This elegant sparkling Riesling, which is poured at the German embassy in every European capital, is another Champagne-method sparkling wine that deserves a good wine glass, not a tall skinny flute. From a single steep parcel of black Devon slate in the Kloster Fürstental, the grapes are hand-harvested and hand-sorted, and after the second fermentation, and three years on the lees, the bottled wine is hand-riddled and disgorged (ask us about the white paint mark on the bottom of every bottle).
At first, this gorgeous Riesling Sekt smells discreetly of autumn, with aromas of Comice pears, white peaches, honeyed ginger, jasmine, and kaffir lime moving in and out of the foreground, sometimes alternating with fleeting suggestions of yellow freesia, dried apricots, almond oil, and crystallized honeycomb, as the nose evolves in the glass.
On the palate, the wine is electrifying: mouthfilling, with a fine creamy texture, and a solid core of sapid, slate-infused stone fruit flavors that continues to evolve and put on weight, even as the creamy mousse gradually subsides. And the finish goes on forever (when Kate and I were last in Bacharach together, Jochen opened a bottle of the 1949, which at sixty-six years of age was no longer fully sparkling, but was one of the most beautiful mature Rieslings I have ever tasted). Drink now – 2040 or beyond (!)
About this wine producer: Weingut Ratzenberger is in the beautiful town of Bacharach-Steeg on the left bank of the Rhine, about a half-hour from the Frankfurt airport. It’s our favorite first stop in Germany. The guest apartment is one of the most comfortable places we stay, with the view through the bedroom window dominated by a wall of Pinot Noir (Spätburgunder) vines marching up the towering Steeger St. Jost.