Willi Schaefer 2019

2019 was an early harvest at Schaefer who, according to importer Eldad Levy, always tend to harvest early in the first place. Generally speaking, these wines always have an edge, but are never thin or angular, and always extremely elegant. 2019 is arguably even more elegant than most.

I should pause to say a few words about Willi Schaefer, but I think I nailed it last year:

Riesling is the grape that says "I'll be your mirror." It will reflect what you feel when you drink it as much as it will reflect the land that nurtured it and year it bloomed in. I say, don't skip any vintage, it will always have something to offer. Because it's not just a mirror. In the right hands, it will produce a work of art, every year.

Willi Schaefer has the right hands.

Graacher, Trocken

Despite the dry style, there’s a hint of sweetness on the finish. Fine acidity. Typical profile of apples, smoke, slate and salinity. All young Himmelreich fruit, but the house labels it Graacher, making it, and the feinherb, a village wine of sorts.

Graacher, Feinherb

This is young Himmelreich fruit again and also where things turn sweeter, with a hint of apple pie on the nose. A terrific value for those who want to get into Schaefer, plus, it helps there is a healthy quantity.

Graacher Himmelreich, Kabinett

Naturally, there more depth here. The nose is less obvious. Same elements as the feniherb, but the interplay is more sophisticated and captivating, especially the way notes of apple pie play against hints of mint and flowers.

Graacher Domprobst, Kabinett

I think the acidity is even better here. Which is ironic, perhaps, because Domprobst feels more 'bass' to me than the Himmelreich, but without loss of elegance. 

Graacher Domprobst, Kabinett, 2018

More complex and refined, at this stage, with greater acidity and detail, as well as notes of flint and smoke. Delightful.

Selbach-Oster, Zeltinger Schlossberg, 2019

A producer, a different style. I find more minerals upfront on the nose, and palate is riper and less refined, with lower acidity, relatively speaking - it's still the Mosel, after all.

Graacher Himmelreich, Spatlese 

The Spatleses always hit with greater concentration, sweetness and acidity. The nose offers minerals and apple pie, which isn't saying much, since virtually every wine offered that, but the intensity, refinement and complexity is up a notch. Elegant and complex on the palate, with a long finish. A treat.

Graacher Domprobst, Spatlese, #10

From this point on, all Domprobst wines come from pre-phyloxera vines. Further proof that Domprobst is both deeper and more magical, even though any Himmelreich is a great treat in its own right. Smoky, concentrated, with hints of mint.

Graacher Domprobst Spatlese #5

This is the more lucrative of the two Domprobst Spatleses and supposedly has botrytis every year. I’m not sure I pick up the botrytis here, but I do get a sense of icy slate. The nose is very multidimensional. As is the palate. I wouldn’t want to have to make a choice between the #5 and the #10, but this is very aristocratic, so I usually spring a few more bucks and go for it.

Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Spatlese

As refined as than the other Spatleses, yet less intense but riper at the same time. I admit I'm a bit underwhelmed here. It's an excellent wine, but I get the feeling that team Schaefer make hundreds of small and large decisions in the vineyard and cellar that aim for a vision that just doesn't coincide with the character that the Sonnenuhr vineyard has to offer. It's not that they miss by a mile, but they don't get things as spectacularly right as they do with Himmelreich and Domprobst.

The last three wines are so young, so luscious, and yet so well balanced and poised, that it's hard to get past the pleasures they offer. Understandably, those pleasures are a fine place to end the tasting.

Graacher Domprobst, Auslese, #11

I definitely get botrytis here. The kind of wine where you can smell the depths. So sweet your mind can't fathom how the acidity can balance it out, and yet it does. 

Graacher Domprobst, Auslese, #14

The nose is closed, the palate knocks you out. Crystal candy.

Graacher Domprobst, Beerenauslese

Unbelievable how much sugar and acidity this has, how much refinement for all its hedonistic intensity.