AT A GLANCE:
Name of wine estate: Fürst von Metternich-Winneburg’sche Domäne Schloss Johannisberg
Wine region: Rheingau
Standout points: Some of the world’s most profound and ageworthy Rieslings; breathtaking views of the UNESCO-recognised Rheingau landscape
Winemaker: Gerd Ritter
Wine style: Site-specific Rieslings
Schloss Johannisberg is recognised as the first winery in the world devoted to Riesling, its 50ha vineyard area having been planted exclusively with this noble variety since 1720. With breathtaking views over the Rheingau – a UNESCO World Heritage Site no less – this is an estate where you can drink in a millennium’s worth of winegrowing history from the castle which, set amid the vineyards, slopes steeply south towards the majestic Rhine.
There can be few more haunting gustatory experiences than tasting a very old Rheingau noble sweet Riesling from a good vintage. Among its other claims to fame, Schloss Johannisberg was the first estate in the world to produce late-harvest wine when, in 1775, following an accidental discovery, it began deliberately allowing its grapes to develop botrytis, or noble rot. This practice had the effect of concentrating grape sugars, producing the lusciously sweet Auslese, Beerenauslese and Trockenbeerenauslese Rieslings so revered by connoisseurs today.
Visitors to Schloss Johannisberg can look forward to a guided stroll through the palace grounds, with a glass of sparkling Riesling in hand, followed by a descent into the hallowed 900-year-old ‘Bibliotheca subterranean’ palace cellar, which houses wines from as far back as 1748. Taste three selected wines and discover why Riesling from the monopoly vineyard of Schloss Johannisberg is so uniquely rich and mineral. You might also sample the wines of Schloss Johannisberg and sister estate, GH von Mumm, located little more than a stone’s throw away, before decamping to the castle’s on-site restaurant with peerless views over the Rheingau. One final tip: if you’re able to visit in the summer months, the Rheingau Musik Festival offers a wealth of concert entertainment within the grounds of the castle.