Riesling is one of the greatest and most versatile grape varieties, producing not just high-quality dry wines but also luscious sweet wines. No one produces Rieslings better than Germany but there are misconceptions that German Riesling is too sweet and too complicated to understand. There has been a quiet revolution amongst German Riesling producers to change those perceptions and to elevate the quality of German Rieslings. A younger generation is taking Germany by storm and they are producing complex, terroir-driven wines with zippy acidity and distinct minerality.
I had the opportunity to chat and taste with three extraordinarily talented producers from Germany that are part of Generation Riesling. Generation Riesling is a group of young dynamic producers under the age of 35, a group of forward-thinking winemakers that are taking the stuffiness out of the wine world. Many of them are taking over their family vineyards and are working on the future of Riesling. This new generation is here to upgrade the perception of German Rieslings by making a more modern style of Riesling without compromising century-old traditions.
Meet Katharina Fladung of Allendorf – Rheingau
Katharina Fladung shares a unique and long history with Allendorf. She is an adopted member of the Allendorf family. The Allendorf family supported Katharina in her quest to become the Wine Queen of her town and later when she became the Wine Queen of Rheingau and German Wine Princess. Thankful for all the support from the Allendorf family, she decided to work for them and help them grow.
Save Water Drink Drink Riesling Allendorf Dry 2018 – The label for this wine is cheeky, eyecatching, and easy. It is meant to make wine a lighthearted topic, as many are scared to talk about wine. Katharina says, “you don’t need to know anything about wine, to drink wine”. Traditional German wine labels have so much information that they can be intimidating and so many don’t end up drinking the wines.
Allendorf is a high-profile estate in Rheingau. This estate-bottled Riesling is supple, juicy, and inviting. A handcrafted wine that is uncomplicated and of high quality. Moderate alcohol, firm structure with a citrusy finish, and a hint of appealing peachy fruit is the perfect palate quencher.
Meet Sophie Christmann of Weingut A. Christmann – Pfalz
Sophie Christmann is the 9th generation of the Christmann family dedicated to winemaking. Sophie has a degree in viticulture and enology and she is her father’s(Steffen) apprentice and right hand. Sophie explains that during the lockdown, the Christmann family had time to reflect on their future and their strategy. They are committed to winegrowing and winemaking, but they have decided to make less wine but only of the highest quality.
The Christmann’s believe you can only make the best wines from the varieties that you truly love. They are removing vines of those grape varieties that they are not as passionate about. In its place, they are planting more Riesling. Sophie says Riesling is in their blood and it is a variety that belongs to this region. The family has acquired new vineyards in Neustadt that are rich in shell-limestone soil. Here Sophie plans to plant more Pinot Noir, emphasizing that she only wants to grow grape varieties that she is passionate about.
A. Christmann Riesling Trocken Pfalz 2018 – This estate Riesling, exemplifies Christmann’s family philosophy of producing only high-quality wine. The grapes are farmed biodynamically and handpicked. This is a tight, clean, and dry Riesling on the palate. It is savory, linear, and mineral-driven with a hint of umami. It is a fantastic wine to drink on its own but also has the complexity to pair with foods like cheeses, salads, and seafood.
Meet Philipp Kettern of Weingut Lothar Kettern – Mosel
Philipp Kettern is the winemaker at Weingut Lothar Kettern. The estate named after his father has a history of producing wine that dates back over 200 years. Philipp took over winemaking in 2009 and is pushing the envelope with his Rieslings, where he is producing classic Mosel-style wines. He produces wines in his own modern way, but retaining the high-quality, traditional-style he has inherited.
In 2016, Philipp endeavored on a new project with Daniel Niepoort from Portugal. Together they are making wines the way they were made 100 years ago; aging wines over a year on yeast, bottling unfiltered no or very low sulfur. Philipp is a renegade of sorts, making low intervention wines with traditional winemaking techniques.
Weingut Lothar Kettern Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Kabinett 2018 – This is a classic Mosel Riesling that is delicate and superbly crafted. There is great balance of fruit, with a salty, savory, mineral finish. What is especially remarkable about this wine is the alcohol. At only 8.5% alcohol this wine purely expresses the fruit. Philipp believes that Rieslings do not need high alcohol to be expressive.
Germany’s Riesling Revolution
Germany has typically pushed for ripeness and accumulation of power and weight in their style of wines. The focus is shifting to terroir-driven wines with Rieslings that deliver a more delicate and ethereal style. The modern-day Rieslings are dry and lighter in alcohol with depth of fruit, complexity, and personality.
These three producers reflect a passion for Riesling. All three wines are incredible yet different and unique. Riesling is a grape variety that you can make in many styles, from dry to sweet, to sparkling, to orange and Pét-Nat. Be prepared to enjoy Rieslings that are crisp and lean with low alcohol and branding that is easier to comprehend.
Cheers To Drinking More German Rieslings…..