Schloss Johannisberg Rheingau Riesling Feinherb Gelback 2018
Brilliant lemon yellow. A highly aromatic Riesling with distinctive notes of white flowers, citrus and pear. Complex, exceptionally balanced and refined. The nose is young with white flowers, lemon zest and pears. Firm and fresh on the palate, well balanced with crisp acidity.
Enjoy this Riesling with salads, seafood and roasted chicken.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
The 2018 Schloss Johannisberger Riesling Feinherb Gelblack is the most commercially successful wine of the domain in 2019—with good reasons. The nose is clear, bright and open but intense and nicely developed, with spicy and even some very discreet oaky notes. Round and charming on the palate, this is a finessed and filigreed, persistently salty and stimulating phenolic wine in the off-dry style. The finish is very good and refined with vitality and mineral tension. A fabulous wine. Bottled with 13.7 grams of residual sugar. Tasted from AP no. 3 19 in August 2019.
Johannisberg’s Gelblack (yellow seal) hits a fine balance between sweet citrus and racy acidity in 2018. The flavors last, steadfast on their mineral underpinnings.
Few wine enthusiasts probably realize that with every sip of Riesling from Schloss Johannisberg, they are enjoying the legacy of nearly 1,200 years of history that involves a monastery and a palace – both of which have a great wine history. The first documented wine harvest was in A.D. 817. Louis the Pious was delighted with the 6,000 liters of wine from the vines on the hill, then known as Bischofsberg (bishop’s hill). Nearly three centuries later (circa 1100), the first Benedictine monastery in the Rheingau was founded on the hilltop and the monks diligently tended the vines on the slopes below. In 1130, they consecrated their abbey church in honor of John the Baptist, after which the hill, the monastery and the village assumed the name Johannisberg (John’s hill). In 1716, the Prince-Abbot of Fulda at that time had the monastery torn down and a Baroque palace built on the site. Parts of the nearly 900-year-old abbey cellar remained intact. After restoring the vineyards in just two years (1719/1720), 294,000 Riesling vines were planted. It is thanks to their e-orts that Schloss Johannisberg is justifiably the first Riesling wine estate in the world.
Riesling heralded the start of a new era of viticulture in the Rheingau – and not only there. Schloss Johannisberg’s recognition of the benefits of a Spätlese (late harvest) came about by accident. Every autumn, the head monastery in Fulda sent a courier on horseback with orders on when to begin the harvest. In 1775, he was delayed. By the time he arrived in Johannisberg, the ripe grapes were infested with mold – noble rot – yet they were harvested and pressed. The monks thanked God for the phenomenal results and erected a monument to the courier in the courtyard. The Prince-Abbot issued an edict that henceforth, the grape harvest should always take place this late.
Connoisseurs all over the world owe thanks to the Rheingau wine experts for further developing the practice of selective, late harvesting: Auslese (1787), Beerenauslese, and Trockenbeerenauslese, as well as Eiswein, which was first harvested in Germany at Schloss Johannisberg in 1858. The forest on top of the Taunus protects the vineyards from cold winds from the north. In the south, the Rhine lays like a lake in front of the estate on the foothills. The 50° parallel runs directly through the vineyard and its unique soil drains water and maintains temperature for perfect minerality in Riesling.
Practically one long and bucolic hillside along the northern bank of the Rhein River, the Rheingau stretches the entirety of the river’s east to west spread from Hocheim to Rüdesheim.
Variations in elevation, soil types, and proximity to the Rhine cause great diversity in Rheingau Riesling. Some of the better Rieslings in warmer years come from the cooler and breezier sites at higher elevations. In cooler years, sites closer to the river may perform better.
In the village of Rüdesheim, slopes are steep and soils are stony slate with quartzite; Rieslings are rich and spicy, intense in stone fruit and show depth and character with age. World class Rieslings come from farther east on the river through Geisenheim, Johannisberg, Winkel, Oestrich and past Erbach as well, where soils of loess, sand, and marl alternate. Long-living, floral-driven and mineral-rich Rieslings come from the best of these sites.
Rheingau growers became early activists in promoting the dry style of Riesling, low yields and the classification of top vineyards, or Erstes Gewächs (first growths). Proximity to the metropolitan markets of Mainz, Wiesbaden, and Frankfurt keeps Rheingau in high reputation. While dry wines are the style here, Rheingau isn’t short of some amazing Auslesen, Beerenauslesen, and Trockenbeerenauslesen.
Rheingau doesn’t mess with many other grapes—in fact 79% of its total area is dedicated to Riesling. But it produces some fine Pinot noir, especially concentrated in Assmannshausen, a bit farther west from Rüdesheim.
Riesling possesses a remarkable ability to reflect the character of wherever it is grown while still maintaining its identity. A regal variety of incredible purity and precision, this versatile grape can be just as enjoyable dry or sweet, young or old, still or sparkling and can age longer than nearly any other white variety. Somm Secret—Given how difficult it is to discern the level of sweetness in a Riesling from the label, here are some clues to find the dry ones. First, look for the world “trocken.” (“Halbtrocken” or “feinherb” mean off-dry.) Also a higher abv usually indicates a drier Riesling.