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“Germany is Riesling’s homeland, and it is here where the variety offers some wines of incomparable excellence and specificity. As a matter of fact, the very beauty of German Riesling is about maintaining the balance between sugar and acidity.”

By Mariusz Rybak

Although I live in Germany, for a long time our domestic Rieslings have only rarely been guests in my house. Rather I often tried those from Austria, Serbia, the Czech Republic, France, and even Poland, with its first wine experiments since the World War II. There was no particular reason for this behavior, or maybe I was just not ready to appreciate the spectrum of expressive sweetness present in German Rieslings.

My conversion started with Oliver’s preaching. There are many beautifully written posts on Riesling on his blog. He was even courageous enough to challenge the German system of wine classifications – which is different from what we know from other countries – and to try to explain it. So, when he recommended two wineries in the valley of Mosel, I immediately decided to fill the gap in my wine education and ordered a case from each estate. This post is about one of them – Reuscher-Haart.

Germany is Riesling’s homeland, and it is here where the variety offers some wines of incomparable excellence and specificity. As a matter of fact, the very beauty of German Riesling is about maintaining the balance between sugar and acidity. When done successfully, we obtain an exceptional product; when not, we can only grimace, for the result is a sweetish water or tart diluted vinegar. This may apply to all wines but I think that some of our terroirs carry this contrast to an extreme: from one of the best white wines in the world to one that nobody wants to drink (think of Liebfraumilch).


From the six bottles I ordered from Reuscher-Haart, not all have been tried yet. Still, there is a wine I fell in love with and about which I’m going to write more – the 2012 Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Riesling Kabinett! If Piesport is a municipality in the Middle Mosel area, Goldtröpfchen is a site which Jancis Robinson and Hugh Johnson consider to be one of the best for Riesling in the whole country.

We might describe this wine as feinherb, which is basically medium-dry. This term is the same poetic as zartbitter, used for dark chocolate. They both were invented to describe fine differences in taste, and both could be translated as ‘subtly tart’ or ‘gently bitter.’ You remember that it’s all about keeping the balance between sugar and acidity. Thus, the producers are looking for a way to express the dainty variations in the palette of ‘balances,’ which they create between the two sides of Riesling.

Generally, Riesling is enjoyed alone rather than paired with food; although there is nothing against the latter. In the case of the Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Riesling Kabinett, I decided to pair it, though not with food. In ‘Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship,’ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote that “Every day one should at least hear one little song, read one good poem, see one fine painting and – if at all possible – speak a few sensible words.” And one could add: drink a glass of good wine.

I didn’t have an opportunity to see a fine painting while drinking at home. Though I had to think about a good poem which could describe the beauty in my glass, and which one of the best German wine writers, Ursula Heinzelmann, loves so much – the 13th among Rainer Maria Rilke’s ‘Sonnets to Orpheus:’

Fat apple, banana, pear
gooseberry…all speak immanence
of death and life to the child there;
I sense it on his countenance

as he partakes. This comes from afar.
Does something you cannot relate
slowly traverse your own palate;
replacing speech with fiats from the jam jar?

Dare to declare a pear.
This sweetness, thick at first,
then to clarity reversed

awakens from the slumbering nectar
luminous twin significance
of sun and earth; presence and joy – immense!

(trans. Robert Hunter)

The rest of the evening was even more contemplative – the bottle was finished while watching Krzysztof Kieślowski’s ‘Three Colors: Blue.’ All this may be a perfect pairing, at least à la Goethe, but how to describe this wine?

In my opinion, the name of the site speaks for itself. ‘Goldtröpfchen’ means ‘golden droplets’, and when I watched my glass it was exactly that! It is such a seducing wine that it literally disappears, which is not that dangerous considering its only 8.5% of alcohol. There were those ripe rosy apples of my grandma inside, who knows of which of the ancient Polish varieties. And then also some exotic fruits, but don’t ask me which ones -papaya or honey melon? Passionate and intense as it was, the wine made my evening!

Ursula Heinzelmann wrote once about another Riesling from this site: ‘opulent creaminess in glass’; a description that also fits Reuscher-Haart’s product. And then something completely unbelievable – bought directly from the producer, this wine costs only €5.50 ($7.30). Even the term ‘good value for money’ is unsuitable in this case.

Also their ‘simple’ 2012 Piesporter Riesling in a one-litre bottle is a charming wine, which became the star of the evening when I paired it with Polish cheese specialities for my Italian friends.


The 2012 Gutsriesling Trocken proved to be much less seductive; its sweetness less elegant. Then yesterday I had a bottle of the 2011 Piesport Falkenberg Riesling Kabinett Trocken. Probably, spoiled by the fluid ‘feinherb’ gold, I couldn’t truly admire this wine, which is for sure a light and aromatic white, but appeared to me slightly rough around the edges.

All these wines fill me with gratitude to Mario Schwang for producing them, to Oliver Windgätter for telling me about them, and for my friends for sharing them with me! Cheers!

Mariusz Rybak is currently researching Serbian wine culture and the notion of wine as a cultural good. His musings on such topics can be read on his blog, Kawa and Vino.

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