Truly two of the greatest values in 2013 German Riesling are the Keller Von Der Fels and -RR-, which fall only slightly short of their higher-profile (and much more expensive) siblings from the Rheinhessen. Klaus-Peter Keller is considered a pioneer of dry Riesling, producing what is repeatedly hailed as the top Grosses Gewachs in each vintage. Abtserde, Hubacker and Morstein are proudly emblazoned across Keller’s labels; they are wines of precision, yet they take many years to reveal their charms.
After a summer of diving deep into German Riesling, it was a 2011 Keller Nierstein Riesling trocken which truly moved me. Imagine my dismay when I learned that this wine is not imported. However, this put me on a hunt to better understand the wines of this iconic producer.
What did I find? Intense, pulsating wines of power and verve, with their razor-like focus on the palate–like a bullet train–which stops suddenly short, only to blossom into an explosion of mineral-tinged fruit. Keller has truly mastered their craft. Unlike most German producers, who still judge quality on a level of ripeness alone, Keller has become a pioneer in the categories of Trocken and Grosses Gewachs, setting their priorities on the vineyard and the gapes. These are serious bottles of wine that stand head and shoulders above the competition.
The Von Der Fels excites the palate with its mineral-tinged, pulsating acidity. It’s dry to the bone and intense with layers of depth. Whereas the -RR- is all about balance. The -RR-, which contains a trace amount of residual sugar (which is completely undetectable), shows so much balance and poise; it’s like a bomb aching to explode. The -RR- is a really special bottle, coming from a tiny parcel of red earth and limestone within the Kirchspiel vineyard. Both of these are beautiful for their textural intensity and purity of fruit. Honestly, it’s hard to pick a favorite.
When you consider that the price of these wines are half that of Keller’s single-vineyard bottles, the choice becomes clear.
2013 Keller Riesling Von der Fels Rheinhessen – The nose is lively and fresh, showing young peach and red apple complemented by smoke, minerals and a hint of wet slate. It splashes against the palate with a wave of intense tart citrus, yet quickly fleshes out, turning to tangerine, ripe melon, flower petal and minerals. The mouth waters throughout the finish leaving notes of orange peel, spice and gorgeous inner floral tones. (92 points)
2013 Weingut Keller Riesling -RR- – The Keller RR is another incredibly young wine with serious potential and an intensity that’s just looking to explode. The highly expressive nose showed lime and green apple, wet slate, exotic spices with deep floral tones and, with time, hints of earth and undergrowth. Rich yet restrained by its youthful tension, with intense citrus and saline minerals which seemed to saturated the senses. A bitter hint on the finish was quickly washed clean, as this wine’s vibrant acidity forced the mouth to water, showing a lasting note of lemon peel and inner florals. (93 points)
Article and Tasting Notes by: Eric Guido