The Hesse baroque city of Fulda has a very special relationship with the Prädikat wine. During the 18th century, Fulda's bishop was a very powerful man and thus in charge of the monks at the monastery of Johannisberg (today castle Johannisberg). The monks there lead a very traditional viticulture and always had to present the very first grapes to the majesty in order for him to approve the vintage. In 1775, for some reason the envoy's arrival was delayed by a couple of days (nobody knows why this happened, it may have been a young maid across or maybe he got robbed on the way) but the envoy's fellow monks did not feel comfortable messing with the grapes that were now slowly rotting away at the vine stock. It wasn't until the envoy finally arrived that the monks went ahead and picked the rest of the grapes - which by now were all covered in yeast.
Needless to say, there were much less grapes and noone believed that any good wine could come out of this. After all, noone at the time had ever heard of a Trockenbeerenauslese. And so it happened that in 1776 this vintage was first tasted and surprised everyone. The cellar master in charge put his impressions on paper and stated that he had "never tasted anything like this". In other words: this was an excellent majestic beverage. Ever since then everyone understood how special a late vintage can really be. This notion was later incorporated as a late vintage, the so-called "Prädikat Spätlese".
On the occasion of the late vintage 225-year-anniversay in 2000, Fulda served as venue for a very special competition in which all German Riesling late vintages could take part. In the first year, Fulda's wine convent organized this event, but shortly after, the city's marketing corporation took over. In charge from the very beginning was Wolfgang Wehner, who leads a successful hotel & restaurant business in Fulda and who has always been very active in the Chamber of Commerce and marketing. It was him and his close friends that have been organizing and expanding this competition for more than 10 years now. There are numerous jury members from all around Germany and there is always one person acting on behalf of Castle Johannisberg; this year: domaine Director Christian Witte himself.
The tastings always take place at the castle. It's emperor's hall is a perfect location for the presentation of all Riesling wines. The fact that the late vintage competition has gained more and more popularity within the wine scene is proven by high number of participating wines. More than 260 wines were sent in and a majority of them were even dry wines. There were two more categories for semi-dry and fruity wines. The Fulda tasting has three stages: first, the best wines are selected and evaluated agaiin until the final creme de la creme is found.
It was clear that the fruity wines were particularly strong that time. While dry and slightly fruity wines ended up with rather average raatings in the first round, jurors seemed to favor the wines that had more than 50 grams of residual sugar. Some jury members even gave some wines top ratings of 19 out of 20 points. All the other categories had some very clear winners as well: The best wines and their producers will be announced during the late-vintage days in Fulda on November 25. (r.knoll)
Here are the top wines of the 13th late-vintage competition - all of them vintage 2011:
- Sieger: Walsheimer Silberberg, Palatinate, Winery Pfaffmann - 16.7
- 2nd: Forster Ungeheuer, Palatinate, Winery E. Müller - 16.6
- Two times 3rd: Langenlonsheimer Königsschild, Nahe, Winery Honrath and Himmelstraum, Rhinegau, WInery Himmel - both 16.5
- Winner: Johannisberger Hölle, Rhinegau, Winery Goldatzel - 16.8
- 2nd: Clees, Franken, Winery Baldauf - 16.4
- 3rd.: Merler Königslay Terrassen, Mosel, Winery Kallfelz - 16.3
- Winner: Rüdesheimer Berg Rottland, Rhinegau, Winery Wegeler - 17.6
- Dreimal 2. Platz: Schlossberg Fürstenberg, Mittelrhein, Weingut Weingart und Monzinger Halenberg, Nahe, Weingut Schauß sowie Kaseler Niesbach, Mosel, Weingut Karlsmühle - alle 17.4