Not all German Riesling is created equal...
Or so was the thinking of the late Fritz Hasselbach and his wife Agnes. The pair often lamented the short comings of German wine law (an already complicated beast) for allowing chaptalisation (the adding of sugar) while also failing to acknowledge the obvious hierarchy of vineyards, such as their own, that outshine other sites around the country . For this reason he chose to follow his own set of rules (even when it meant far lower production levels than some of his neighbours) to ensure the wines he made were the absolute purest expressions of their terroir on the slopes of the Rhine River in Rheinhessen.
Now following closely in his footsteps, his son Johannes has taken the reigns and is pushing Gunderloch wines even further onto the world stage. It's all about purity of fruit and minimal intervention and really allowing each individual site to express itself.
The Pettenthal Vineyard is distinguished by exotic aromatics and a mouthwatering finish. The very best that Rheinhessen has to offer. Quantities are small and they won't be around for long, best to get on it now.
Beyond the southern end of the Rothenberg Vineyard is the well-known Pettenthal grand cru site. The soil of this famous vineyard is also comprised of red shale, but here it's slightly more weathered. The extremely friable, in certain parcels even sandy, texture yields wine of lighter structure with vibrant elegance. Despite the vineyard’s proximity to the Rothenberg, the two resulting wines differ greatly. The wines of the Pettenthal are distinguished by exotic fruit aromas from the moment of their youth and retain their refreshing character for many years. The steepest parcels of Gunderloch's estate are located in this vineyard.
Johannes Hasselbach has well and truly hit his stride after taking the winemaking reins from his late father Fritz a few years back. Warm, charming, modest and brilliant Fritz Hasselbach, who passed away from illness in October 2016, was the man who lifted the estate into the Rheinhessen's top flight. Johannes and the team are taking it even further, turning out stunning wines from top-rated vineyards of the Roter Hang, a steep hill of red slate overlooking the Rhine. The dry Rieslings are intensely concentrated and expressive of the red volcanic soil. The fruity wines are even more so, with their touch of sweetness that acts as a conduit for flavour and aroma. Nackenheimer Rothenberg is one of the great vineyards of Germany. Gunderloch was the first winery in Germany to put its entire range under screwcap and holds the ‘claim to fame’ of scoring a hat-trick of 100-point reviews in Wine Spectator.
This has richness and density to it with rich, apple and pear-pastry aromas, as well as a fine, perfumed layer. The palate has smoothly resolved, dry-apple and lime-juice flavors with a smooth, quite long and fresh finish. Drink or hold. Screw cap.
MICHAEL SCHMIDT - JANCISROBINSON.COM
On the nose the Pettenthal is still a bit shy, a light breeze of floral and herbal aromas drifting across from a summer meadow. Also still quite gentle on the palate, but already revealing glimpses of citrus fruit and peel, and expertly punctuated by a slightly medicinal notion of green herbs and quinine. Quite exquisite. 18/20