• Emily

Tasting the 2020 Germans

At work, we're smack in the middle of our 2020 German campaign. 2019 was the vintage of the century, so the 2020s have had a lot to live up to.

Our German buyer managed to get to Germany (but not without many covid tests and lots of self-isolating on either end) to taste all the wines before we released the offer, but the rest of us are only tasting them as the samples are rolling in and we're decanting them into hundreds of tiny bottles for a series of zoom tastings.

I've left my tasting book at work, but I'll give my overall thoughts for now, and will follow up with some specific tasting notes for the wines. So far I've tasted through all the Kabinetts, most of the Spatlesen, a handful of the Trockens, and just a few Auslesen (there weren't many this year).

I've been at the company for just over 2 years now, and still feel like there's a lot to learn about German wine. I can easily pick out a Riesling over other white wines, but picking out the differences between Rieslings has really been a learning curve, and don't get me started on tasting the differences between regions, or different villages.

The difference between the 2019s and the 2020s is pretty vast, though, and I think even Riesling neophytes would be able to tell the difference! The 2019s were very angular, precise, and fairly punched you in the face with their acidity. They're wines meant to age, lots of acidity and lots of concentration. The 2020s, on the other hand, are lighter, easier, much more floral, and will drink younger. That's not to say they're dilute; they have plenty of flavor and concentration! But the impression they leave is much softer and gentler.

When tasting the 2020s, there was a definite divide between two styles; red apple, peach, apricot, and floral notes characterized one style, while the other leaned towards lime, green apple, wet stone, and herbal, grassy notes. A lot has to do with vineyard location and picking time. I honestly can't say that I prefer one over the other! I had two favorites from my tasting last week, and they were very different styles.

The buyer said something to me that really flipped a switch while we were tasting through the wines, which was that at this point, it's not as useful to taste for flavors, as those will evolve over time. Many of these wines are still unfinished, so the main things to taste for are the structural elements: acidity, sugar, alcohol level, fruit concentration.

It came up when we were tasting two different wines from the same vineyard, each made by a different brother (Oliver Haag of Weingut Fritz Haag and Thomas Haag of Schloss Lieser). Oliver's wine was much finer, more subtle, and probably more elegant, while Thomas's wine was more muscular, weightier, and more concentrated. I preferred the wine from Schloss Lieser but the buyer said that the wines from Weingut Fritz Haag tend to come out of their shell with some bottle age.

I'll be tasting more wines next week, and will post a round up of everything I've tasted!

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