Weingut Wittmann – a vertical Grand Cru tasting
Another shining beacon that stands out in a sea of Liebfraumilch in the Rheinhessen area, the wines from Weingut Wittmann exude quality. Philipp Wittmann came to London last month to give us a vertical tasting of his Grosse Lage (Grand Cru) wines from his three top vineyards.
Farming organically since 1990 and being completely biodynamic since 2004, the Wittmanns are serious producers of top quality wines with an enormous attention to detail in producing them. 75% of the vines are planted to Riesling, with 15% Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris and 10% Silvaner. Although sweet wines are produced, the concentration is on dry table wines of outstanding quality. Vines are grown on chalky soil and a long hanging time is exercised in order to improve intensity, complexity and length. However, Philipp believes that too much ripeness can lead to a loss of elegance, so careful attention has to be paid to getting the harvest time right.
We tasted three dry wines from different vintages from his top vineyards – Aulerde, Kirchspiel and Morstein. Here it should be noted that Philipp is not looking for a “House” universal style but wants to let each vintage speak for itself in diversity of style. As a general rule, Aulerde produces riper wines, Kirchspiel spicier wines and Morstein more elegant wines although the wines from there are much slower in development.
The 2015 dry Riesling from Aulerde was really quite ripe already although still young whilst the 2013 was a little more austere. The 2009, however, was nicely developed displaying nuances of honey and a little botrytis. The Kirchspiel wines were certainly more spicy, with both the 2015 and the 2012 showing complexity and length. Again with age – the 2008 brought out more sugars on the palate. And the ageing of the dry wines is noticeable for bringing out more sweetness with the 1989 Morstein quite dramatically so, although this might have been a bit atypical. Certainly the Morstein 2015 and 2011 had the most finesse with the 2011 a step up in complexity – this was certainly the star of the tasting.
Whilst there was a significant diversity in styles from each vintage from each vineyard all the wines in their own way merited between 3.5 and 4.5 stars on the Wine behind the label rating system. This is a serious and dedicated estate which should be better known. The estate’s UK importers are The Wine Barn and further information can be found on their website at www.winebarn.co.uk.