Germany 2008: Keep
Cool vintage favouring Kabinett/Spätlese ripeness levels. Hallmarks are fine-boned body, vibrant acidity and ripe fruit flavours. Reds firm and juicy.
A cold miserable start in Germany , a wet March, then an almost-summery April and a typical, easy-going summer. Flowering tended to be early (notably in Sachsen, in the sheltered Elbe valley) and by July vineyards everywhere were well progressed and healthy – hardly damaged by late May hail in Pfalz and the Rheingau.
September’s erratic weather (frequently cool and rainy) upset the harvesting of earlier-ripening varietals. Most growers waited till mid-month when cool temperatures capped rising ripeness levels. In later- ripening vineyards rotten fruit needed removing, especially in the Mosel, Nahe, and Pfalz (where rain was very heavy).
October’s perfect days, warm with cool nights and low rainfall, meant more tardy varietals like Gewürztraminer, Sylvaner and Riesling could stay on the vine, gaining natural sugars, varietal aromas and mineral flavours. Harvesting was unhurried, mostly started mid-October, with the Upper Nahe finished early November.
Generally very good, and some exceptional examples. Given the cooler temperatures, most growers achieved Spätlese, or a little higher, ripeness level. Some managed to produce opulent Beerenauslese, and some eiswein too.
The young Kabinetts are light, fresh and fruity. Acidity is ripe, but lean, even steely, with good durability. Dry whites have intensely fruity flavours, often with nervy balance and expressive aromatics. Reds promise lively and fruit-driven drinking. Baden Pinot Noir and Pfalz (for its firm tannins) stand out. Wurttemberg’s reds have pronounced varietal character; Ahr’s are flavoursome and deeply coloured.
Among varietals, late ripeners are clear winners. Baden Gewürztraminer is particularly ripe, and Franken’s Sylvaner has a bright style with seductive aromas. Riesling shines, with wide-ranging fruity aromas and extracts, minerally nuances and refreshing acidity. Even the richer styles have a quite delicate body. Best are from Mosel, Pfalz, Rheingau regions.
FRANKEN: Schloss Castell, Divino Nordheim, Weingut Juliusspital; MOSEL: Fritz Haag, J. J. Prüm, Robert Eymael, Reinhold Haart, Markus Molitor, Egon Müller, C. Von Schubert, St. Urbans-hof, Joh. Jos. Christoffel Erben, Schloss Saarstein, Selbach-Oster, Dr H Thanisch, Bollig-Lehnert, Will Schaeffer, Dr Pauly-Bergweiler, Von Othegraven, Dr Loosen, Meulenhof, Reichsgraf Von Kesselstatt, Dr Heidemanns-Bergweiler, Schloss Lieser, Zilliken, Trier, Martin Wassmer; NAHE: H. Dönnhoff, Emrich Schönleber; PFALZ: Müller-Catoir, Bassermann-Jordan, Reichsrat Von Buhl, Pffeffingen, Dr Bürklin-Wolf, Okonomierat Rebholz; RHEINGAU: Domdechant Werner’sches, J. Wegeler Erben, Robert Weil, Georg Breuer, Schloss Johannisberg, Schloss Schönborn, Kloster Eberbach, Friedrich Altenkirch, Fritz Allendorf, Prinz Von Hessen, Schloss Vollrads; RHEINHESSEN: Gunderloch