2001 MF Richter Mulheimer Helenkloster Riesling Eiswein 9.5%

Eiswein is a rare beast; grapes are left out to freeze (picked when at least 8 degrees Celsius below freezing), running the dangers of assorted undesirable rots, birds,  and greatly reduced yields.  Picking (in Germany) usually takes place in December, and sometimes into the next year. Eiswein is  troublesome to make, and expensive to purchase, with the residual sugars generally between BA and TBA levels.

Richter (from the Mosel) is blessed with a site (Helenkloster) that usually produces an Eiswein -(sometimes more than one- that may be differentiated on the label by an ** and of course the AP number). And several Richter wines are imported into Australia, although I am more familiar with their rich Kabinetts and Spatlese Rieslings.

I visited the Richter estate in 2007 and was treated to a range of wines, a lightning tour of the winery and its museum, and left with a purchased armload including several back-vintage wines.

2001 richter eiswein

Information kindly – and promptly- provided by Dr Dirk Richter about the wine “grapes were picked on 24 December at minus 13C; 255 g/l residual sugar, 12.1 g/l acidity” and a meagre 200 litres were made. These are very serious numbers! An eiswein ** was also made with equally sobering statistics.

The wine is a light copper colour with a khaki rim; there are exotic aromas of raisin, dried fruits, even coconut. The palate is still lively, with assertive apricot, orange citrus, and with some breathing, more lime characters. Brisk, clean, dense, and delightfully decadent.

While this style can live for decades, with its inherent acidity, on the evidence of this half-bottle, I favour the conservative side of the drinking window.

Drink to 2025, and 94 points.






2002 JJ Prum Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Eiswein 7.5%

Weingut Joh Jos Prum is one of the most renowned Mosel estates. Stephan Reinhardt’s comments about drinking JJ Prum “ is to enjoy a springtime of the heart and mind…a combination of lightness, finesse, elegance and (most of all) energy…these are gracious, charming wines”. JJ Prum wines can be a bit sulky at initially; sometimes a bit reductive.  Time, and a decant work wonders. Their longevity is extraordinary.

Eiswein is the legally-defined term that refers to a non-chaptalized wine made from grapes picked with at least 110-128° Oechsle (the minimum level depends on the region and the grape variety) at a temperature below -7°C and which has also passed a sensorial test by the authorities. Eiswein is a sweet to noble-sweet wine, with >130 g/l of residual sugar. Botrytis plays no part in the style – it is just essence of Riesling. Occasionally the harvest can extend into the “next” calendar year, but the wine is labelled as the previous year. Eiswein is uncommon, tantalising and expensive.


This wine is still a pale lemon colour; the enduring mystery is how such a myriad of flavours is contained in a low-alcohol wine. There are “spinal-tap-esque” exaggerated florals; mixed tropical fruits and candle-wax, lemon essence and lime “run-off”. Then a rush of ripe red apple, and nutmeg spices. So dense, and the pure stony flavours persist for minutes, dwindling to some stonefruits and perhaps light apricot.  Eiswein is indeed rare, and the residual sugar in this wine is not known – 200 g/l? but the acidity carries this with aplomb. Fabulous.

Drink to 2040, and 98 points