When all is said and done, the aromatics of this lovely wine leave no doubt about its origins: the mountain of black Devon slate that the Romans named Bacchi Ara: the “Altar of Bacchus,” and the deepest, coldest cellar I know in Germany.
At first, the wine smells of autumn: apples, cumin, and dried chiodini, all moving in and out of the foreground as the nose evolves in the glass. Later, fleeting suggestions of honeysuckle, lime blossoms, and crystallized honeycomb emerge, sometimes alternating with pink grapefruit, freesia, and coriander seed.
On the palate, the wine is both creamy and sinewy: mouthfilling, salty, and just off-dry, with flavors of juicy sumo citrus, ripe pineapple, white peaches and fresh thyme, all comingled with palpable Devon slate minerality; its barely perceptible sweetness in easy harmonic tension with mouthwatering citric acidity. And the finish goes on forever.
About this wine producer: Weingut Ratzenberger is in the beautiful town of Bacharach-Steeg on the left bank of the Rhine, about a half-hour from the Frankfurt airport. It’s our favorite first stop in Germany. The guest apartment is one of the most comfortable places we stay, with the view through the bedroom window dominated by a wall of Pinot Noir (Spätburgunder) vines marching up the towering Steeger St. Jost.