German Riesling 2015 Grosses Gewächs – Initial impressions and recommendations

During July we had the pleasure of visiting some of the top producers in Nahe, Rheinhessen and Mosel. We mainly focused on Riesling wines and we had the opportunity to taste a rather large selection of Grosses Gewächs wines from 2015.

Since many of the producers are releasing their 2015 Grosses Gewächs shortly we will in this post give you our impressions of the vintage and list our top pics from the Grosses Gewächs wines we tasted.

Later we will also publish separate posts per producer.

The producers we visited were:

  • Weingut Wittmann – Rheinhessen
  • Weingut Hermann Dönnhoff – Nahe
  • Weingut Emrich-Schönleber – Nahe
  • Weingut Schäfer-Fröhlich – Nahe

We also met with Heymann-Löwenstein and Clemens Busch in the Mosel region but we did not taste their 2015 Grosses Gewächs wines since they where not ready.

About the 2015 vintage for German Riesling

After a few demanding vintages for the producers, 2015 has been a great vintage for the region. The producers we met with gave rather consistent descriptions of the vintage. Their collective view is that the grapes reached good ripeness rendering a dense and generous wine, but not fat or heavy, and still with a precise and pure acidity.

Our impressions are in line with the descriptions provided by the producers. It seems like the vintage produces fantastic wines balancing generosity and precision well. We did not experience much over ripe fruit and petroleum notes but still the wines had good generous fruit on the palate. For me the acidity is extremely important in Riesling wines and the 2015 vintage is not a disappointment, showing good precision and energy.

I will definitely stock up on German Riesling wines from 2015.

Top 3 Grosses Gewächs Rieslings of 2015

For me two producers stood out in the 2015 vintage, both for Grosses Gewächs and Ortswein, and these are Wittmann and Emrich-Schönleber. The wines from Wittmann have amazing peaks, great energy and good transparency, while Emrich-Schönleber produces perfect “by the book” Riesling wines with amazing precision and complexity.

My top three pics of the vintage are:

  • 2015 Wittmann Westhofener Morstein Riesling Großes Gewächs
  • 2015 Wittmann Westhofener Kirchspiel Riesling Großes Gewächs
  • 2015 Emrich-Schönleber Monzinger Halenberg Riesling Großes Gewächs

Still it must be said that the vintage produced a very high average level and we tasted amazing wines from all producers.

Tasting notes from the 2015 German Grosses Gewächs wines we tasted

2015 Wittmann Westhofener Aulerde Riesling Großes Gewächs

The soil in Aulerde has less limestone than Kirchspiel and Morstein.
Rather broad and open nose showing tropical fruits like apricot and lychee. The acidity is juicy and stays for a long time in the finish.
This wine has a very generous expression but also a good structure.

2015 Wittmann Westhofener Kirchspiel Riesling Großes Gewächs

Compared with Morstein the Kirchspiel wines are usually more open and ready to drink early and is often showing notes of grapefruit. The soil is similar to Morstein.

Very fresh nose with white stone fruit, lots of lychee and some young apricot and pears.
The acidity is amazing with a very energetic and firm expression and an abundance of minerals. Some fresh fruit notes balance the acidity well.
At the moment the wine is slightly dominated by the acidity but it should develop fantastically with time. A great wine with fantastic potential.

2015 Wittmann Westhofener Morstein Riesling Großes Gewächs

The wines from Morstein usually has a lot of citrus and acidity. The soil has clayish marl and limestone on the upper layer and more limestone in the subsoil.

There are multiple layers of fruit on this dense and concentrated nose, but it never gets overly dominant. We also find some very slight flint and yeast notes and white flowers.
Juicy and mouthwatering acidity with a grippy expression showing both lime fruit and lemon. Again the fruit is dense and complemented by some herbal notes.
The wine already has a good balance between the acidity and the fruit and it manages to combine generosity with elegance. A truly fantastic wine.

2015 Emrich-Schönleber Monzinger Frühlingsplätzchen Riesling Großes Gewächs

Red slate, gravel and red loam. Age of vines are between 15 and 60 years.

Beautiful nose with apricot and other stone fruits, some apples and a hint of herbs. A both elegant and complex nose with great freshness.
Same notes are found on the palate where we also have a pure and precise acidity with both lime fruit and lemon. The wine is energetic and mouthwatering and should age very well.

2015 Emrich-Schönleber Monzinger Halenberg Riesling Großes Gewächs

Stony blue slate and quartzite soil, producing small and concentrated grapes.

Dense and complex nose with layers of fruit where pineapple, apricot, lime fruit and lemon are most apparent.
The acidity is rather racy and has lots of lime and lemon notes. This will probably calm down with time.
The wine is already well balanced but has a slightly more austere impression than the Frühlingsplätzchen GG at this time.
There is an amazing potential in this very complex wine, but you will have to be patient.


2015 Schäfer-Fröhlich Schloßböckelheimer Felsenberg Riesling Großes Gewächs

From approximately 60 year old vines.

Rather open and generous nose with a ripe tone to the fruit, mainly tropical, but also with clear notes of yeast and flint, that hopefully will reduce with time.
On the palate the wine is very juicy with an abundance of stone fruit, pineapple and floral notes. The acidity is precise, grippy and well needed for such an opulent wine.

2015 Schäfer-Fröhlich Bockenauer Felseneck Riesling Großes Gewächs

From approximately 60 year old vines.

Slim and precise nose with white stone fruit, green apples and wet stone.
Precise and almost electric acidity adding energy to the wine. Careful on the fruit, but still with fresh stone fruit and green apples on the nose, but here combined with some herbal notes.
This wine has great precision and energy and will have a long life ahead.

2015 Dönnhoff Felsenberg Riesling Großes Gewächs

Volcanic soil and vines older than 50 years.

Bright fresh stone fruit, soft tropical fruit and some mineralic elements. Beautiful and well balanced nose.
On the palate the wine gets a very fruity and juicy expression. The acidity is rather careful but manages to balance the juicy expression on the palate. In the finish we get more grape fruit in the acidity.

2015 Dönnhoff Norheimer Dellchen Riesling Großes Gewächs

A vineyard that usually produces wines that are accessible early in their life and has a fruity and floral expression.

The nose is fresh and pure with both fruit, mainly tropical, and floral notes. Very generous and opulent.
The palate continues with the same style but the fruit is complemented by a lively acidity.
A forward and open wine.

2015 Dönnhoff Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle Riesling Großes Gewächs

A nose that starts rather carefully but then develop an intensity with fresh tropical fruit, green apples, lime and some floral notes.
The palate has great balance with a fresh and grippy acidity combined with the intense fruit also found on the nose.
This is a wine that manages to combine a restrained expression with intensity. Should have a very long life.

2015 Dönnhoff Oberhäuser Brücke Riesling Grosses Gewächs Versteigerung

This is the first dry Grosses Gewächs wine produced in 30 years in Brücke.

The wine is very expressive with an abundance of dense and layered fruit notes. We mainly find apricot and apples.
Initially the palate is rather heavy but then an energetic acidity lifts the wine. Again there is an abundance of apricot but also some stone fruit and other tropical fruit.
This is a very generous wine with a strong personality.

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