Sunday, February 21, 2010

Schloss Johannisberg Riesling Erstes Gewächs 2007

Just when I thought I had the German wine classification system all figured out, along comes this: a German 'first growth' from the Rheingau region.

A friend brought this over from a recent business trip to Frankfurt, purchased from a wine shop in the airport. While we were opening the bottle, I remarked that the label didn't specify what the ripeness level was (i.e. Kabinett, Spatlese, etc). It turns out that this wine uses a new classification system designed to simplify the choice for the consumer. "Erstes Gewächs" literally means "first growth" and indicates a wine of superior quality that meets stringent standards, is dry, and is made from a traditional grape variety. "Erstes Gewächs" is specific to the Rheingau region, and there are other designations for other regions. An explanation of all this can be found here.

The producer, Schloss Johannisberg, is a pioneer in the production of late harvest wines, and its coloured neck capsules which indicate ripeness level of the grapes used for the wine formed the basis of the German wine classification in 1971. In this case the capsule was silver, indicating "Erstes Gewächs", which confusingly doesn't indicate a ripeness level but instead a quality level.

Onto the wine. In truth, we found it underwhelming. It had good acidity and mouthfeel, but seemed very mild and lacking in concentrated flavours. It was a young wine (2007) - perhaps it needed more bottle age to develop? I think my friend paid about €40 for it, which possibly raised the expectations a little bit.

Riesling "Erstes Gewächs" 2007
Rheingau, Germany


  1. Hi Tim...
    to be honest... I head for the Pfalz or Nahe when I want top German Riesling...but the Rheingau has some great estates. This one was 2009.. to have the best selection in Germany. The vintage is excellent...but at this age they are like a confused teenager...the beauty hidden behind all those to speak.
    Did you give it a long airing...believe me..a decant overnight benefits them tremendously.
    As to the price...a little more than normal..Airport prices no doubt.

  2. Hi Barry,

    No we just opened it and drank it with a minimum of ceremony, and perhaps that was the problem. Thanks for the tips - will remember for next time!