Our most read blog is Understanding Grosses Gewachs, but if I were to write a follow up, I would add a section called Giant Killers. Clearly there is good reason as to why most vineyards attract a grand classification, but it’s also true that every year, wines are made that challenge and surpass many a GG.
What follows is a list of giant killers we have drunk over the last six months. But first a reminder about GG’s and some context…
What is a Grosses Gewachs (GG)?
It is important to remember that a wine designated as a GG is not part of a classification framework approved by the German state. GG’s are the pinnacle wines as defined by the VDP, a voluntary association of many of the top German wine producers.
Briefly, a GG wine is always dry, a product of a Grosse Lage (Grand Cru) vineyard and must conform to the requirements of their VDP regional association. Similar to France’s Appellation Controlee, vineyard classification, boundaries, yield, varietal, vinification, labelling requirements and so on are all stipulated and must be adhered to.
Not all great German wine producers are members of the VDP. Julian Haart and Hofgut Falkenstein are just two examples we carry who are not. Julian Haart for example makes wine from some of the most highly regarded Grosse Lage vineyards, but as he is not a member of the VDP, terms like GG will not be seen on his labels. Make no mistake though, the likes of Julian Haart and Hofgut Falkenstein are great wine producers, hence, some of their wines are in this selection of Giant Killers.
One more thing. Sweet wines are often made from Grosse Lage vineyards and are labeled according to their pradikat, as defined by German wine law. For example, Kabinett, Spatlese, Auslese and so on.
The Giant Killers
As GGs are always dry, all the wines we’ve chosen here are also dry or Trocken but they may still carry the term Kabinett, Spatlese, Auslese because they’re defined by their sugar levels – not their level of sweetness.
Aromatic, kummel like herbs, kaffir lime, kiwifruit, green apple and damp leaves. Elegant and filigreed, a wine that is very light, and opens up enormously given some time in the glass. Scintillating, racing and bracing. Mineral, zesty and salty. For all it’s lightness, it’s so complex and detailed. The best “light” white wine you could possibly hope for.
One of the “richest” wines of the Falkenstein stable, but this is so well cut and chiselled. Lemon, lime, apricot marmalade, white flowers, grapefruit, plum and some pine and petrichor notes. Medium bodied, waves of flavours and texture crash over the palate. But like I said, this is chiselled. Very coiled, packed with acidity and the carry, immense. Unbelievable elegance and power. Ethereal Riesling.
Fully expressive and enormously complex. Wafts of peach, paw paw, lemon zest, apricots, ash and violets. Juicy and quite full bodied. Earthy, succulent and luxurious. The flavours are vivid and it actually tastes as it smells. Remarkable character and hedonism for this level and price.
Talk about a Giant Killer. Massive, opulent, full of dry extract. And did I say refined? Elegant too. lavender honey, damp leaves, geranium, nectarine, melon and pine cone. Full bodied and dense, with a brooding feel, making me think that there is so much more to come. Driving mineral finish that is quite frankly, better than just about any GG coming out of the Rheinhessen.
Intense, with all the breadth, power and grandeur we have come to associate with Clemens Busch. Full bodied, with citrus, stone fruits, lemon zest, smoke, nettles a mineral puckering close. Full of dry extract, it’s hard to imagine anyone else getting so much “feel” to the palate, whilst maintaining an astonishing level of clarity. Giant Killer.
The most angular of Peter Lauer’s wines, but not lacking in intensity or interest. Notes of lemon, grapefruit, mandarin, spring jasmine, lavender wood, nettles and mint. Direct attack on the palate, very fine and tensile. Terrific poise and power, with a saline note and that spicy grip on the close. Elegant, refreshing style, nothing forced. Just lovely.
Incredibly intense, rich and supple. Full bodied with stone fruits, dried apricot, herbs and white pepper. Deep, deep core with creamy notes shot through with lemon zest and a silken texture that’s as soft as fresh water. Elegance and power, intensity and restraint. As good as any GG this year.
Another remarkable wine from Muller-Catoir and is certainly the best release we have seen. For all the ripe apricot, peach pear, that is a remarkable elegance and finesse that defines this great vintage. Medium bodied, with an almost claret like poise. Dusting of fresh herbs and gentle spice, with an almost pithy close. Silken in texture, all the elements are wrapped together, not to tight, and are beautifully integrated. This is drinking well now, but the long carry and perfect balance suggest a very long future.
Talk about a giant killer. Rheinhessen’s Morstein makes one of the broadest, densest Rieslings on the planet, and Seehof’s rendition is one of the best. More elegant in style, but wanting for nothing. Citrus, zest, minerals, dried herbs, faint notes of smoke, grapefruit and melon. Bright. Juicy, concentrated and full of tension with ripe, pulpy fruit, sleekly framed, and rippling with acidity. So much muscle, but calm and composed about it. The Chateau Latour of Riesling. SOLD OUT
One of the more powerful dry Rieslings from the Mosel this is as finely cut as it is intense. Notes of nettles, grapefruit, cherry, lemon and preserved lime. Full bodied and dense, with a very deep core of fruit, tingled with herbs and savoury spice. Finely textured with dry extract and a spear of acidity that is present from the front of the palate to the carry. Decades ahead. SOLD OUT