TheWineRambler "A German wine label is one of the things life's too short for" - Kingsley Amis



Leitz, Rüdesheimer Riesling trocken, 2010

Posted by Torsten 07 Nov 2012

When I woke up this morning to the news of Barack Obama being re-elected I immediately realised how I had to write tonight's Riesling review. It would have to be about expectation management. This is something the 44th President of the United States would have a lot to say about as the disappointment some Democrats seem to feel towards him originated from perhaps unrealistically high expectations in his first presidency. Expectation management goes beyond politics of course and I suspect all of us will have been disappointed in something or someone when actually their only "failure" was not to have fulfilled our expectations.

Film is an area where I suffer from this effect occasionally, despite struggling not to be infected by the most recent hype. It also happens with regards to wine, but to me as a Wine Rambler it poses a more serious issue. How can we ensure not to be negatively influenced by our expectations? And this is how the poor, innocent Rheingau Riesling gets dragged into this malarkey.

Now, when I say "negatively" this obviously goes both ways. You can praise a wine too much because it turned out much better than you had hoped. This would be unfair against the reader who after a rave review expects something mind-blowing and "just" ends up with a good wine. If on the other hand you criticise a wine because it happens not to be what you expected it would also be unfair against the winemaker (and the wine, for those of you who care about discriminating against liquids). What's the solution, you may ask? Well, either to be so very professional that this will never happen to you. Or just be frank about it and let the reader draw their own conclusions. Knowing my limitations I prefer the latter approach.

I had been looking forward to writing this review for quite a while. After all this would be the first wine made by Johannes Leitz to be reviewed on the Wine Rambler, and to me that was both about closing a gap and looking forward to something exciting. Johannes Leitz is a third generation winemaker from the Rheingau who over the last 25 years has grown a tiny 2ha family vineyard to almost 40ha and much national and international acclaim. He is one of the few top German winemakers whose wines you will occasionally find in UK supermarkets and large wine retailers, and I particular applaud his marketing. One of his export wines for instance is called "Eins, Zwei, Dry" and I remember reading bad puns of the style I really like on Leitz labels ("unscrew the cap and turn on the Leitz" (a pun that works better for those who can pronounce his second name correctly so that it sounds almost like "lights")).

To cut an even longer story short, I was really looking forward to an exciting wine, especially from the interesting 2010 vintage, but what I found was "just" a good, very drinkable Riesling. The bouquet felt calm, in the sense that nothing much stood out or drew my attention; just a pleasant if at first a little closed mix of lime-citrus tingle, yellow fruit, apricot and pear plus a hint of vegetable. Nice, good in fact but also not exactly remarkable. On the tongue the Riesling started with juicy, sweeter fruity moments, soon brought out menthol herb freshness and then turned more decidedly dry in a finish of lime and a touch of salty with light mineral. Fresh out of my very cold fridge (a squid was awaiting its fate in there) the Riesling overall felt a little closed and even after an hour or so it could have done with more punch and precision of the fruit. Initially this made me hope it would really open up on the second day (part of my best practice guide for wine tasters would be to taste wine over at least two days to give the more complex ones a better chance) but there was not much change.

Overall we are still looking at a very decent wine that many will enjoy, although I think in the price range there are clearly more exciting wines available. This is probably as objective as I can be, but what I really want to say is that from Leitz I had hoped for more. We will see how I will fare with future Leitz wines, and of course how Barack Obama will handle the expectations on his second term.

So Leitz

I have had a number of Leitz's wines and I was of the impression that his basic/lower-end wines are ok, but nothing to write home about. Therefore your review didn't really come as a surprise.

However, starting from his Magic Mountain, there's plenty to write home about. I suggest you try and source these. Even though I not approve of calling a wine like one of Disneyland's attractions.


Magic Mountain

The only other Leitz wine I have had was the "Eins, Zwei, Dry" which, a few years ago, I really liked, especially for the price. It would be a shame if the basic Leitz wines did not quite deliver, but I guess I will have to try some of the single vineyard wines. I wonder whether Leitz was aware of the Disney attraction? I first thought of Mann's novel of the same name, but that probably was not the inspiration here...


M&M 2

Yes, whereas I have admittedly not yet come around in trying one of his single estate wines, since the M&M is a cuvée of his single estate wines. Price wise I find the Singles to be tricky, which are in the 22-35 EUR range.


You are right, that is not

You are right, that is not the price range for everyday drinking - but if it looks promising it could be treat for a special occasion. Having said that, a former boss of mine used to say "A good Riesling is by itself an occasion to celebrate." I will keep my eyes peeled for MM in London wine shops. Thanks for your comments!


I can't get too excited about

I can't get too excited about Rheingau wines in general.

I had a guest yesterday who was horrified that we only had Riesling from Rheinhessen and Pfalz by the glass. I had a fruitless conversation with him about how I think those two regions are much more interesting and dynamic. The prospect of drinking a non-Rheingau Riesling was apparently so awful that he took a Silvaner instead.

There's a certain market for Leitz, and Robert Weil for that matter, Americans. Not bad wines but missing that wow factor for me. I have a bit of the same feeling with Ernst Loosen, is it just the ubiquity??


Rheingau

Nice to hear from you, Andrew! There are some excellent Rheingau producers that I would not want to miss, especially Peter Jakob Kühn - one of my absolute favourites - and Künstler - also excellent. Having said that as a region I find the Pfalz much more exciting, and not just for Riesling. It has become one of my favourite wine regions, not only in Germany and not only for Riesling. How someone would turn a Pfalz Riesling down simply based on the origin is beyond me, but we all have our preferences. Rheinhessen might still sound like a cheap bulk wine region for some, probably the same people who assume that the Rheingau still has the same place it did a hundred years ago...

Anyway, I agree on the Loosen factor. In London it is very hard, almost impossible, to avoid him. As you say they are decent wines, some very good ones in fact, but I get bored by seeing the same name on every restaurant wine list as if Germany was only defined by Loosen (lower price range restaurant) or JJ Prüm (the inevitable Auslese in a fancy restaurant - having said that if it was not so very expensive I'd happily take a Prüm Auslese, thank you).

Even so I will have to seek out a single vineyard Leitz wine at some point to tick that box!