Robert Weil founded the estate that bears his name in 1875. A teacher of German at the Sorbonne, he fled Paris at the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War and settled in the Rheingau. The estate is still operated by his descendants, though under a partnership with Suntory.

Both of the Rheingau riesling wines I mention today are from the ancient 27-acre Gräfenberg vineyard in the commune of Kiedrich. Gräfenberg has a history of grape-growing going back to the late 12th century; yes, winemakers have been exploiting this superb setting for more than a millennium.
After one of those days at work, LL and I decided that it was time for take-out wonton soup, though actually what we do is graefenberg_etikett1.jpg take an order of wonton soup and an order of war wonton soup, which has a variety of meats and vegetables, and pour them together. Yum. When I told the kid behind the counter that this is what we did with the soups, his eyes widened. “Wow,” he said conspiratorially, “does that make it better?” I said, “No, just different. We like it.”

Anyway, I opened the Robert Weil Kiedrich Gräfenberg “Erstes Gewächs” Riesling 2005. “Erstes Gewächs” means “first growth,” a limited designation for German wines. My first note is “Beautiful.” It’s like drinking liquid limestone filtered through little white flowers and an essence of macerated and spiced peaches and pears. The wine is so classic, so impeccably balanced and integrated, so pure and intense in its crisp dryness that it feels perfect. Notes of lychee and mango come up, hints of tarragon and hay, yet these elements are subsumed by the immense influence of transparent minerality and frank earthiness. Nothing, though, disturbs the sense of crystalline harmony and delicacy. Terrific with the soup. Drink now through 2014 or ’15 (well-stored). Excellent. About $60.

Imported by Rudi Wiest Selections for Cellar International Inc., San Marcos, Ca.

Then last night we went to the house of some friends to eat a simple dinner: baked ham, green bean casserole (I think cream of mushroom soup is making a comeback) and a gratin of grated sweet potatoes with a fairly spicy powdered chipotle and spice mixture that LL made.

Thinking in particular about the baked ham, I took the Robert Weil Kiedrich Gräfenberg Spätlese Riesling 2004. Remember that the graefenberg_etikett2.jpgterm spätlese doesn’t mean how sweet the wine is (except by implication) but how ripe the grapes were at harvest or how late the harvest was; the range of sweetness in spatlese wines can be wide. Anyway, this example was impeccable, from its shimmering pale gold color to its perfect poise and balance. Moderately sweet on the entry, the peach and pear flavors are quite ripe, but not roasted or honeyed; instead, the fruit trafficks in lovely purity and juicy deliciousness; if peaches and pears had tasted this burstingly sweet and spicy in Eden, Adam and Eve would never have left. A few minutes in the glass bring in notes of lychee, smoke and shale, and the fruit takes on a slight sheen of honey, though moderately lush, not heavy or obvious. The primary effect is of tissues of delicacies wreathed into a plangent whole. This was wonderful with the ham, and it also handled the spicy sweet potatoes. As far as the green bean casserole is concerned, you’re on your own. Drink now through 2013 or ’15, well-stored. Excellent. About $65.

Imported by Rudi Wiest Selections for Cellar International Inc., San Marcos, Ca.