The Ratzenberger family moved to the Mittelrhein from East Germany in the 1950s. Joachen Ratzenberger's grandfather and father ran the estate for the first forty years of existence, and in 1994 the torch passed to young Jochen. His
8-hectares of vineyards, centered around the town of Bacharach, are steeply sloped and mostly comprised of blue-black Devon slate (especially the Steeger St. Jost and the Posten).
Bacharach lies in the heart of the Germany's Mittelrhein region. For thousands of years, the Rhine River, along with its side tributaries, has carved out its rich, deep, valleys. The Steeger St. Jost site lies on a steep hill of black Devon slate that was originally planted by the Romans, who called it the "altar of Bacchus." Of the three classified sites on the hill, the St. Jost is the most distant from the Rhine.
St. Jost's "soil" is in reality a pastel-colored layer of shifting sand, the result of volcanic eruptions of the Neuwieder Basin more than 10,000 years ago. When rains, the water doesn't remain in the soil--it gets whisked down the steep hillside toward the river instead. As a result, Joachen's St. Jost vineyard produces a naturally low-yielding crop of berries with concentrated flavors. Because of the sandy slate terroir, that means lots of minerality and citrus fruit in the wine.
This 2003 Steeger St. Jost Riesling is dry, yet full of sumptuous fruit flavors (tangerine, peaches, ruby red grapefruit), stern acidity, and the most classic mineral and spicy flavors imparted by the unforgivingly steep slopes of the St. Jost vineyard. Drink now.
Suggested food pairing:
A visit with the Ratzenbergers always commences with a cool glass of a wine like this, accompanied by some nice soft cheeses and slice or two of cured ham, such as Speck. Some dark German bread and good mustard are musts.