Tasting the wines of Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt
Last week I met Annegret Reh-Gartner who is the managing director of Weingut Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt. She was at MacArthur Beverages pouring six different wines. Annegret is clearly enthusiastic about her estate and has a warm, approachable personality. Upon returning to Germany she immediately sent me additional information about the wines I tasted then proceeded to answer my various questions. My particular favorites were the 2010 Scharzhofberger, Riesling Kabinett and the 2010 Josephshofer, Riesling Spatlese. These two wines were drinking very well but also have the ability to age for many years. The Nies’Chen GG and the Josephshofer, Riesling Kabinett are my next two picks. The Nies’Chen GG will benefit from age but shows many attractive aspects right now. The Josephshofer, Riesling Kabinett has an outgoing personality revealed through its nose which was a pleasure to smell. With wines produced from such diverse holdings there is bound to be a glass for everyone.
Weingut Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt has a particularly long history dating back to the mid-14th century when the von Kesselstatt family immigrated to Trier and purchased a vineyard. Johann von Kesselstatt shortly became responsible for the cellars and overall housekeeping of the elector of Trier in 1362. Thirty years later Johann’s son, Friedrich I. von Kesselstatt became court sommelier. In 1776 the Kesselstatt’s were elevated to Reichsgrafen, Imperial counts, by Emperor Josef II. When the elector of Trier issued an edict in 1787 requiring inferior “Rhine varietals” to be replaced by “better grapes” he followed suit by requiring all of their tenant-growers to plant only “pure green Riesling”. In the 19th century four former monasteries of St. Maximin along with their vineyards were purchased. These holdings in the Mosel, Saar, and Ruwer valleys still comprise the estate today.
In 1978 Annegret’s grandfather, Gunther Reh, purchased Weingut Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt. Five years later in 1983 Annegret started directing the estate. She has reduced the estate size such that there are 12 hectares of vineyards in each of the Mosel, Saar, and Ruwer. This has allowed better vineyard management and adaptation to increasing temperatures.
We tasted six wines representing Josephshofer and Piesporter Goldtropfchen in the Mosel, Scharzhofberger in the Saar, and Kaseler Nies’chen in the Ruwer. The 3.8 hectare Josephshofer vineyard is solely owned. It is located between Wehlener Sonnenuhr and Graacher Domprobst. The vines are located on a steep slope at 60-70 degrees. The heavy soils are deep, weathered Devonian slate with fine earth. These wines bear labels based on those used in the 1870s. The 4.5 hectare Piesporter Goldtropfchen vineyard is located at a bend in the river. The vines are located on slops at 60 degrees. The soils are of shallow, weathered gray slate. The 6.6 hectare Scharzhofberg vineyard is located on a side valley in the Saar. The vines are located on a slope of 35-60% with soils of loess and coarse gray and reddish slate. The 4.4 hectare Kaseler Nies’chen vineyard is located on a slope of 60% with soils of slab, hard blue slate.
I typically drink Pradikat wines designated as Kabinett, Spatlese, and Auslese. The Pradikat classification is based on the must-weight or sugar content of the juice. Two of the wines we tasted are Grosses Gewachs “GG” or “Great Growth.” This is a designation used for dry wines produced from the highest-quality sites. GG is a designation used by members of the Verband Deutscher Pradikats “VDP”. The VDP is a century old organization that promotes more stringent requirements and today has over 200 top estates as members. Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt is a member of the VDP Grosser Ring. In producing GG wines Annegret chooses parcels of older vines where management produces the required lower yields. Clusters are parted in half and three weeks prior to harvest leaves are trimmed on the shady side to prevent botrytis. While all of Annegret’s wines are fermented in stainless steel tanks using indigenous yeasts, her GG wines see some traditional wood. While this varies based on site and vintage the Josephshofer sees 40-50% wood with the Scharzhofberger and Nies’Chen 20-30%.
2010 Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt, Scharzhofberger GG, Saar
Alcohol 11.5 %, Residual Sugar 9.0 g/l, and Acidity 7.3 g/l. The nose was lifted with honeyed notes and delicate texture. In the mouth the flavors started with a honeyed texture before the first hints of minerals developed. There was a smooth texture as the wine straightened out with controlled breadth and a tart aftertaste. I would cellar this before drinking again.
2010 Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt, Nies’chen GG, Ruwer
Alcohol 11.5 %, Residual Sugar 9.0 g/l, and Acidity 6.7 g/l. There was a nose of darker, precise fruit, yellow peach, and minerals. In the mouth the fruit had a good mouthfeel, felt cooler as it mixed with minerals and low-lying notes of honey along with brighter acidity. There was a long finish. More approachable than the Scharzhofberger GG, I would be curious to try this good wine in several years.
2010 Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt, Josephshofer, Riesling Kabinett, Mosel
Alcohol 11.0 %, Residual Sugar 20.4 g/l, and Acidity 7.7 g/l. Aromas of delicate florals with hints of stone immediately started to jump out of the glass. The flavors start with a bit of an attack beffore riper fruit develops, chewy in nature. Though the wine is richer in the mouth there is a delicate and refreshing aftertaste. A good wine that entices you with its nose.
2010 Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt, Scharzhofberger, Riesling Kabinett, Saar
Alcohol 10.5 %, Residual Sugar 23.7 g/l, and Acidity 7.6 g/l. The restrained nose reveals ripe and floral aromas. In the mouth there are ample notes of stones with big and lively flavors on the tongue. Yellow fruit and spice come out in the aftertaste. I liked this wine a lot and expect it will be long-lived. Very good.
2010 Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt, Piesporter Goldtropfchen, Riesling Kabinett, Mosel
Alcohol 10.0 %, Residual Sugar 46.4 g/l, and Acidity 9.3 g/l. The restrained nose makes way to a rich, sweeter mouth of citrus fruit and lower-lying acidity. This is fruit driven.
2010 Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt, Josephshofer, Riesling Spatlese, Mosel
Alcohol 7.5%, Residual Sugar 80.5 g/l, and Acidity 9.8 g/l. The nose reveals finely textured, lithe yellow fruit. In the mouth there were tropical fruit flavors, not too overt, stones, a racy finish then white peaches and sweet spices in the aftertaste. Compelling now but this balanced wine should develop for some time. Very good.