Germany 2018: ‘Great for Pinot, but not a classic for Riesling’

Chris Losh

Chris Losh

04 September 2018

Early feedback from Germany’s growers suggests that Riesling-loving sommeliers will need to pick with care from the 2018 vintage. But lovers of the Pinot varieties could be in for a treat.

Winter rains meant that the vines started the year with good water supply, unlike 2003, and seems to have saved Riesling (particularly older vines) from the worst effects of heat stress.

But, while fears that the endless sunshine could lead to Rieslings that taste more Mendoza than Mosel might be unfounded, reaction from the vineyards is still mixed.

‘Best weather, fantastic grapes – everything seems to be perfect,’ said Jean Stodden from the Ahr Valley.

With the main harvest due in September, however, others are having to work hard to preserve the variety’s character.

Matthias Aldinger, of Weingut Aldinger, told Imbibe that he was using canopy management to shade the grapes, and also planning to pick earlier to achieve a lower alcohol content. Though even this might not be enough to mitigate against the summer heat.

‘We will not have that fresh acidity,’ he said.

His thoughts were echoed by Konstantin Guntrum of Louis Guntrum in Rheinhessen.

‘With lower levels of acidity, 2018 [for Riesling] is certainly not going to be yet another “vintage of the century",’ he said.

Stylistically, he felt that ‘the juices might be fruity and powerful – similar to 2015’.

While Riesling might be more fruity and less steely than usual, the feedback for the Pinots – Noir, Blanc and Gris – was universally positive.

‘Spätburgunder and all red grapes are going to be particularly successful,’ said Guntrum. ‘White Pinot varietals might become quite successful with a lot of body and soft acidity levels.’

‘For Pinot Noir and Lemberger, this will be a great year,’ echoed Aldinger.

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