"Germany's dry Rieslings are seeing a return to their former glory. Joel B Payne details producers' aims to simplify the classification system and where the best wines are made.



2012 Balthasar Ress Hattenheim Nussbrunnen GG - 16,5 pts (88pts)

"Creamy and spicy with brioche aromas. The mid-palate is soft with smooth acidity and a complex finish."



The results
The 2012 vintage produced variable results, but our judges nevertheless found impressive examples from the Nahe and Rheingau - they also had some advice for underperforming Mosel, reports Mark O'Halleron

This was a tasting that took a look at the state of dry Rieslings across Germany from the 2012 vintage - a year from which there has been rather mixed messages, as Master Sommelier Gearoid Devaney explains: 'Despite problems with coulure (failure of grapes to develop) and millerandage (grapes of uneven size and maturity), winemakers I've spoken to have put a positive spin on 2012, because they actually ended up with fantastic fruit because of the nice warm end to the summer. Others have said the opposite: that it was actually quite a bit trickier. And in our tasting we found this variation in terms of quality and style.'

DWWA Regional Chair for Germany Giles MacDonogh was in no doubt as to the source of the uneven quality of the wines: 'It's 2012 isn't it? I don't think I'm off the wall in saying that the year wasn't very promising. We've been dealing with wines where the winemakers got huge acidity and very little ripeness. So what do you do? As far as we could see, they decided to put a certain amount through malolactic fermentation and they deacidified in a lot of cases. Sometimes it worked quite well, but there were an awful lot of creamy notes from the malolactic and there was sometimes an unpleasant sort of aspirin flavour that showed us that they had put in a certain amount of tartaric to lower the acidity. These are winemaking faults and are signs of the winemaker having to deal with a tricky vintage.'


A rather gloomy opening verdict indeed, but with 85% of entries achieving a Recommended rating or better, there are clearly a lot of producers who dealt admirably with what they were given - a point taken up by winemaker and consultant Gerd Stepp when the discussion moved on to the performance of individual regions. 'In Nahe we found some really nice wines. They had the most body, texture and the best balance, with lots of extract concentration.' Devaney's highest scores were for wines from Rheingau, whose producers he thought 'nailed it' with their great examples of the style. But he also voiced admiration for the Nahe offerings: 'They tend to get it right. I really enjoyed the wines and thought they were quite consistent.'"



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