The Ratzenberger family moved to the Mittelrhein from East Germany in the 1950s, and young Jochen Ratzenberger first began to make wine in 1994. The 8-hectare estate, west and north of the town of Bacharach, includes holdings in the three steep vineyards of blue-black Devon slate: Steeger St. Jost, Posten, and Wolfshöhle.
The Rivaner comes from the only Ratzenberger vineyard that doesn’t cling precariously to one of the dramatic, cliff-like walls of black slate that tower over the village of Bacharach. Instead, it grows on the gentle incline at the top of the hill below the forest above the Posten, overlooking the Rhine.
In the glass, this terrific Rivaner has a glowing straw yellow color, and a generous floral nose that evolves to include yellow peaches, ripe pineapples, and sweet freesia. On the palate, the wine is silky and palpably rich, with flavors of dry citrus zest, ripe nectarines, and lemon-spritzed baking apples joining the ripe stone fruit and crystallized honey. The finish is seasoned with fine minerality and subtle delicate bitterness, and the wine’s vibrant acidity is refreshing, but softer than that of the Rieslings from the Posten on the slope just below. And when all is said and done, the aromatics of this lovely wine leave no doubt about its origin: the hill that the Romans named Bacchi Ara: the “Altar of Bacchus.”