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Weingut Darting

Tasting Year



2018 Spätburgunder Trocken

Back label identifies the site as Wachenheimer Mandelgarten and the variety as “Pinot Noir.”

The site, though indicated, isn’t really important as a marker of terroir; Darting’s domestic (and other) customers like to see a “vineyard name” on the label. As far as I was concerned they could have removed it, but why put them through the hassle?

Nice to see just 13% alc in this warm vintage – this wine could often spill over the banks of 14%, much to my dismay. This wine especially doesn’t have the body to manage such high alcohol.

Vintages would vary, but this is a good one. There is forthright, succulent fruit, a little more oak than perhaps it needs, an overall smiling countenance and a sort of ruddy vitality. Though simple, it is far from mundane – it is too delicious to be mundane, and its charm is pointedly attractive in contrast to other PNs with more affect.

I’ve taken it outside (at a wonderfully nippy 52º) with the Jancis glass, and all it does is improve. With air, the oak retreats (it’s only large cask in any case) and a polish appears, as does a delicate dialogue of flavors.

I’ve had at least four “estate-level” Spätburgunders since commencing this tasting series, and I’ll shout this out: I’D RATHER DRINK THIS THAN ANY OF THE OTHERS.


2018 Pinot Meunier Trocken (Dürkheimer Feuerberg)               +

This is full-on yummy, outrageously yummy, drinky beyond the outer limits of drinky-ness – and yet, again, it is not mundane, but rather smart. Its smartness is a crucial part of its rampant charm. 

Flavors run to brown-butter, pumpkin bread, ripe tomatoes freshly pureed , hon shimeji mushrooms, cherries of course. Yet behind it all is a lift similar to the aerial feeling of a perfect Beaujolais, as though there’s a “flavor” on your palate but an ether of that flavor hovering a few feet above the ground. You could call it a simple pleasure, but simple pleasures are rarely all that simple.

One of the most fun things I saw in my merchant days was the vogue for this wine, which actually became our top seller for Darting. It started in New York, and there it started with a trend-setter among the Somm community who decided to pour it by the glass. (You don’t actually have to sell to fifty Somms; you only have to sell to the 3-4 whom the others will eventually follow, and watch it unfold.)

Even if I step away from being the guy who has to sell something, I’d really love to probe the mind of the person who tastes this and doesn’t want to bathe in it. What kind of ghoul must that person be?


2020 St Laurent Trocken (Dürkheimer Feuerberg)                    +

Some years this was the most impressive among the reds, and some years the typical varietal reduction obtruded. Interesting, that this ’20 is already offered, and that it’s the one among the three reds that has (any) exposure to barrique.

And I must say, this wine is excellent. It’s the antonym to the Pinot Meunier, because this is Serious Business, not with masses of tannin or other gestures of Lofty Solemnity, but with “darker” flavors and no foreground of charm. That doesn’t mean zero charm – the wine is certainly delicious – but charm is implied in what is otherwise a substantially sober wine.

It’s a little like the Sattler, though silkier and better behaved. Sorry, there’s a squirrel outside my window who seems to want to enter the “quack like a duck” contest and who won’t STF up.  Oh how I miss those tastings in hotel conference rooms…..

There’s an element in this variety that is frankly rude, but not in a truculent way, but rather in a erotic pheremonal way. In this case it’s on the threshold of reduction but doesn’t step over. What’s “interesting” here is the blending of overt animality with a silken texture that’s almost claret-like.

Then the finish is all leathery, tobacco, shoot-smoke, char-marks from the grill, pleasantly bitter, rumbling and fretting until it gives over to kindliness. I have an image of a cranky old coot who’s being harried by some little kid, until a sudden moment arrives where he looks at the child and realizes how miraculous she is. This wine tells the story of how the crust melts, and a beam of grace enters a difficult life.

I have spent one whole hour with these three wines. They have been wonderful.


2019 Pinot Blanc Brut

Pretty bead, attractive fragrance. Darting! Competence in the service of joy. And this is exactly what you might anticipate; tasty, scrupulous, pure and generous.

I’ve lost track of the many times I’ve had a non-Champagne by the glass in a restaurant and found it gnarly and crude. No danger of that here. First, it smells like Pinot Blanc: bay scallops and white corn and sweet hay. Second, it has a lively but not aggressive mouth feel. Third, it has the proper dosage, which is to say it’s saline enough for the crab cake but sweet enough for the remoulade.

It’s effective craftsmanship in a glass.

Judging by the cork, it will have been disgorged in the last 6-9 months. The wine is by no means “sweet,” but there’s a melding of fructose with a brioche aroma I doubt would be expressive in a drier version.


2018 Muskateller Brut “Everybody’s Darling”

This is a term of derision in Germany, such that a serious grower would be wont to say “I’m not trying to be everybody’s darling but just to make the wines (etc. etc.)….” The word “darling” is in the same font usually used for “Darting.” I doubt this wine is sold in the U.S. and it doesn’t appear on their website; it is perhaps a 1-off. Dartings know of my affection for Muscat – they share it. So I got a bottle of this, went crazy for it, and asked for more.

I expected crazy-fun-muscat-with-bubbles and was surprised by the silken polish I encountered. Today’s bottle doesn’t quite live up to that first impression, but it’s mighty good. It’s like peaches in black-&-white – all the peachy Moscato d’Asti thing but with way less sugar – it’s BRUT, remember – and with a vinous salty mid-palate flavor to go along with the feral Muscat umami.

If you find one, grab it. You may not like it as much as I do, but believe me, you’ll be glad to have tasted it.

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2020 Pinot Blanc Trocken                                                                 +

I have long adored this wine. It shows the ur-aroma of the variety, the sort of paradigm fragrance that begs you to teach a class with it. Being insanely attractive also doesn’t hurt. (The wine, not the instructor.) It’s one of those wines that smells so good you almost can’t bear to drink it.

Do it anyway. You’ll be rewarded handsomely. The basic pointedness of ’20 stands in delicious counterpoint to the scallopy umami of the variety, giving you a wine that’s both salty and with that lump-crab-meat sweetness of the variety at its simple best.

“Simple” in this case does not mean one dimensional; it means without affect of lofty purpose. The Times had a recipe last week for a shrimp risotto using a homemade stock from the shells, and it (correctly) suggested a short soak of said shells so that the stock wouldn’t get too skanky. The risotto would easily take a “serious” white Burgundy, but what if the moment wasn’t right, or you weren’t in the mood for “important” wine, or the important bottle was corked and you had Darting’s Pinot Blanc in the fridge? Believe me, this is more than a consolation prize.

Finally, we have a leesy texture – we have texture in the first place – and a chipper, quipping finish. The wine is a gift of clarity, integrity and candor. We can’t afford to spurn such things – though we can easily afford this wine.


2020 Riesling Kabinett Trocken (Dürkheimer Fronhof)

Litre bottle, 12.5% alc.

Kabinett means unchaptalized. 12.5% alc means circa 88-90º Oechsle, in a cool vintage, in a liter format. Sure, everyone’s wines are “outsized” in this era, and the must-weight isn’t so important any more. And yet.

I’d have preferred this to be rounder and juicier, or so I first supposed.  It’s hardly lean or spiky. It’s “racy” as many ‘20s are, but its raciness isn’t supported by (what I’ll call) compelling material. It’s just good, basic Pfalz Riesling. It delivers all that it ought to, but not more. There’s typical lemon and ginger, especially on the finish, and the aromas are charming. Curiously, it seems to need air, as it starts to improve after ten minutes. Their website refers to “ripe apricots, pineapples, and spicy hay-flowers, “ and there’s certainly some action in the glass, I’m starting to see.

There’s also rather more acidity than usual, which can constrict a young wine. And there’s an emergingly lingering and interesting finish. Let’s watch this over the days.

Two days hence, and subjected to the rigors of the Jancis glass, what first seemed rather withholding is now angular and salty and decently long. Innocuous and “correct” would have sufficed, but as usual Darting offers more.


2020 Riesling Kabinett Trocken (Dürkheimer Spielberg)

This is one of the two “GG” sites in Darting’s stable. (The other, Ungsteiner Weilberg, was on a lease that may have expired; in any case they didn’t send it.) This is evident immediately. This is excellent, serious dry Riesling.

It’s the spicy side of Pfalz Riesling. Part of it feints toward Scheurebe (the currant leaf and sage), another part feints toward the Urgestein style (iris, coriander) and yet another alludes to the earthy violet aromas of certain Rheingauers. And finally there’s a smidge of that gin-tonic thing we see in a couple of Dautel’s Rieslings.

So all in all, a stern, admirable and serious Pfalz Riesling. There’s a chiseled-ness and an esoteric salty finish, and as always I wonder: what sort of reputation would Darting have if more of their vineyards were top-quality?


2020 Riesling Kabinett Halbtrocken (Dürkheimer Feuerberg)

This may be my shortest ever tasting note. It goes like this.


(Gorgeously fragrant, on the dry side.)

The wine is reliable. It is even, I would say, loyal to you. It really is your faithful friend. It loves you even when you’re grumpy. It is consolation and reassurance in a bottle. It says there is gladness in the world, even in this world. It says you don’t have to brood all the time. You don’t have to think lofty thoughts, or dream lyric reveries; it’s enough to start a fire, brew a pot of tea, and read the magazines that came in today’s mail. You don’t need to be special for this wine to love you – it just does.


2020 Riesling Kabinett LITER (Dürkheimer Nonnengarten)

Reassuring to see the 11% alc, as it suggests the wine won’t be very sweet. (This wine crept up in RS until we began tamping it down in my last few years being a merchant.) 

And it smells wonderfully attractive. The palate is spicy and a little fructose-y; it’s very much in the meyer lemon and pineapple vein of Pfalz Riesling. It’s frisky and charming, and while I wouldn’t mind less sweetness, that could draw it too close to the Halbtrocken. There ought to be air between the two.

This is the first Darting wine I’m tasting that feels just a bit old fashioned. They have customers for it, of they’d have discontinued it. The wine is honest, “well-made” and reliable, but it seems to belong to a bygone era.


2020 Riesling Kabinett (Dürkheimer Hochbenn)

In contrast to the Liter, this has always shown the low notes of Pfalz Riesling; a certain muskiness, butterscotch, caramel, new leather shoes. It has the precise diction of the ‘20s and is pleasingly fresh considering its generous (but not cloying) sweetness.

Having had this wine (in all likelihood) from at least 17-18 vintages, I can tell you confidently that this is among the best ones. In ripe years it can feel too voluptuous but here it’s nice and snappy.


2018 Riesling Spätlese Dürkheimer Michelsberg

Damnably, the word “Trocken” only appears on the BACK label, so I misplaced it in the sequence and am scrambling to recalibrate my palate to taste it after the sweet wines. (Thank heaven for tarallini…)

This was sent on purpose, so they must be proud of it, or it’s still in the U.S. market. Michelsberg is the other important vineyard (along with Spielberg) in Bad Dürkheim. I’ll defer a proper note until I can sequence the wine properly, except to say that 2018 really displays the connection between heat and TDN formation. 

A day later I have it in a group of Trockens I’m taking a final look at. It follows the Spielberg ’20 dry Kabinett.

It isn’t really “fruity” in any discrete sense. It’s savory in a sweet direction, that is, brioche, sweet straw, hay, vetiver. Thick and dense on the palate – and yes, I do resemble that remark – it tastes like it had time in Stückfass, and in that sense it’s the anti-Darting Darting. I could be wrong about this, but there’s an open-stitched fullness that mightn’t have come from the site alone.

The wine is impressive, if not precisely loveable. The aromas are enticing, developing into puff-pastry and Mirabelle plum compote, and the palate is surprisingly adamant.


1999 Rieslaner Beerenauslese (Dürkheimer Nonnengarten)

Why yes I am tasting this BA right after the dry Spätlese. I still cling to pitiable vestiges of my former professionalism.

Interesting: the wine received its A.P. # only in 2019. Let’s see if we can infer the reason why.

Okay, it isn’t oak-aging. The color is surprisingly reasonable for a 22 year old BA – which is a clue. It’s gold but not amber, nor the weak-tea of overripe or poorly stored super-sweet wines. My guess is, the young wine had a technical flaw that only time would correct – sulfur maybe, acetification also. The aromas recall Fino en Rama to some degree.

The palate, though, really behaves like a (lower alcohol) version of an ancient Sandeman Oloroso I bought from an ace merchant in Madrid. The sherry is sweet and this wine is similarly sweet, which is to say – not very sweet.

It tastes more antique than it looks. Nor is it particularly redolent of the Rieslaner variety. I like it quite a bit, and could see it after dinner when you’re in the mood for Sherry but are closing in on your alcohol limit – this has a whopping 7.5%. The finish is markedly long and caramelly. 

The key will be how stable it is in the bottle over time. I don’t need it to last six months, but it would be helpful if it lasted, say, a week. It’s a 500ml bottle, and four people could empty the bottle pleasurably after dinner. There is only a smidge of volatility after ten minutes in the empty glass.




Such changes as may be evident at Darting are subtle, especially if you’re looking year after year. In general the reds are improving, showing more fruit, less wood and less alcohol. In general the sweet wines are less sweet and more restrained, though some of this may have to do with the ’21 vintage. In general their dry Rieslings are best in vintages with Goldilocks acidity – and at times ’21 was rather too high. They are geniuses at Pinot Blanc, both sparkling and still. They don’t seek to “re-imagine” the variety but instead to imagine it at its most insanely drinkable. Muscat, Gewürz, Scheurebe….all are steady as she goes.

Darting continues to embody the best and most responsible face of (what some would sniff is) “commercialism” and what I would say is pragmatism. I have the wines in my cellar and what I have is amazingly useful. I have the choice to drink almost anything, and I like to drink these. There is no pretense here. The wines deliver tasty pleasure (and sometimes more than that) and they cost less than they’re worth.


I asked them to send me the reds….


2019 Pinot Noir Trocken

It has a rather brittle aroma, not exactly “oaky” but exposed and un-sensual. At least at first. (The sample is a slightly-too-cool 58º) The palate is something else again. It’s suave and salty, still neither fleshy nor yielding, but juicy and drinky.

Still, the impression is one of straight lines and right angles, so I’ll taste it again at room temp. I do like the tomato-leaf fragrance and I don’t mind the wine not being submissive. Every wine can’t be Trollinger or Gamay or Zweigelt. But I wonder what PN should be, when it doesn’t have grand ambitions.

So on first pass: firm, spicy, smoky, rather prominent cask, and I wouldn’t mind more fruit. It seems a little 4-square.

Further tasting (and drinking at the table) hasn’t really effaced that impression. The wine is “just fine,” but there have been better vintages.


2021 St Laurent Trocken (Dürkheimer Feuerberg)                          +

A Bordeaux bottle; I wonder why. But a lovely aroma with no reduction, which is rare for this variety. It isn’t exactly animal, but it’s quite baked. It’s like an eggplant you fire-roast on your gas burner; equal parts char and earth and nightshade umami.

As a rule, the more splendid a St-L is, the more you have to hold your nose for a couple minutes to gain entry into its erotic inner sanctum. Not here. This fragrance is refined and beautifully detailed. The palate isn’t profound but it is honest and candid (and delicious). I would pause before this wine. There is reason to linger, but not for long. You want to return to simply drinking the bugger.


Don’t you love it when an “unpretentious” winery succeeds in something that often eludes their loftier colleagues? This SL makes it look easy, but trust me, it isn’t.

This turned out to be the pick among the reds, and did nothing but improve over four days.


2019 Pinot Meunier Trocken (Dürkheimer Feuerberg)

Surely the most improbable success I enjoyed (or stumbled into) in my merchant days, this has become an “item” for the estate in the US market. Turns out it isn’t hard to see why.

First there was the oddity factor, which appealed to somms (especially) looking for novelties. And then, it tasted gorgeous. It was 10 out of 10 on the wait-till-you-try-THIS scale, so addictive the wine basically drank itself.

I’m fairly sure there’s a Coteaux Champenoise Meunier that’s superior to this, but I haven’t run across it yet. This fella has some attitude in the ripe ’19 vintage, showing more torque than usual, asking to be taken more “seriously.” While it’s often sweeter than the St-L, and it is again here, it has a similar insistence. In effect it’s too earnest to glug, which of course is fine. It most resembles Mencia, curiously, and no one would be shocked if you said it was Ribeira Sacra.

I find myself wondering if this bottle is 100% clean, as I recall a lot more fruit when tasting it at the estate. 


2019 Malbec Trocken

Hey, it was in the case; I had no idea they even made it. The bottle, alas, is one of the heavy ones. Naughty naughty. The color is on the inky side.

I barely know Malbec. I know it from Cahors, but I tend to avoid the excessively alcoholic Argentians. And even my Cahors knowledge is out of date. But I do like how this smells, a little Lemberger, a little Cab Franc, maybe a little Petit Verdot.

The palate is actually compelling. Good tannin, great angularity, wonderful poise of florals and irons, a complex finish. Too stark from the Jancis glass, it likes the Riedel Chianti Classico. It’s an ambitious wine and would be for any German grower, and its grasp almost comes up to its reach. Assuming this is a maiden-voyage (and young vines) I’d say it’s more than a curio.

We drank (and considered) this with some lamb (rib chops) and of course the match was correct. The wine itself is interesting and agreeable, if not compelling.



2019 Pinot Blanc Brut

(They make it themselves. Not everyone does.)

It’s not like I’ve tasted every sparkling wine on earth (but hey, I’m tryin’…) but I’ve never tasted a better one for a “bubble” occasion that doesn’t call for Champagne. Actually, I’ve never tasted one as good. Nor have I tasted anything better for by-the-glass in a brasserie or bistro.

There’s simply nothing coarse here. There’s no crude “manufactured” flavor. There’s no confected fruit. There’s none of the flim flam by which sparkling wines are made to taste like pricier versions of their hapless selves.

What there is is – good bead and texture, true varietal fruit (it tastes like the charming wet-cereal side of PB), fine balance (dry but not brutally so), lovely scallopy “sweetness” and mussel-y salinity, super pretty roasted corn umami (often found in Pinot Blanc) and finally that semolina leesiness that gives the doughy thing we like so much.

When I was a merchant I’d taste this and think “People don’t know what they’re missing,” and then I’d think “But wait, it’s my job to tell them,” and then I’d think “But there’s a zillion tons of stuff coming at them and everyone has something they think you just have to buy,” and so you hope for some weird unplanned ignition like we had with the red Meunier. But now I’m just an unassuming country scribe, but I still can’t shake the frustration that people should know about this, and they don’t. I wonder, is this some vestigial leftover from my “selling” days? It’s not like I was a born salesman, you know?

I’m sure Dartings sell this wine very well at home and elsewhere. They don’t need me to shill for it. I just seem to have some basic sympathy for the neglected – or what I perceive as the “neglected.” I want to advocate for them.



2021 Pinot Blanc Trocken                                         glug-glug-glug

Another wine I always liked. It’s odd with this variety; it does well in Germany (especially) with people who want a dry wine without Riesling’s acidity – and also with less personality – and which is “good” but neutral enough to handle whatever food or occasion they throw at it. A reasonable desire, I’d say.

Over here we’ve always struggled to “place” Pinot Blanc. It’s tasty, it’s (usually) cheap, it does the job without demanding center-stage – so where’s the love?

I mean, this is perfect Pinot Blanc. It’s not trying to be anything but addictively delicious. Is it one-dimensional? Sure! But that one dimension is completely wonderful. You don’t have to “think about” this wine, except if you have a moment where you realize the bottle is nearly empty and you’d better open another. You could pause and consider the basmati umami, but you really don’t have to. You could, if you were a geek like I am, consider the precise etching of varietality, and what it might signify. But there won’t be a quiz. You can also mull over the poise of the warm fruit against the cool silvery briskness of the ’21 vintage. I did, and it made me happy. But you’re free to gulp away.

Critters tend to gather underneath our bird feeder, scavenging for whatever bits might have been dropped. Just now there is a dove and a squirrel nibbling about, maybe a foot away from each other, neither perturbed by the other’s proximity, and both of them perfectly camouflaged against the dirt. Peaceful coexistence, the world just humming along as it should be. This is the wine of that tableau, the wine of as-it-should-be. It wants to be taken for granted, and believe me I will, following this little sermon.


2021 Riesling Kabinett Trocken (LITER) (Dürkheimer Fronhof) glug-glug-glug!

If anyone can make a little Liter dry Riesling (this one has all of 11.5% alc) it should be Helmut Darting. AND THIS ONE IS PERFECT.

You taste a thing like this and wonder why this “thing” seems so difficult for so many others. Dry Riesling doesn’t actually need to be bitter and austere! It can be direct and clear and juicy and gluggable, and when it’s those things it’s a shot across the bow for all the others who seem to want to make a virtue of unpleasantness. You know what? Poo on them; I prefer a wine that tastes good and lets me drink the fuck out of it and isn’t pimped up with this-or-that but just shows up to rock my occasion whatever it is.

But be mindful of the prevailing “situation” with many ’21 (German) Rieslings; as their fruit retreats their astringency shows, and I found this bottle was best when opened and for a day later. That said, it won’t be very hard to empty it toot sweet, so you’ll be fine.


2021 Riesling Kabinett Trocken (Dürkheimer Spielberg)

Classic Spielberg fragrances of violets, hyssop and ginger lead into a wonderfully spicy and balanced palate; juicy and salty, brisk and angular without being sharp or spiky.

I’ll open myself to charges of philistinism, but this wine puts some more “significant” Trocken Rieslings to shame. Let’s first discard the useless platitude that taste is beyond dispute. Obviously! I don’t argue that my position is objectively or categorically correct. It’s just my subjective position – but it isn’t merely subjective.

There’s a lot of sour dry Riesling out there whose sourness is called “minerality.” It is not minerality, and it trashes a true and valid element that really doesn’t need dogshit on its shoes. Sour wine is just sour wine, and if it also has “mineral” flavors they have usually been impinged upon by a disagreeable sour-or-bitterness. What is appalling is to mis-apply minerality to give a “sophisticated” veneer to wines that are actually just nasty.

But let’s return to our Spielberg. It actually does show a kind of bitterness, that of mizuna or tatsoi or arugula. It does so in a matrix of juiciness and properly poised acidity, but it’s not a “fruit-forward” wine.

And so to acidity. They say that geezers such as myself grow less tolerant of high acidity, which gives us tummy troubles. Those do not bother me; my problem is in the mouth. Insufficient acid makes a wine taste flat and invertebrate. The “right” acidity gives a fresh splash of energy. Too much acidity is caustic. Acidity isn’t a flavor; it is a felt sense. I don’t want my palate corroded.


Excessive acidity is a less frequent problem now than in the pre-climate-change era, but once in a while a year like ’21 comes along, and then we have to confront it again. Add a high-acid vintage to a  cultural default toward dryness, and you’ll have some clunkers. These again will be excused as “brilliant” or “mineral” whereas in fact they simply have too little fruit.

It’s still said you can ‘correct” for high acid with residual sugar, insofar as sweet wines become an ever-shrinking minority of German Rieslings. Regardless, the idea doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. Correcting excessive acid with excessive sweetness simply creates bizarre wines with, at best, a theoretical symmetry of extremes. Bristly little beasts, often disjointedly sweet-sour, these are a terribly poor argument for “sweet” Rieslings.

But our Spielberg awaits again. Like a number of ‘21s, it starts to show its elbows and knees as the baby-fruit recedes, and while I find it a wholesome Trocken Riesling I also think it sounds a note of caution, that we should watch how this acid-driven vintage develops. Its puberty seems to have arrived early. I like this wine, but it tasted better five months ago.

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2020 Riesling Spätlese Trocken (Dürkheimer Michelsberg)

’20 at its most agreeable is developing this lovely Christmas tree fragrance along with some of the florals (and the kombu-kelp) of the vintage. But ’20 has always smelled good. Yet it can behave like a sweet-looking dog who approaches you easily but then suddenly snarls at you for no evident reason.

This wine has an inviting aroma, and it enters the palate with a burst of juiciness and a brisk green backdrop. You’re already 80% satisfied. And then a strange thing happens; the fruit appears to deflate, leaving a phenolic bitterness in its wake. This is true of a lot of ’20 German Rieslings.

This wine has a markedly yellow tinge to its normal youthful green.  I don’t think it’s botrytis, but I wonder what it could be….

Interesting, isn’t it, that the most seamless and tasty of the dry Rieslings was the simple little Liter! But as always, the “tasting” environment is sometimes pitiless to perfectly worthy wines, and I suspect both of these two Trockens will be perfectly fine when we’re just drinking them. I will, of course, report.

And yes, they were better, which is to say they were best when not being scrutinized and deconstructed; in short, the way the average person would drink them. The “tasting room” is a special place, and we occupy it best if we’ve been inoculated against tunnel vision.


2021 Riesling Kabinett Halbtrocken LITER (Dürkheimer Feuerberg)   +,   and glug-glug-glug!                                                                      

Well, wow. I mean, with ‘21’s acids this wine tastes effectively dry. It’s just balanced! Not sour, nor bitter, nor problematic in any way – just seamless, interesting, USEFUL, delicious bloody wine.

“Oh Terry just likes the wines with more dosage,” you might say, and some havesaid. Well yup! But let’s consider why.

There are aromas and flavors here that simply do not exist in the bone-dry idiom, and there is also an interplay of flavors enabled by the fructose and suppressed by its absence. THESE ARE NOT UNIVERSAL OR CATEGORICAL PRINCIPLES: they pertain to these (and other) wines, and the most one could say is they tend to be true.

But how to account for the focus, animation, dialogue among interesting (if not intricate) elements and sheer expressiveness if you ignore the actions of the fructose? This is just a better wine than any Riesling that preceded it, adjusted for my subjectivities!

Like its brother-Liter, this is best within a day or two of opening, not because it is fragile but because it needs all the fruit it can offer to mitigate the vintage’s tartness.


2021 Scheurebe Kabinett

Amusingly the front label simply says “Scheurebe.” As though that will suffice – which of course it does.

To say it again, and for whatever it may be worth, 2021 looks like a superb vintage for Scheurebe. It’s worth a lot to me, since I adore the variety.

The sweetness here is cunning. (Scheu is cunning in general, but that’s another story….) At first it seems too high. Then on the mid palate the innate (and agreeable) bitterness of the variety comes through, and by the end you’re convinced the finishing lash of spice absolutely required just exactly that sweetness.

The wine is really spritzy, even for Darting, and it has at least three “acts” of flavor and a definite momentum. It’s on the cassis and passion-fruit spectrum of Scheu, along with (cooked) parsnip and tarragon/wintergreen. And as an aside, is it really an accident that, right this minute, we have a brilliant goldfinch and a blazing male cardinal and a gaudy woodpecker at the feeder all at once? I think not!

They were summoned by the Scheu

The next time I tasted this it was fridge-cold, and roaring with grapefruit.


2021 Gewürztraminer Kabinett (Dürkheimer Nonnengarten)       +

Heike Darting dotes on this variety.

Back in the 1970s when I started tasting, this was an “old-lady” wine. In Germany it was usually sweet. When I later went to Alsace it was almost always dry (or almost dry) and I started to see it differently. Then it began to get sweet (and heavy) in Alsace, and the Germans – at least those who still grew it – made it drier and lower in alcohol. Flips be floppin’. 

There are a number of resonant and important Grand Crus in Alsace, but leaving these aside, I don’t ask for much; accurate varietal aromas, a degree of grace in the structure, and not too sweet. The greatest German example I (happen to have) had was a vintage of Minges’ “Edition Rosenduft.”

This wine is lovely and surprising. It’s decidedly on the dry side yet with just 9.5% alc. It’s fresh and bright in its affect. It is highly specific in its varietal scrupulousness. I am a notorious hog for Scheurebe, but I confess this is even better wine.

And again, below the level of the (rare) profound, this is everything we can ask from Gewürz. I’m impressed.

This also held up better than any of the Rieslings, tasting as pure and fresh on the third day as it did when opened.


2021 Riesling Kabinett LITER (Dürkheimer Nonnengarten)            +

At 10.5% alc, I’m intrigued. In my merchant days I struggled to get this wine less sweet, but Dartings (sensibly) didn’t want it too close to the Halbtrocken Liter.

Following in the line of hugely successful Liter Rieslings among their ‘21s, this wine is superb of its type. In some ways it is too fine to glug. The aromas are refined, wisteria and purple lilacs, and on the palate the sweetness dissolves and the wine becomes effectively dry. It’s precise and articulate, in contrast to the fruit-basket style one might have expected. When Pfalz wines are this sleek and carefully chiseled they start to echo Nahe wines, as this one does. But the real genius here lies in how the 21 acids are managed in light of the wine’s (relative) dryness.

It’s shady, anise-hyssopy, inferential, and even shows a suggestion of rock-dust, none of which are usually perks in the Liter echelon. This is THE BEST LITER RIESLING KABINETT I ever tasted from Darting, and I have 31 years of history with this domain.

If you dig into it, the sweetness is more generous than it “presents,” which is another way of saying we get to consider the interactions of components. The old-school vision of “Kabinett” was that of a crisp wine with a surmise of sweetness, to which this comes very close. It entails a pinpoint balance that a mere Liter bottling doesn’t usually obtain. Someone here is thinking.


Which leads me to a final plea: notice this wine. Sure, it’s just “Darting Liter Kabinett,” just an item to fulfill its purpose, whatever that may be. But if you pause for just ten seconds, you’ll see how deft this is, and maybe you’ll have a fleeting thought for craftsmanship.


2020 Riesling Kabinett (Dürkheimer Hochbenn)

It follows the prevailing current to less sweetness, which is welcome. Hochbenn could entail a rather cloying muskiness when it was too sugary. This is better balanced, and shows a mid-palate that fructose once obscured. I suppose the question is, is it too late?

I don’t want to get too mercantile here (had enough of that, thanks) but this was the “item” corresponding to the demand for Riesling-Kabinett, and now that the wine is really very good, where’s the demand gone? What we have now is something less “fruity” and more savory, even (in a good way) fungal, like piopinnis or chestnut mushrooms or “honey mushrooms” or whatever they call them at your farmer’s market.

It’s firm, moderately earthy, excellently balanced for a ’20, and again the best rendition of this wine I ever tasted. Because it’s  drier!

But naturally it isn’t “dry,” and some of you might taste it and think “Ewwww….sweet,” and that’s just our respective wirings at work. For me this is leaning towards dry, especially compared to its forbears, and it lets the chestnut savor come through.


2021 Riesling Spätlese (Ungsteiner Herrenberg)

Pretty aromas of melons and the sweeter apples. The first impression on the palate is that of an old-school Spätlese richer than the preceding Kabinetts but not overtly sweeter. We’ll see if that holds. It is, in any case, not sugary.

I find it a stylish wine, maybe a little slight in terms of length and grip, but smart and crafted carefully. It has lift, it has lovely fragrances in the classic Pfalz type, it has the ’21 firmness, and also a sense that it’s holding its cards close, because it is replete with spices.

A few days later (and fridge-cold) the impression is similar. It’s a still-life of a wine, in effect, only hinting at whatever animation lies in its future.


2020 Rieslaner Beerenauslese (Dürkheimer Nonnengarten)

It has the fragrance you’d expect from ultra-ripe Rieslaner, but don’t ask me to tell you what they are. It’s every tropical fruit! It’s also pointed and electric, more softly overripe fruit than “honey.”

This follows through to the palate, which is “fruit-sweet” with just a smidge of botrytis volatility.


The gestalt is very sweet. Rieslaner’s galvanic acidity is AWOL. And here I must remind you of my indifference to the entire “dessert-wine” category, and yet, having said that, I can easily see how delightful this wine would be in its moment.

You might be captivated by the precision of aromas, the savor at the heart of the rampant fruit, and the unexpectedly crisp finish.

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