1971 Staatsweingut Eltville Rauenthaler Langenstück Riesling Spätlese


My adoration for any bottle of wine born the same year as myself is well-known. I sound like a broken record proselytizing the 1971 vintage. But then a bottle sashays along and vindicates my opinion, reconfirming that this is such a trove of outstanding bottles, arguably none more so than Germany. This example was generously provided by a friend, Mark Savage MW, at a Riesling/Syrah-themed dinner at The Good Earth in Wandsworth, a highly recommended Chinese restaurant. In halcyon days, German wines had equal cachet as Bordeaux, prices often on par with the top Grand Cru Classés. Received wisdom is that 1971 is the best German vintage of the decade, arguably one of the great 20th-century vintages for Riesling that shine as bright as the day they were born.

The 1971 Rauenthaler Langenstück Riesling Spätlese, from the state-owned Staatsweingut Eltville in the Rheingau, is the manifestation of mature Riesling in all its unfettered glory. Iridescent in the glass, this wine sparkles with glee. The nose is plugged into the mainline electricity, full of tension and vigor. Scents of blood oranges, quince, candle wax and only a slight petrol note burst from the glass with thrilling delineation. The palate follows in a similar vein, built around a scintillating spine of acidity. This is a Riesling with surfeit tension and race, hints of tangerine and orange pith mixed with Japanese yuzu vying for attention. There is just a faint viscosity on the finish that begs you to take another sip. Simply magnificent. 96/Drink 2024-2054.

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