Ever since three decades ago Günther Wittmann shifted his centuries-old domain’s focus from yields to quality – and took the necessary but pioneering step to convert to organic farming – Weingut Wittmann has been on a path to greatness. More recently Günter’s son Philipp truly staked out a position as standard-bearer for the Rheinhessen, with a switch to biodynamic practices and complete dedication to the ‘Trocken’ style.
Fermenting Riesling to dryness is a great fit for the relatively warmer climate of this region and allows for meticulous expressions of the varied soil composition of its gently rolling hills. Here, unlike most other famous German wine regions, it is the presence of limestone that marks the greatest vineyards, notably Aulerde, Kirchspiel, Morstein, and Brünnenhauschen. The exact interplay between this limestone and the predominant clay and loam is what differentiates these vineyard’s individual characters, and is always faithfully translated through largely uninhibited vinification.
Wittmann’s fermentations are carried out by indigenous yeasts, either in the tank or in old oak casks, without any additions. Only a touch of sulfur is used during lees-aging, which happens without intermediate racking. As soon as the wine is removed from this sediment it is bottled, and (in the case of the GG wines) usually hit the market about a year after the vintage.
These are all densely structured but refreshing Rieslings. The top-level ones unite thunderous ripeness with near-vibrating acidic nerve, highly drinkable young but built for the long haul. In youth they are deliciously aromatic, exuding layers upon layers of tropical fruit, spice, and mineral nuance. However, it is with age that these wines truly fulfill their potential, taking one to multiple decades (depending on vineyard and vintage) to develop all of their honeyed glory. No wonder that these are our staff’s primary picks for birth-year wine collections.