Künstler Hochheimer Reichestal Riesling Kabinett 2006
This week my featured wine takes us to the vineyards of the Rheingau, one of the four principle wine regions that lie along the Rhine. The Rheingau is the heartland of the Rhine vines, and of the four regions is perhaps the one that best fulfils our expectation of what a German wine region should look like. The vines are mostly crowded along the right bank of the river on south-facing slopes, looking down upon the waters of the river below, which at this point is more than 800 metres from bank to bank. These vineyards owe their existence to the Taunus hills, a rocky barrier which forces the Rhine to change direction, moving from its north-westerly course to one that runs southwest for about 30 kilometres, before it finally rounds the Rüdesheimer Berg and heads north once more.
This particular wine comes not from these vineyards that look down onto the Rhine, however, but in fact originates from a small outpost of vines which lies someway to the east. A map of this little Rheingau sub-region, which sits on the right bank of the Main, is shown below. The Main is a tributary of the Rhine, the two becoming one just before the Rhine takes its left-turn at the Taunus hills. When it turns north once again there is another union with a better known tributary, the Nahe, so there is a kind of geographical symmetry here.
The topography here is a little different to that found in the heart of the Rheingau, the slopes here being a little more gentle. Nevertheless many elements are the same; these are south-facing slopes, in order to maximise the exposure to the sun's rays, and they benefit from the temperature-moderating effect of the nearby river. They are isolated vineyards, surrounded by town and woodland, nevertheless quality is high and can match the best wines from those vineyards to the west. One testament to the popularity of the wines in years gone by was the patronage of Queen Victoria, who visited the region, an event celebrated in the name of the Königin Victoriaberg vineyard. For more on the region and the vineyards, see my Rheingau wine guide.
And now for the wine itself, the 2006 Hochheimer Reichestal Riesling Kabinett from Künstler, a well-regarded estate. This particular wine is bottled under screwcap, and there is plenty of tartrate sediment in the bottle. In the glass it has a good, pale, green-tinged hue, and this is followed by a delightful nose, full of explosive limes and tight steel, topped with light honey and minerals. The fruit is pure, crystalline and apple-tinged in character. On the palate it is fresh and fleshy, with beautifully tingly acidity throughout the midpalate. It finishes with lovely twists of lime fruit and a touch of caramel without the overt toffee sweetness, although it certainly has an appropriate residual sugar for the prädikat. This is delicious stuff and it will make great summer drinking in coming years. 17+/20 AP number: 40 060 003 07 (12/10/09)