2015 Schloss Johannisberger Gelblack Riesling Trocken QbA

Year: 2015
Appellation: Rheingau
Country: Germany
Wine Spectator: 89
Wine Advocate: 90
Vinous Media: 87
White Wine
Alcohol by Volume: 12.0%
Price :

"This crisp white shows finesse and balance, with notes of dandelion tea, peach and white pepper leaving a mouthwatering feel on the finish. Drink now through 2019. 2,000 cases made.–BS " (WS)

"Fermented 20% in 1,200-liter Stück from own oak trees, the 2015 Schloss Johannisberger Gelblack Riesling Trocken has a concentrated, but very clear and slightly smoky bouquet of yellow-skinned fruits. It is a very aromatic, fresh, finesse-full and elegant Riesling with purity, but also enough sensuality to attract the masses. In fact, this is commercially the most important wine of the domaine. The finish reveals a lovely purity, grip and stimulating minerality. Very well structured.

There are some really great wines to buy from Schloss Johannisberg in 2015. Most of all the TBA, which is close to perfection and one of the finest sweet wines I have tasted this year. Also, the Auslese is remarkable in its finesse and delicacy, whereas the Spätlese will shine in ten years or so—as will the 2015 Schloss Johannisberger Grosses Gewächs Silberlack. One of the last dry Kabinett Rieslings from the VDP Rheingau is the 2015 Schloss Johannisberger Rosalack, and honestly, it could hardly be better. Although it is not really a Kabinett in style (light and filigreed like a Mosel cliche), it is an impressively complex and persistent Riesling Trocken from one of the greatest terroirs for Riesling on planet wine. I even prefer it to the GG Silberlack at the moment, but the ageing potential, ripeness and complexity of the latter is clearly superior.

The vines experienced an enormously dry and warm summer with temperatures at Schloss Johannisberg up to 38 degrees Celsius. Only in the last days of August, the long desired rain came and stimulated the faltered ripening process again. September was rather humid, but at the end of the month and also in October, the weather was perfect: sunny and warm during the day (18-20 degrees Celsius), with refreshing east winds and cool night temperatures at 5-8 degrees Celsius.

Christian Witte, director at Schloss Johannisberg since 2004, is going to leave the famous castle in October. He will be responsible for the international marketing of the whole Henkell & Co. group, to which Schloss Johannisberg and Champagne Alfred Gratien both belong. Witte will be followed by Sommelier Stefan Doktor, who has been at Schloss Johannisberg since 2008, as well as Marcel Szopa, who has also been responsible for the Sekt production of the Henkell group since 2012." (WA)

"This so-called Gelblack (yellow capsule) offering, representing a substantial share of Schloss Johannisberg’s 250,000-bottle production, has seldom displayed distinction, and the present example is unfortunately no exception. There’s nothing wrong here – just nothing worthy of special note. Primary apple and lemon juiciness, a faintly sweaty salinity, and underlying hints of stone inform a rather loose palate and a finish of modest length and lightly stimulating tang." (VM)


I note that time passes, because when I first started my love affair with fine wine, German Rieslings from the Rhine & Mosel were among the most popular prestige white wines in the world and were quite often more cherished then even top White Grand Cru Burgundies. And among the great German vineyards none held a higher reputation then the Rhinegau’s, Schloss Johann-isberg, which belongs entirely to the Prince von Metternich, who ancestor received it as a reward for his services at the Congress of Vienna in 1815 (which decided the fate of Europe for about a 100 years after the defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte).

Pardon the history side-line, but as to this particular wine it is truly a dry food-oriented, 100% Riesling (a variety still considered by many a wine guru as the finest white wine grape in the world).

The aroma is classic Riesling, which again reminds me of the walking in a damp forest and smelling the fir and pine trees and pine cones as well as fresh squeezed apple juice. The apple character continues in the taste, along with that of ripe pears and quinces, combined with a most appealing steely, flinty thirst quenching finish that lasts on ones palate.

Oh, and continuing on the information trivia trail the name Schloss Johannisberg, translates in English to, “The Castle on Saint Johns Mountain.”

RATING: 92/93

PRICE: $21.95, **** bargain

WHERE: Los Angeles Wine Co.

(Martin's Guide to Wine Bargains)