Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Riesling from the flats

Traditionally, the eastern slopes of the Haardt range are the undisputed cradle of quality wine-growing in the Pfalz. In contrast, much of the vineyard area further east on the Rhine valley rightly or wrongly used to be tainted by the bad old days of Liebfraumilch. Thankfully, this is virtually no longer the case, now that the latest generation of young local vintners have begun to eke out the best possible wines from the specific micro-climates and myriad soil formations at their doorstep. Hence, what was previously regarded as cabbage-patch land is now lauded for its sandstone, gravel or loess underfoot.

While at Hofgut Gönnheim, my attention was drawn to their small wine list comprising affordable estate-bottled Rieslings, Chardonnays and Pinot Blancs. Frau Jaus, who runs the guest house, told me her favourite in their collection was the Weissburgunder Spätlese trocken. I bought a bottle of that and one of the following Riesling:

Hofgut Gönnheim, Gönnheimer Sonnenberg, Riesling Spätlese trocken 2008, Pfalz
For a rare map showing the exact location of the vineyard, click here. However, I have no idea what soil formations are underfoot in Gönnheimer Sonnenberg. Lovely golden hue, but quite reticent in all respects on the first evening. Thankfully, it had opened up by the second day. Well-structured aromas of citrus and a distinctive honey (or rhubarb?) note. A crunchy citrusy acidity on the palate that counterbalances the stone fruit and minerals. Bone dry in taste, if not on paper. The wine has a pleasant freshness and honesty that deserves respect. With no pretensions to complexity but no lack of character, this is a snip at EUR 5.90.

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