Monday, September 18, 2017

Summer Of Riesling, 2017

Only Reggie Jackson has ever had a more successful autumn season
than Riesling in the Mosel
Fritz Haag, Mosel, Brauneberger Juffer-Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese, 2011

This is a much more classic rendition of Mosel, a light bodied, almost ethereal Spätlese, smokey slate and apples, icy cold and steely, and there're even hints of sea salt and lemons. Look, this is the annual Riesling roundup, I'm going to go full retard poetic on you by the time I'm through, but I was hoping to start off much more critical and analytic. Yet this gossamer abstraction of Teutonic cool -  complex and youthful, monolithic and welcoming at the same time - claws elegantly at my heart and jabs my intellect into silence. (May 8, 20170

33 euro in Berlin. Giaconda carry some Haag.

Max Ferd. Richter, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Brauneberger Juffer-Sonnenuhr, Riesling Auslese, 2004

Unctuous enough to be a beerenauslese, I swear, monolithic enough to be a five year old, the acidity buried until the very end of each sip. I think this will be massive for a decade or more and I'm not sure it will ever shed its fat, even then. Right now, brutally simple. (May 3, 2017)

Weingut Max Ferd. Richter, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Graacher Domprobst, Riesling Auslese, 2004

Although also years from maturity, this much better structured and racier, more complex, the honeyed apples flecked with apples skins and dill. (Jul. 13, 2017) 

40 GBP.

Dr. Loosen, Mosel, "L", 2015

Efrat asked me to buy some wines for "her'. What she means by that is the following. A relatively inexpensive, fruity white, with good acidity and residual sugar. A tasty white. A wine to refresh yourself after a long run. What the hell, I know what she wants. She wants a Riesling. There you go, babe. (May 22, 2017)

Wine Route, 70 NIS.

There's a new German Riesling producer in town, imported by Wine Route, which brings their total up to two. Well, any new news is good news, and this is an especially venerable name.

Markus Molitor, Mosel, Haus Klosterberg, Riesling, 2015

This is the basic regional wine, and it comes in two styles, dry and off dry (white and green capsules - this is the only way to tell the two styles apart at house Molitor, throughout all the predikats). This is as good an introduction to Mosel as you will get from any marquee name, likely as good as many a kabinett. (Jun. 30, 2017)

About 90 NIS.

Markus Molitor, Mosel, Bernkasteler Badstube, Riesling Kabinett, 2015

Even if all the Mosel produced was kabinetts, it would still be one of the greatest wine regions of the world. Here is some corroborative evidence. The Bernkasteler has great length and filigree structure, fine acidity - normal ante penny stuff for a great producer of the Mosel. What gets me, really, really gets me, is the way the Mosel style is tweaked, the racy greenness of the granny apples transformed into guyava fruit laced with a touch of salt. The Mosel has so many great vineyards that I suppose the Badstube might be overlooked (for example, the 2001 edition of the Johnson and Robinson World Atlas of Wine calls the Bernkasteler Doctor a great first class vineyard but the Badstube is only a first class vineyard - and it was great fun tracking that down), but Molitor solicits a potent raciness here that elevates it to greatness. (Jul. 3, 2017)

About 130 NIS.

Markus Molitor, Mosel, Wehlener Klosterberg, Riesling Kabinett Trcoken, 2014

Molitor has a myriad bottlings, Wine Route are bringing in only two kabinetts at this time. This is very fine, high praise from someone who's never eager to buy dry Mosels - hell, I'm going to buy more of this! Forget nuances and complexity. I'm sure they'll come in time, the balance ensures at least five years if cellaring potential. Just enjoy the visceral essence and laser sharp intensity of the green apples. (Jul. 4, 2017)

About 130 NIS.

Markus Molitor, Mosel, Riesling Alte Reben, 2015

The producer's site doesn't go into the details of specific wines, so I can only guess this is a blend of old vines from different vineyards. It's dry and more intense and denser than the Haus Klosterberg. More yellow and white fruits than apples, it is a mellower style than a Grosses Gewaches, yet its backbone of minerals is persistent and long. And tasty. (Jul. 6, 2017)

About 160 NIS.

Markus Molitor, Mosel, Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Riesling Spätlese, 2012

This is far as I got with Molitor. The ausleses were just too expensive. But you could stop right here and be totally happy. Everything I love about the lineup is in place: the purity, the elegant delineation of form, the tasty, moreish effect on the palate. Compared to the others, though, this is the "it girl". (Aug. 5, 2017)

About 170 NIS.

Willi Schaefer, Mosel, Graacher Himmelreich, Riesling Kabinett, 2014

As undeniably great as Molitor is, Herr Schaefer is a national treasure. If you were building a German Riesling portfolio, and started off with Schaefer, I could see myself forgiving you for stopping right there. This has always been an intense, moreish wine, but it's now settled down a bit to show lime and apricots in addition to green apples. Without any loss of focus and vividness. You know, I don't think I've ever drank a wine that managed to do so much with the primary aromas and flavors of youth. (Jul. 5, 2017)

Fat Guy, 139 NIS.

And now, here's...

Dönnhoff, Nahe, Oberhäuser Brücke, Riesling Spätlese, 2008

Brücke is formally the 2nd or 3rd best vineyard Dönnhoff works, but looking back at my notes, it doesn't always hit very high peaks. This, however, is a high class beauty, whose claim to greatness lies in its purity and clarity of fruit. as well as a complexity carried by mellow nuances of rock and salt. Nuances. That's what this Brücke is all about: nuances worthy of a full evening of contemplation. (Jul. 8, 2017)

Giaconda, about 200 NIS.

Dönnhoff, Nahe, Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle, Riesling Großes Gewächs, 2008

Hermannshöhle is, of course, the Dönnhoff Grand Cru (not to mention the source of many scatological puns). And Großes Gewächs is the price you pay for being VDP. Seriously, I know what I'm saying is nigh heresy, but at best you pay a fifty percent markup on the price of a Spätlese from the same site just to get a dry version of grapes of the same quality. Anyway, this can be a great wine, don't get me wrong. But so is the Hermannshöhle Spätlese, that's all I'm saying. The question is, is this bottle a great bottle? I can sense this has the making of a great one, I get a notion of the quality and tensile structure of the fruit, the minerals on the verge of being uncoiled on both nose and palate, there is intensity on the finish - but it doesn't bloom or move, and I can't tell if it's on its way to future greatness or just missed a turn on the way there. Mostly what I miss is the presence of a great wine, that sense of multifacetedness, that feeling that every bit is just so vibrant with being that you feel the bottle is a chapel you could walk around in. (Jul. 9, 2017)

Giaconda, 350 NIS. I had the 2009 a couple of months later and had the same reservations. Same disappointment at the lack of presence. 

Selbach-Oster, Mosel, Zeltinger Schlossberg, Riesling Kabinett, 2012

This was always a great kabinett, with precise balance, but I'm really running out good things to say about it. It's actually harder than coming up with a cute meme or picture for this column every year. (Aug. 12, 2017)

Fat Guy, 139 NIS.

Great companionship can elevate an already great wine, into, well, magic...

Selbach-Oster, Zeltinger Sonnenuhr, Spatlese Feinherb, Ur Alte Reben, 2012


I've had this wine twice in the past. I'm actually quite proud of myself for having Selbach-Oster in my sights before Eldad started importing the house -  so early, in fact, that my first bottle was so embryonic when I drank it that it might as well have been a barrel sample. It hasn't developed a lot since. It might actually be a Mosel trocken that deserves as much time in the cellar as an Auslese. It's all steel and apple/lime acidity, but the texture and salinity not only provide obvious hints at its potential, but they also make it a wonderful match with sushi - because another thing it hints at is ginger. Hints, hints, hints - in ten year it will will finally make an overt statement. (Aug. 27, 2017)

Fat Guy, 169 NIS.

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