Schloss Johannisberg Masterclass

So there was this tasting, recently, that I was um-ing and ah-ing about attending as it was before work and I need to be focused on other things at the moment and spare time is precious and all the other things that translate into, quite simply, 'I can't be bothered'. It was nothing to do with that tasting in particular, it was just my own laziness.

That was, of course, until I discovered that there was to be a masterclass from one of Germany's oldest wineries. Mentions of the estate date back to the 9th Century (by Charlemagne's grandson) and they claim to have invented the idea of late harvest. They also use the term 'First Growth', a convention started when they noticed that was how Berry Bros. marketed their wines to the UK market. It gave them context, treating them with the same deference as they did top flight Bordeaux which were, at the time, cheaper.

So, yeah. I was really excited to try them. Just to make clear, all of these wines are Rieslings. They don't grow any other varietal.

Schloss Johannisberg Silberlack Erstes Gewachs 2006

Nose of honey, lime, white flowers and rolled oats with spearmint and hints of green apple.

Layered flint on the palate - it hums with energy. Mouth-coating and long with all from the nose coming through on the palate.


Schloss Johannisberg Riesling Gelback 1970

Pale and youthful. Doesn't look 41 years old.

Roasted mint and charred flint on the nose, with a touch of maltiness as well.

Still remarkably fresh and young on the palate - simple perhaps, to a point, but quite beautiful nonetheless. A touch oily but the lime is still zesty and fresh with an energetic, almost electric, flinty grip


After tasting and complimenting, we were informed that 1970 wasn't that great a vintage, and that this was their most basic, entry-level wine from that year. That it showed so well and so youthful in such circumstances blew many a wine-geek mind.

Schloss Johannisberg Grünlack Spätlase 1964

This has the same sort of colour that a 10 year-old Burgundy might have. That it's a 47 year-old Riesling is remarkable.

Burnt flint again, with whiffs of diesel, but also caramel, citrus shortbread and brioche. With a bit of coaxing, a honeyed sweetness comes through on the nose as well.

Gently explosive, with confit limes, clarified butter, flinty spiciness with that gripping electric hum zinging through from start to finish. Superbly elegant.


Schloss Johannisberg Grünlack Spätlase 1975

Rich, gorgeous nose - there's confit lemons, limes and toffee apples, all coated in manuka honey.

Such harmony on the palate - it starts big and brash, with floral honey and then that rich confit lime comes in and draws it all through with flint, toffee apple skin and more honey, all becoming more and more gentle as it passes onto an ephemeral finish. Age has consumed any overt sweetness and left something far more complex and compelling.


Schloss Johannisberg Grünlack Spätlase 1996

Woah. Quite brash on the nose - curried limes and mango chutney.

The palate is wild and exotic. All that eastern spice is there, but kept in check by that brisk acidity. Fun.


Schloss Johannisberg Grünlack Spätlase 2007

Young and minty on the nose with limes and white flower petals.

So pleasing on the palate - rich but elegant with moreish, balanced sweetness. Beautifully clean and long. Still very young.


Tasted 12 May 2011