The Good and Not Quite So of German Wines in BC

Germany is well-known for their Riesling wines, but they also produce Pinot Noir, which they call Spätburgunder, and other varieties, such as Pinot GrisMüller Thurgau, and more.  I decided to check into how many, and what types of German wines are available in BC through our BC Liquor Stores, and was quite surprised.

Did you know that there are only 3 German Pinot Noirs sold by the BC Liquor stores?  Here is the link.  And only one red blend, Black Tower, which I’m sure many Boomers should recognize.  It is a Pinot Noir / Dornfelder blend.

For white German wines, the range is much greater.  There are 66 different white wines, with Riesling making up 55 of them.  I received to sample three Rieslings, one Pinot Gris, a Pinot Noir, and the Black Tower, Pinot Noir / Dornfelder blend.  What did my tasting notes reveal?

My Tasting Notes

The White Wines

There were 3 Rieslings I tried, from dry, to off-dry and medium sweet.

Tesch Löhrer Berg Riesling Trocken 2012 – Bright lemon colour in the glass.  A pronounced nose, with a mix of youthful and developing aromas of citrus, honeysuckle, and petrol, along with some baby powder and white flowers.  With decanting the petrol aroma decreases, and you get some apricot and pineapple.  The wine is between dry and off dry.  It is round with a strong acidic backbone.  A very heavy mouth feel combined with acidic prickle on your tongue.  Citrus, lemon rind, yellow grapefruit primarily with a hint of stone fruits behind and some petrol.  Medium plus length, with mouth-watering acidity finish, and flavours of citrus, petrol and a hint of bitterness.  With decanting the mouth feel does feel lighter, and you get some honey on the finish.  There is more petrol on the nose than you get on the palate.

Rating: 4.5 stars  This is a big, quality German Riesling. Recommended.

Rudolf Müller Riesling Qualitatswein 2014 –  Straw & lemon colours, clear and bright.  Very light citrus and lime nose, and almost none with decanting.  Medium level of sugar, with medium plus acidity. It has a heavier mouth feel due to the level of sugar in the wine. Lime, grapefruit rind, and stone fruit, with some cinnamon, honey and petrol.  The petrol goes away with decanting.   Medium length.  The sweetness in this wine goes to the finish, does has some acidity to counter it, but maybe needs a bit more.

Rating: 3 stars3.5 stars  An OK, entry-level wine.  The sweetness in the wine tends to override the fruit flavours.

Gustav Adolf Schmitt Niersteiner Spätlese Late Harvest Pradikatswein 2014 – Medium plus lemon in colour.  A lighter nose, with aromas of lime, melon, sweet apricots, and spearmint, with a hint of petrol.  It is medium-dry, with medium plus acidity and body.  Viscous mouth feel.  Peaches and apricots, lime skin, honey and spearmint flavours.  I also pick up some minerality and floral component to the wine on the palate.  There is a slight acidic prickle and a hint of petrol.  Mouth watering acidity on the finish with tart crab apples, followed by some pith and apricot at the very end.  With decanting you get more apricots and less apple on the finish.  Tasty!

Rating: 4.5 stars An exciting mix of fruit flavours in the glass. The sugar of this Spätlese wine is balanced by the acidity and fruit flavours.  Enjoy it.

Dönnhoff Grauburgunder Trocken 2014 – Grauburgunder is the German word for Pinot Gris.  This wine is distinctly different from Pinot Gris that you may be more familiar with here in BC.  The wine is more texture and less fruit driven.  This wine has flinty, green melon and stone fruit aromas. It is dry, round with a medium plus mouth feel and pronounced flavours.  Higher acidity.  Melon, green citrus and peach, together with minerality and flintiness.  It finishes quite tart, along with some pith, salty minerality and some pepperiness.

Rating: 4 stars  An intense wine that has fruit flavours, but there is a strong tart component to it.  You need enjoy this wine with food, otherwise the tartness and acidity will be too strong on its own.  This wine may benefit from 3-5 years of aging.

Three Rieslings and a Pinot Gris from Germany
Three Rieslings and a Pinot Gris from Germany

The Red Wines

While the white wines I liked in general, the red wines were a bit disappointing.  I know there is quality German Pinot Noir.  I’d like some to come to Vancouver. Deutschland, bitte schicken sie mal Pinot Noir nach Vancouver.

Affentaler Year of the Monkey Pinot Noir 2014 – Medium minus garnet with some bricking throughout.  Medium, youthful aromas of strawberries, some bramble, dried herbs and nutmeg. Off-dry to medium-dry, light mouth-feel, and round.  Has a sweet feel through out.  There is a slight acidic prickle to this wine.  Flavours of bramble, red cherries and candied red cherries, together with some leafiness or nettles, and a mineral note.  Sweet finish, with sweet red fruit, some bramble and pepperiness. The wine did not show a lot of Pinot character.  This wine was made for the Chinese Year of the Monkey.  The bottle is quite unique with a monkey wrapped around the bottle.

Rating: 3 stars A sweet wine with candied cherries on the palate and some bramble.

Black Tower Dornfelder Pinot Noir 2014 – Medium ruby colour with light red cherry and raspberry aromas.  Off-dry with lower acidity.  Round.  The sweetness of this wine persists from the start to finish of your sip.  It does have a mix of red fruits together with red cherries and floral, but the flavours are not very distinct.  Violets and red fruit flavours on a sweetish finish.

Rating: 3 stars  A very non-descript red blend.

Affentaler Pinot Noir and Black Tower Dornfelder Pinot Noir blend
Affentaler Pinot Noir and Black Tower Dornfelder Pinot Noir blend

I did get a chance to try a German Pinot Noir that will be arriving in Vancouver to our BC Liquor Stores.  I put that review below, so you can get an idea of what you can get from a German Pinot.

Nik Weiss St. Urbans-Hof Pinot Noir 2015 (~$69.99) – The notes from this wine are from a barrel sample.  It may change with some aging before it is filtered and bottled.  Medium garnet in the glass.  Nice aromatics, with a mix of red fruit, cedar, sweet spice and a savory herbal edge on the nose. Medium body, roundish, with a lighter mouth feel.  Red fruit, some herbal and violet notes.  Fine tannins.  Tart cherries on the finish.  A complex, pretty wine.  This wine should be available for purchase in BC in September.  First ever release!

Rating: 4.5 stars

Author: mywinepal
Drink Good Wine. That is my motto and I really want to help you drink good wine. What is good wine? That can be a different thing for each people. Food also loves wine so I also cover food and wine pairings, restaurant reviews, and world travel. Enjoy life with me. MyWinePal was started by Karl Kliparchuk, WSET. I spent many years with the South World Wine Society as the President and then cellar master. I love to travel around the world, visiting wine regions and sharing my passion for food & wine with you. Come live vicariously through me, and enjoy all my recommended wines.