Westhofen Morstein Riesling GG 2012 – Weingut Wittmann
Style: White
Country: Germany
Region: Rheinhessen
Grape: Riesling
Score: 90-94
Price: 75-125 euro

Westhofen Morstein Riesling GG 2012 – Weingut Wittmann.

German Riesling holds a special place in our heart. Overall wine production in Germany is of the highest quality levels but there are some producers that stand out and raise the bar even further. One of these producers is Philipp Wittmann, from Weingut Wittmann.

A few years ago, we already interviewed the winery (click here for the recording), and throughout the years we tasted numerous of their wines, but a written recording of one of their top wines has not been made yet. An error we are correcting now, with a review of one of their dry Rieslings, an older vintage of their top single vineyard ‘Morstein’. 

Join us, as we take a closer look at the region, winery and this excellent wine.

About the Region

The Rheinhessen wine region, in the heart of Germany, is a vibrant and dynamic area renowned for its winemaking tradition. This region, often referred to as the “land of a thousand hills,” is Germany’s largest wine-producing area and is located in the federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate. 

Rheinhessen’s winemaking heritage dates back to Roman times. The Romans recognized the area’s potential for viticulture and began cultivating grapes along the gentle slopes of the Rhine River. This tradition was carried on by the Benedictine and Cistercian monks during the Middle Ages, who played a crucial role in developing the region’s wine culture.

The region is characterized by its varied topography, ranging from rolling hills to fertile plains. The Rhine River forms its eastern boundary, providing a unique microclimate conducive to viticulture. The soil composition is diverse, including loamy, sandy, and limestone soils, which contribute to the distinct flavors of Rheinhessen wines. 

Rheinhessen enjoys a mild climate with relatively low rainfall, creating ideal conditions for grape growing. The summers are warm and sunny, while winters are generally mild, allowing for a long and favorable growing season.

The region is best known for its white wines, with Riesling being the most famous variety. This grape is celebrated for its ability to express the terroir’s nuances, resulting in wines that range from dry to sweet, with complex flavors and crisp acidity. In recent years, there has been a growing interest in French varietals, in particular Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

Rheinhessen’s winemakers are known for their innovative spirit and commitment to quality. Many embrace sustainable and organic practices, reflecting a deep respect for the land and its ecosystem. The region is home to a mix of historic wineries and young, dynamic vintners who are experimenting with new techniques and styles, adding to the diversity of wines available.

About the Winery

Weingut Wittmann is a winery that has become synonymous with exceptional quality and sustainable viticulture. Under the stewardship of Philipp Wittmann, the current winemaker, this family-run estate has risen to prominence, both nationally and internationally, as a beacon of organic winemaking and innovative practices.

The winemaking estate traces its roots back to 1663, making it one of the oldest family-owned wineries in Rheinhessen. For generations, the Wittmann family has been deeply connected to the land, cultivating vineyards and producing wines that reflect the unique terroir of the region. The winery has been passed down through the family, with each generation contributing to its legacy and reputation.

Philipp Wittmann, representing the current generation, took the reins of the estate in the late 20th century. Educated in viticulture and oenology, Phillip brought a fresh perspective to the winery, combining respect for tradition with a passion for innovation.

Philipp is widely regarded as one of Germany’s most talented and forward-thinking winemakers. His approach to winemaking is deeply influenced by a commitment to organic and biodynamic practices, which he implemented in the early 2000s. This transition marked a significant milestone for the winery, positioning it at the forefront of sustainable viticulture in Germany.

Philipp’s philosophy revolves around the belief that great wines are made in the vineyard, not just the cellar. He focuses on creating a healthy, biodiverse ecosystem in his vineyards, which allows the grapes to express the true character of the soil and the climate. This approach has led to the production of wines that are not only of high quality but also reflect a deep sense of place.

About the Vineyard

‘Morstein’ stands as a testament to viticultural mastery and tradition. Classified as a “Grosse Lage” (akin to the French Grand Cru) this vineyard carries the highest quality designation in German viticulture. This status is embodied in the extraordinary single vineyard wine ‘Morstein’.

The vineyard’s history is as rich as its soil. For centuries, this area has been recognized for its exceptional wine-growing conditions. Morstein is actually the first single vineyard to be mentioned officially in the village of Westhofen. 

Morstein’s acclaim is significantly influenced by its distinctive terroir. The vineyard enjoys a favorable microclimate and a unique soil composition, both critical in defining its wine’s unique characteristics. Situated on a south-facing slope that ascends to an elevated plateau at 280 meters, it benefits from ideal sun exposure, crucial for optimal grape ripening. The soil, a rich amalgamation of limestone and clay, contributes a pronounced minerality to the wines. This composition facilitates a nuanced expression of the region’s distinct characteristics, enhancing the complexity and depth of the flavors.

This terroir, combined with the age of the vines, allows for deep-rooted plants that can access nutrients and water from deep within the earth, adding layers of complexity to the wine.

About the Wine

Weingut Wittmann is renowned for its exceptional dry white wines, particularly those made from Riesling, the star grape of the region. The estate’s Rieslings are celebrated for their purity, depth, and minerality, capturing the essence of Rheinhessen’s diverse terroirs.

The wines of Weingut Wittmann are characterized by their balance, elegance, and complexity. Philipp’s meticulous approach to winemaking, from careful hand-picking of grapes to minimal intervention in the cellar, ensures that each bottle is a true representation of the year’s weather and the vineyard’s characteristics.

The 2012 Morstein GG (Grosses Gewächs) from Weingut Wittmann is an excellent expression of one of Rheinhessen’s most revered vineyards. 

The 2012 vintage in Rheinhessen was characterized by a growing season that presented challenges, yet offered great rewards for those who navigated it skillfully, as did the team at Wittmann. The weather conditions led to a slightly later harvest, allowing the grapes to develop a rich complexity and balance. This vintage is often noted for producing wines of excellent structure and aging potential, and this dry Riesling by Wittmann is no exception to this.

Upon opening, the 2012 Morstein GG immediately presents a bouquet that is both complex and inviting. The nose is greeted with layers of ripe stone fruits, particularly peaches and apricots, intertwined with subtle hints of citrus zest and floral notes. As the wine opens up, there’s an emergence of deeper aromas, like honey and a distinct minerality reminiscent of wet stones, a signature of the limestone-rich soils of Morstein.

On the palate, this Riesling is a masterclass in balance and elegance. The initial impression is one of ripe, concentrated fruit, balanced beautifully by a piercing acidity that is both refreshing and structurally integral to the wine’s profile. As it moves across the palate, there’s a seamless transition to secondary flavors of spice and a slight smokiness, adding layers of complexity.

The texture deserves a special mention – it’s almost silky, with a full-bodied richness that’s rare in Rieslings, yet never overpowering. The finish is long and lingering, leaving a final note of minerality and a delightful citrusy freshness.

Now, a decade after its vintage, the 2012 Morstein GG is showing beautifully, indicating its robust aging potential. It’s a wine that could easily continue to develop and reveal new facets over the next several years. The 2012 Morstein GG by Weingut Wittmann is a testament to the heights that German Riesling can achieve. It’s a wine that tells the story of its origin – the limestone-rich soils of Morstein, the climatic challenges of the 2012 vintage, and the meticulous care in viticulture and winemaking.

Throughout the years we have tasted hundreds of German Riesling’s and numerous single vineyard (GG) wines and Morstein from the hands of Weingut Wittmann is one of those wines that always stands out for us, together with its sibling the ‘Kirchspiel GG’. We happily award this not-so-easy 2012 vintage with a 93-point DWA score.

This article is written by our own Niels Aarts. Weingut Wittmann’s wines can be purchased directly at the winery, online in their webshop or through appointed importers and partners in retail and hospitality.

The 2012 might be difficult to find, given the age of the wine, but the 2022 vintage is still available as the currently released vintage.

Price:                   ~ €85

Taste date:          December 2023

Score:                   93/100 DWA Score

Website:              Weingut Wittmann