I was interested. The young couple are members of Herkunft Rheinhessen, in which most of the cool young growers are included; they’re in transition to organic certification; and most important, they’re in the hillier western corner of Rheinhessen, where the soils are essentially like Nahe soils, volcanic, and based on porphyry – the miracle-soil for Riesling in my view. They’re also pals with the Hexamers, through whom the samples got to me.
I’d contacted them just before the Covid lockdown in 2020, and had planned a visit. Obviously that didn’t happen, and in the interim I discovered that I really liked this tasting/writing thing, and didn’t miss the selecting/selling thing as much as I expected to. But Steitz doesn’t have an American importer, and I said I’d be glad to taste and offer what help I could.
They deserve an importer, because there are many less interesting wines that are imported, but while my impression is generally favorable, I’m not ga-ga. “Ga-ga” is what I needed to be in order to want to work with an estate. I ought to emphasize, though, that I didn’t really receive a complete impression of Steitz’s wines, because they sent their current range, consisting mostly of 2021s. This highly particular vintage is not a reliable guide to the basic quality or character of a domain. I like ’21, most of them anyway, but they’re ultraviolet, silvery, frisky in acidity, and they tend to huddle in a lovely but narrow corner of stylistic options.
Thus any conclusion that might be drawn based on tasting ‘21s would probably be crushed by tasting, let’s say ‘19s or ‘18s. And among the wines were a few displaying what I’d call “earnest and forgivable misjudgments,” by which I mean that stylistic choices were made that happened not to appeal to me.
If I were acting strictly as a consultant (in which case my clients should have their heads examined) I’d be talking about great potential realized in compelling flickers, missing only the consistency that announces a truly consequential wine producer. There’s a perfect unassuming Silvaner that’s more interesting than it has any right to be, a wonderful Weissburgunder, and a trio of Grand Crus from the porphyritic Heerkretz vineyard, which is among the most fascinating sites in all of Rheinhessen.