You are using an old browser that may not function as expected.
For a better, safer browsing experience, please upgrade your browser.

Log in Become a Member

On January 28, 2012, the FINE wine magazine invited to the Buchholz top restaurant in Mainz to taste nine vintages of Riesling Großes Gewächs from the Westhofener Kirchspiel of the Keller, Wittmann and Groebe wineries.

The 45 hectare large, yet very homogeneous Kirchspiel opens up in the form of a large amphitheater to the southeast towards the Rhine. Thus, the vineyards, which reach up to an altitude of 150 meters, get sunshine early, although it is missing earlier in the evening. The location is protected from cold west winds, which is extremely beneficial to the microclimate, but nevertheless the Kirchspiel is rather one of the cooler top locations of the region. This is also noticeable in the wines, which show considerably less opulent fruit than the other classified sites of Westhofen. They present themselves rather taut and spicy. The wines get their distinctive minerality from the clay marl with limestone inclusions, limestone weathering loam as well as the subsoil of limestone, which makes up the soil of the Kirchspiel.

Westhofen is one of the largest wine-growing communities in Germany. (Photo: Wonnegau Tourist Association)

The tasting made clear the potential of the best Rieslings from the Kirchspiel in good years. The 2002s from Wittmann and Keller were so fresh and undeveloped that they could just as easily have been mistaken for 2008s, had they not been even more superior in quality. The 2003s from these two top estates were also impressive. They underlined once again that the best wines of this often maligned vintage mature into almost timeless masterpieces.

The 2004s were already very convincing in their youth. Today, above all the wines from Groebe and Keller show what was possible in this inconsistent vintage under good conditions, while the Kirchspiel from Wittmann is currently a little out of shape. One will have to wait a bit to see if it tightens up again with further ripeness. The 2005s taste great all around at the moment, with amazing race and lots of cool minerality for all their power. Whoever has these wines in the cellar should not miss the current phase.

The 2006s are certainly not bad wines, but the difficult vintage, marked by rot, is clearly noticeable. One should probably not give them much more time. The powerful 2007s from Wittmann and Keller are quite different. Although they seem deceptively open and accessible at first, on the palate you quickly notice that they are rather in a developmental phase, which prevents the wines from showing everything they have in them at the moment. Only Fritz Groebe's version might be in its best form right now.

Also the wines of the 2008 vintage seemed to be a little bit mature at the first moment, so that some people already suspected to have 2002s in front of them. Only with a little air the wines showed their youth again. They are less powerful than the 2007s or 2009s, but that is why many Riesling lovers will like them even more. Moreover, one can assume that they will slowly develop towards drinking maturity. Far from it are the 2009s, which come along with their partly almost overripe fruit so completely different from the 2008s. At the moment Wittmann is the most convincing, Keller only hints at what he is capable of. Groebe's example is likely to develop the fastest this year as well and might reach its ideal form as early as by Christmas.

2010 is currently - as expected - completely untouchable. On the one hand, the wines are primary fruity almost to the point of lemonade, but at the same time very firm and closed. Every bottle opened at the moment would be one too many.

The Kirchspiel site faces southeast. (Photo: David Maurer)

The wines were tasted blind in flights of six. In grading, I resort to stars rather than the usual up to 100 points, as I always do when conditions don't seem ideal for accurate scoring.

Here's what the stars mean:

  • ***** Great
  • **** Excellent
  • *** Excellent
  • ** Very Good
  • * Good

2010 Groebe
***+ Somewhat floral-perfumed and lemony nose with herbal notes and hints of peach. Tight and tart fruit in the mouth, present acidity, herbal and mineral tones on the palate, persistent, has tension, still much too young, very good finish.
2013 to 2017+

2010 Cellar
****+ A little reminiscent of Brussels sprouts, green-vegetable nose with citrus aromas, flavors of ripe peach and minerality. Tart, firm and cool in the mouth, still a bit muted, restrained fruit, herbal and earthy tones, tight acidity, has tension and draw, good depth, though seems completely inaccessible at the moment, very mineral, very good finish. Do not touch!
End of 2013 until 2018+

2010 Wittmann
****+ Quite deep, very youthful, undeveloped nose of citrus, apples and peaches with herbal to herbal, subtly floral and mineral notes. Pronounced cool, taut, fine spicy fruit in the mouth, still very slightly muted, has substance, grip and pull, very persistent on the palate, excellent depth, but seems completely closed, very good to long finish. At the moment completely untouchable.
End of 2013 until 2022+

2009 Groebe
*** Cool citrus-peach scent with subtle herbal notes, a touch of cassis and floral nuances. Tight, straightforward, quite juicy fruit in the mouth, fine acidity and some tart minerality, has sweet melting and some power, not eternally deep but very well made, very good, again slightly sweet finish.
End of 2012 until 2017+

2009 Cellar
**** Slightly caramelly nose with aromas of dried yellow fruit with yeasty traces. Melting and relatively juicy in the mouth, again some caramel and also traces of wax, almost overripe fruit, melting on the palate, vegetal flavors, has power and substance, good depth, develops a lot of draw with some air, very good to long finish. Must mature.
2014 to 2020+

2009 Wittmann
**** Clear nose of ripe stone fruit and citrus with mineral and very delicate herbal aromas. Very pure, juicy, again quite ripe fruit with fine, delicate herbal notes in the background, lots of melt but also a lively acid bite, quite mineral on the palate, good depth, has grip and pressure, long, juicy finish.
2013 to 2020+

2008 Groebe
*** Somewhat rustic, herbal scent of candied citrus and a touch of wax. Slightly muted fruit in the mouth, clearly planty-earthy notes, quite present acidity, persistent on the palate, has grip, again seems somewhat rustic, but rather in a positive sense, very good finish.
Until 2015+

2008 Cellar
**** Quite firmly wrought citrus-peach scent with cool vegetal and earthy-mineral tones. Tart fruit in the mouth, vegetal and mineral, present, fine acidity, melting but also bite on the palate, persistent, certain depth, firm construction, very typical, long, again tart finish.
Until 2016+

2008 Wittmann
**** Already a bit open on the nose with delicate candy notes, clear bright fruit, fine vibrant herbal aromas and distinct minerality. Taut and juicy in the mouth, very fine fruit with herbal notes and again a lot of minerality, enormous tension on the palate, very persistent, has traction and depth, long finish.
Until 2017+

2007 Groebe
**** Very slightly matured, restrained citrus-peach scent with light floral notes and fine herbal tones. Also quite slightly matured in the mouth, tightly knit, tart fruit with herbal flavours, persistent on the palate, some depth, has bite and pull, very good finish.
Until 2015+

2007 Cellar
**** Opened, transparent nose of stone fruit with hints of exotic yellow fruit and herbal aromas. Very juicy, ripe, sweet-melting fruit in the mouth, a lot of power and substance, fine acidity, very lively on the palate, has grip, great persistence and depth, seems on the one hand already somewhat developed, but also still has a lot of youthful fat on the ribs, could tighten further with bottle maturity, tart minerality in the background, long finish.
2013 to 2018+

The Grosses Gewächse from Kirchspiel bear the VDP's Erste Lage logo on the bottle. (Photo: VDP)

2007 Wittmann
**** Quite sweet seeming scent of yellow fruit jelly with a hint of wax, herbal to herbal and also mineral tones. Not yet completely composed, somewhat sweetish fruit with present acidity and some tannin, herbal and planty aromas, quite powerful and substantial, very persistent on the palate, gains a lot of tension with some air, good depth, very good to long finish. Must still mature to harmonize.
2013 to 2020+

2006 Groebe
*** Tart, herbal-vegetable and a bit tobaccoic nose with citrus and peach notes, some wax and earthy tones. Sweet melting and again some waxy fruit in the mouth, vegetal notes, fine acid bite, persistent on the palate, very good finish.
Until 2013+

2006 Cellar
*** Somewhat waxy, vegetal and delicately floral nose of citrus and some peach. Quite slightly medicinal and again also waxy in the mouth, tart fruit with matching acidity, not too deep, some power and persistence, good to very good finish.
Until 2013+

2006 Wittmann
** Slightly indifferent and developed nose with vegetal notes and restrained yellow fruity tones. Fruity and vegetal in the mouth, straightforward, with integrated acidity and delicate earthy tones, not too deep and complex, already developed but still good to drink, good finish.

2005 Groebe
**** Quite complex, cool, herbal and clearly herbal as well as somewhat floral nose with restrained yellow fruity notes. Relatively tart in the mouth, herbal and earthy, again rather restrained fruit, fine acidity, persistent, though very slightly muted on the palate, clear minerality, tight construction, very good finish.
Until 2015+

2005 Cellar
**** Firm, distinctly herbaceous citrus-peach scent with mineral notes. Tight, juicy, delicately sweet fruit in the mouth, lively acidity, lots of power on the palate, some alcohol warmth but also cool elements, distinct minerality, lots of substance, very good to long finish.
Until 2016+

2005 Wittmann
***** Lots of ripe stone fruit and candied citrus on the nose, plus herbal aromas and plenty of minerality. Dense and decidedly firm on the palate, tart fruit with taut acidity, very persistent and dense on the palate, Powerful but without any heaviness, deep and layered, tremendous draw, long finish. First class.
Until 2017+

2004 Groebe
**** Tart, yet lively, herbaceous, citrus-peach scent with distinct minerality. Very taut, juicy, densely knitted fruit in the mouth, herbaceous-vegetable tones and lots of minerality, crisp acidity, rather tart style, stimulating, persistent and distinctly typical, very good to long finish.
Until 2016+

2004 Cellar
***** Quite lightly developed, complex and deep nose of very ripe citrus and peaches with herbal and distinct mineral notes. Firm, dense and juicy in the mouth, ripe fruit with fine but present acidity, lots of melt on the palate but also pull and bite, tremendous minerality, grippy, very complex, very long finish. Great.
Until 2018+

2004 Wittmann
***+ Somewhat caramelly aroma of preserved and partly dried yellow fruit with delicate floral and waxy tones and mineral notes in the background. Lush, juicy fruit in the mouth, taut acidity, but also a lot of melt and again a little wax, herbal and clearly earthy-mineral tones on the palate, has bite and grip, but still melts a little in the contours at the moment, seems as if in an intermediate phase, good depth, very good finish.

2003 Groebe
*** Already quite lightly citrus-scented with herbal tones, some reminiscent of sage, and a little peach. Tart fruit in the mouth, delicately herbal and a hint of waxy, fine acidity, medium depth and fairly powerful on the palate, not overly complex but still well made, herbal and mineral notes, very good finish.

2003 Cellar
**** Quite complex, somewhat tobacco and a touch waxy, tart pit and stone fruit nose with distinct mineral notes. Firm, dense and powerful in the mouth, fine acidity, herbal and tobacco aromas, clear minerality, excellent substance and good depth, persistent, well balanced with all power, seems developed and youthful at the same time, very good to long finish.
Until 2017+

2003 Wittmann
**** Cool citrus scent with tart herbal aromas, minerality and some peach. Powerful in the mouth, delicately sweet fruit and herbaceous to tobacco spice, fine acidity, very persistent on the palate, some alcohol warmth but also cool elements, very mineral, excellent depth, seems timeless, very good to long, again delicately sweet finish.
Until 2016+

2002 Grosbe
*** Delicately perfumed, somewhat vegetal citrus nose with more yellow fruity aromas and a bit of wax. Also a bit vegetal and waxy in the mouth, quite clear fruit, lively acidity, some persistence on the palate, not too deep but with grip, very good finish.

2002 Cellar
****+ Still almost undeveloped, tight, yeasty nose of rather bright yellow fruits with mineral and herbal aromas. Dense and juicy in the mouth, clear, lively, youthful fruit, again noticeably yeasty aromas, vegetal notes, persistent, lots of tension and pull, deep and mineral, excellent to long finish.
Until 2018+

2002 Wittmann
***** Taut, still yeasty nose of ripe, partly preserved yellow fruits, rock candy and a bit of cassis. Dense and taut in the mouth, juicy fruit with present acid bite, very persistent on the palate, melting, very complex, deep and decidedly exciting, lots of power, best balance, seems almost youthful, very long finish. Great.
Until 2018+

The Groebe Winery in the Wine Guide

The Keller Winery in the Wine Guide

The Wittmann Winery in the Wine Guide

Related Magazine Articles

View All