Rizling or riesling

We got underway last month with Dr. Bürklin-Wolf’s entry level Riesling. Now, here’s the next instalment of the great unknowns from the best places of growth. Great, because according to many, German Riesling is the only rival of Burgundian Chardonnay for the title of the world’s greatest white wine, and now it’s Riesling which seems to be winning. It remains somewhat undiscovered, despite the fact that even here in Hungary there is substantial amount of it. Yet, even though someone might know the Hungarian Rajnai Rizling, when tasting a more serious German Riesling for the first time, they are likely to say they are two different varieties. As the Tokaj aszús are made exceptionally great by the interplay between the high acidity and sugar – beside of course the richness of the aromas – the fruitiness of the German Rieslings is also based on this nice tension. The first time we tasted “echte” Riesling it was like after listening to canned music; the strings of a double bass soared up next to our armchair. The high acidity could be viewed as worrying initially yet it serves to bring balance. As the result of a long learning process, we learned that beautiful dry Rieslings are born. Nevertheless, when we take on the job of tasting Rieslings, we shouldn’t be afraid of a touch of residual sugar. 


The biggest privately run winery in Germany, which became truly famous around 1875 when Albert Bürklin married Luise Wolf from Wachenheim. They have parcels in the most valuable vineyards of Pfalz and they are famous mostly for their dry Rieslings. Bettina Bürklin von Gurdaze made two radical decisions: based on the Burgundian example, she introduced the classification of vineyards – their best wines are given G.C. (grand cru) and P.C. (premier cru) rankings) – and she changed the cultivation first to organic, then to biodynamic.


This winery is soon to celebrate the 300th anniversary of its foundation. Dr. Ludwig Bassermann-Jordan played a key role in the creation of the first German wine law. 85 per cent of the 49-hectare estate is devoted to Riesling and more the a third of the grapes are cultivated in outstanding quality vineyards. In 2007 and 2010, Auf der Mauer Riesling QbA Trocken was selected as the “Riesling of the Year”.



Regarding the size of growing areas, it’s almost five times bigger than the Tokaj wine region. It’s located 80 kilometres north of Alsace and is bordered on the western side by the Haardt mountains, east of the River Rhine. Among the German wine regions, it belongs to the sunnier and drier ones. Although Riesling is the most prominent grape variety, the picture is very mixed: 45 types of white and 22 types of blue grapes are permitted, while the proportion of red wines can reach 40 per cent. Pfalz is a popular destination for excursions and for a long time they served the tourists cheap, modest quality wines. They started breaking out of the machine-controlled, industrial-like winemaking in the ‘80s and the ‘90s and by today Pfalz is considered as Germany’s most exciting wine region. The three historic estates that provide as the base of Pfalz’s fame are Dr. Bürklin-Wolf, Dr. Bassermann-Jordan and Reichsrat von Buhl. The two most famous wine villages with the most highly regarded vineyards are Forst (Jesuitengarten, Kirchenstück, Ungeheuer) and Deidesheim (Hohenmorgen, Langenmorgen, Kalkoufen).