The Ratzenberger Spätburgunder trocken comes from a parcel of twenty-five-year-old vines on the mid-slope of the Bacharacher Wolfshöhle, a steep slate vineyard that was planted by the Romans in the time of Marcus Aurelius. The grapes were fermented on the natural ambient yeast, and the wine was matured for two years in neutral 1200 liter Stückfässer made from regional Hunsrück oak. In the glass, the wine has a pale ruby color that warms to bright mahoganey at the edge. The fabulous, exotic nose calls to mind a theoretical amalgam of fresh young Santa Maria Hills Pinot Noir and fully mature Côte de Beaune Burgundy, like an old Ampeau Volnay. Aromas of ripe persimmon, tart red plums, candied ginger, and strawberry preserves are dominant. On the palate, the wine grows voluminous, opening up like a peacock’s tail with fresh red fruit flavors that echo the nose, then becomes unexpectedly mouthfilling and substantial, always remaining fresh, supple, and vibrant.
About this wine producer: It was perfect timing that brought us to Weingut Ratzenberger on a rainy afternoon in July of 2000. Paolo De Marchi of Isole e Olena had recommended the wines, and the Ratzenbergers had just ended a testy relationship with their famous American importer. So we tasted the thrilling, mineral-infused Rieslings that Jochen poured knowing that they were actually available to buy. We believe that despite flying under the radar of “important” German wine pundits, the Ratzenbergers should be included among the very top producers of Riesling in the world.