: 15th August 2015
Time: 2pm - 4pm
Venue: Our shop, 85 Queen’s Road West, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong

REVIEW @Linden Wilkie

 

We tasted our way through some of Germany’s greatest rieslings. The so-called ‘auction wines’ are tiny production special cuvees made by Germany’s leading producers, and sold each September at special auctions. Mike and I attend, taste, and buy what we think really deserves special attention. 

 

Imagine going to Burgundy, tasting from every barrel of your favourite top grower’s grand cru, and saying “okay, that one. It’s the best barrel of the lot. Bottle that one for me.” Let’s say in fact that it is just a half barrel, selected away for separate bottling – Roumier’s best little piece of Bonnes Mares, made from a small patch of old vines that every year seem to yield something particularly special.

Would that appeal? How much more do you think that would cost you?

 

Interestingly, Germany’s top riesling producers do exactly that. Each year they make minuscule quantities of ‘auction’ cuvee wines – from the oldest vines, from the little parcel that had the most pristine botrytis that year. Instead of blending these jewels in with the rest, they get bottled separately and then sold at auction each September.

 

Mike and I go to Germany each year to taste, select, and buy them. And yes, they cost more, sometimes quite a bit more, than the ‘regular’ labels versions. But given the low base price for top German riesling, they still work out to be fine wine bargains.

 

So, in store on Saturday we tasted a dozen of these rieslings that we bought at auction and shipped back to Hong Kong. Below are my tastings notes, and our offer. I would encourage you to dip in to these. Quantities are tiny, the wines are special, and once they are gone, it is almost impossible to find them again.

 

2013 Weingut Keller Kabinett “H” Auction

It is very unusual to see a mere ‘kabinett’ at the acution, but this is something very special. This special riesling was actually set aside by the Keller family to celebrate the birth of HRH Prince George in 2013. Mike and I tasted this at the auction, and thought it one of the best kabinett wines we have ever tasted. 

Still so fresh and vibrant, like it was in November 2014. A fresh nose of grapefruit; fresh, lovely and long on the palate. Quite tangy, with orange citrus flavours and a touch of pithy bitter-sweetness. Great poise, balance and length. Really, as kabinett, this is perfection.

HK$980 per bottle – only 16 available

 

2013 Dr. Thanisch Berncasteler Doctor Spaetlese Auction

Full gold. Quite an expressive nose already, and this is appealing. Apple notes, slate/mineral notes, complex. This is quite forward on the palate for so young a wine, both the nose and the palate show apples and cream, with a hint of pie crust. It’s a very appetising expression. Broad and palate-filling. An earthy minerality on the finish. Long. This is very appealing, and quite complex. Will age, but already delicious now.

HK$450 per bottle – 83 available

HK$1,100 per magnum – only 4 available

 

2013 Karthausferhof Eitelsbacher Karthauserhofberg Spaetlese Auction

Fresh, lightness and florals on the nose – very pretty; this has a gorgeous freshness, airiness and lift. So elegant. Floral – sweet blossoms – on the nose. Sleek, expressive, zesty, with a nice, tight zesty finish. Great structure, and ‘bite’ for ageing, but this is lovely to experience now too.

HK$450 per bottle – 58 available

HK$1,100 per magnum – only 4 available

 

2012 Zilliken Saarburger Rausch Spaetlese Auction

Already delicious two years ago, this goes from strength to strength. The 2012 vintage style is a little ‘cuddlier’ than the taut, mineral 2013s, but that suits this Saar wine especially well. Slatey and pure on the nose, deep minerality and lovely fruit. The nose is now open and expressive – orangey citrus and a touch of stone fruit; on the palate there is a broad attack, some depth and intensity, peaches and cream noted on the palate, but then it tightens up nicely on the fresh, creamy-textured finish. Drinking well. You could enjoy this now, but not rush to drink.

HK$580 per bottle – 171 available

HK$1,300 per magnum – only 2 available

 

2013 Willi Schaefer Graacher Domprobst Spaetlese Auction

A connoisseur’s choice within this selection. There is an electric energy to this, it tastes more like a 2010. Intense, with high (ripe) acidity, and lots of energy. Gorgeous nose, and concentrated, focused palate. There’s a lot going on here, but it is clear this is an example for cellaring. You will be greatly rewarded if you do. One of the very best wines of the vintage for spaetlese.

HK$600 per bottle – 114 available

 

2012 Fritz Haag Brauneberger-Juffer-Sonnenuhr Spaetlese Auction

A little fermentation aroma/SO2 to blow off still. If you drink this now (and why not?) I’d recommend decanting two or three hours in advance to allow this to blow off a bit. It’s worth doing because the wine is already delicious to drink now. The style is gentle elegant, honeysuckle and toffee apple – very true to the house and the vineyard. This is sot, creamy, melting, yet fresh and delicious.

HK$680 per bottle – 120 available

HK$1,580 per magnum – only 3 available

 

2013 Weingut Joh. Jos. Pruem Spaetlese Auction

2013 was an ‘all auslese’ vintage for Pruem. The only spaetlese made in 2013 was this one, and it went to auction. It epitomises spaetlese’s elegant and freshness, and that particular Mosel spaetlese ‘airiness’. Super elegant, racy in structure, sleek, mineral-laden. It’s so elegant, yet it is complex and lingering. Amazingly slatey. There is a real feeling of ripe but plentiful phenolics. Lots of texture, though it is velvet. For mineral depth it is auslese level, but in style it is a true spaetlese. This is one of the finest spaetlese I have tasted from Pruem. A real delight. 

HK$980 per bottle – 237 available

HK$2,400 per magnum – 24 available

 

2012 Egon Mueller Scharzhofberger Spaetlese Auction

What a nose! Grapefruit, spice, peach, it is so complex! Wow! The palate doesn’t disappoint either – slate, peach, even a touch of passionfruit. This has the most compelling nose – so fresh and fruity, yet complex, and ‘light’. Touch of nettle and herb on the palate too – very Scharzhofberg. Textbook Mueller. You should try this!

HK$1,500 per bottle – 82 available

 

2012 Dr. Loosen Erdener Praelat Auslese Long Goldcapsule Auction

Erni’s famous “mini TBA” auction wine, made from this very special, small vineyard site. It is always unctuous, exotic and rich. Honeyed / jellied and very intese, yet bouyant and creamy. Melon, orange and spice. Delicious, decadent, yet well composed. 

HK$3,600 per bottle – 6 available

HK$1,800 per half-btl – 36 available

 

2013 Weingut Donnhoff Oberhauser Bruecke Eiswein Auction

Donnhoff is an eiswein master and you’d do well to find any of his eiswein, but when it really works, he sometimes makes a tiny portion of very special eiswein for the auction. Cream blossom and peach on the nose – that purity and lift that comes from this style (intense concentration but no botrytis). Creamy, fine, elegant, still very much about riesling’s elegance, despite the sheer intensity of expression here. This is really quite faultless – which cannot always be said for esiwein. This is very very special. (If we didn’t sell all of it on the day of the tasting, be very quick for any that is left).

HK$5,200 per bottle – SOLD OUT

HK$2,800 per half-btl – SOLD OUT

 

2011 Peter Lauer Piesporter Goldtrpchen Trockenbeerenauslese Auction

Mike and I were just so amazed by this at the auction, and the chaps at Mosel Wine Report gave it 100 points. I’m not surprised. This is spectacular TBA, and about 1/10th the price of Egon Mueller’s! It is a bright orange-gold and pours thick in the glass. Unctuous, and so rich and intense – a real ‘essence’ of a wine, laden with botrytis, perfectly poised and balanced between its fruit, intensity and acidity, it is lively, but with no unwanted ‘edges’. Incredibly intense, yet still very much a riesling. Has to be experienced to be believed. Like a Tokaji Eszencia. 

HK$3,200 per half-btl – only 12 available

WINES TASTED

2013 Keller - Nierstein Kabinett -H- Auktion
2013 Dr. Thanish - Berncasteler Doctor Spatlese Auktion
2013 Karthauserhof - Eitelsbacher Karthauserhofberg Spatlese Auktion
2012 Zilliken - Saarburger Rausch Spatlese Auktion
2013 Willi Schaefer - Graacher Domprobst Spatlese Auktion
2012 Fritz Haag - Brauneberger Juffer-Sonnenuhr Spatlese #14 Auktion
2013 J.J. Prum - Wehlener Sonnenuhr Spatlese Auktion
2012 Egon Muller - Scharzhofberger Spatlese Auktion
2012 J.J. Prum - Graacher Himmelreich Auslese GK Auktion (half bottle)
2012 Dr. Loosen - Pralat Auslese Lange GK Auktion (half bottle)
2013 Donnhoff - Oberhauser Brucke Eiswein GK Auktion (half bottle)
2011 Peter Lauer - Piesporter Goldtropfchen TBA Auktion (half bottle)