Graacher Himmelreich 1990,Spatlese, Fredrich Wilhelm Gymnasium

I had this 1990 Mosel spatlese at our tasting group on Thursday. Stunning quality, complex and with plenty of balancing acidity.

Wine Society bottling too.

I was able to get a couple of bottles from a merchant who is part of our group. He also had Von Hovel Scharzhofberger spatlese 1990. Anybody have experience of this one?


Lucky you, Russ!

I used to buy loads of FWG wines - their Auslesen were gorgeous - though for some reason they seemed to fade away rather, with rather muted characteristics. I don’t rightly know when that happened, but it sounds like your example was firing on all 24 cylinders.

On the von Hövel, although I haven’t had the 1990 it ought to be fine - they make long-lasting wines that improve in the cellar. Often they seem to my palate to be a degree sweeter than I was expecting, but that may be me. TWS still regularly offer them.

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The two vintages '89 and '90 were five star vintages, I had, no longer an '89 Auslese from Von Hovel Scharzhofberg and it was very good without being outstanding, from memory there were a lot of good reislings from these twin vintages, I haven’t got any left, that I know of, but it is doubtful they will improve more so drink up, I doubt if there is much between them they are on a similar quality level, you had to wait till 2001 for another great vintage and they haven’t really stopped since.

The FWG was not bottled by the society it was shipped.

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Thanks for your help. Might I ask further if you have any knowledge about georg Muller-Stiftung 1990 Hallgartener Jungfer Reisling Kabinett, which he also has.

Thats Georg Muller, no not from that year and it is not a winery often seen here, as it is a Kabinett wine it is probably past its best at twenty eight years, but you never know with Reisling I have had Kabinetts at twenty years of age that have been fine, but logic says this one is pushing it more than a bit and personnaly I would pass, I amgoing to put up below a shortened and slightly revised piece I did for another blog I contribute to on Reisling late last year, you may be interested.

Riesling Reinventing Itself

I have been buying and therefore drinking Riesling longer than any other wine, ever since that first purchase of the ‘71 vintage I have carried on putting the odd case or two a year into my cellar.

I have drunk most of the great estates and all the categories of the grape from simple Qmp up to just once a TBA, I don’t drink it that often probably around eighteen bottles a year but always what I think are good bottles.
Have I been disappointed, of course like any wine there will be those wineries and vintages that don’t come up to scratch, yet overall the quality at the top level given decent vintages stays remarkably high and decidedly good value compared with other wine regions.

The relatively recent mastering of dry Riesling styles is an added bonus, the first trocken wines were anything but good but the techniques have been quickly mastered and the dry and even better the GG wines are a delight and the answer to those who always say the Riesling is to sweet for them, with the advent of more champagne type wines Riesling covers all the bases for white wine.

Riesling suffered badly from the pushing of blended cheap wines that were labeled as hock and Liebfraumilch back in the seventies and eighties and as wine became more popular and the range of wines available increased the image of those Blue Nun lookalikes did no favours for Riesling in general and the sales nose dived taking the real thing down with it, it has never really recovered not as far as the general public is concerned anyway.

There is another aspect to the way Riesling has suffered, my first purchase of those 36 bottles of ‘71 was comprised largely of wines from the Rhine, Moselle was still a secondary area in those glorious days of Schloss Johanisberg and Vollrads, these were the wines after all that were world renowned and fetched prices in earlier days higher than Bordeaux chateau, were revered in Victorian times and indeed a vineyard was named after Victoria herself, and the word hock is a derivation of the town of Hockenheim a town visited by Victoria.

Somehow that association with hock seemed to be the death knell of Rhine wines and those from the Rhienhessen and Pfalz areas all of which were in my first consignment, the push or fashion for more refined styles of wine meant that the Moselle became the go to area and still is today, there was also the unfortunate drop in quality of the likes of Schloss Johanisberg that started to trade on its heritage rather than the quality of its wines.
The right bank and southern areas of the great Riesling growing areas largely dropped of the radar, with the Moselle and its tributaries carrying the torch for the grape.

The Riesling revival hasn’t really happened, despite critics and aficionados constantly giving it the thumbs up, but what has happened during this recent period of the clamour for drier wines is that the Rhine and its associate areas of the Rhienhessen and Pfalz have reappeared , a recent Decanter review of GG wines had the majority of the top ones from those two areas, not from the Moselle, most are still not generally available over here but it is a start.

Apart from a few that have been imported such as the wines of Toni Jost, Georg Breur and Robert Weil, the rest have been difficult to find, the great estates of Schloss Volrads and Schonborn stalwarts of wine merchants shelves not that many years ago are not easy to find any more but Johanisberg is back, along with Basserman – Jordan, Peter Keller is doing amazing things with all sorts of Riesling variations, Gunderloch, Wittman, and Kuhling Gillot are starting to appear on lists, from the Pfalz along with Basserman Jordan, Burklin Wolf, von Buhl have been joined by the likes of Koehler Ruprecht, Kurt Darting and others and are because of a climate advantage leading the way with the drier wines.

The Pfalz leads with the variation of grape varieties Scheurebe, Reislaner, Grauburgunder, Weissburgunder and astonishing for Germany they now are making 40% of their output as red wines using Spatburgunder and Dornfelder.

So what we are seeing is German wine creep, a little at a time is being added to lists as the word gets out to the uninitiated, the Pinot Noir clones are appearing on supermarket shelves and this because of the demand for the grape could well be the lever that gets the great Riesling grape back where it should be at the top.
Yes we have heard it all before but just maybe the likes of Liebfraumilch have gone down the memory hole and the real thing can emerge in its place.


Nicely written post.

From my point of view the main thing that holds me back from a Riesling renaissance is “her indoors”, my wife cannot stand Riesling. I can’t understand it but she pretty much refuses to share any with me. And it’s not an uncommon wine blind spot.

I opened a Petaluma Riesling some while ago for a friend who only drinks white hoping to widen his palette. On the first sip he pushed the glass away in such violent disgust that he snapped another glass in front of him in half. We then had a smaller glass and a crystal napkin ring, from the top half of the glass.


@Russ, how about trying her something off kielter like a new world or even this:

It is Riesling dominated but she may not recognise that given its a blend… ease her in gently as such?


@leah off piste again!!

Russ, there was a time duringthe eighties I think during a period of mainly poor vintages ! that there were some Reislings that were just to unbalanced, and when that happens they do take on a very different taste sensation that many including myself do not like, it’s when the acidity is missing and the fruit somehow becomes all to much.
You can still get this with some cheaper bottles and strangely I had one of Ernie Loosens supermarket Kabinetts that was like that not many months ago, I gave it to my wife for “assessment” and she likes Reisling and she immediately said I really don’t like that it’s sickly, it happens but perhaps differently with this grape, it’s strange because there are some pretty awful wines in bad years from the likes of Chablis that are sour in the mouth yet they are simply refused and poured down the sink but without the same reaction, just one of those quirks with wine.

I meant to include thisFWG is a very old eastate and like many in Germany from monastic and institutional backgrounds FWG is the holding of the Jesuit school in Trier

sadly many including the state domains are or have been sold off in whole or in part and it deprives us of those wonderful labels, but in nearly all cases because the sites were so good the buyers have all been top class and in many cases have improved the wines from them, like Burgundy most sites have multiple owners, single owner sites are rare as in Maximin Grunhaus or the Crusius Bastei site and many older but potentially good sites have been resurrected some still with very old neglected vines, it is interesting times in German vineyards.

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@Ludlow_Steve?? Off piste again ??? I’m simply offering a suggestion @Russ wife MAY like if he’s keen to introduce her the joys of true Rieslings . Starting with something a little different but with Riesling in the blend .I appreciate the Shebang is Californian and grown on different soils and climate to Rieslings from the Mosel, Rheingau, Pfalz etc… but she may enjoy it and find it an interesting and diverse introduction to Rieslings as a whole !


Leah gives a good intro to Riesling , but have you tried the newer dry wines, they are a very different animal and just maybe worth giving a go with the wife, more mainstream in style, the GGs I have purchased are still relatively new to me as I have only opened a couple and with some trepidation but this is a whole new world with the grape a very different dimension, dig one out and give it a go, recent vintages have all been good so no need to be over fussy.

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Great suggestions and thanks.

However, after 29 years of trying I think I’m cool with these different tastes. Not saying I won’t try but one must admit that reisling does have a certain taste, if you doesn’t like it, fine. I have tried almost every variety of this variety.

I think we wine geeks love Riesling and find it difficult to understand others don’t. It maybe partly a fashion but maybe it just not an easy taste to get to know.


Fashion? That’s entirely possible, @Russ, or it could just be different sensitivities to certain components. Riesling is quite a distinctive grape, and wines from other distinctive grapes, such as sauvignon blanc, the muscats etc. show similar populations of people who reject them. To others, Riesling seems intriguing and distinctive.

Fortunately both of us (Mrs. B & I) love Riesling, but I do wonder about the whole physiological differences thing between tasters.

I agree about the earlier GG wines - it is said that the extra degree or so average warming during the ripening season has been of assistance here also.

I am guarding a small stash of GG rieslings on the basis that their glory days will start once they pass their tenth birthdays. I shall be a bit miffed if they don’t!

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I entirely agree, @Ghost-of-Mr-Tallis Riesling and SB have very distinctive tastes, I for one can’t stand New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, until I tasted Greywacke wild ferment that is, the exception that proves a rule! So I understand that some tastes are just not for me or you.

I certainly was trying to play down the fashion comment. however what I meant is illustrated by the popular concept of chardonnay, many non-geeky friends have said they don’t like it. Aside from the classic, “but I like Chablis” which I have had said to me. when through the last 20 years the over oaked new world versions became so fashionable that people got bored with it(and many were poorly made). These same people are now re examining the fresher chardonnay’s being produced in the main scream and they now like some chardonnay’s.

I wonder if Riesling is so distinctive that it will never convert the naysayers. Where as chardonnay can be changed by the winemakers and vineyard, and SB can too to a lesser extent, Riesling will always have that mouth feel and petrol edge, to some extent however mild.

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I should have added this as it shows what I mean about how the vintages have improved , quite remarkable, when I started with Riesling you simply waited for a good vintage and discarded the rest such was the difference, but now !

This seems like a good price for 6 year old Graacher Himmelreich from a top maker - excited to taste it!

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With J J Prum the consistency stands out, I have never had a bad wine from them over many years at all levels, if you look on cellar tracker you can see the reviews and year after year there is little difference, and the beauty of Kabinett wines is they last a long time but can be enjoyed straight away, many have no reason to cellar but you can.


This mixed case is right at the top of my wishlist, I have already enjoyed a single bottle of the other two wines and I too have never had a bad (or even mediocre) JJ Prum wine.

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Yep, looking at the same case. I bet it will run out before I decide.

Is it worth ageing the JJ Prum Graacher Himmelreich Kabinett? I know it drinks great young, but the drinking window is so long. It must develop flavours worth waiting for.