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The wines of Künstler, Rheingau, Germany
Freihrr-von-Stein-Ring 3, 6529 Hochhein Main, Germany
Tel: +49 (0)61 468 2570
UK agent: Richards Walford

Gunter Künstler took over here in 1988, and with some canny vineyard acquisitions he now has vines in five important sites. Künstler specializes in drier styles of wines that age well, and while the quality of these youthful wines was evident, they do need time to put on some real complexity. I found them less approachable this young than counterparts from the Mosel would be at this early stage. Gunter, who was presenting these wines, explained that the Hölle vineyard has a clay-based soil and is down on the river, whereas the Kirchenstück vineyard, with its light loam soils, produces wines that are a bit more elegant.

Hochheimer Reichestal Spätburgunder Auslese Trocken 1999
A Pinot Noir of auslese must weight, this is quite pale in colour, with an attractive herby, slightly vegetal nose. The palate is light and reasonably complex, with a touch of spice. Nice in a lighter style. Very good

Hochheimer Hölle Riesling Spätlese Trocken 1999
Elegant nose is fresh and clear, with a touch of floral perfume. Bone dry, delicate and elegant on the palate. Very good

Hochheimer Hölle Riesling Auslese Trocken 1999
Smoky, delicate nose. Dry with some rich fruitiness on the palate. Great balance and good potential: now needs to develop some complexity in the bottle. Very good+

Hochheimer Kirchenstück Riesling Auslese Trocken 1999
This concentrated wine shows a rich nose with some honeyed notes. Quite rich on the palate, but possibly lacks a little excitement? Will probably age. Very good

Hochheimer Kirchenstück Riesling Spätlese 1999
Quite an elegant wine. Lively nose with a rich, elegant character leads to a lovely rich palate with good balance. Very good+

Hochheimer Hölle Riesling Beerenauslese 1999
Ripe nose of apples and honey, with some apricotty botrytis notes. Complex, rich botrytised palate with great complexity and balance. Very good/excellent

Tasted May 2001 at the Decanter Rising Stars Fine Wine Encounter

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