From €6.47, $12.84, 99 Swedish krone, 103 Danish krone, £11.89, Sing$29.24
As promised here, the VDP producers of the Rheingau came back to London to present their latest vintage, 2011, last month – perhaps hoping to take up the slack now that their counterparts in the Mosel and Nahe, the Grosse Ring, have alas given up their annual London tasting.
I'm not sure this ploy will work because the Nahe and especially Mosel wines were precisely those Rieslings that the traditional British buyer of fine German wine loved: light, fruity and designed for long ageing. The Rheingau wines tend to be fuller and drier and in many cases not nearly so terroir-transparent. But there was one wine I was captivated by: this entry-level, as they call it, dry Riesling from the talented Johannes Leitz, one of the brightest sparks of the Rheingau. And I swear it wasn't just the clever name, a play on the German for 1-2-3, that appealed.
Balance is all with a dry Riesling. You need to have just the right amount of acidity to counterbalance the relatively low residual sugar. Too much and the wine tastes hard and austere. Too little – well, very few Rieslings have too little acidity in my experience. This wine is seductively open and accessible already. Unlike many more 'serious' Rieslings, it has clearly been made to be drunk in its first two or three years, but is still hugely tangy, juicy and appealing. This wine is really beautifully balanced. Just right! The residual sugar level is a modest 8.2 g/l and the total acidity is 8.5 g/l. It's all of 12.3% alcohol, which is quite a lot for a German wine but leaves it a versatile choice as either a drink on its own or with food.
The fruit comes from the eastern stretch of the Rheingau between Geisenheim and Wiesbaden, with the biggest contribution from the highly respected Geisenheimer Rothenberg vineyard. Grapes also come from Oestricher Lenchen, Mittelheimer Nikolaus, Martinsthaler Rödchen and Geisenheimer Fuchsberg, most of which are recognised as Erste Gewächse, top sites.
According to Leitz, loess and loam are the main soil types with a some quartz and slate. Here's their description:
'Ice Age dust is found in most of our vineyard soils. Storm winds moved these fine dust particles from ancient gravel beds deposited by wide rivers. The dust dropped out of the wind in sheltered locations and accumulated in thick loess beds. The fragile substrate makes it easy for roots to penetrate deep into the soil and reach water and nutrients. The most important property of the loess is its high available soil water capacity. The silty soil is easy to manage but is also readily washed away. The sandy loess is partially mixed with gravel sediments of the former terrace banks of the Rhine, with quartzite or slate or coarse coastal sediments from the Tertiary period.'
As you can see from all the currencies cited above, this wine is well distributed internationally. UK stockists include Wine in Cornwall, Christopher Piper also in the south west, Rannoch Scott of Suffolk, Taylor's Fine Wine of Kingston-upon-Thames and in London Philglas & Swiggot stores.
Stop press: Also available from James Nicholson, Hicks & Don, Huntsbridge and Luvians bottle shop.