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A New Riesling Generation
Part 2
Rheinhessen, the Pfalz and Nahe
Posted July 31 2008
By Daenna Van Mulligen
Rheinhessen - hilltop overlooking the Rhein River

For most Riesling lovers Germany is unarguably the king. Germans will tell you that not only do they have the best mineral soil for growing Riesling but that the best latitude for cultivating Riesling is 48-51˚ latitude. My traveling companion was reminded, on several occasions, that this was the same latitude as his home town – Winnipeg. The Northern Hemisphere countries of Alsace, Austria nor Canada would disagree with that statement – both have primary growing regions within the same latitudes.

In part 2 I'll introduce you to the three regions of Rheinhessen, the Pfalz and Nahe.
And, if you just happen to be looking at a map of German wine regions you’ll notice that together the three form the shape of a comma. Nahe sits at the head of the comma, Rheinhessen is the hook and Pfalz is the tail. You can traverse these regions however you chose but during a recent trip, my group left the Rheingau (read part 1) and drove south to the Rheinhessen, down to Pfalz and then traveled back upward to Nahe before finishing in the Mosel (coming in part 3).

Germans describe the Rheinhessen region as the “land of a thousand hills”, which lies within a large elbow of the Rhein River. And, after leaving the much flatter Rheingau region, the slopes that swing up and away from the Rhein River are obvious.
Rheinhessen is the largest of the 13 German wine regions with about 27,000 hectares of vineyards. But, perhaps its former reputation as a producer of cheap, sweet wines - especially the unending reputation of Liebfraumlich and its most infamous Blue Nun – left a unpleasant taste in the mouths of those wine drinkers who had moved on to drier trends.


View of the Rhine from the Gunderloch vineyards

In the village of Nackenheim we visited the well-known winery and tasting room of the family owned estate of Gunderloch. In 1890 Carl Gunderloch purchased hillside vineyards along this portion of the Rhein River - the most significant being in the Rothenberg, just outside of Nackenheim. The Rothenberg Nackenheim is 50 hectares in total and is a site revered for its mineral-rich red soil and premium, steep slopes. Five generations later, the family still lives in Nackenheim and farm Rothenberg vineyards along with others in the Rheinhessen region. The name Gunderloch remains yet the winery has passed into the female hands of the family – the family name now being Hasselbach.
The wines here are highly aromatic with an amazingly lush texture. They lean toward honeyed and off-dry but have lovely acid balance. Gunderloch strives to retain the natural fruit sweetness in their wines and to ensure roundness and softness on the palate they mature the wines, on their lees, in large neutral oak casks.
              Kathrin Hasselbach-Bordiehn in the Nackenheim Rothenberg

The Gunderloch Estate Riesling Dry, 2007 is an everyday fresh Riesling with bright citrus and white fruit aromas. Its off-dry yet balanced with appealing white peach flavours on the palate.
The *Gunderloch Jean-Baptiste Riesling Kabinett Feinherb, 2007 reveals quite abundant aromas of melon and peach and citrus and has a clean, off-dry palate with that is well balanced with zippy, mouth-watering finish. (the 2006 $16.95 in LCBO stores the 2005 is $19.95 SAQ)
*Gunderloch Nackenheim Rothenberg Riesling Spätlese, 2006
is delectable. It shows vibrant green apple, white floral, clean mineral and fresh stone fruit and citrus aromas. It’s silky and rounded with loads of apple/stone fruit and slate minerality flavours. (the 2003 is $33 SAQ)
And the *Gunderloch Nackenheim Rothenberg Riesling Auslese, 2006 stands apart from the others with its earthy, mushroomy aromas and intense minerality on the nose. The lush texture strokes your palate with ripe peach, mango, chamomile and honey flavours. It has a long, powerful finish and maintains its bright acidity throughout.

      Right - look for a new everyday drinking wine from Gunderloch called Fritz's Riesling

The wines with the asterisk(*) are wines that may be arriving in BC and look for them in the Western Provinces and Ontario as well.
For more information on Gunderloch click here

Heyl Zu Herrnsheim/St. Antony
Four Erste Lage (First Site) barrel samples from Heul Zu Herrnsheim and St. Antony

Heyl Zu Herrnsheim is a good example of tradition saved by modern methods. The estate dates back to 1561 but has changed hands several times since. In the 1700s it was taken over by the Lauteren family who claimed bragging rights to producing the first sparkling wine “Sekt” in Germany. Then, after three generations in the possession of the Lauteren family it was purchased in 1909 by the Heyl family who then sold in it to the Ahr family in 1994 who in turn sold it to Detlev Meyer in 2006. As we know, running a winery takes a huge financial toll, and Meyer has been able to invest in the future of the estate through updates and modernization in all aspects; marketing, the vineyards and the winery. Heyl Zu Herrnsheim and its sister winery St.Antony are both located in Nierstein (in the former winery of Gustav Adolf Schmitt) and although we did pass through Nierstein we tasted several wines from both wineries on a hilltop overlooking the nearby estate vineyards and Rhine River.
The finest of their vineyards are located between Nackenheim and Nierstein on the five kilometer stretch of the Roter Hang - a mineral-rich red slope which imparts herbal aromas and flavours to wine. These steeply sloped, premium vineyards include the famed Brudersberg, a 1.3 hectare Riesling vineyard which is considered one of the
Grosses Gewächs or “great growth” sites in Germany (read about the classification or GG here). As well, Heyl Zu Herrnsheim owns parcels in two other GG sites; the Pettenthal (also 100% Reisling and 3.5 hectares)
and, like Gunderloch, in the Nackenheimer Rothenberg
(2.7 hectares containing Riesling and Sylvaner). The tasting was lead by winemaker Felix Peters and Andrea Gauer (photo at right) who brought  barrel samples of the 2007 vintage for us to sample.

Heyl Zu Herrnsheim Riesling Kabinett, 2007 – This was the only already-in-bottle we tasted, a fresh, crisp wine with citrus, steely minerality and peaches. The great 2007 vintage shows through, the; acid, fruit, sweet and alcohol, very well-balanced.
Heyl Zu Herrnsheim  Nierstein Pettenthal Riesling
Grosses Gewächs, 2007 – Made from 30 + year old vines from an organic vineyard this wine has some fat aromas – elegant minerality and juicy citrus, a hint of herbs – powerful.
Heyl Zu Herrnsheim Nackenheim Rothenberg Riesling Grosses Gewächs, 2007 – Unique concentrated aromas – quite fat with an earthy, smoky almost meatiness to it alongside bright citrus and obvious herbal notes. The palate is complete, balanced, potent and ripe and dry - elegant. 
St. Antony Nierstein Orbel Riesling Grosses Gew
ächs, 2007
is a fresh dry Riesling showing consistent power and bold minerality that all the St.Antony and Heyl Zu Herrnsheim showed.
St. Antony Nierstein Ölberg Riesling Grosses Gew
ächs, 2007 shows lovely white grapefruit, floral and zest aromas – this wine comes from a very small vineyard with very low yields and picks up a rounded, earthy palate from its time in neutral old barriques.
Unfortunately none of these wines are currently available in Canada that I am aware of.


Known as the Palatinate winegrowing region, the Pfalz is Germany’s “sunshine state”. It has a virtual Mediterranean clime which allows for the growth of almonds, figs and citrus. Protected on the west by the Palatine forest and by the Haardt Mountains (a continuation of the Vosges mountain range from Alsace) the Pfalz is only slightly smaller than Rheinhessen with just over 23,000 hectares of vineyards.

wine tasting at Weingut Geheimer Rat Dr.v.Bassermann~Jordan


For its sheer historical and political connections the Bassermann-Jordan winery wins the Pfalz intrigue tour. Founded in 1718 you can read the history of the family tree on the website starting back in 1775 with Andreas Jordan then continue through the addition of the Bassermann name to the family estate in 1883 and onto Friedrich von Bassermann~Jordan the wine book author.
The last of the von Bassermann~Jordan family owners Margarit von Bassermann~Jordan and her daughter Dr. Gabriele von Bassermann~Jordan took over in 1995 when Margarit’s husband and Gabriele’s father Ludwig passed away. In 2002 the winery was taken over by entrepreneur businessman Achim Niederberger.

the cave treasury at Bassermann~Jordan - Rieslings from the late 1800s

The winery sits in the lovely town of Deidesheim.
The cellar caves curve under the winery studded with artifacts and a private treasury (what we call a library) of back vintages. Manager Gunther Hauck led us through the cellars, where we chose a 1945 Riesling to open.
After a tasting a selection of stunning wines we walked down the street to the Ketschauer~Hof Hotel Bar & Restaurant – Freunstück – a stunning, old-meets-ultra-modern venue. Seriously not to be missed if you are in the area.

Tasted at Weingut Geheimer Rat Dr.v.Bassermann~Jordan

Bassermann~Jordan Riesling, 2007- this ‘trocken’ or dry Riesling is crisp, fresh and citrus-y with lots of white fruit and minerality. (the 2006 is available in LCBO stores for $21.95)

Bassermann~Jordan HohenMorgen Deidesheim Riesling GG (
Grosses Gewächs), 2006 shows apple peel, white grapefruit and a hint of honey that lingers. Mouth-filling and quite lush with fresh acidity that cleans up on the finish.

Bassermann~Jordan Deidesheimer Paradiesgarten Riesling Kabinett, 2007 fresh tree fruits and grapefruit, it’s just off-dry with a rich texture, loads of minerally flavours and a smooth, clean finish.
Bassermann~Jordan Deidesheimer Paradiesgarten Riesling Kabinett, 2004 (photo at right)
Has the benefit of some age and has a honey-hue with ripe apricot, lemon drops, slate, petrol and honey blossoms. On the palate it shows an initial spritz of sweet lemon followed by stone fruit, slate and candied citrus peel. It's off-dry but has mouth-watering acidity - beautiful!
(The 2004 is still available in select private wine stores in BC for $30+. This label may also be available in Quebec and Alberta)

Bassermann~Jordan Forster Jesuitengarten Riesling Spatlese , 2003
- The 2003 vintage was hot and dry which elevated the alcohol levels. The aromas show petrol, are rich and earthy with ripe apple, mango, apricot and exotic citrus notes. Weighty and off-dry on the palate but balanced with fresh acidity. A delicious wine!

As I mentioned, we also tasted a
Bassermann~Jordan Deidisheimer
HohenMorgen Riesling, 1945 (see right)
It was the colour of caramel with aromas of roasted apricots and stewed apples and toffee. The palate still showed bright acidity and had flavours of mulled apple cider with orange peel and cloves.

Click here for more info on Bassermann~Jordan



           Rainer-Karl Lingenfelder: in the vines, showing the loess soils and new plantings

Well, what can I say about Rainer Lingenfelder?
That he is undeniably, the biggest proponent of German wines I’ve met. I would doubt anyone who has ever met Rainer-Karl Lingenfelder could forget him. His sparkling eyes, barely restrained energy and enthusiasm and of course, his moustache. I’d met Rainer, in Canada, three times from 2001 thru 2008 but meeting him a fourth time - in his natural habitat – was a delight. He bounced from one gently sloping vineyard to the next, showing us his early flowering vines, critters in his newest vineyard, and the land laying fallow.
Rainer Lingenfelder promotes German wines as a whole, despite the fact that he’s taken a very different approach to marketing his own. If you are a Riesling lover you’ll recognize the “Bird Label” which provided consumers with a well made Pfalz Riesling with a non-traditional and easy-to-read-label. Rainer recognized that consumers outside of Germany were confused by traditional German labels – no surprise there. He knew that if he wanted to sell wine outside of Germany he had to create a label that would appeal to consumers and get them drinking Riesling. It worked – what started out as the artist Chuck House’s rendition of a bird on a label morphed into simply becoming the “Bird Label” internationally. What followed was a series of labels called the “Vineyard Creatures” simple and memorable, without the mystification of appellation or VDP Prädikat status.
For more information German wine labels click here

Lingenfelder “Hare Label” Gewurztraminer QbA, 2005 – Peachy aromas with warm spice, orange blossoms and rose oil. Slightly creamy in texture with spiced lychee flavours and bold minerality. Very enjoyable.
Lingenfelder “Bird Label” QbA, 2007 the most famous (and the first) of the Vineyard Creatures series it shows bright, juicy white fruits and minerals. It has a lovely, gently rounded texture with silky apple and citrus flavours and a mouth-watering finish. (Will be arriving in BC and across Canada this fall but the 2005 Bird Label is available in Ontario for $14.95)

Lingenfelder “SATYR” Riesling Sekt Brut, NV has long been a favorite sparkling wine of mine - when I can find it. After 10 years on the lees it has an intense honey-yellow hue and persistent bubbles. Ripe aromas – honey, stone fruits and apple that return on the palate with layers of chamomile, minerals, yeasty notes and sweet herbal hints. Crisp and very complex
(Look for this in private stores and restaurants soon).

Lingenfelder Riesling Kabinett, 2007
is a gorgeous aromatic compilation of citrus rind, white peach, apples, honey and lemon drops with a hint of herbs. Off-dry and spritzy fresh on the palate with honey, stone fruit and apple flavours. I’m putting in my order and hope this wine arrives in BC. From the Freinsheimer  Musik’ buckle vineyard.

And the Lingenfelder Scheurebe TBA, 2005 is made from 45 year old vines and has stunning, earthy aromas – caramel, sweet spice, raisin and mushroom-y notes with a thick, unctuous body and flavours of saltwater taffy and dried fruits linger. Made every 10 years - Freinsheimer Goldberg vineyard.

For more on Lingenfelder and the wines of the age of PostChardonnism - click here

The Lingenfelder wines have agency representation across Canada so be sure to go into your local wine store of government liquor store and ask for them.


Lucashof winery and hotel in Forst

Lucashof a smaller family owned winery located in Forst, not far from Deidesheim in the Pfalz region. The Lucas family estate is now around 25 hectares with vineyards in some of the regions best sites; Forster Ungeheuer, Forster Pechstein, Forster Elster and Forster Musenhang. They produce sparkling and still wines made from Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Dornfelder and Spatburgunder (Pinot Noir) but one of the most interesting things about Lucashof is their family connection to the Cave Spring Winery in Ontario.
The week before my visit Germany was hit by hailstorms (especially the Pfalz) which Christine Lucas estimated destroyed at least 20% of their 2008 crop.
The winery also (see the photograph) has a very nice little hotel with seven rooms which you can read more on by clicking here .

Lucashof Forster Stift Riesling Kabinett Trocken, 2007 shows fruit forward aromatics, peaches, apricots and honey with a juicy, off-dry palate and zesty citrus flavours. Easy drinking – every day patio sipper.
Lucashof Forster Elster Riesling Kabinett Trocken, 2007 like the Forster Stift, this vineyard is 20 years old ad is similarily fruity on the nose with bright orchard fruit and citrus aromas. It’s bigger on the palate with more depth than the Forster Stift though – zippy and zesty with obvious minerality, citrus and white fruits. (* I was told this wine is available in Ontario for about $16)
Lucashof Forster Elster Riesling Kabinett, 2007 has power and intensity. Its rounder, fuller-bodied, dry and super crisp – almost angular -  with lingering acidity.
Lucashof Forster Musenhang Riesling Feinherb, 2007 (for a description of Feinherb and other German labeling terms click here) Ripe tree fruits a hint of spice, powerful with a slightly creamy texture yet crisp and lingering.
Lucashof Forster Ungeheuer Riesling Spätlese Trocken, 2007
an almost oily texture with rich fruit, tart citrus peel, licorice/fennel, sweet herbal hints and a warm finish. Interesting wine – dry yet ripe and fresh.
Finally, the Lucashof Forster Ungeheuer Riesling Auslese, 2007 is a very nice sweet wine with crisp apricot,honey and chamomile aromas. On the palate it’s sweet and rich but has bright acidity to back it up with flavours of honey, apples, and apricots. The finish is commanding and clean.


Perhaps lesser known than the Pfalz, Rheinhessen and Rheingau, Nahe nonetheless is home to some of the most famous and quality producers in Germany – Schlossgut Diel, Kruger~Rumpf and Dönnhoff. The region itself is just over 4000 hectares with various soil types which produce Rieslings that are quite delicate to elegant as well as powerful and minerally.

        Tower of Burg Layen flying the Canadian Flag, a door into tower, Armin Diel & a wine thief

Schlossgut Diel

Polished and contemporary.
Although, Schlossgut Diel itself is not modern - rather a tower and the walled remnants of castle Burg Layen in the village of Rümmelsheim. It was built prior to 1200, changed hands numerous times over the centuries but was finally purchased by Johann Peter Diel in 1802.
Current resident and Renaissance man Armin Diel is as polished and contemporary as his wines - wine and food journalist, author as well as traveling winemaker. The internationally recognized Ernst Loosen (who, in partnership with Chateau Ste.Michelle in Washington State produces the Eroica Riesling) introduced Alan Shoup to Armin Diel to partner in making his Long Shadows Poet’s Leap Riesling which he has been a part of since the initial 2003 crush in Washington.
Diel took over the estate from his father in 1987, and now, his daughter Caroline has taken over as winemaker.
If you can find these amazing wines - and I highly recommend trying - you will be rewarded, as they are elegant and will introduce you to a style of wine you have never experienced.
The Diel Riesling Sekt, 2004 a wonderful, fresh bubbly that is both creamy and crisp with hints of toast.

Rose de Diel, 2007 is made from 100% Pinot Noir and was a refreshing change from a week of Riesling. The colour is pale salmon/blush in colour with clean citrus and sweet berry aromas. Its silky and fresh a perfect crisp summer sipper. When I called it delicious, Armin correct me with Diel-icious.

Diel de Diel, 2007 is a combination of two-thirds Pinot Gris (Grauburgunder) with Riesling and Pinot Blanc (Weissburgunder) showing aromas of white fruits and citrus with mineral tones. It’s clean on the palate with a rounded texture and flavours of peaches, orange rind and a suggestion of spice.

Diel Burg Layen Schlossberg Riesling,
Grosses Gewächs, 2007 an elegant, dry Riesling with rich peach/apricot, honey, petrol and chamomile aromas that reappear on the palate alongside lively citrus and potent minerality.

Diel Pittermännchen Riesling Kabinett, 2007 a single vineyard off-dry Riesling with honey, crisp green apple and bright citrus, mineral and sweet zesty flavours. Elegant, with an age-ability of a decade or more.

Diel ‘Cuvee Caroline’ Pinot Noir, 2006 is named after Armin’s daughter and the vineyards are 20-30 years old. This was the best Pinot Noir I tasted on my German wine tour – it shows beautiful layered aromatics of bright red berries and cherries, sweet tobacco and fragrant purple flowers. Elegant and Burgundian-like with a silky texture, spiced fruit, cedar box and peppery flavours and fine youthful tannins.

For more information on Schlossgut Diel click here


After a trip down the Rhine in a paddlewheel to Bingen we traveled to Münsterer-Sarmsheim where we visited Stephen Rumpf at Kruger~Rumpf. Weingut Kruger~Rumpf is located in a family manor house and farmhouse built in 1830.
We dined and tasted his wines in his quaint setting of his family run restaurant/tavern that specializes in serving traditional cuisine. Kruger~Rumpf grows a selection of Riesling, Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir), Silvaner, Scheurebe, Grauburgunder (Pinot Gris). Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc) and Gewurztraminer. A total of 55 hectares are spread throughout the various vineyards of; Münsterer  Pittersberg, Münsterer  Dautenpflänzer, Münsterer Rheinberg, Münsterer Kappellenberg, Dorsheimer Castle Hill and one hectare in Binger Scharlachberg in the Rheinhessen. The family were wonderful hosts, we spent the evening tasting wines with Stephen paired with delicious, fresh dishes made by his wife (and a fresh local cheese called hand kase at right) while we replayed our previous six days of travel.

Kruger~Rumpf “S” Weisser Burgunder (Pinot Blanc) trocken, 2007 – “S” means selection and this lovely Pinot Blanc is capped in silver for simple identification. It shows creamy white fruit on the nose with floral, peachy and pear notes vanilla and a hint of vanilla. Rich on the palate, off-dry and fresh with a bright finish and more spice. Very nice!
The Kruger~Rumpf Münsterer Riesling, 2007 is a trocken riesling with bright aromas of peach, pear, chalk and slate minerality with fragrant floral notes. Quite lush on the palate, fruity, minerally and clean, a hint of natural spice with lovely acidity and lingering flavours.
Kruger~Rumpf Münsterer Pittersberg ‘S’ Riesling Kabinett, 2007 is also a silvercap selection showing ripe orchard fruit on the nose with honey, lemon, slate and grapefruit-y notes. Creamy on the palate with lively acidity and fresh lemon flavours.
Kruger~Rumpf Münsterer Dautenpflänzer
‘GG’ (Grosses Gewächs), 2007 upfront, ripe stonefruit and pear aromas. Smooth and rounded on the palate with layered fruit and minerality and bright acidity.
Kruger~Rumpf Münsterer Kappellenberg Riesling Kabinett, 2007 off-dry with sweet peach/apricot and crisp green apple aromas with undertones of lemon-balm and herbs. Its bright and refreshing on the palate with hints of candied zest but finishes mouth-watering.
The 2006 Kruger~Rumpf Münsterer Kappellenberg Riesling Kabinett has tart aromas of crab apple and grapefruit with lemon zest. On the palate it’s off-dry with a slick, weighty texture and pops with flavours of iced tea, gala apples and honey with gorgeous minerality. The finish is zesty with mouth-watering acidity. And with a mere 10% alcohol, why wouldn’t you want to drink this everyday? (
see photo right)
*the 2006 is available in Specialty BC Liquor Stores for $24.99
Kruger~Rumpf Münsterer Rheinberg Riesling Kabinett, 2007 is a bright and fruity with peaches, honey, apricots and gorgeous acidity. The 2006 can be found in LCBO Vintages for $19.95.

We were also fortunate enough to convince Stephen to pull a Kruger~Rumpf Pinot Noir ‘R’, 2005 from his cellar (the ‘R’ stands for reserve ion this case) and second only to the Diel it was the best of the Pinot Noirs I tasted in Germany. Fresh - with cherries, leather and barnyard aromas and undertones of sweet violets. Velvety on the palate, sweet red fruit prevailed with vanilla, cherry, minerals and a bright finish with peppery spice.

For more information on Weingut Kruger~Rumpf click here

*Also coming into BC and Alberta from Nahe, (although I have yet to taste them) the famous wines of Dönnhoff should be arriving this summer 2008.

Coming next Germany part 3 - The Mosel
To read Germany part 1 - the Rheingau click here
To read "Understanding" German wine labels click here





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