Monday, August 31, 2009

1964 Schloss Johannisberg Spätlese

I suppose you can't live exclusively on champagne. God knows I've tried. I've admittedly had my fair share of champagne since arriving in New York last week, but dining at Hearth with a friend, we decided that riesling was the way to go. After all, any restaurant that declares an annual Summer of Riesling program is a force to be reckoned with.

The plan, then, was something young, something old. Young turned out to be a splendid bottle of 1992 Zilliken Saarburger Rausch Spätlese, still showing loads of fresh fruit flavors but tempered and refined by bottle age. To follow it, the 1964 Spätlese by Schloss Johannisberg in the above photo.

The image of German wine has largely been shaped by the Mosel over the past few decades, but it's always a joy to drink old Rheingau rieslings. I loved how expressive the terroir signature was in this wine, even at 45 years of age, and it was made even more evident by preceding it with a wine from the Saar. There was still plenty of fruit as well, and in fact, about half an hour after opening the bottle the fruit turned downright primary, with remarkable freshness, clarity and length.


Iuli said...

I had an '88 Schloss Johannisburg Kabinett last week. It was kabinett in the truest sense. Racy like no modern riesling is, w/ just enough sweetness to add some suppleness.

It was an outstanding showing from a winery that was supposedly slumping at the end of the '80's. Just some more evidence of the sites magnificence.

vinosseur said...

fantastic Peter!

Nice to read tasting notes on old Rieslings, one of those grapes that keeps going and going and going. I bet that Geltz Zilliken was only just starting to reach it's stride. Wish I could have tasted with you.


Lars said...

Last month I visited Schloss Johannisberg and tasted some very good 2008 dry Riesling from this famous Rheingau estate. Although I cannot read the entire 1964 Schloss Johannisberg Spätlese label in the photo, it is worth noting the designation "Cabinet-Wein." As Peter surely knows, Cabinet was the original spelling and historically denoted in the region a special or reserve bottling.

In the 18th century, at Kloster Eberbach, the Cistercian monks had even designated a locked cabinet room for storing their most valuable wines. With the advent of sterile filtration in the 1950s and greater temperature control, Cabinet began to include sweeter styles. But it was only after the 1971 German Wine Law, did the term change its meaning (lowest level of the Prädikat system) and spelling (Kabinett). Even in its current sense of tasting lighter and more refreshing than a Spätlese from a given producer and vintage, Kabinett can still be fermented dry, off-dry, or sweet, whether from the Mosel, Rheingau, or Pfalz.