Why is this Wine so Yummy?
“The famous blue label of the estate has become the symbol of the highest quality of German wines. Only a few wine estates can boast such a continual and high level of overall quality.”
Michel Bettane and Thierry Desseauve, Great Wines of the World
“Weil is widely seen as the jewel of Rheingau.” Jancis Robinson, The Financial Times
“Robert Weil has been one of the icons of German wine culture for many years. Nothing but the finest Rieslings are produced. And as more than 100 years ago, the wines are distinguished in terms of their origins and their style.”
Stephan Reinhardt, The Finest Wines of Germany
“The style of Robert Weil wines is unmistakable […] mineral, citrus-fruit flavor in the dry wines with no angular acidity and a crescendo of concentration and white peach fruit in the sweet wines.”
Freddy Price, Riesling Renaissance
The Rheingau wines of Robert Weil have reached well beyond cult status and today are revered across the globe as some of Germany’s most superlative Rieslings. Based in the town of Kiedrich, Weil’s wines are fuelled by the three epic, high altitude, south facing vineyards of Klosterberg, Turmberg and most famously, Gräfenberg, all situated in the foothills of the Taunus Mountains. From these historic sites, Wilhelm Weil, a pioneer of ‘earth to glass’ wine growing, guides Rheingau Riesling to its most seamless, precise expression and in doing so produces some of the world’s most inspirational Rieslings.
While Wilhelm Weil’s meticulous, everything by hand, berry by berry, approach, is a key factor in understanding the remarkable precision of these wines, it is, as always, the vineyards that dictate the ultimate quality and personality of the wines produced. These steep, stony, mineral rich vineyards are managed in order to maximise their terroir. Herbicides are never used, and as the aim here is to encourage life in the soil, only organic manure is applied and cover crops are grown to add to the organic matter. Grapes are harvested by hand with as many as 17 passes through the vineyard, ensuring only the most pristine and perfectly ripe grapes make it into each wine. In the winery all fruit receives a pre-ferment maceration, typically between 6-24 hours (or a lengthy 72 hours for the Erstes Gewächs). There is a very gentle pressing of whole berries, the musts are allowed to start fermenting naturally and spend varying time on lees subject to the cuvée.
The Rheingau was historically Germany’s most revered vineyard region and once produced the world’s most expensive wines. You only need to glance at a wine map of Germany to see why. This is Riesling’s Côte d’Or; a series of sheer, south facing, rocky slopes that maximise exposure to the sun and protect the vines from the bitter northern winds. It is this confluence of natural elements that enables Riesling to perfectly ripen at this very marginal, northern climate. With some of the highest (up to 780 ft ASL) and most revered vineyards in the region, Robert Weil is today the superstar of the Rheingau.
The 2017 Vintage at Weingut Robert Weil
Nature giveth and nature taketh.
The extreme challenges of this vintage brought out the best in our Kiedrich vineyards.
It was bitter cold in the early days of 2017, but we used it our advantage. On one of the chilliest nights, with the thermometer showing an icy -10 °C, we brought in an excellent quality 2016 ice wine.
But how quickly things change. February, March and the initial days of April were warm enough to bring about bud break in mid-April — a full 2 weeks earlier than the long-standing average.
This early schedule, however, significantly increased the risk of one of any winemaker’s great fears: spring frost. And sure enough, late April saw a hard cold snap sweep through the Rheingau, hitting many of the region’s vineyards. The hillside vineyards in Kiedrich are fortunately ideal at guiding away the cold air, leaving our vines mercifully undamaged.
In mid-May the pendulum swung back, delivering summer-like temperatures that induced the onset of flowering by early June.
A relatively uniform fruitset continued without coulure, and the Kiedrich vineyards blossomed in all their glory.
During the night of 31 July, severe thunderstorms with heavy hail and winds swept throughout the Rheingau, hitting the middle Rheingau particularly hard.
Once again, the Kiedrich vineyards escaped without any significant damage.
By 10 August, our ripening Riesling grapes were approximately two weeks earlier than the historical average.
Thanks to intensive vineyard management throughout August and September, the grapes remained healthy and by late September had reached a perfect physiological ripeness.
The grapes were quickly harvested to must readings of 80 °Oe and a fine, ripe acidity … Perfect estate and village level wines. Hang times into mid-October delivered grapes measuring 90 °Oe degrees, optimal readings for the top dry wines in our best vineyards.
Spätlese and Auslese selection began immediately thereafter, while the selection process for our grand Beerenauslese and Trockenbeerenauslese fruit followed to great anticipation in late October. The 2017 vintage thus represents the 29th — and counting — straight vintage where all three levels of naturally sweet wines (Auslese, BA, TBA) were harvested at Weingut Robert Weil.
And so one of the most intense, challenging and capricious growing seasons we’ve ever experienced has nonetheless come to a satisfying end.
While our yields were small — 15% beneath the long-standing average — they are still manageable, especially as compared to the shortfalls of our neighbors and colleagues.
Where in the World is Weingut Robert Weil?
Weil is based in the Rheingau just to the north of the Rheinhessen on the western border of Germany.