From 2014 Germany: Riesling Resists Rain on the Rhine

Vinous · Mai 2016

By David Schildknecht. Tasting date: September 2015


2014 STEINBUCKEL GG Riesling: “This originates in a breezy site with heavy limestone under its loess and one which normally demands late picking. It turned out with even a bit less alcohol in 2014 than the corresponding Mandelpfad, even after the yeasts burned through a bit more sugar, and the buoyancy and animation on tap here are delightful. Scents of apple and quince mingle fresh and distilled elements but the glossy palate is infectiously juicy. Lavender lends aromatic and palate pungency and toasted sesame seed fascinating piquancy, while chalk and crushed stone serve to underscore by contrast the luscious ripeness of this Riesling's fruit. The long finish genuinely refreshes and uplifts in a manner too seldom encountered among Grosse Gewächse. “This bottling is usually really closed during its first year in bottle,” remarked Werner Knipser, “but not the 2014.” (The Knipsers’ portion of Steinbuckel is known as, and was in some vintages labeled, “Mandelberg”- a bit confusing since they also have Riesling in the Einzellage Mandelpfad and the Pfalz hosts many Mandelbergs.) 93 points"

2014 MANDELPFAD GG Riesling: “The very gently sloping southern-exposed Mandelpfad keeps out cool breezes from the westerly Donnersberg, but in this vintage its Riesling finished with a modest 12.6% alcohol and animating acidity. Lusciously juicy white peach and grapefruit are perfumed by honeysuckle and orange blossom and underlain with chalk on a polished palate. A cider-like twang of apple and apple skin along with piquant grapefruit rind inform an energetic and invigorating finish of impressive sheer persistence. (For therecord-and for comparison with some bottlings from earlier vintages that were so labeled-the Knipsers’ portion of the Mandelpfad is known as Himmelreich.) 92 points”

2011 Laumersheimer Kapellenberg Riesling: “The sandy Kapellenberg is perfectly suited to achieve a dry Riesling that displays fascinating interplay of salty and subtly crustacean nuances with infectiously juicy, ripe fruit, yet at under 12% finished alcohol, all of which explains why the Knipsers call it “Kapellenberg Kabinett Trocken” (but not for long if the VDP has its collective way, for more about which consult my introduction to this estate). In this instance, white peach, grapefruit and white currant are garlanded with lily-of-the-valley, and along with the aforementioned mineral stimulations, the consummately refreshing finish features seed-crunching invigoration and tenacious sheer persistence. Forget the next sip: this calls forth the next bottle! 91 points”

2011 Chardonnay***: “This bottling largely from the Im Grossen Garten vineyard spent three years in barrel, and some years a “four star” lot spends five. Here is one of those Knipser experiments of which I was predisposed to be skeptical; then it delivered a “wow!” experience. Skipping to the chase: I have never before tasted a German Chardonnay remotely so Burgundian or elegantly complex. Sweetly floral heliotrope and buddleia perfume mingle with anticipations of the apple and candied lime peel that go on to expansively inform a silky, almost buttered pastry-like palate. Chalky undertones lend further interest to a long, still-floral finish that at once soothes and refreshingly stimulates. (I intentionally avoid naming names when it comes to obtrusive barrels, but credit is due these, which were low-toast Taransaud.) 91 points”

2015 Kalkmergel Silvaner: “A pretty nose features pear, sweet corn, hay and freshly milled grains that then migrate to a polished palate allied to Riesling-like juicy citricity characteristic for this typically low-acid grape in 2014. Chalky and subtly but mouthwateringly saline notes inform a long and refreshing finish. This brilliant success and ridiculously good value was matured in large oaken oval. 90 points”

2011 Syrah Reserve: „A nose of Maine blueberry is strikingly garlanded in bittersweet floral perfume, if also touched by smoky notes from toasted oak. There is also a Cornas-like suggestion of raw beef liver that becomes more prominent on the wine’s polished and juicy mid-palate. An unexpectedly tart touch of rhubarb as well as a bit of oak resin insert themselves into the seriously sustained finish, in which, however, I miss the mouthwateringly saline savor that is delivered by a couple of this vintage’s Knipser Pinot Noirs. I am basing my estimation of ageability in part on how youthfully impressive the more savory 2009 Syrah showed when tasted alongside this 2011. 89 points”

2011 MANDELPFAD GG Spätburgunder: “From the Mandelpfad’s core vineyard Himmelreich (whose name for a time appeared on Knipser labels), this reflects its sheltered, gently southfacing location in a riper personality than that of the corresponding Kirschgarten. Scents of morello cherry and smoked meat usher in a slightly grainy palate of considerable fruit richness, with saliva-inducing salinity that persists into the sustained, lightly oak-inflected finish. 90 points”

2010 Spätburgunder Reserve: “Representing a bottling that comes onto the market one year behind the Knipsers' red Grosse Gewächse and consists of a small blend across promising barrels, this displays delightfully ripe and juicy cherry and red raspberry fruit on a polished, sappy palate, underlain by fascinating notes of woodsy underbrush. Subtle salinity lends saliva inducement to a long and genuinely refreshing as well as animated finish. (In 2009, an inaugural “RDP”--“Réserve du Patron”--Pinot Noir was bottled, and there are successors from 2013 and 2012, neither of which I have tasted from bottle.) 90 points”

2011 KIRSCHGARTEN GG Spätburgunder: “Assembled from mature vines in numerous water-retentive, active limerich parcels representing more than one formerly distinct, named vineyard, this leads with a fascinating nose of sour cherry and lingonberry with a sardine-like saline and animal overtone, all of which translate on a polished palate to animating juiciness, mouthwatering savor and genuine intrigue. This bottling’s 13.7% alcohol engenders neither heat nor heaviness. A long finish betrays a hint of detached oak influence but there is more than enough juiciness not to mention saliva inducement. The personality here is utterly distinct from that of the corresponding generic. 91 points”


Weingut Knipser
Hauptstraße 47
D-67229 Laumersheim/Pfalz
Tel 06238.742 Fax 06238.4377


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Weingut Knipser
Hauptstraße 47
D-67229 Laumersheim/Pfalz
Tel +49.6238.742 Fax +49.6238.4377

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