This past weekend Weingut Keller celebrated their annual event “KELLER OPEN”, where they presented the wines from the new vintage to their customers and friends. It was a sunny and hot weekend filled with great food and amazingly good 2016 Keller wines.
This was a very special vintage for me because all of these wines have my fingerprints in them. Besides sharing with you the tasting notes of some of them I also want to mention some anecdotes behind them, important information about the different vineyards and several food-pairing ideas.
Scheurebe was among the first grapes we harvested and I remember well how I couldn’t stop eating them every time I cut a cluster. As the harvest reached its end my appetite for grapes dramatically decreased, but I could have certainly still have eaten a few more of these sweet and aromatic flavor balls.
The wine is dry and has intense aromas of grapefruit, passion fruit, banana and fresh herbs. On the palate is very vibrant, with a crisp acidity, a medium to light body and lingering finish. Without any doubt, this is one of the best Scheurebe wines you can try.
A glass of this wine is ideal for an aperitif or to pair with light summer dishes like a goat cheese salad with passion fruit dressing or a Peruvian ceviche with plantain chips.
2016| Silvaner “Feuervogel” – Trocken
Silvaner grapes were the easiest to harvest thanks to the big clusters and high natural yield of the variety. Nevertheless, only the best parcels from Westhofen are used for “Feuervogel” which had smaller berries and a less vigorous yield than the vines used for the Grüner Silvaner, resulting in a wine with more body and concentration.
Pronounced aromas of green apple, fresh peach and hints of pineapple can be found in a “Feuervogel” filled glass. On the palate this wine is dry and has a higher acidity than the majority of the Silvaner wines that I’ve had. Beautiful volume and concentration with attractive hints of salinity that makes you crave another glass.
Steamed white asparagus and poached eggs covered with a freshly made hollandaise sauce can be a heavenly paring for this wine. Don’t be scared of pairing asparagus when a bottle of Silvaner is around!
2016| Riesling “Von der Fels”
If you ever dreamed about having the qualities of a Grand Cru wine for half of the price: Von der Fels will make your dream come true. This wine is made with grapes from the younger vines of the Grosses Gewächs (GG) vineyards of Abstserde, Morstein, Kirchspiel and Hubacker. Their limestone soils give way to an elegant and mineral Riesling with intense fresh pineapple and peach aromas. On the palate this wine is dry and has a vibrant acidity, a full body and a very long finish.
This is a great wine to enjoy with shellfish dishes like King’s Crab legs, seared scallops with butter sauce or lobster risotto.
2016| Kirchspiel GG
This GG vineyard is located in the town of Westhofen, facing the beautiful Rhine valley. Only the vines planted over very compact limestone in the highest parts of the vineyard are used for Kirchspiel GG. The roots of these 50 year old vines have to fight their way though the ground in search of water and nutrients, resulting in low yields and grapes with exceptional concentration.
Kirchspiel GG 2016 has a fine nose with pronounced aromas of fresh peach, pineapple, citrus fruit and hints of fresh herbs. On the palate this wine has a sharp acidity, a rich and full body and an incredibly long aftertaste.
This is a breathtaking wine to be enjoyed alone or to be paired with heavier dishes like pork roast with rosemary potatoes or a traditional German meal with sausage, sauerkraut and potato dumplings.
2016 | Hubacker GG
Hubacker is a 4-hectare GG vineyard located in Dalsheim. It is the biggest and oldest vineyard in Weingut Kellers possession and is guarded by a medieval looking tower located at the top of the hill, built in honor of Klaus-Peter’s mother. This is a very meaningful vineyard for the Keller family and, for me, this wine perfectly represents what Keller wines are: purity, concentration, structure, freshness and above all, a sense of place. The yellow limestone soils give this wine a very aromatic profile with fresh green apple, fresh pineapple and citrus aromas, along with a powerful and mineral taste, a steely acidity, full body and long aftertaste.
The marked minerality of this wine can enhance the flavors and salinity of dishes like prawn tempura with a creamy lemon dipping sauce or spaghetti alle vongole (spaghetti with clams).
2016| Morstein GG
The Morstein GG vineyard only measures 0.67 hectares and is planted with 80 years old Riesling and Pinot Noir vines. With a very low yield and a combination of heavy clay and limestone, these very old vines produce concentrated, rich and structured wines.
The 2016 Morstein has pronounced aromas of ripe peach, nectarine, pineapple and citrus fruit. On the palate it has a high acidity, a full and rich body and a very long finish. This wine is pure concentration!
My pairing suggestion for this wine is crispy duck breast with peach and ginger chutney.
2016 | Abts E GG
Abtserde is located over a very soft slope with the richest limestone soils from Westhofen. This vineyard is harvested in different stages and it starts with the vines planted at the bottom of the slope, which tend to ripen a bit earlier and develop bigger sized grapes, mainly due to the higher absorption of water from an underground stream that waters the vineyard. The top part absorbs less of this water, translating in smaller and more concentrated grapes that will be harvested later and will be the ones used for Abts E Grosses Gewächs.
For me, this wine is the “lighter” of the Keller GG wines and it has a very special profile. On the nose it has fresh aromas of green apple and hints of wet stone. On the palate this wine has a chalky minerality with a sharp acidity, full body and lingering finish.
Great food pairings for Abts E are fresh oysters, escargots or clam chowder.
2016 | G-Max
G-Max is the masterpiece of Weingut Keller and the best kept secret of the family. It is clear that this wine comes from a blend of Grosses Gewächs vineyards, which probably change every year in order to assure that only the best of the best is used to make this very special wine. Last April, Decanter Magazine awarded this wine with 100/100 points, making it the first dry Riesling to obtain this recognition, ever!
When I tasted this wine with Klaus-Peter he said: “This is the magic of Riesling…it can be so many things! From a Prima ballerina to a hockey player”… G-Max is definitely the hockey player.
This is a wine for meditation; one that deserves to be the protagonist of the evening and I believe you should give it your full attention and enjoy it alone without a food pairing. It is one to keep for at least 30 years in your cellar and after you uncork it, sit down and appreciate the absolute complexity of Riesling in its full perfection.
2016| Riesling Kabinett “Limestone”
Fresh aromas of green apple, pineapple and grapefruit that make you salivate as soon as you distinguish them. The limestone soils of Abstserde a Kirchspiel give this wine a beautiful minerality and hints of talcum powder aromas, as well as a lively acidity and a light body. This Kabinett only has 9% alcohol and a bit more than 30 grams of residual sugar, making it ideal as a light and refreshing summer wine.
This Kabinett goes great with light Thai or Vietnamese dishes like shrimp spring rolls with peanut sauce or a chickpea coconut curry, both with mild spiciness.
2016| Pettenthal Auslese
This is one of those wines that you wish will never end, in order to be able to appreciate all the layers of aromas that are released every time you smell the glass.
Pronounced aromas of dried peach and apricots, candied citrus peel, honey and a very characteristic wet rock aroma given by the red slate soils of the Roter Hang. On the palate this wine is lusciously sweet and has a high acidity, medium body and lingering aftertaste.
Pettenthal Auslese can be a dessert on its own or a good friend to calm your taste buds on an evening of spicy Indian cuisine. It is a wine that pairs well with hard cheeses like Comté or aged Cheddar as well as with desserts not overly sweet like a peach cobbler with honey ice cream.