Freiherr Heyl zu Herrnsheim was represented by Jan Kux for the tasting in Oslo on 25th of April 2006. Heyl zu Herrnsheim is situated in Nierstein in Rheinhessen and is a producer that has been making ecological wines for 30 years. Recently they have also started experimenting with biodynamics. The estate makes mostly wines from riesling (80%) and most of it (80% of the vineyards) is placed in the area known as the roter hang between Nierstein and Nackenheim. This soil is made up of red slate which is quite rich in iron. The tasting would focus on two vineyards from this area; the Pettenthal and the smaller monopoly of Brudersberg. While the Pettenthal is facing east-south, the Brudersberg is more directly south-facing with much longer sun-days and warmth.
The wines we taste were:
1.Baron Heyl Estate riesling 2004
2.Baron Heyl riesling spätlese 2002
The estate riesling was aromatic, fresh and uncomplicated dry riesling.With some earthiness and a slight rusticity in it. I would drink it young. The spätlese was a little sweeter and with som more elegance especially on the nose and a touch of maturity. Still quite a simple wine with a little earthiness in the fruit. Both quite fair wines for their price.
3.Rotschiefer riesling 2004
4.Rotschiefer riesling 2002
5.Rotschiefer riesling 2001
The rotschiefer is a dry riesling (alc. 12-12,5%) that selects grapes from the roter hang. There is quite a step up in mineral intensity from flight 1. Quite typical wines of red slate and shows earthy notes beside the slate-notes. Medium bodied and again the slightly rustic fell in the mouth. The 2002 had an added weight, complexity and concentration compared to the 2004 and was the superior wine in the flight. Perhaps the 2001 is the better wine, but it was darn closed at this tasting. Quite promising nose with some honey and flowers. It is structured in the mouth, but did not gave a thing. Judgement reserved for this wine.
6.Niersteiner Pettenthal Grosses Gewächs 2004
7.Niersteiner Pettenthal Grosses Gewächs 2001
8.Niersteiner Brudersberg Grosses Gewächs 2004
9.Niersteiner Brudersberg Grosses Gewächs 1997
These were dry rieslings labelled as Grosses gewächs. The Pettenthal 2004 was a slim and mineral-focused wine, showing slate and less earth. Young,dry, mineral and slim in the mouth. A touch spritzy and good acids. This was very nice, although not the most concentrated wine. The 2001 showed a lot of sulphur on the nose. A touch of petrol Shows more concentration and a great structure in the mouth. But the sulphur is too much. Give it time, hope for better days. The Brudersberg is a small vineyard just where the Pettenthal ends and turns south-facing. It is a monopoly of Heyl zu Herrnsheim. The 2004 shows a riper style of riesling than the Pettenthal. Much more fruit in the nose, flowers and some slate. In the mouth it is fuller, with more fruit and less structure. IMO less interesting than the Pettenthal. The 1997 had evolved a very nice nose. Complex and with petrol, floral and a good depth. It is a bit heavy styled in the mouth with lower acidity which makes it a bit short.
10.Niersteiner Pettenthal riesling spätlese halbtrocken 1999
11.Niersteiner Brudersberg riesling spätlese 2004
12.Niersteiner Brudersberg riesling spätlese 1992
So we moved on to wines with some rs. The 1999 Pettenthal spätlese had a very fine nose. Slightly honeyed, flowery, a touch botrytis, and earth and slate. It was full-bodied and a halbtrocken on the drier side. It was a quite structured 1999 with fine acids and elegance. A very fine wine. The 2004 Brudersberg showed a young and quite sweet and flowery nose. Some pear and slate. Medium bodied and sweet, a little heavy, in the mouth. A little too much rs right now. Needs time. Medium concentration and no great spätlese. The Brudersberg spätlese 1992 proved again that the wines from thsi site with time develops a very fine nose. This quite intence, petrol, earth and fine flowers and depth. Full-bodied and not very sweet in the mouth. Decent structured.
13.Niersteiner Pettenthal riesling auslese 1999
14.Niersteiner Pettenthal riesling auslese 1998
15.Niersteiner Pettenthal riesling auslese 1989
The Pettenthal auslese 1999 was a very good wine. It was quite honeyed and sweet with some flowers and slate on the nose. Round and sweet in the mouth, but with a very fine acidity for a 99 and quite elegant. My wine of the day. Seems like Heyl zu Herrnsheim made som nice wines in 99. The 98 was unfortunately marred by sulphur and a green flowery (geraniums) nose. The same in the mouth. Strucutre on the heavy side. Hope for better times. The 89 had a fine nose og honey, slate, flowers (not too sweet). Fine depth. In the mouth it was a typical 89 in the quite heavy style and a little too much obvious rs. A touch higher acids would have helped. But good length and concentration.
16.Niersteiner Pettenthal riesling Beerenauslese 2000
The golden coloured BA had a fruity nose with hints of honey, flowers and citrus. It is medium bodied (for a BA) with just a touch fat. Not the most concentrated, but with a fine balance, quite refresheing and shows no rot, which was so present in this vintage, but is clean and precise. Good, more than great.
Overall I was a little underwhelmed by the wines. No doubt there is some good wines here, but there is both a little lack in consistency and it seems that the roter hang has it's limitations when it comes to quality. The rusticity was in some degree present in most of the wines. Of the two vineyards I seemed to prefer the Pettenthal, which was more mineral-focused and often showed a better structure. But the two older Brudersberg both had developed fine complexity on the nose. On vintages the two 99's where very fine. The 2004 seemed typical, decent with a little lack of concentration.