At a recent trade show featuring the German wines in the Terry Thiese portfolio, the talk among some of the region's most respected industry professionals was the same. No one was willing to put the definitive stamp on it. Currently, the 2012 vintage of German rieslings is being touted as having "great potential", measured words.

"Best" is thrown around this industry like glowsticks at a Phish concert. For some, including me, it's an agitator. Wine buyers have been pounded with "THIS IS BEST VINTAGE EVER" message for the better part of eight years. Certainly, ecological conditions and climate change have contributed to a string of wonderful vintages in certain areas of the world. Labeling a vintage as the "best" seems to cheapen the hard work put in by those managing the vineyards and crafting the wine. It feels too much like a marketing crutch. It feels icky.

The 2012 vintage was a challenge to manage in the vineyard because of adverse weather conditions. Cooler than normal temperatures and high humidity in the spring delayed the cycle at the start of the vintage. Fruit set was slightly abnormal and once set, rain moved in causing mildew . However, a hot August halted the mildew from spreading. The warm, dry weather continued straight through October allowing for optimal ripening conditions. When talking with Johannes Selbach he said the vintage was the "most difficult field work of the last decade to keep the vines and their foliage healthy."

Reports from producers are all very much the same, with very subtle differences. It appears from Donnhoff's reports that the Nahe region did not experience as much rain as Mosel but both are reported late flowering, abnormal fruit set and small berries with thick skins. It appears these conditions were widespread throughout. All the reports I've read cite the same very important details: low yields, thick skins, very ripe, high acid levels.

Considering the above, you can expect the wines to exhibit huge, concentrated flavors that are bright and zippy on the palate. They should be fruit driven with subtle notes of minerality and excellent texture that is slightly linear in nature. From what I tasted, the wines are right on the money. I was able to get through roughly 65 wines at the tasting before the minerality and acid ripped my palate like the Incredible Hulk his shirt. I believe my tweet read something like, "Too much acid and a sticky phone #thieseworldproblems." Among those topping my list are:

Selbach Oster Zeltinger Schlossberg Riesling Spatlese
Selbach Oster Zeltinger Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett Halbtrocken
J.J. Christoffel Erdener Treppchen Riesling Kabinett
J.J. Christoffel Urziger Wurzgarten Riesling Kabinett
Merkelback Urziger Wurzgarten Riesling Spatlese
Donnhoff Norheimer Kirschheck Riesling Spatlese
Donnhoff Kreiznacher Krotenpfujl Riesling Kabinett
Kruger-Rumpf Kapellenberg Riesling Trocken
Hexamer Schlossbockelheimer In Den Felsen Riseling Feinherb "Porphyr"

The term "great potential" is a cautious way to describe the 2012 wines. The vintage should offer something for both the novice and ultra-geek. If you think you want to get in this game, do so quickly. Do your research, make your decision and buy. There's enough of the 2011 vintage to go around. But the 2012 will be in short supply and rather fashionable for acid heads, a condition that will dry up the marketplace. If you would like more information and pricing for any of the above in advance of our 2012 German Riesling offer, please email me.
In good taste,