This Article Contains
Caroline Diel and husband Sylvain Taurisson-Diel
Rieslings with a heavy French influence in winemaking, yet they explore their terroir in the very German method of every ripeness levels from all top sites. Also, some outstanding sparkling wine.
- Defined as very cold winters, hot, short, fairly rainy summers, with long, cool, dry autumns.
- Until climate change this was the very northern edge of where grapes could ripen fully, but only about 7 out of 10 years.
- Now: winters are usually not as cold, summers are much hotter, drought is a serious problem 4 or the last 5 years, and autumns start later and are often much wetter than they used to be.
- The unpredictability of the weather is what makes wines especially vintage sensitive and creates havoc (and high costs!) for winemakers.
- Nahe is a little warmer on average than the Mosel and cooler than most of the other wine regions in Germany. There are some very warm vineyard sites, giving an almost mediterranean feel, but also with a few cooler, almost Saar-like areas as well.
- Cool climate wines are high in acid, low in alcohol, light in body, and often show a lot of mineral flavors rather than fruit.
- Usually white wines are made, but some light reds, like Pinot Noir can also ripen well.
- Warmer vintages: 2020, 2019, 2018, 2015 produce wines with lower acidity, higher alcohols, and richer fruit flavors.
- Cooler vintages: 2021, 2013, 2010, 2008 produce what are now considered “classic” cool-climate wines
- 2022 is an enigma. It was hot and very dry for most of the growing season, but rain and long cold fall ended up giving us wines that taste more like “classic” cool-climate wines than rich, ripe wines.
25 hectares from Erste Gewächs and Erste Lage vineyards.
- Dorsheimer Goldloch: A Grand Cru site, stony soils with a layer of loam and gravel, very steep (45-55%) with terraces. Their prized vineyard.
- Dorsheimer Pittermännchen: A Grand Cru site, heavily weathered Devonian grey slate, on top of Rotliegend conglomerate with gravel, and quartzite. The smallest slope of the estate. Very fine, mineral Riesling.
- Dorsheimer Burgberg: A Grand Cru site, loamy, iron-rich soils with a high proportion of quartzite. These need extra time in the cellar but reward with outstand complexity.
- The King of White Grapes.
- High acid, semi aromatic
- A huge variation in style potential from very light and dry, sparkling to the most unctuously sweet wines on the planet.
- Divisive for its high acidity and sugar retaining capabilities
- Perfect in its dynamic nature, ability to transmit the slightest nuance of terroir and being capable of aging for hundreds of years.
Pinot Blanc / Weissburgunder
- A white skinned mutation of Pinot Noir
- The secret weapon of the Teutonics. They make the best versions of this grape, and they don’t share them.
- Germany is now the world’s leading producer of Pinot Blanc
- pale to straw yellow in color, and delicate on the nose. A slightly nutlike aroma is typical. Vinified dry, its medium to full body and fine acidity complement many types of food.
- Good examples age very well, although generally made with the aim of everyday fresh and dry wines in mind. Even these seemingly innocuous wines have the ability to age over decades..
Pinot Gris / Grauburgunder
- A pink-skinned genetic mutation of Pinot Noir.
- Likely introduced from across the border in nearby Alsace by Cistercian monks.
- Takes on many styles in Germany.
- The country is the world’s third-largest producer of the grape.
- Typically dry and can range from light and fresh to rich and oak-aged.
- Most of the time, these wines are more concentrated and flavorful than Pinot Grigio of Italy, with notes of apple, pear, and nuts.
- Because of its pink skins, Pinot Gris also makes delicious orange wines.
Pinot Noir / Spätburgunder
- German Pinot Noir wines are vinified as dry red wines with complex cherry aroma with subtle hints of smoke and almond, slight tannins, and high acidity, with a long finish.
- Had a poor reputation thanks to high yielding, work-horse, clonal material.
- Now Burgundy clones dominate vineyards for the best producers showcasing this incredible variety's true potential.
- Practicing organic in most vineyards
- Hand harvesting
- Every site is picked multiple times throughout the harvest season
Traditional Mosel with some French Influence
- No recipes, Caroline follows her gut with every vintage and every wine.
- Fruit is whole cluster preseed or destemmed by hand if the vintage requires it
- Short maceration
- Gentle pressing
- Overnight sedimentation
- Spontaneous fermentation
- Vessels vary from stuckfass, doppelstuck, cement tanks and small barrels for red wines.
- Long aging: Whites for a minimum of 10 months before bottling.
- Reds are 75% hand destemmed with 25% whole cluster
- 18 months in barrel
- Bottled unfiltered.
- Sparkling is Champagne method with 5- 15 years in the bottle
- Hand riddling
Caroline, the 7th generation to run the estate, has always pushed against the grain. In highschool she decided she wanted to be anywhere but the Nahe and jumped ship for a boarding school in Pebble Beach California.
She eventually returned and after graduating from Geisenheim interned around the world in California, Burgundy, Champagne, South Africa, Burgenland, New Zealand and elsewhere in France. Estates included Domaine de la Romanee Conti, Pichon Lalande, Dr Deinhard, Ruinart, and Rebholz. And because her devotion to learning and Champagne knows no bounds she even got another internship with Hure Freres in 2020.
She’s a bit of a renegade, but is devoted to both her family and her inherited family legacy. She pulls out the stops to attain quality and pushes the other estates in the VDP to do the same. These wines were some of the biggest surprises on this last German trip and deserve your attention.
Her methods and wines feel very French in their on minerality over fruit. But she also embraces Rieslings ability to make great wine in every style fromfocus bone dry to superbly sweet and everything in between.
Do NOT miss out on her Sparkling wines. These are the best non-Champagne sparklers from anywhere, in fact, I’d say they are better than many Champagne available on the market.
Schlossgut Diel, Diel de Diel, 2021 $23.99 $21.11
Name is a spin on Gavi di Gavi for something that is simple, straight forward, bright and delicious. The first vintage was used in Lufthansa business class. Juicy, dry, moderately rich, medium + acid, spicy, a Pinot chalky texture, fine riesling fruit, touch of reduction.
Schlossgut Diel, Goldloch Riesling Sekt Prestige, 2013 $84.99 $74.79
Out of this world. I thought the Pinot de Deil was incredible, but this is just the bees knees, cat's meow and who knows what else. 2013 was such a magical vintage in Champagne and Germany and its the perfect one to make a perfect wine like this. The depth of concentration, with the evaborative effect of German wine is on full display. Showing just a bit of maturity, but only now coming into play. Just stunning.
Schlossgut Diel, Pinot de Diel Brut, NV $37.99 $33.43
😀😀 Pinot Cuvee = Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, and a dash of Riesling. A 2020 base, lovely, like really good, the best sparkling in Germany, better than many Champagne. Just a bare touch of fruit with mostly rich, deep reserve wine, toasted brioche, loads of umami, perfectly pixelated, pinpointed bubbles, creamy mousse.
Schlossgut Diel, Pinot Noir Caroline, 2020 $123.99 $109.11
Lovely wine, Germany is really stepping up their Pinot game with these better clones and warmer weather. This is a wine made by someone who loves Burgundy and it shows.
Schlossgut Diel, Riesling Burg Layen Trocken, 2021 $32.99 $29.03
“The 2021 Burg Layen Riesling is deep, pure and intense on the nose that shows iodine notes and a coolish but ripe fruit aroma. Lush and savory on the palate, with intense, concentrated and juicy fruit, this is a saline, fresh and intense, persistent and aromatic dry Riesling with lots of music and slate tension. A gorgeous wine. 12% stated alcohol. Screw-cap closure. Tasted at the domaine in August 2022. 93 pts” -- Stephan Reinhardt, The Wine Advocate
Schlossgut Diel, Riesling Burgberg Grosses Gewächs, 2019 $98.99 $87.11
Spends an extra year in barrel, then is racked to stainless steel with the lees. From a 2 ha amphitheater with vines planted in the late 60s on iron rich, clay, quartzite soils. Still so young, sponti and reduction (will shed), phenolic, richer, a bit disjointed right now, but it was just bottled. Loads of mineral, way less fruit and what is there is all white with a strip of red in the background. A very promising wine = stony pure.
Schlossgut Diel, Riesling Dorsheimer Goldloch Kabinett, 2021 $35.99 $31.67
“The openhearted 2021 Goldloch Riesling Kabinett opens to ripe and lush as well as well concentrated yellow stone fruit aromas intertwined with coolish and spicy notes of crushed rocks. Pure, saline and refined on the palate, this is a mouth-filling Kabinett with ripe and lush fruit but also crystalline acidity that cuts the fruit into mineral-scented slices. Aged in large, traditional oak, this is an excellent and moutwatering Kabinett from a grand cu vineyard. 8% stated alcohol. Natural cork. Tasted at the domaine in August 2022. 92 pts” -- Stephan Reinhardt, The Wine Advocate
Schlossgut Diel, Riesling Dorsheimer Pittermännchen Auslese, 2012 $84.99 $74.79
Schlossgut Diel, Riesling Dorsheimer Trocken, 2021 $32.99 $29.03
“The 2021 Dorsheim Riesling is pure, deep, intense and perfectly ripe on the slatey nose that shows concentrated and spicy fruit. Lush and round on the palate, this is a fine, crystalline, elegant, piquant and persistently saline Riesling with a long, pure, crystalline and aromatic finish. The acidity is really sharp but ripe and accompanies a ripe, elegant fruit. 12% stated alcohol. Screw-cap closure. Tasted at the domaine in August 2022. 92 pts” -- Stephan Reinhardt, The Wine Advocate
Schlossgut Diel, Riesling Eierfels Trocken, 2021 $41.99 $36.95
Schlossgut Diel, Riesling Goldloch Grosses Gewächs, 2021 $77.99 $68.63
Pebbly Permian soils. Yellow fruit and flint, spicy baked strawberries and peach pie, a little more dense but with a ton of acid to hold it up, while it sheds the fat. I want to drink this in five years. These have all been elegant and finessed wines with good juice to mineral balance.
Schlossgut Diel, Riesling Nahesteiner Trocken, 2021 $23.99 $21.11
“Caroline Diel's 2021 Riesling Nahesteiner offers a clear, brilliant and aromatic bouquet of ripe white stone fruits and pure notes of crushed stones. This is coolish, spicy and finely concentrated. Lush, refined and savory on the palate, this is a light but intense and juicy-piquant Riesling with a long and pretty complex finish. 12% stated alcohol. Screw-cap closure. Tasted at the domaine in August 2022. 92 pts” -- Stephan Reinhardt, The Wine Advocate
Schlossgut Diel, Riesling Pittermannchen Grosses Gewächs, 2021 $79.99 $70.39
“The 2021 Pittermännchen GG offers a deep, pure, intense, flinty-scented bouquet of ripe mirabelles and crushed stones. Very firm and tight on the palate, this is a pure and saline yet currently ascetic and even drying Riesling with a long and tensioned finish yet still not showing the dimensions it really has. 12% stated alcohol. Natural cork. Tasted at the domaine in August 2022. 96 pts” -- Stephan Reinhardt, The Wine Advocate
Schlossgut Diel, Riesling Schlossberg Erste Lage Trocken, 2021 $54.99 $48.39
★ From a site with old, weathered, decomposed red slate along with a bunch of other bits, south-east to south-west aspect. Feminine, jasmine, tropical flowers, (any of you ever smelled a puakenikeni?) blood orange, very spicy finish, purely mineral, less fruit, but what is there is just ripe, and white flower perfumed finish. So juicy and complex for and Erste Lage. It is young and lacks some cohesion but also has such youthful exuberance, a rainbow of colors of fruit flavors; white, green, yellow, orange, red all in the background.
Schlossgut Diel, Rosé de Diel, 2022 $27.99 $24.63
What a happy delicious rose. perfect for our lunch outdoors, drink with good company and yummy food, it almost doesn't matter what.
Schlossgut Diel, Von der Nahe Feinherb, 2021 $25.99 $22.87