Home Reviews

Nederburg Rhine Riesling 2005 vs. Willi Schaefer Graacher Domprobst Riesling Spätlese 2005


A fascinating taste-off between two 2005 Rieslings, the first from local producer Nederburg  and the second from Willi Schaefer, one of the top growers with vineyards near the village of Graach in Germany’s Mosel.

The Nederburg wine carried the broadest possible classification regarding its origin, namely “Western Cape” which implies the producer never wanted us to worry too much about its provenance; the 2006 edition of Platter’s meanwhile advises that the wine contains 15% Gewürztraminer as well as rating it 4 Stars. It appeared relatively full bodied and quite advanced, with overt but not unpleasant petrol character on the nose. Alcohol by volume 12% and apparently off-dry.

The Spätlese is a wine of much greater pedigree, Schaefer, of course, widely considered the finest grower in Graach. 2005 was characterised by warm weather in the lead-up to harvest which brought grapes to very high ripeness levels but with good acidities. It proved much more primary, only the vaguest hint of petrol on the nose, lots of lime and pineapple on the palate, noticeable sweetness and somewhat soft acidity. An alcohol by volume of 8% made it very gluggable but when it came to pairing the two wines with food (chicken in curried coriander and yoghurt sauce) it was the Nederburg with its all-round extra grunt which worked better.

How much petrol character should Riesling have? Check out this debate on Decanter.com which raged earlier in the year: Petrol smell in Riesling ‘a mistake’: Chapoutier


  1. A restauranteur in Bernkastel told me to order wine from Willi Schaefer is like writing Santa Claus a wish list. You know there’ll be something in the stocking, but you never know what you’re really getting. And great class these wines are even the simple QbA bottlings.

    I agree with you, or at least can imagine, that curry would be a murderous match with fine Mosel wines. This dreaded and much punted matching seems to have helped people to take notice of Riesling with residual sugar but wine geeks really ought to know better.

    A fine aged Riesling imo should display waxy notes with hints of kerosine rather than “voet in die hoek” petrol.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here