Once upon a time, a real long time ago, Rheinhessen wasn’t cool at all. The word as such was almost an insult back then, before the new dawn broke with all the wonderful, adventurous young wine producers we take for granted nowadays… However, there was some excellent wine, above all Riesling, and it grew where the Rhine flows along steep terraces with deep red soil, between Nierstein and Nackenheim, on the so-called Roter Hang.
Great wines are still being produced on those terraces, and although there are some other good producers, my favourite ones have to be Gunderloch in Nackenheim and Kühling-Gillot in Bodenheim, directly north of it. Both of them have vineyards in Nackenheim as well as Nierstein, and a recent tasting showed that 2012 was a great year for them. If you manage to forget them in a dark cool corner, the GG top wines will be good for a long, long time. In fact they need quite some time to unfold all that deep complexity, their mineral muscles. So if you can, get hold of some Pettenthal and Rothenberg from both producers and squirrel them away.
But don’t forget Kühling-Gillot’s Ölberg! I always found that Nierstein site something special, as it turns away from the river. The wines tend to taste somewhat fuller and mature particularly well with some residual sweetness. To be completely honest, until very recently I was convinced that Ölberg only really worked with some sweetness. Well, herewith I admit I was wrong: Carolin Gillot’s Ölberg is dry, and it is one of the most elegant, unpretentious and focussed wines I’ve tasted from Nierstein for a long time.
Oh, you’re disappointed there doesn’t seem to be anything to drink right now? Wait, there is! Both producers made some beautiful village wines in Nierstein and Nackenheim, the former more yellow-orange-red and fullish, the latter a little cooler and reserved. They act like GGs for instant consumption and gratification; in particular Gunderloch’s Nackenheim is approaching perfection. Ok, nothing is ever totally perfect – but some things are so spot on, they are addictive, at least in my books. Step forward, Jean Baptiste, you off-dry, weightless beauty, and let me hug you, feel you, kiss you, drink you, love you…
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