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Rheinhessen Riesling – Markus del Monego MW
Rheinhessen is Germany’s largest wine-growing region and used to be one of its most famous and fashionable at the end of the 1800s. But then came Liebfraumilch in the second half of the last century and suddenly sweet, cheap and dull became the order of the day. Classic producers like Gunderloch or Heyl zu Herrnsheim continued to make great Rieslings, but prices collapsed across the board.
Fortunately since then, things have changed significantly for the better in Rheinhessen: Riesling is important once more and accounts for 15% of the vineyard area. In addition, a new generation of gifted young winemakers has rediscovered the grape’s potential, and they are now producing stunning results in a variety of styles. These vary from bone dry to lusciously sweet. And best of all, the wines seem to combine the crisp style of the Mosel with the opulence of the Pfalz and the juicy elegance of the Rheingau.
The trend started with vintners like Keller and Wittmann in the 1990s. Now the latest group to take the region by storm is Message in a Bottle, a group of 28 young winemakers united by the idea of making genuinely exciting quality wines while also having some serious fun.
And while the quality has caught up with Germany’s best white wines, the prices most certainly haven’t. Indeed, at these extremely attractive prices, everyone can afford to have fun with them because they represent astonishing value for money. Compared to Rieslings of similar quality from the Rheingau or Mosel, these are just a fraction of the price. In the UK, prices begin at £11 a bottle and are even cheaper in Germany.
One member of Message in a Bottle is Stefan Winter. I love his Dittelsheimer Riesling Trocken 2013, coming from vines 20 years and older growing on limestone. Another brilliant producer is Jochen Dreissigacker, whose similar ambition is to ‘take something good and make it truly excellent’. A case in point is his 2013 Organic Riesling Trocken.
del Monego recommends:
- Weingut Dreissigacker, Geyersberg Riesling Trocken, Rheinhessen, Germany 2012
- Weingut Stefan Winter, Dittelsheimer Riesling Trocken, Rheinhessen, Germany 2013