featured, germany: Mosel
The 2016 growing season in the Rheingau and Mittelrhein set weather records. But the resulting Rieslings, while variable in quality, are often impressive thanks to their balance and understated character, which stand in contrast to the vintage's meteorological extremes.
Like their counterparts from Rheinhessen, the top Pfalz Rieslings of 2016 are wines of delicious and animating complexity that managed to benefit from the growing season’s chilly October.
In 2016, Mother Nature and Rheinhessen’s top growers seem to have made the same request of one another: “Cool it!” Happily, both complied. Without question, Rheinhessen growers have experienced two outstanding vintages in 2015 and 2016, but the latter boasts a surplus of wines that display the imponderable interplay of balance, elegance and charm, which to my palate give them a slight qualitative edge and an at least equal claim on cellar space.
No German Riesling region can boast more consistent and distinctively delicious success in vintage 2016 than the Nahe, but terroir and weather don’t offer the full explanation.
Germany: Ruwer, featured, Germany: Saar, Germany
The Saar and Ruwer yielded a wealth of wines with improbable balance and finesse considering the meteorological extremes that characterized the 2016 growing season.
I discussed the travails and eventual triumph of vintage 2016 on the Mosel in my introduction to part one of this coverage, as well as some of the mysteries that still surround it and the personalities and aging potential of the resulting wines. Estates that were most seriously afflicted by downy mildew (and a few that were strafed by hail, such as in Graach) suffered significant crop losses, but nearly every grower I visited expressed delight with his or her 2016 quality, and quite a few turned in collections to challenge those of 2015.
Weather that was extreme even by recent standards paradoxically generated some of the most even-tempered, charming Mosel Rieslings in years.
Will Klaus Peter Keller’s and Julian Haart’s startling announcements set a trend?
Given the potential afforded by a cool, clear autumn following on the heels of a hot, dry summer, in conjunction with the exceptional abilities of so many growers, the top 2015s from Nahe and Rheinhessen offer plenty of excitement.
featured, Austria, Germany
The weather extremes experienced in so many recent vintages have been accompanied increasingly by years featuring remarkably similar meteorological and growing patterns that stretch from the Mosel to parts of Austria nearly 400 flight miles distant. In the end, ironically, the drama that preceded it led to a 2016 Riesling harvest as stress-free as many Austrian and German growers could recall, and to grapes whose very gradual ripening and modest eventual must weights would have seemed more familiar to growers of the mid-20th century.