from Robert Weil
One question that I am often asked is whether Riesling
is better dry or sweet? The answer is seldom black or white. This is not to say
that it is about shades of grey, but rather that Riesling is one of the few
varieties that excels in more than one discipline. What, then, is the nature of
an individual vineyard? Are there some sites that consistently produce only one
style of wine well? Or can a grape, like Riesling, be good at more than one
That is the question that Wilhelm Weil from the Robert
Weil estate in Kiedrich wanted to answer. His Gräfenberg vineyard high in the
hills above the Rhine in the Rheingau is classified at a Grosses Gewächs - or
Grand Cru. For many collectors, he is one of Germany’s star producers of noble
late harvest Rieslings, with his Spätleses, Ausleses und Trockenbeerenauleses
regularly being some of the finest wines of any given vintage; but the estate
also has a long history of bottling excellent dry Rieslings. Is one better than
On March 11, I sat down with Weil and a few other
tasters to survey 38 wines, dating from 2013 back to 1921. They were organized
in two flights, one with dry Rieslings that the estate long labeled as their
Cabinet and another of Spätleses.
I will soon publish full report with tasting notes on
all of the wines. In the meantime, I wanted to highlight two of the stars of
the tasting; the 1953 Kiedricher Gräfenberg Riesling Cabinet and the 1949
Kiedricher Gräfenberg Riesling Spätlese.
With less than ten grams of residual sugar, 1953 Kiedricher Gräfenberg Riesling Cabinet
would be labeled today as a dry Grosses Gewächs. Back then a Cabinett was often
the finest cask of a given vintage that was bottled separately and held back
for privileged guests on special occasions. It was a breathtaking experience to
drink a sixty one year old dry Riesling that was still so young and fresh. A touch of brioche on the nose was the
only indication of the wine’s age. 95.
Kiedricher Gräfenberg Riesling Spätlese brought goose pimples to my hands.
It was electrifying and so mesmerizing that for a moment I could hardly think.
At first, I did not want to write, much less put down a score, but knew
immediately that I was in the presence of an elder statesman. Perhaps genius
would be a better word. 96.
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-- Joel B.