Johannes Leitz makes lunch at home in Rudesheim (oh, yeah and we get to try his 2011 rieslings)
Johannes Leitz ebulliently came out to greet us as we pulled up to the family home in the town of Rudesheim am Rhein, with lots of smiles and handshakes, he ushered us into the open kitchen/den where we were to have our winetasting.
But first, lunch.
I was a bit surprised when Johannes disappeared and then reappeared with salad ingredients and began to prepare our lunch. I’ve never had a winemaker make lunch right in front of my eyes but Johannes is a man of many talents.
A bright, fresh and surprising white asparagus and strawberry salad with citrus dressing was an amazing combination of flavours – I was a bit dubious but it was an explosion of flavour.
That was followed with a Thai coconut curry soup with prawn paired with the 2009 Rudesheimer Burg Rottland spatlese. The sweetness of the soup was countered by the acidity and balance of the wine, a great match. It’s commonly asserted that riesling goes well with Asian food and this was a prime example of the cuisine and wine working together.
But wait, there was more! Johannes brought out a rack of lamb with potato dauphinoise. Johannes gave us 2 wines to pair with that -2011 Rudesheimer Berg Schlossberg and the 2010 Rudesheimer Drachenstein Auslese. Johannes believes his wines are all about the terroir and the land certainly comes through in these wines. You can almost taste the stones while you drink the wine, beautifully structured, deep and intense with excellent minerality.
Johannes told us a bit of the vineyard history over lunch. The Leitz family has been making wine since at least 1744 but it wasn’t until after WW II that his grandfather rebuilt the winery. Johannes’ father took over the winery later but died suddenly in 1966, leaving the vineyard to his wife who had her hands full with a flowershop, family and vineyard to run.
It wasn’t until 1985 that Johannes took over the winery and began to rebuild it. Since then, he has grown the estate from 2.9 hectares to over 40 and a major acquisition was the VDP accredited Erbsloh winery which brought 6 hectares of excellent land. Johannes believes in staying close to his roots and has restricted his winemaking to the noble grape, riesling. Almost all of the Leitz vineyards are in the Rudesheimer slopes which are south facing along the Rhein river.
Johannes believes this area produces the best rieslings and the terroir of the land is perfectly suited for his wines. Most of his grapes come from the Grand Cru and Premier Cru vineyards and the soils are a variety of red slate with quartzite, grey slate, quartizite, and sandy loess, loam & clay. All of which give pure, structured, mineral wines.
We had a walk round the vineyards before commencing with the tasting. Very briefly, my notes:
1) 2011 Eins Zwei-Dry ( Leitz entry level riesling) blended from all the vineyards in the upper Rheingau, very dry with pronounced chalky, minerality, limey £13/bottle
2) 2011 Rudesheimer Berg Roseneck Riseling Trocken “Katerloch” from warmer vineyards, at sealevel, fruit driven, balanced alcohol and acidity, aromatic nose, green apples, spices, intense flavour and aromas, a complex wine £30/bottle
3) 2011 Rudesheimer Berg Rottland Riseling trocken “Hinterhaus” grey slate soils, skin contact overnight, sweet ripe fruit, lime aromas and excellent minerality
4)2011 Rudesheimer Berg Schlossbert Riesling trocken “Ehrenfels” lime and citrus, a round wine, concentrated flavours and aromas, not as stark as the previous wines
5) 2011 Rudesheimer Berg Kaisersteinfels Riesling “Terrassen” quartz soils, 80 year old vines, last to ripen, high mineral notes, honeyed nose, dry but with lush fruit, not officially “dry” because it has 10g/l of sugar but nonetheless very balanced
6) 2011 Rheingau Riesling Kabinett, 9% picked early, light and refreshing with a creamy note, racy fruit, long peach/pineapple finish
7) 2011 Rudesheimer Magdalenenkreuz Riesling Spatlese, balanced, sweet ripe fruit with medium acidity
8) 2011 Rudesheimer Berg Roseneck Riesling Spatlese, ripe red apple, tangerine, honeyed, good acidity with a round, full body and lime blossom notes £30/bottle
9) 2010 Rudesheimer Drachenstein Riesling Auslese, vanilla ice cream and oranges, deeply structured wine, streak of minerality
10) 2010 Geisenheimer Rothenberg Riesline Eiswein, pure and intense, mouthwatering, oranges and clementines, earthy, lemon curds, complex and very morish £80/half bottle
We were there to taste his wines as part of a trip I took recently with Awin Barratt Siegel Wine Agencies. They import Leitz wines and all prices are approximate in the UK.
July was designated “31 days of Riesling” but I say, why restrict yourself to 31 days a year, especially when you have producers like Johannes Leitz making some cracking German rieslings.