and nature taketh
The extreme challenges of this vintage
brought out the best in our Kiedrich vineyards
It was bitter cold in the early days of 2017, but we used it our advantage. On one of the chilliest nights, with the thermometer showing an icy -10 °C, we brought in an excellent quality 2016 ice wine.
But how quickly things change. February, March and the initial days of April were warm enough to bring about bud break in mid-April — a full 2 weeks earlier than the long-standing average.
This early schedule, however, significantly increased the risk of one of any winemaker’s great fears: spring frost. And sure enough, late April saw a hard cold snap sweep through the Rheingau, hitting many of the region’s vineyards. The hillside vineyards in Kiedrich are fortunately ideal at guiding away the cold air, leaving our vines mercifully undamaged.
In mid-May the pendulum swung back, delivering summer-like temperatures that induced the onset of flowering by early June.
A relatively uniform fruitset continued without coulure, and the Kiedrich vineyards blossomed in all their glory.
During the night of 31 July, severe thunderstorms with heavy hail and winds swept throughout the Rheingau, hitting the middle Rheingau particularly hard.
Once again, the Kiedrich vineyards escaped without any significant damage.
By 10 August, our ripening Riesling grapes were approximately two weeks earlier than the historical average.
Thanks to intensive vineyard management throughout August and September, the grapes remained healthy and by late September had reached a perfect physiological ripeness.
The grapes were quickly harvested to must readings of 80 °Oe and a fine, ripe acidity ... Perfect estate and village level wines. Hang times into mid-October delivered grapes measuring 90 °Oe degrees, optimal readings for the top dry wines in our best vineyards.
Spätlese and Auslese selection began immediately thereafter, while the selection process for our grand Beerenauslese and Trockenbeerenauslese fruit followed to great anticipation in late October. The 2017 vintage thus represents the 29th — and counting — straight vintage where all three levels of naturally sweet wines (Auslese, BA, TBA) were harvested at Weingut Robert Weil.
And so one of the most intense, challenging and capricious growing seasons we’ve ever experienced has nonetheless come to a satisfying end.
While our yields were small — 15% beneath the long-standing average — they are still manageable, especially as compared to the shortfalls of our neighbors and colleagues