Riesling from Maximin Grunhaus and Fritz Haag

So I just received an exciting Riesling shipment which gives me the opportunity to experience different styles, regions, and producers.

I was curious to try two Riesling Kabinett wines of the same year (2015) from Maximim Grunhous – the bottle shape and labels with their gold old school German design look identical.
But one is from the Herrenberg vineyard, and one is from the Abtsberg vineyard.

Each of these vineyards has its own distinct micro-climate, gradient and soil composition, differences in terroir which explain the unique character of the wines made at Grünhaus.

In the glass, they look fairly identical with their slight green-tinged straw color, indicating a young vintage. They both have high zesty acidity, off-dry flavors (very ripe peach) and a mineral character. Alcohol on the Herrenberg, however, is higher at 8%, whereas it is 7% on the Abtsberg.

Though preference may vary from individual to individual the key difference for me seems to be that the Absberg has a sharper contrast between zesty acidity and opulent fruit.

Some key things about the Abtsberg is that the subsoil is blue Devonian slate and the hillside runs south-east to south-west, achieving a gradient of up to 70%. Abtsberg wines are characterized by a finely structured subtle minerality, a racy acidity, generous fruit and great delicacy. They are said to be amongst the longest lived Rieslings of the region.

Interestingly, the Herrenberg vineyard has a base of red Devonian slate. This vineyard is said to show fruit and body early in their lives (which may be why I found it more opulent), but also possess extraordinary ageing potential.

Both these wines are elegant and sophisticated. Though off dry, they have the balance between tart acidity, ripe concentrated fruit, and minerality to age well and enjoy with a wide variety of cuisines or on its own.

For a dinner party, it may be a fun idea to buy a bottle(s) from each vineyard and contrast them side by side, or serve the Abtsberg with a dish where slightly sharper acidity is needed.

Two other wines from Fritz Haag (the Brauneberg Juffer Sonnenuhr vineyard) were contrasted in this tasting. The 2015 Kabinett is very well balanced with 8.5 alcohol, and ripe concentrated fruit flavors of peach and apricot, and zesty acidity and a long length of finish. The Fritz Haag 2015 Spatlese was a study in sheer opulence and ripe concentration of fruit, the ripe peach/apricot flavors balanced by the intense mineral backbone of the wine and the zesty acidity.

The terrifyingly steep and isolated Brauneberg hillside has been revered as a top vineyard site since the Romans first cultivated wine grapes in the Mosel valley. The Juffer Sonnenuhr is the choicest center cut of the Brauneberg — the steepest and most south-facing part of the hillside. This Grosse Lage (Grand Cru) site produces profound, distinctive wines with great purity and concentration.

The Brauneberg is an isolated, south-facing hill that, unlike most other great Mosel sites, has very little forest above it to provide water. The relative lack of water and the well-drained brown slate soil make it one of the drier vineyards in the area, a great advantage in wet years, which occur frequently in this cool, northern climate. The wines tend to have a brawny, muscular structure to them due to the nature of this site. With painstaking selection at harvest, and meticulous cellar work, the Fritz Haag estate produces wines that combine the typical Brauneberg power with astonishing clarity and a sophisticated sleekness.

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