Schloss Reinhartshausen – Dry German Riesling
Schloss Reinhartshausen is at Eltville, on the north bank of the river Rhine, where the Riesling grape grows in steep stony vineyards with perfect southern exposure. Welcome to the Rheingau region of central Germany, a small area that has punched above its weight for centuries. It (together with the Mosel) has grown Riesling the longest, as records dating back to the 15th Century show. It gave us “Hock”, originally a simplified name for Rheingau wines famous in 17th Century Britain, which later became the favourite tipple of Queen Victoria. Furthermore, it was also where the first “noble rot” (botrytis-affected) wines developed. It also has one of the world’s great viticultural centres at Geisenheim University.
Indeed, conditions are so suitable for Riesling that it dominates the Rheingau scene. Meanwhile, Dry (Trocken) Riesling wines have come into fashion, but in the Rheingau, this is nothing new. Dry wines are traditional, even if the image of classic German wines remains stubbornly sweet. Hence the best producers have capitalised on the long-term consumer trend toward dry, food-friendlier wines in Germany and abroad. They have also been at the forefront of raising German wine quality to new heights, and most of the wines from here are now dry.
And you might say that Schloss Reinhartshausen, on the Rhine waterfront, has had plenty of time to practice. 1337 is the date on the label, referring to the fact that wine growing here has been uninterrupted since then. Those 685 years have seen ownership passed through the hands of many aristocrats. Since 2013 it’s been owned by the Lergenmüller family, making it Germany’s largest privately-owned wine producer. All the Schloss vineyards are highly rated and include exceptional individual Grand Cru sites.
Schloss Reinhartshausen Rheingau Riesling, Trocken, Schlossabfüllung, Deutcher Qualitatswein, 2020. 12%
This dry wine is their entry-level estate bottling (schlossabfüllung), using Riesling grapes from their holdings. But entry-level is a misnomer; the Schloss starts where some others finish. Meanwhile, the 2020 vintage here had its share of tricky moments but on this evidence looks like being an excellent year. Those vintage conditions are complemented by sensitive organic viticulture, deliberately restricted yields and hand-picking at optimal ripeness. Easy to describe but labour-intensive and by no means easy to achieve.
Once in the winery, the grapes are gently pressed. Slow, cool fermentation to retain aromas is in stainless steel. Maturation is also in stainless steel, and there is no malolactic, so preserving bright acidity. The wine is under a screw cap; drink now or anytime over the next 3-4 years.
Silver coloured, the aromas are delightful; peach and apple scents are subtle and insinuating. The steely palate is elegant and sophisticated, while hints of apricot and Mirabelle tingle the tongue. 12% alcohol and the hidden residual sugar means the wine is ripe and full yet balances the acidity and alcohol with remarkable precision and tension. There’s nothing green or tart and nothing flabby, and while there’s a mineral hint, those bold petrol/kerosene notes that some find tiring are absent.
A long dry finish then leaves you feeling refreshed and ready for more. Suddenly, there’s an empty glass. You’re left thinking, “wow”!
Food-wise, this wine makes an ideal apéritif, but pairing it with delicate white fish hits the spot. Consequently, this bottle partnered with Plaice. It would be equally good with Turbot, Dover or Lemon Sole.
Available from UK German wine specialists The Winebarn, £16.30.
If you want to discover high-quality German wine, The Winebarn is an excellent place to start. I’m looking forward to their annual portfolio tasting with the chance to meet German wine producers in London on 9th May 2022.
Q: If this is an entry-level wine, how good are their dry Grand Cru’s? A: I hope to find out!
Please don’t take my word for it; this wine won a gold medal at the prestigious Berliner Wein Trophy winter tasting 2021. I’ve already ordered some more! Methinks you should too.
Weingut Schloss Reinhartshausen GmBH