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    GG Siefersheim ‘Heerkretz‘ - Riesling

    Vintage

    Review

    Picked at 92° Oechsle and 11+ grams per liter of acidity, the 2017 Riesling Heerkretz GG is pure yet intense and freaky on the nose. The palate is pure and juicy, with a very intense and enormously salty, long and tensioned finish. Tasted in March 2020. 93+/100 Stephan Reinhardt

    In 1992 when Daniel Wagner was 19, he started a revolution at the eight-hectare family domain in Siefersheim, Rheinhessen. His parents were producing bulk wine for sparkling wine production, because 30 years ago, Siefersheim was a kind of little Siberia in Germany, and the grapes rarely reached their full ripeness due to the cold. That, in combination with the low pH levels and the porphyry soils, made it very challenging to make a tasty base wine. When Daniel got his first stainless steel vat for Christmas in 1992, that was the beginning of a remarkable career. The first 1,500 bottles of Heerkretz and Höllberg Riesling, as well as Horn Sylvaner, were bottled in 1993. Ten years later, I reported about Germany's "Generation Riesling" in a Sunday newspaper, and Daniel Wagner was already one of the outstanding protagonists. It was the time when Rheinhessen started gaining reputation, whereas before it had always been in the shadow of the Rheingau on the other side of the Rhine River. "The local gastronomy was serving Rheingau Rieslings and Bordeaux red wines at that time," remembers Wagner. "It took us 10 years to convince the people that Rheinhessen can also produce great wines." Those were the years when even Keller and Wittmann were rising stars... After Wagner won the German Riesling Award with the 2002 vintage, he became famous, and after that, he has never had enough wine to serve the market needs. He has never bought any grapes, so everything comes from his own vineyards, which sum up to 26 hectares today. In 2004, he became a member of the prestigious VDP, and he switched to organic farming in 2006. For the past several years, Wagner hasn't accepted any botrytis in dry wines. 2008 might have been the last vintage with overripe berries, which he needed to reach the must weights he was aiming for. In 2009, there was no botrytis, and in 2010, he picked highly selectively to get only healthy berries into the press. In 2014, he discarded about a third of the harvest due to botrytis, and since then his wines have been shining. He sells 43% of the production abroad (mainly to Scandinavia, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Russia and Australia), and 20% is for private consumers that buy their wines at the domain. Wagner's idea is to produce authentic wines representing their specific origin—for example, to bring the cold-air influenced Heerkretz, which is up to 300 meters high and open to the wind, into the bottle as pure and unvarnished as possible. The low pH levels of his wines especially ensure freshness and good aging capacity, and the iron-rich porphyry soils provide a cool and nervy, salty minerality. The southeast-facing Heerkretz benefits from its 30% to 50% slope inclination and the weathered red porphyry soils, as well as the nightly cold air influence from the forest area bordering to the north. The vines—mainly genetics from the former Domain Niederhausen (today Gut Hermannsberg, Nahe), but also his own selections—are between 25 and 35 years old. The harvest is done selectively and exclusively by hand in small boxes and consists of 100% healthy grapes without over-ripeness or botrytis. Even in a warm vintage such as 2017, the harvest takes place relatively late, from October 1st through 4th. After a maceration period of five to 10 hours, the grapes are gently pressed. Enzymes, yeasts or other treatment agents are not used. The wines are vinified partly in steel tanks and partly in traditional 1,200-liter stück vats. The full yeast storage lasts until May, and the wines are bottled immediately afterward.