Ah, where to begin to introduce the Glory of German Riesling…..soooo misunderstood, sooo incredibly delicious…..
Today’s introduction takes us to the hauntingly sleepy town of Bockenau, in the seemingly ‘outside of the world’ Nahe valley. In stark contrast to the storybook dramatic majesty of the much celebrated Mosel river, the Nahe feels like a hushed secret to history’s ears, one that has managed to keep itself beyond the hustle and bustle of the world, as though it exists outside of time. Even the character of the wines has haunting, paradoxical qualities: stunning power and transparency, with an almost cloudlike lightness of being. The burgundian cliche of ‘power without weight’ is indeed appropriate……
Enter the family Schafer Frohlich. (http://www.weingut-schaefer-froehlich.de) Grape growers in the Nahe since 1800s, the Frohlich family has arrived to unrivaled heights under the direction of son Tim. It was in 1995 that Tim assumed head winemaking duties, with no formal wine education. Guided by a keen instinct, he has continued to push quality to ever greater levels, with a focus and determination that is found only in the greatest devotees to their land. There is no great mystery as to how Tim has arrived at such awe-inspiring quality: soils of unique and noble character, impeccable vineyard management, experimentation and success with spontaneous natural yeast fermentation, an immaculately tended cellar, and an unrelenting drive for perfection. The world has taken notice all the while, vaulting the estate to prominent consideration alongside the legendary Helmut Donnhoff of the Nahe; to be considered in such circles is like being appointed a God in Valhalla…….Both the Gault Millau and the Eichelman prize, two of Germany’s most prestigious wine publications, awarded Tim and his family as the “Producer of the Year” in 2010. The Gault Millau pronounced them “Newcomer of the year” in 2005….such has been the stratospheric rise of this Nahe wonder boy……
Tim applies this perfectionistic ethic to everything that he does, from his entry level wines, to his Grand Crus. He excels both at trocken or dry styled wines, as well as residual sugar style wines. In fact, both his Grand Cru ‘Grosses Gewachs’ dry wines, as well as his ‘sweet’ wines are acknowledged as among the finest in all of Germany. If there were one site that serves as the signature showpiece of the domaine, it would have to be the Felseneck vineyard, pictured above. It is a blend of several soil types, principally blue slate rock, loess (fine silty sediment) and loam (sand, silt, clay blend). It is quite steep, with good drainage. The bottlings that emerge from this Grand Cru site are mindblowing……
To the wines!!:
2010 Schafer Frohlich Bockenauer ‘medium-dry’ – $19
“Narcissus and peony offer an alluring floral dimension to the aromas such as I did not perceive in any other dry wines of this year’s collection. Ripe peach and grapefruit inform a lush palate, and transparently permit subtly smoky, flinty as well as persistently floral notes to shine through in a lingering finish whose sense of invigoration is further enhanced by the chew of apple skin. This impeccably-balanced, outstanding value Riesling should perform well for at least the next half dozen years.” 91 points, David Schildknecht of Parker’s Wine Advocate
2010 Schafer Frohlich Bockenauer Kabinett – $24
“Melon, pineapple and lemon oil on the nose. The velvety sweet fruit and pure mineral salts unfold with a sensuous tactility. Well-balanced andelegant, this kabinett punches far above its weight and is one of the best of the vintage.” 90 points, Peter Moser of Tanzer’s IWC
2010 Schafer Frohlich Bockenauer Felseneck Spatlese – $32
“Pure bouquet of honeydew melon, magnolia and sweet lime. The velvety sweet papaya fruit and salty acidity give this wine an exotic kick. Pure, well-balanced riesling with a lively, elegant finish. This is a spatlese direct from the handbook.” 93 points Peter Moser
“The “regular” Spätlese offers up a beautifully filigreed and pure bouquet of pink grapefruit, tangerine, slate, bee pollen and a lovely topnote of apple blossoms. On the palate the wine is medium-full, pure and rock solid at the core, with bright acids, beautiful interplay of soil, fruit and floral tones, bright acids and superb length and grip on the focused and flawlessly balanced finish. A stellar bottle ofSpätlese…94 points.” -John Gilman from View from the Cellar.
2010 Schafer Frohlich Bockenauer Felseneck Grosses Gewachs – $69 in 750 $149 in Magnum
“What Tim Fröhlich has been able to do with his Grosses Gewächs bottlings in 2010 is absolutely stunning, and none is finer than the magical Felseneck. The utterly brilliant bouquet offers up scents of grapefruit, orange, green apple, wild yeasts, slate, gentle notes of petrol and a topnote of lemongrass. On the palate the wine is deep, fullish and very intensely flavored, with the most refined filigree of all these great Grosses Gewächs bottlings. The wine has a superb core of fruit, flawless balance, ripe acids and a finish that just goes on and on and on. The filigree here is stunning, and in the fullness of time this is likely to vie with the very best two or three dry Rieslings as the greatest dry wine produced in Germany in 2010. 2016-2040+. 97+ points.” -John Gilman from View from the Cellar
2010 Schafer Frohlich Monzinger Halenberg Grosses Gewachs – $69 in 750 $149 in Magnum
“”The 2010 Grosses Gewächs from the Halenberg is a bit more reserved at the present time than the absolutely stunning Felsenberg, but it may be even a shade better in the long run. The bouquet is deep, gently reserved and clearly stunning in potential, as it offers up a fine mélange of grapefruit, lemon, a beautiful base of complex slate, a very gentle touch of fresh herbs and the vineyard’s signature smokiness in the upper register. On the palate the wine is deep, pure and full-bodied, with laser-like focus, absolutely seamless balance, with a great core of fruit, ripe, snappy acids and absolutely stunning length and grip on the profound finish. A great, great wine. 2016-2040+. 96 points.” John Gilman from View from the Cellar
“Unctuous aromas of nectarine, honeysuckle and aniseed. A dense, almost velvety texture and stone-licking minerality vie for primacy on the palate. With its superbly pure, deep and complex finish, this dry riesling is just beginning to show its potential. Excellent!” 93 points, Peter Moser of Tanzer’s IWC
The ‘Grosses Gewachs’ wines would be a revelation to anyone who has yet to see what the Grand cru dry whites of Germany have to offer…they would surprise many if tasted blind alongside Grand cru Chablis and white Burgundy…….All of the wines will surprise you with how impenetrable to oxygen they are; most, if not all, of these wines are going to be more expressive literally 4-6 days after opening a bottle. This is another one of truly great Riesling’s hallmarks in youth….the only problem is that they taste sooo good that you will suck them down long before that point!!
As always, hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org with any interests or inquiries.
To the health of you and yours.