Intense jury work
There were two entire working weeks dedicated to Riesling: By the time the jury had been through the preliminary round, and then on to the three final tasting days of Meininger's Best of Riesling 2023, everyone of them knew exactly how intense, challenging and exciting the white grape can be in the glass.
During the preliminary round, the jurors tasted everyone of the wines from the various categories, sorted by growing regions. From this emerged the candidates for the final tasting, which were then tasted again in the eight categories. Finally, in a blind tasting on the final afternoons, the juries chose the winners within each category from the six most highly rated wines.
A tough panel
In terms of numbers, it was Rieslings from the still young 2022 vintage that were most strongly represented (866 of the total of 1,591 wines), followed by the slender, high acid 2021s (472 wines). Looking at the winners, however, youth is not automatically a guarantee for high ratings – successful Rieslings also came from the 2020, 2019 and 2016 vintages.
With a price level of €14.36 on average, the Riesling makers showed that they are aware of the value of their products.
Increasingly more international
This year's field of participants was very diverse in terms of origins and styles. Although many of the award-winning wines still came from Germany – this is after all, the home country of the variety – the international field is catching up: 74 awards as well as one second place went to Austria, followed by France with 44 awards.
The performance of some Eastern European producers was noteworthy: there werde five Rieslings from Hungary, the Czech Republic and the Republic of Moldova that made it into the top ranking with 92 points. Australia, Chile, Luxembourg, Italy, and New Zealand, also have done well.
Awards were given to very well-known and traditional Riesling wineries as well as to young, up-and-coming wineries. Among the winners are wineries such as Karl Erbes (Mosel), Peter Stolleis (Pfalz), Karthäuserhof (Mosel), Stiftsweingut Frank Meyer (Pfalz), Karl Haidle (Württemberg), Würtzberg and Albert Kallfelz (both Mosel) as well as Braunewell (Rheinhessen).
Special awards were given to Weingärtner Cleebronn-Güglingen (Best Dry Riesling in Retail), Weingut am Stein (Best Dry Riesling from a steep slope) and Weingut Fautor (Best Dry Riesling from Europe). The Riesling Collection of the Year went to the VDP winery Aldinger from Württemberg.
You will find them all HERE.
"There are great challenges ahead of us and it will take the joint efforts of the winegrowers so that we can continue to give future generations the joy of life that we have been able to enjoy with the cultural asset of wine. The wines show that honest craftsmanship makes great wines possible, even in times of greater challenges that affect us all."
“What a great way to launch it, with being named Best New World Riesling in Meininger’s Best of Riesling 2023.” (Peter Logan)
The Australian 2022 Logan Ridge of Tears Riesling Orange was chosen as the best “dry Riesling from the New World”. Winemaker Peter Logan traveled from Australia to receive the award in person. Meininger’s International spoke with him:
MI: When we report on Australia, it's almost always about a crisis. What are the big challenges for you? How do you deal with them?
It’s true, the Australian wine scene has experienced a few turbulent years, particularly with the catastrophic bushfires in 2020 and then in 2021 China - Australia's largest wine market at the time - imposed a 218% tariff on Australian wine as part of a political stoush. Luckily for Logan, the Chinese market was not a big one for us. While the last three vintages have been under a La Niña weather system which brings cool temperatures and frequent rain - flooding even and snow in summer at our highest vineyards - the biggest challenge for us is when the reverse weather system, the El Nino, brings extended drought. This can be hard on the vines. We have moisture probes throughout our vineyards for precision irrigation when it is required and we also plant on drought tolerant rootstock.
MI: How important is Riesling for you?
We do grow a range of varieties, with Pinot Noir being our largest production volume, however Riesling – which is around 20% of our production – is incredibly close to our heart. Both myself and my winemaking partner, Chris Jessop, have worked in wineries in Germany to learn from the masters of this variety. Of the many varieties we grow I feel Riesling benefits the most from the long slow, very cool yet very sunny growing conditions. The cool temperatures retain clean purity in the grape while the sun drives development of exotic flavours and aromas.
MI: You received the award in Neustadt, which is quite a long way from Australia. How important is Europe in general and Germany in particular for you?
It is of course a great honour to receive this award so far from home, in Germany, the home of Riesling. The European market is very important for Logan and being awarded such an accolade helps in all the European markets and beyond. After receiving the award in Neustadt I then travelled to visit our importers in Netherlands, UK and Finland, all were very impressed by the award and were passing this good news on to their customers when introducing our wines. The award has had a similar reception in Japan and has been particularly well received back home in Australia.
MI: Entering the competition with Riesling in Germany might be considered brave. Why did you submit your wine to the ‘Best of Riesling’ competition?
We have been making our Weemala Riesling for 17 years. It is a significant part of our business. We have now released the Ridge of Tears Riesling in our premier range. After having been working towards this higher level Riesling for a number of years we finally reached a stage we were happy that we had achieved something special. So we bottled and released our inaugural Ridge of Tears Riesling. As we were very happy ourselves with the quality of this new wine we decided to see what the masters of Riesling in Germany thought of it. I’m glad to see that they liked it!
For 27 years, Peter Logan has been producing cool climate wine in the mountains in New South Wales (Australia). Located in the two neighboring regions of Mudgee and Orange, most of the grapes are grown around 1,000m above sea level; Orange being the highest wine region in Australia. The vineyards are each farmed either organically or sustainably, the winery utilizes wild yeast and old oak, concrete and stainless steel.
Logan produces 600,000 bottles a year. The wine is sold largely at the domestic market. Their strongest export markets are Sweden and Japan, they have customers in Finland, UK and South Korea, and have recently started working with an importer in The Netherlands. Germany has been a small market for them for many years.