Rüdesheimer Berg Schlossberg Riesling Spätlese 2002 Josef Leitz

24 Nov 2003 by JR

Young Johannes Leitz is now one of the absolute superstars, not just of the Rheingau but of German wine in toto. By taking an analytical look at the small Rüdesheim estate he inherited when very young he has steadily improved wines into some of the most thrilling by reducing yields, using ambient yeasts, imposing stringent hygiene so that the wines can be fermented at a snail's pace on its lees.

Leitz Riesling wine label All his recent wines have been impressive, both naturally fruity and dry. I re-tasted his 2002s just last week (see my tasting notes on 2002 Germans in purple pages) and was extremely impressed by the range which was consistently exciting, well-delineated and chock full of aroma. What was lovely was how extremely different each wine from each different site was - a real demonstration of terroir and mastery thereof.

Among the 2002 Spätlesen, the Magdelenenkreuz was light lime syrup - a sort of liquid Refresher for those of you who remember these pastel-coloured citrus sweets. The Berg Roseneck was green and pungent, all aromatic hedgerows and hawthorn.

And this particular wine, the Berg Schlossberg, was tasting even better than when I first encountered it earlier this year. Intensely fruity and dominated by the high slate content of this particular vineyard, it has minerals and bacon fat on the nose, very slight pineapple notes on the palate but a million miles from the standard issue cool-fermented Chardonnay, a wine that just yells 'aren't I interesting?' at the taster.

Of course it is not cheap, but for a wine with so much to give, that will continue to evolve for at least another dozen years and probably more, it is a real bargain. Especially if you buy it by the case from Richard Kihl in the UK (who also exports) - see below.

The British importers have sold small quantities of this wine to James Nicholson of Ireland, Four Walls Wine of Chilgrove, Handford Fine Wines of London W11 and SW7, Seckford Wines, all of whom are selling it at around £18 a bottle. Oddbins currently have the Magdalenenkreuz Spätlese 2002 in stock for just £9.99 a bottle. Haste ye...

US importer is the redoubtable Terry Thiese of Michael Skurnik Wines of Syosset, NY (WineSearcher for many a retail stockist in the US.

tasting notes on more 2002s from Leitz and many others, including some recent and forthcoming additions.

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