Rheinhessen is a great place for Riesling shooting stars – the last years have proven it. But, there is one special couple, that a true Riesling rockstars already (even though they don’t like to hear that): It is Oliver Spanier and Carolin Spanier-Gillot. They own two wineries in Rheinhessen which both have been awarded with four red grapes in the Gault Millau. Which means, they are almost on the international top with both of them. That itself is an amazing achievement. But let’s start at the beginning…
When you want to try their wines you usually go to the winery in the village of Bodenheim. If you would like to see the cellar you have to go to Hohen-Sülzen which is roughly 40 kilometers away. This is also where the family lives. And this is where we went. You don’t see it immediately, as the house on the hill is covered by other buildings. But a minute later you understand: Oliver and Carolin are on the top of Rheinhessen winemakers and they are investing in new infrastructure and additional capacity.
Oliver welcomed us with open arms. Even though he always says that he is a winemaker and not a natural small-talker, we were convinced after three hours of most interesting conversation: He is both a great winemaker and a more than charming person. But the trophy of “heart-warming host” goes to Carolin. Within minutes we felt like part of the family. She joked, she cooked (like a pro!) and both of them have an amazing story to tell.
It’s hard to wrap three hours up. If you want to boil it down to three main learnings, the first would be that it is amazing what both build up – with talent, with stamina and sometimes even with some luck. Second, there is no compromise to quality – if you fight for that the current hype around Riesling will be a story for centuries. And third, terroir knows no compromises – the wines speak for themselves.
We had the chance to taste through all quality levels of an outstanding 2017 collection. Two wineries with very different basis. Just look at the difference in the vineyard: Kühling-Gillot covers vineyards like the Pettenthal, Rothenberg and the Hipping – lots of red slate. Battenfeld-Spanier covers vineyards like the Frauenberg and Herrgott – with amazing limestone soil.
It is quite hard to vote for clear favorites. Especially in the Grosses Gewächs quality levels. Frauenberg comes with amazing elegance and power. The Rothenberg with firestone like minerality, dense and complex. The Pettenthal is spicy, crisp and fresh. The Herrgott offers a spiciness out of the limestone minerality that is hard to compare and an everlasting finish. You can hardly do wrong with both brands – no matter if you pick Battenfeld-Spanier or Kühling-Gillot Rieslings. And if you are still asking yourself – is 2017 a great vintage. Here is the answer from Rheinhessen: It definitely is!