A Riesling Warm-Up

In preparation for our upcoming tasting of venerable Mosel Riesling (1971-1976) I thought I better drink some more Riesling to whet the appetite.  Back in June we tasted some young Rieslings by JJ Prum, one of the top producers in the Mosel.  On the same afternoon (and in very stark contrast) we also enjoyed a Riesling from the Wachau valley in Austria made by Rainer Wess and reviewed below.  The second wine in this article returns to Germany and hails from the stable of Schäfer-Fröhlich, a German winemaker working magic in the Nahe.


Modern, minimalist, delicious.

Rainer Wess, Riesling, Achleiten, Wachau, 2008

Price: £22 from The Wine Society (out of stock)

The wines of the Wachau Valley are responsible for my love of Riesling and are characterised by a bone dry presentation with intense acidity and minerality. Achleiten is one of the top vineyards in the Wachau, rising vertiginously on the North bank of the Danube and known in the valley for its intense minerality and ageing potential.  Given this bottle was from 2008 I expected this to be close to maturity.

The wine was aromatic with typical Riesling notes of kerosene dominating the nose. As with many wines from the Wachau the palate was not fruit driven although there was a fading note of tart cooking apples and a delightful note of Japanese sour plum. The acidity was screaming on this with a huge amount of minerality, typical of the vineyard.

I tasted this wine again on the second day after opening where it demonstrated slightly less attack but with greater dominance of metallic and salty notes. Another few days later the final drop was showing a hint of oxidation but I suspect this could last a fair while longer in bottle.

Impression: This reminds me why I fell in love with Wachau. Not forgiving, certainly not for everyone, but if you like to taste the earth your wine grows in this is a great introduction to the Achleiten terroir

Score: 91/100 (DT)

2016-05-07 23.12.53

Precipitants of tartrate crystals on this stunning cork from Rainer Wess.

Schäfer-Fröhlich, Riesling Spätlese, Bockenauer Felseneck, Nahe, 2006

Nose muted, faint sweet aromatics on swirling. Beautiful Riesling fruit on the palate leading into something like sweet peaches or pink lemonade.  This reminds me of a sweet delicious nectar. There is high acidity keeping the wine focused through to a moderate length finish. Whilst this is simple and has not gained all that much complexity with age it has kept a phenomenal purity. Gold yummy syrup. Its balanced zingy and left my mouth watering.  I am not really sure where this bottle came from or how much it cost but I am very glad I found it in the cellar.

Score: 90/100

Take home point: I need to taste more from these guys.




Nutbourne Vineyards, Sussex, England

I was looking for somewhere to take my Grandfather on a May afternoon, and I could not resist making it a vineyard. I knew very little about Nutbourne Vineyards before visiting but it transpired to be a gorgeous spot on the South Downs.  The wines are not to be scoffed at either with Nutbourne producing a full range of wines from English sparkling to a still Pinot Noir. The quality of English sparkling wine seems to rise year on year and Nutbourne were among seven UK producers receiving Gold Medals at this years IWSC competition.

Nutbourne Vineyards was founded in 1980, with a new modern winery completed in 2010. The wine is currently made by ex-Chapel Down winemaker Owen Elias, who has a host of awards in his name, including quite a few whilst at Nutbourne.  The wine shop and tasting room are based around a disused mill with covered seating and the opportunity to walk between the vines. The member of staff that served us was courteous and knowledgeable making the visit a very enjoyable afternoon. Nutbourne Vineyards also provide guided tours/tastings of the vineyards and winery with prior reservations for a cost of £15.

Wines Tasted: Nutty Brut 2013, Sussex Reserve 2014, Bacchus 2013/2014, Chardonnay 2013, Hedgerow 2013, Nutty “Wild” N.V., Pinot Noir 2014


The range of wines at Nutbourne – the illustrations on the labels are gorgeous.

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