This week we have a duo of salivating summer whites from iconic European regions, both produced in the 2018 vintage. The weather has been warming and both of these wines provide ‘serious’ summer juice for 2019/ 2020. We couldn’t decide on offering just one, and thought three of each will keep our white wine lovers satisfied. These are wines for those that love freshness, austerity and searing acidity in their wines, with driving citrus flavours and length for days.
The wines are a fiercely dry Riesling from classic Rheinhessen (German) estate Wagner-Stempel, produced by the the talented Daniel Wagner; and a chalky, lemony, denser Chablis from iconic and traditional producer Gilbert Picq, which is an estate run by second generation (Gilbert’s sons) Didier and Pascal Picq.
Firstly, Wagner-Stempel, which is a small producer in the Rheinhessen run by Daniel Wagner, the ninth generation of the Wagner family. He runs both the vineyards and the winery… a very good sign. He farms the estate vineyards organically, hand picks his fruit, ferments naturally (spontaneously) and adds nothing other than a splash of sulphur (necessary) at bottling. The wines are full in flavour, bone dry, with spicy, citrus fruit and incredible depth. If you like the highest quality Clare Valley Riesling, these wines will please.
2018 has been touted as potentially the best ever by jancisrobinson.com. It was a dry year, slightly warmer, delivering ripe, even fruit. Producers in Rheinhessen (Peter Keller) are saying that it is the best of the decade along with 1911, 1959 and 2001. The wine is flinty, nervy and loaded with sweet citrus and floral aromas. Flavours or sweet lime and pink grapefruit attacks the palette, with zest and a chiselled minerality. It is an awesome aperitif wine for the end of a hot day or week, and a great example of ripe, dry, powerful European Riesling. 94 points from Decanter magazine.
For the second wine we move to France, more specifically Chablis, in Northern Burgundy. It is from Gilbert Picq, an excellent, small, ‘traditional’ producer from the cool region with famous chalky soils. Brothers Didier and Pascal run the Domaine and its small vineyard holdings. Didier farms the vineyards (organically), while Pascal crafts the wines by hand. The Picq brothers do not have any Grand Cru holdings, and it is the effort they have put in to their village level Chablis plots that have set them apart.
Chablis is produced from Chardonnay farmed in this cool region, with unique chalky soils layered with fossilised seashells and limestone, called Kimmeridgian. The best Chablis expresses a fresher style of Chardonnay that is mainly free from winemaking artefact, such as new oak.
The fruit in the Picq Chablis 2018 is more on the Meyer lemon citrus and white stone fruit line of flavours. There is a chalky minerality evident on the nose and palate, with long, fine, terse citrus fruit flavours persisting. In the case of the Picq’s, they do not have any oak (old or new) in the cellar, with all wines fermented and aged naturally in stainless steel. They build density with extended ageing in this steel vessel, and working the lees to build some richness, without sacrificing freshness. The price of this wine has remained remarkably decent, in the face of Chablis price hikes that are universal.
This is another cracking summer white, that is ideal for oysters or prawns (or other shellfish) grilled with butter and lemon. Both wines will give a lot of pleasure over the warmer months, but with their quality of fruit and acid structure, will comfortably age for 5+ years. I have included the character grid and the detailed information of the Wagner-Stempel, but if you would like some more information on the Picq, please let us know.
We hope you enjoy this mixed pack of European whites.
Tom and Dan