Grüße von einem jungen Jedi, der alles in den Schritten nimmt,
Well folks, my Mosel team continues to hit it out of the park, this time young Jedi Constantin Richter and his remarkably finessed 2016s being lauded by the most veteran of American German wine critics, the inimitable David Schildknecht of Vinous. I knew the wines were that good, and said as much this past summer, a solid six months ago. It seems that most of my wowie zowie highlights are among his favorites, including the singular featherweight delicacy dubbed Juffer Kabinett Fass 4 that I am apparently the only person in the world working with? Other highlights include the monopole Elisenberg in both Kabi and Spatlese, the Wehlener Sonnenuhr and Jufferer Sonnenuhr Spatlesen, among a treasure trove of other goodies. As David’s reviews reflect (most of whose scores are significantly higher than their 2015 counterparts!), you can’t touch these wines with a long stick when it comes to substance allied to value. Constantin is dialed in!!!
What follows is the original offering, with David’s commentaries added into the mix. Most if not all of these are in stock, with a springtime reload on the horizon once the in stock goodies have been depleted. I can lead the horse to water but…….and so:
David’s intro remarks to the 2016 Richter collection:
“The 2016 collection here confirms young Constantin Richter’s comfortable assumption of his father Dirk’s role directing vineyard and cellar activities at this historic 50-acre estate. And probably due in part to the fact that Richter père continues in his long-standing service as international ambassador and tireless salesperson for an estate that has always been associated with export, his son is able to devote an enhanced level of scrutiny to the details of viticulture and vinification. Crop size was down due to peronospora, “especially in Brauneberg, where we also got hailed on, just as we did in Graach and Wehlen,” noted Richter; there are relatively few nobly sweet offerings due to paucity of botrytis; “and we also elected to bottle fewer dry wines and no Grosse Gewächse, not just because overall volume was down but because I didn’t see the vintage as well-suited to them.” The high vineyards of Veldenz, stretching perpendicular to the Mosel, were largely unscathed by peronospora and yielded normal-sized crops with higher acidity than in most of Richter’s Mosel shore holdings.
Even where acidity is comparatively low within this collection, it isn’t low by vintage standards, and as Richter emphasizes, it’s almost entirely efficacious tartaric acid. Continuing the trend of recent years at this address, must weights for the “genuine Kabinetts” that Richters have long prided themselves on producing even when that bucked prevailing fashion, have crept down even further, this year ranging (for the sweet wines) between 77- 84 Oechsle. (Bear in mind, the impressive Kabinetts that Thomas Haag renders from some of the same vineyards are based on fruit of 90 or more degrees Oechsle!) Like so many German Riesling growers, Constantin Richter characterized his 2016 harvest – which ranged all the way from the last days of September until November 10 as “relaxed.” Given the long-recognized reputation of this estate and talent of its Mülheimer Helenenkloster vineyard for Eiswein, it’s not surprising that the Richters left fruit hanging in 2016. They were rewarded by the deep frost of December 5. Astute readers will notice from my notes that I perceived a surprising convergence of fruit characteristics among several high must weight, nobly sweet Richter 2016s, whether from healthy or botrytized, juicy or frozen fruit. I can’t explain this. It might reflect a strong influence of certain vintage conditions, of the yeasts operative at a certain point in Richters’ cellars … or, of course, a failure of imagination on my part! Incidentally, there will again be two Pinot Blancs, but some lots were still fermenting at the time of my late July 2017 visit, so a final approximation to either eventual cuvée was impossible.
An interesting detail I’d missed in the past at this address is that, according to Constantin Richter, each fuder normally represents a unique picking, although multiple pickings in close geographical and temporal proximity frequently result in fuders that get blended together just before bottling. I also learned on this visit that Richter in 2016 planted a Gemischter Satz in Veldenz with archaic white grape varieties, in coordination with his friend Stefan Steinmetz (of Weingut Günther Steinmetz, covered as usual in this report) who has planted the adjacent parcel but with red wine varieties. Fans of the visual arts may be intrigued to learn that the conspicuously antique labels of this estate have been supplemented so as to return to an historic tradition of employing distinct labels depicting not merely some but each of their vineyards. (For an overview of the Richter estate, consult the introduction to my coverage of their 2014s.)” -David Schildknect
THE ORIGINAL OFFERING FROM JULY 2017:
In just four years, young Constantin Richter has taken his family’s benchmark Mosel estate to the very top of the heap with a passionate and playful sense of ease that I have only seen among child prodigies and the most effortless musical virtuosi. There is something very special going on inside this young man….After his monumental 2015 collection blew oh-so-many peoples’ minds, I knew that 2016 would have a very tough act to follow, but also knew that there were some very good things in store. After walking me through yet another epic tasting session in May, Constantin and I emerged from their timeless tasting salon all smiles and awe, as his 2016s are stunning, dancing beauties that merit every bit of the term “classic”. Curiously enough, I knew that the quality of the wines was beyond any shadow of a doubt, but had a hunch that American consumers would snooooze through the offering of the 40% smaller quantities yielded in 2016 in the wake of the “vintage of a lifetime” hype that accompanied the 2015s. Based on the mild consumer interest for everything that I have offered so far, my intuition is proving painfully correct…..
As Constantin was asking me to lock down my wishes before the more active German market gobbles up the cherries of the vintage, I told him: we need to wait for the press…..this seemingly inevitable trapping of consumer psychology proved to be amplified with the 2015 hoopla enjoying all of the critical thunder and consumer appetite, without any major critic having yet opined on the filigree 2016s in detail (many many insiders have been singing the virtues of 2016, from Terry Theise to yours truly…). Sure as clockwork, the stellar team at Mosel Fine Wines published another batch of their impressions of the 2016s yesterday, and surprise surprise, they too are ga-ga for Constantin’s new releases, and the vintage in general….
“In general, 2016 offers the opportunity to acquire Riesling with great immediate ripe appeal: The vintage is a true charmer. At the top, 2016 is one of the most exciting and elegantly balanced vintage since the 1990s and well-worth stocking up for cellaring! In particular, we urge our readers to literally plunge onto the finest Kabinett and Spätlese: These are some of the most exciting and classic we have ever tasted. 2016 looks also set to become a major vintage for dry Riesling, provided the aromatics are not overripe. Lovers of dessert wines will find much to love in 2016 as the Auslese are pure and the Eiswein are gorgeously fruity. They should however also keep an eye open for the remaining stunning noble-sweet wines from 2015 which are still available here and there.” – Mosel Fine Wines
“After an almost legendary effort in 2015, the Richters dished up another glorious collection in 2016, marked by riper but juicy flavors and great zesty charm. The sweet spot clearly lies in the fruity side of the portfolio in 2016, with a string of outstanding Kabinett, Spätlese and Auslese. The highlights are, as so often, the wines from the Veldenzer Elisenberg and those from the Brauneberger Juffer-Sonnenuhr. However, also Graach and Erden did outstandingly well. The collection is crowned by a string of noble-sweet wines. The 2016er Helenenkloster Eiswein Fass 103 and Himmelreich BA are easily among the finest of the vintage. In addition, the just-released 2011er BA and TBA are gloriously decadent noble-sweet Riesling in the making. The ability by the Max Ferd. Richter Estate to master so many vineyards, so many stylistic directions and still respect the vintage character never seizes to amaze us.” – Mosel Fine Wines
What follows is a soup-to-nuts offering of their entire production (in the order presented by Constantin), once again with a never before seen breadth, and at prices that are, in my humble opinion, the single greatest buys in classic, fruity, dancing Mosel beauty found at any address that I know of. Anyone who enjoys classic Kabinett/Spätlese/Auslese would be remiss to overlook the gems offered here. Additionally, if you are a fan of that oh-so-special category of upper prädikat nectars of the gods known as Eiswein, Beerenauslese, and Trockenbeerenauslese, there are examples here that are, quite simply, stupefyingly beautiful, as good as it gets…..I have included the notes from Mosel Fine Wines, as well as my own impressions. Wasting little time, awaaaayy weeee gooooo!!!!
Trocken, aka DRY: With the yields being almost HALF of what they were in 2015, there was a far stricter selection favoring the fruity wines, with very few dry wines made. What did make it into cask for dry wine purposes proved mouthwatering and gorgeously filigree, with two humdinger Kabi trocken wines, a far underrepresented category that is crazy useful for almost anything you can throw at it.
Graacher Himmelreich Kabinett trocken – This wine is sourced from 70 year old vines from the very top of the Graacher hillside in the Goldwingert section of the vineyard. This is a wine that I was unable to offer last year, as it was already sold out. My note: “Wow. Lovely delicacy and purity of yellow fruits and florals are beyond welcoming aromatically. In the mouth, this sense of purity and delicacy are echoed, finishing with good bright mineral drive, all in finesse and harmony. This is a winner.” A little * awarded here. Like almost everything here, a silly silly good value. 7.7 g/L acidity, 4 g/L RS.
“Originating with old vines in the Goldwingert section of Himmelreich (high above Bernkastel), this was harvested toward the upper end of the Richters’ typical range of Kabinett must weights and fermented all the way down to three grams of residual sugar. Even so, it barely reached 11% alcohol. Zesty lemon and grapefruit dominate on the nose and on a brightly juicy palate. There is a sense of stuffing despite alcoholic buoyancy that one observes in many 2016s (and that isn’t a function of dry extract, which is low almost across the board this vintage). Hints of huckleberry tartness and a kiss of wet stone add further invigoration and interest to a bracing and refreshingly sustained finish. What a model of its type… and thank goodness that type – Kabinett trocken – has recently been gaining champions among Mosel and Saar vintners despite much tut-tutting and attempts by would-be trendsetters such as the VDP to declare it oxymoronic as well as dead.” 90 David Schildknecht
“The 2016er Himmelreich Kabinett Trocken was harvested at 84° Oechsle from very old un-grafted vines in the Goldwingert part of the vineyard. It offers a superbly flowery nose of pear, pineapple, apricot blossom, anise and smoky slate. The wine is beautifully balanced on the palate, with great freshness and elegance carrying right into the delicately tart finish. This only needs a year or two to integrate its elements and should then prove a superbly light expression of dry Riesling. 2019-2031” 91 MFW
Brauneberger Juffer Kabinett trocken – As is customary, this is sourced from the bottom of the Hasenläufer portion of the Juffer. My note: “Filigree and electric! WOW. This wine’s sense of pinpoint precision comes across as even more silky seamless relative to the Graacher, with even more fruit enrobing its mineral drive. This is an outstanding and complete example of Juffer Grand cru class.” A little * awarded here. Dude….get some. 8g/L acidity, 6 g/L RS.
“As usual, the source here is the Hasenläufer sector of Juffer – and despite having been harvested near the limit of must weight that the Richters would countenance for Kabinett, this bottling once again weighs in at barely over 11% alcohol. “I could certainly have labeled this ‘Spätlese trocken’,” confirmed Constantin Richter, “but to be honest we don’t experience much demand for that category, whereas there is renewed interest in Kabinett trocken.” Acidity here was midrange for the vintage (approaching eight grams) and there is certainly a juicy brightness to the dominant apple and grapefruit, but this lacks the animation or clarity found in its Graach sibling. What one gets, though, is an enhanced sense of stuffing, which is probably why, as Richter reports, this Kabinett trocken garnered more attention inside Germany than has the aforementioned Graacher” 90 David Schildknecht
“The 2016er Juffer Kabinett Trocken comes from fruit harvested at 87° Oechsle in the Hasenläufer part of the vineyard. It offers a gorgeous nose of white peach, pear, melon, herbs and spices and proves comparatively compact and structured on the palate. However, the wine turns to the fresher side as it leaves a delicate but intensely tart feel of minerals and grapefruit-infused fruits in the finish. This will need a year or two to fully integrate and should then offer much pleasure in a delicately intense style for many years to come. 2019-2031” 90 MFW
Graacher Domprobst Alte Reben – For me, the Domprobst will forever be associated with the deep and dark (with an imaginary visual of Constantin wearing a Darth Vader mask ominously saying, “this is the dark side”)….My note: “Deep, imploded aromatics. In the mouth, this has good depth, but it comes across a bit heavy/fat. This is sort of a baby GG in character, whose depth of material is undeniable, but leaves me wanting more verve.” Unlike last year, this wine is legally dry, with 5g/L acidity.
“Like last year’s eponymous wine, this is sourced from the original, core Domprobst. “We harvest this old parcel en bloc,” explained Richter. “The vines go back to sometime soon after World War I. We give the fruit some pre-fermentative skin contact and then let it ferment in cask as far as it wants to.” In 2015, that was to 16 grams of residual sugar, whereas in this case there are only half that many grams, so stylistically the results resemble what was last year bottled as Graacher Domprobst Auslese trocken. Scents of grapefruit peel, walnut and black currant set the stage for a grippingly piquant palate performance and finish that nonetheless avoid outright bitterness and boast both ample fresh fruit juiciness and mouthwatering salinity. A cantus firmus of wet stone accompanies this bottling from nose to tail, and 12% alcohol does not weight at all heavily on it, nor is its analytically relatively low acidity reflected in any lack of animation. (This impressive success – which represents three full fuders’ volume – is certainly an eloquent exception to Richter’s claim that he found 2016 less than ideally suited to dry wines from high must weight fruit.)” 92 David Schildknecht
“The 2016er Domprobst Alte Reben comes from fruit harvested at 94° Oechsle in the prime Domprobstbann sector of the vineyard. It saw some prefermentation cold soak and was fermented down to 8 g/l of residual sugar. It offers a delicately ample nose of yellow peach, pineapple, almond and smoky slate. The wine proves comparatively mild and imposing on the palate and leaves a feel of brown sugar, almond and mirabelle in the long and delicately powerful finish. This “off-dry GG-styled” wine could develop positively as the slight feeling of sweetness recedes at maturity. 2019-2026” 88+ MFW
Feinherb: My love affair with feinherb wines is in full bloom, as I find this netherworld between the dry and kabinett category to be so chock full of playful refreshment and versatility, qualities that are so unique to the world of wine. Constantin is also a big fan of the category, and has made some lovely lovely examples here.
Mullheimer Helenenkloster Kabinett Feinherb – My note: “More high toned in its florals and fruit profile (pineapple grapefruit), with a solid dose of slatey minerality. In its loveability, this is a charmer and then some. Just lovely lovely….”. 7.6 g/L acidity, 21 g/L RS.
“This off-dry Kabinett was fermented down to 20 g/l of residual sugar. It develops an inviting nose of melon, star fruit, pear, apricot blossom and earthy spices. The wine proves slightly on the broad and creamy side on the palate yet it leaves a clean and juicy feel in the elegantly long and delicately zesty finish. This needs at least two years to integrate its riper elements. It should then prove a very nice off-dry Riesling. 2019-2026+” 89 MFW
Graacher Domprobst Kabinett Feinherb – From 20-30 year old vines, the deeper soils of the Domprobst give this more juiciness and richness, still with a good sense of freshness and sustaining grip. This is damn tasty.
“The 2016er Domprobst Kabinett Feinherb was made fruit harvested at 84° Oechsle in the prime Domprobstbann part of the vineyard. It develops ripe scents of melon, pear, apricot, grapefruit, spices and fine herbs. The wine has the presence and the creaminess of a Spätlese on the palate and leaves a gorgeous off-dry feel in the long and quite complex finish. 2021-2031” 90 MFW
Mullheimer Sonnenlay Alte Reben Feinherb -This a personal pet favorite bottling in the entire range….Sourced entirely from the upper slope, slate dominant Himmelsleiter (sky’s ladder) vineyard, I think that this deserves legions of fans. My note: “Outstanding. A bit imploded/reductive/mineral aromatically, leading to a oustanding sense of seamless harmony between its fruit and minerality in the mouth. Even better than the ’15?” I absolutely adore this, and encourage you to dive in if you didn’t already fall in love with the 2015. This is a signature, benchmark bottling in my estimation, and would be my go to reference point for exactly what makes feinherb such a wonderfully unique category of Riesling…..a little * awarded here. 8 g/L acidity, mid 20s RS.
“Harvested at 87 Oechsle, this would have qualified by estate standards as a Spätlese. It stopped fermenting in the upper range of legal halbtrockenheit, which results in excellent support for apple, white peach and lime fruit without engendering any overt sense of sweetness. This is one of the many 2016s to project a positive sense of stuffing while being alcoholically delightfully light. The long finish is lusciously juicy, mouthwateringly salt-tinged and vividly underlain with wet stone. (For more about the commercial and terraced vineyard origins of this wine, see my review of the 2015.)” 91 David Schildknecht
“The 2016er Mülheimer Sonnenlay Feinherb Alte Reben was harvested at 87° Oechsle in the prime Himmelsleiter sector of the vineyard. It offers a gorgeous nose of white and yellow peach, cassis, pear, grapefruit and white flowers. The wine is nicely balanced on the palate, with a nice kick of zesty acidity providing structure and vibrancy right into the elegant and beautifully balanced finish. This only needs a little bit of time to shine. 2021-2031” 91 MFW
Wehlener Sonnenuhr Kabinett Feinherb – Another entrant that I was unable to offer last year, this has classical Wehlener Sonnenuhr qualities of delicate, white floral aromatics, with a great sense of juicy charm and grippy drive, with lingering filigree minerality. I think this is better than the MFW review….a little * awarded here. 7.5 g/L acidity, mid 20s RS.
“This offers a ripe nose of pear, apple, melon and herbs. The wine is nicely smooth and delicately zesty on the palate and leaves a slight structured yet nicely tart feel in the long off-dry finish. This is a nice wine made in a slightly more approachable style than recently. 2019-2026+” 89 MFW
Kabinett: In my opinion, Constantin made an absolutely KILLER collection of 2016 Kabinetts, literally every one leaving me wide eyed with awe and giddy pleasure, a little * given to nearly every single one of ’em. They all have nearly identical analytics, with none picked higher than 85 oechsle, with roughly 50g/L RS and 8g/L acidity; pretty much textbook, older school Kabinett, with outstanding site typicity making all of the differences in the finished wines. It simply doesn’t get better than this. ‘Nuff said.
Erdener Treppchen Kabinett – A bottling I was unable to offer last year, this is stunning, Classic with a capital C Kabinett. From 40-50 year old vines. My note: “Wow. Quite dynamic between its spicy almost red fruits and minerality, both aromatically and in the mouth. Quite precise and filigree….gorgeous.” A little * awarded here. Constantin tells me that this is a consistent, perennial star…..
“This Kabinett harvested at 80° Oechsle offers a beautiful nose of peach, laurel, brown sugar and flowers. The wine is gorgeously light-feathered on the palate and leaves a flowery feel in the finish. This is a textbook Kabinett with huge charm in the making. 2026-2041” 91 MFW
Wehlener Sonnenuhr Kabinett – Winner of the Berlin Kabinett Cup in 2015 for the best Kabinett of the vintage, this was long gone by the time I offered the 2015s. This year, I am sure to an early bird, so we will not miss out….! From 80-90 year old vines in their massive 1.5 hectare block that sits just below the actual sundial. “Absolutely classic aromatics of more reserved white florals/minerality/yellow fruits, then super pure and seamless yellow fruits are given dancing filigree animation by its mineral underpinnings. Classic!” A little * awarded here. Get some.
“Scents of lime and apricot are not exactly typical for this site, but they are appealing, and they anticipate the juicy profusion that emerges on a polished, buoyant, subtly glycerol-slicked palate. This finishes with impressive cling, consummate refreshment, a fine sense of slate suffusion, and adept integration of what by prevailing Mosel standards has to be counted as exceedingly modest residual sugar.” 90 David Schildknecht
“This Kabinett harvested early at 82° Oechsle offers a rather beautiful nose of canned yellow peach, grapefruit, pineapple and flowers. The wine is nicely balanced with good, almost Spätlese, presence on the palate and a delicate light-feathered and juicy finish. 2026-2046” 91 MFW
Graacher Himmelreich Kabinett – The hits keep coming…! “Almost smoky/flinty aromatically with typical broader/richer aromatic fruitiness, then BOOM! Broad shouldered fruit and mineral power finds terrific shape on the palate. This is awesome.” A little * awarded here.
“Grapefruit, lemon, and blueberry on the nose anticipate the bright, luscious abundance of fruit on a firm palate that practically quivers with energy, leading to a zesty, tangy, invigorating, refreshing finish underlain by wet stone and marked by piquancy and chew of fruit skins and peels. As with other Richter Himmelreich offerings, this originates in the Goldwingert, a distinctive site high above Bernkastel. The vines picked for this Kabinett are old and ungrafted, and the fruit came in at 83 Oechsle, which is at the upper margin for that Prädikat chez Richter.” 91 David Schildknecht
“This Kabinett harvested at 82° Oechsle from very old un-grafted vines in the Goldwingert part of the vineyard. It offers a gorgeous feel of creamy grapefruit, pear, star fruit, anise and fine herbs. The wine proves delicately creamy with nicely integrated acidity on the palate and leaves a superbly crisp and focused feel in the long and racy finish. While slightly Spätlese in style on the palate, the finish is definitively that of a crisp Kabinett. 2026-2046 ” 92 MFW
Brauneberger Juffer Kabinett Fass 4 – I was thrilled to see that Constantin managed to make an encore performance for the “turn-up-the-quiet”, throwback style kabinett from 70 year old Juffer vines, picked at 78 oechsle. Once again, just a single cask was made and, once again, it is f’in outstanding…..don’t miss this. I am pretty sure that I am one of the only people in the world that gets to work with this one….”WOW. Classy, delicate, turn-up-the-quiet dancing whisper of a wine. In purity and quiet intensity, a stunner….” A little * awarded here. When I mentioned how much I love this one, Constantin said it may be his favorite Kabi of ’16 as well…..BUY A CASE OF THIS AND THANK ME LATER!!!!
“Issuing from old vines in especially finely morcellated slate, this is the latest Richter exploration of radically low-must weight and correspondingly delicate Kabinett. Picked at just 77 Oechsle, it boasts what for the vintage, not to mention for the Richters’ collection, is a remarkably high 9.8 grams of acidity. Lemon, lime and white peach on the nose translate into bracingly bright, generous juiciness on a firm, delicate palate. Subtly smoky, bitter-sweet nutty undertones and a vivid sense of crushed stone suffusion serve to balance and buffer the animating acidity – conveying a suggestion of richness that is uncanny given this wine’s analysis – as do a perfectly judged 38 grams of residual sugar. The bell-clear, vibrant finish conveys penetrating persistence and complexity, not to mention eye-opening invigoration and consummate refreshment. I’ll be surprised if this does not age terrifically. Richter – in common with some of his lightness-obsessed colleagues like Julian Haart and Ulli Stein – believes that old ungrafted vines are critical to rendering a complete and complex Riesling at such low potential alcohol, but he also emphasizes the significance of site. “If I had picked my really old vines in Wehlener Sonnenuhr at 77 Oechsle,” he averred, “I would have had to do so earlier, and my impression is that the flavors would have been too green.” (“Fuder 4” is simply a nickname by which the Richters have chosen to distinguish their radically delicate non-dry Juffer Kabinett from its otherwise eponymous sibling. The primary, presentation label simply displays a large “4.”)” 93 David Schildknecht
“This Kabinett (labelled as – Fuder 4 – on the back label, whereas the front label only indicates Kabinett -4-) was harvested at a low 78° Oechsle and fermented down to 35 g/l of residual sugar. It offers a gorgeously nose of green herbs, white peach, cassis, apple and fine spices. The wine is beautifully playful with quite some tartness on the palate and in the structured and firm finish. This needs some time to develop its full aromatic profile and integrate its rough edges. But as in its debut vintage in 2015, the Juffer Kabinett – Fuder 4 – proves a superb classic Kabinett in the making. 2026-2041” 92 MFW
Brauneberger Juffer Kabinett – The “regular” Juffer is sourced from 30-40 year old vines found in several small parcels of richer soils. Picked at just a few oechsle higher (my notes say 83), this shows just how delicate of a balance harvest timing is. This has notably greater Juffer tutti-frutti concentration, with very good finesse and sustaning intensity. This will please any and all…..another little * awarded here.
“While the corresponding “Fuder 4” bottling was picked at the lowest must weight of any Richter 2016, this “regular” bottling from the same Einzellage reflects (at 84 Oechsle) the highest-must-weight Kabinett of the present collection. The flavors and structure of the two wines are correspondingly disparate. Pineapple and papaya dominate on the nose as well as on a subtly creamy, glycerol-rich palate. This finishes with admirable persistence and succulent satisfaction if nowhere near the distinguished clarity, striking levity or dynamic of the corresponding “Fuder 4.”” 90 David Schildknecht
“The Juffer Kabinett (AP13) was harvested at 84° Oechsle. It offers a delicately creamy nose of vineyard peach, melon, grapefruit and fine herbs. The wine is juicy and spicy on the palate and leaves a great refreshingly tart feel in the long and focused finish. This structured Kabinett will need a good decade in the bottle in order to develop its full potential. It could eventually warrant a higher rating as it mellows away and integrates aromatically. 2026-2041” 91+ MFW
Veldenzer Elisenberg Kabinett AP 27 – The Elisenberg is a monopole site that is not so well known among Mosel lovers, but that is changing fast as Constantine continues to bring out incredible qualities from its quartz soils. The 2015 found ooooodles of people head over heels. Well……this one may be even better….! Picked at a wonderfully moderate 80 oechsle, with 9g/L of acidity. “Classic!! The unique juniper berry forest-y aromas with a kiss of mint are signature calling cards for this vineyard’s entirely “other” sense of place. In its sense of filigree finesse, this may be even finer than the ’15….in precision, class, and complexity, an absolute knockout.” A little * awarded here. Get a case, and thank me later…..BUY A CASE OF THIS AND THANK ME LATER!!!
“Scents and bright palate profusion of fresh lime, white peach and red currant put me in mind of a Ruwer Riesling. The delicate palate and consummately refreshing finish are transparent to stony underpinnings and incisive impingements of raw ginger. And here is one of those many instances where high quartzite content for whatever reason correlates with salinity, which in the present instance practically milks the salivary glands. If this libation doesn’t leave you invigorated, you might want to check with your doctor. (The newly revived antique label for this wine styles it merely as “Elisenberger,” although the official label conforms with German Wine Law in referring to “Veldenzer Elisenberg.”)” 92 David Schildknecht
“The Elisenberg Kabinett AP27 was made from fruit harvested at 81° Oechsle. It offers a stunning nose of white peach, mint, peach and ginger. The wine develops a stunning balance with pear, ginger and fine herbs and spices on the palate. The finish is salty, refined and superbly light-featured yet packed with flavors. This is a stunning Kabinett in the making but one which will need a few years to develop its full balance. It could even exceed our high expectations if it maintains the tension and finesse of the aromatics. What a stunning piece of Kabinett in the making! 2026-2041” 93+ MFW
Veldenzer Elisenberg Kabinett AP 16 – To boot, there is a second bottling of Elisenberg Kabinett!! from the upper portion of the vineyard that Constantin has never exported before, saving it for the German market. I didn’t get to taste this one, unfortunately. However, Constantin tells me that he may in fact prefer this one to the AP27, and I do not doubt his candor and honesty one bit. !!!
“The Elisenberg Kabinett AP16 was made from fruit harvested at 80° Oechsle from old vines situated in what is internally known as the “Alte Elisenburg” sector of the vineyard. It offers a delicately ripe nose of cassis, peach, pear and herbal elements on the nose. The wine delivers its flavors with the creamy and ripe presence of a Spätlese on the palate yet proves elegantly ripe and fruity in the long finish. 2026-2041” 92 MFW
Spätlese: The yields for Spätlese in 2016 were less than 1/3! of the 2015s, Constantin having to allocate things from the very beginning. He feels that these are tremendous examples of Classic Spät, and I am not arguing whatsoever…..if you love Spätlese, get what you can, and thank me later…
Mullheimer Helenenkloster Spätlese – Roughly 40% of the fruit here contained botrytis, which essentially served as a preselection for his bokers good Eisweins. “At once rich and quite fine, with its botrytis component being particularly fine and clean. This one is all about a harmonious, easy, friendly playfulness. Hard to imagine anyone not liking this….”
“The 2016er Helenenkloster was made from fruit partially affected by botrytis and harvested at 92° Oechsle (this was the pre-harvest of the Eiswein to take the ripe fruit out of the vineyard). It offers a gorgeous nose of melon, pear, grapefruit, ginger and laurel. It proves beautifully balanced and delicately smooth, and yet fruity and playful, with a racy side adding depth and vibrancy to the nicely playful finish. 2026-2041” 92 MFW
Veldenzer Elisenberg Spätlese – As mentioned before, the monopole Elisenberg is a site that should not be overlooked by any Mosel wine lover. This example is a classic….”Even more precise and focused, this could be the definition of filigree in spätlese wine. It has a sense of intense quartz driven minerality that is awesome, dancing with the gorgeously pure fruitiness. Class in a glass!!” A little * awarded here.
“Picked at only four degrees Oechsle more than the corresponding Kabinett, but from older vines, this features scents and juicy abundance of red raspberry, white peach and grapefruit shot through with the same saliva-inducing salinity that helped make that Kabinett memorably delightful. The feel here is surprisingly firm but disarmingly and delectably delicate, leading to a refreshingly lingering finish of striking clarity and tingling brightness, its alluring purity of fruit supported by unobtrusive sweetness.” 93 David Schildknecht
“This Spätlese, harvested at a low 87° Oechsle, offers a beautifully elegant nose of pear, vineyard peach, apricot blossom and whipped cream. The wine proves gorgeously racy and vibrant on the palate, which gives it focus and tension. The finish is mouth-watering, tart and loaded with ripe fruits and minerals. This is a beautiful Spätlese in the making. 2026-2046” 93 MFW
Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr Spätlese – Constantin’s selection was quite strict for the little bit of Juffer Sonnenuhr that did become Spätlese, although he says it is more Goldkapsule in nature than a traditional Spät, from botrytis free fruit. “Huge, classic tutti-frutti Juffer aromatics lead to a rich palate impact of gorgeous, luscious fruit texture that is given terrific poise and linear drive from its mineral and acidic spine, all enrobed seamlessly. Delicious.” A little * awarded here.
“Reflecting highly concentrated but entirely healthy grapes harvested at 94 Oechsle, and a volume of just 3,000 liters from 2.5 acres in the prime Falkenberg lieu-dit, it’s not hard to understand why Constantin Richter presented this bottling last in his lineup of 2016 vintage Spätlesen. “If we had ‘gold capsule Spätlesen’,” he noted, “this would be one.” A headily ripe nose of Persian melon, mango and pineapple anticipates the flavors but not the degree of brightness, tang and animation exhibited on a creamy palate, a legacy of light berry desiccation having concentrated acids as well as sugars. The lingering finish is prominently sweet by estate standards but both luscious and refreshing.” 92 David Schildknecht
“The 2016er Juffer-Sonnenuhr Spätlese was made from clean and shriveled grapes harvested at 94° Oechsle. It develops a delicately creamy nose of vineyard peach, grapefruit, some earthy spices and quite some citrusy whipped cream. The wine proves deliciously playful and mouth-watering on the palate as rich creamy fruits are balanced out by zesty acidity. The finish is still on the sweet side at this early stage but this should develop positively at maturity, and there is even quite some upside potential if it gains in finesse. 2026-2046” 93 MFW
Wehlener Sonnenuhr Spätlese – From very old vines, including the 120+ year old vines that last year went into the Uralte Reben trocken bottling. Once again, this could be a broken record for an archetype of the Wehlener Sonnenuhr, just gorgeous. “Wow…finessed, filigree, dancing Wehlener Sonnenuhr style, between its gorgeous yellow fruits and filigree minerality, classic class in a glass! ” A little * awarded here.
“This was sourced from the ungrafted, centenarian vines that in 2015 informed the dry Riesling labeled “Uralte Würzelechte Reben.” Site-typical scents and flavors of apple and vanilla are accompanied by a hint of apricot familiar from this year’s Sonnenuhr Kabinett as well as from some other vintages of Richter wines from this Einzellage. The lush fruitiness is seductively complemented by a creamy, glycerol-rich texture and inner-mouth honeysuckle and heliotrope perfume. A superbly sustained finish unexpectedly and delightfully introduces fresh lime and grapefruit that animate and refresh.” 93 David Schildknecht
“This Spätlese was from fruit harvested at 94° Oechsle from very old vines. Still quite reductive in style and marked by residual notes of spontaneous fermentation, this wine develops a gorgeously elegant nose of pear, cinnamon, fine spices and herbs. It proves however on the rich and ripe side on the palate as it unfolds exotic flavors of mango and guava not unlike those found in an Auslese. The finish is all about ripe fruits, vibrant freshness and lightness. This is a beautiful even if slightly riper expression of Sonnenuhr Spätlese. 2026-2046” 92 MFW
Graacher Himmelreich Auslese – A true “drinking style” Auslese from 70 year old vines and very clean botrytis. The value quotient here is off the charts. “This is quite silky and fine, with its acidity and minerality buried deep within, but rising from the backend with a persistence and mouth watering appeal that is indeed why this will provide useful and versitile at the table. Classy. ”
“Harvested 96° Oechsle with approx. 30% of botrytis, this offers a beautiful nose of pear, greengage, white flowers and spices. The wine proves elegantly creamy and yet zesty on the palate and leaves a clean and pure feel of zesty fruits and saltiness in the ravishing finish. Only a slightly saturating touch of candy floss in the after-taste still needs to mellow away, something a decade of aging will easily take care of. 2026-2046 ” 94 points MFW
Veldenzer Elisenberg Auslese Fass 54 – The Elisenberg again….nectariffic in ’16!! This is technically a Beerenauslese, made from 100% botrytis affected fruit. Again, for the money, just a bonkers bonkers bonkers value. “Wild mint and honey on the aromatics, this cascades over the palate with cooling, luscious depth with that cool sense of mint and quartz minerality echoing on the looonnnggg finish.”
“The Elisenberg Auslese was made from 100% botrytis-affected fruit harvested at a whopping 110° Oechsle. It is still rather marked by reduction and sulfur at this early stage but, after a while, one notices already some great notes of date, pear puree, honey, grapefruit and white minerals lurking in the background. The wine is still non-saying at this early stage on the palate but the refined and subtle aromatic in the background already hints at stunning greatness to come at maturity. This is one of the few 2016 Auslese which does not shine in its youth. It does have immense development potential though. 2031-2046” 94+ MFW
Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr Auslese Fass 38 – From 100% botrytis affected fruit, and 10g/L acidity, this is one dynamic lil’ nectar!! “Super, superfine….tremendously dynamic interplay between its luscious tutti frutti fruit, dry extract/minerality, and driving acidity. The class of the Juffer Sonnenuhr!!!” A little * awarded here.
“This reflects a picking of grapes to a significant degree desiccated without botrytis, which shows in its striking clarity and primary juiciness, not to mention in measurable acidity high by vintage standards. Quince preserves, papaya and glazed pineapple are suggested on a penetrating nose and glycerol-rich yet animatingly bright palate. The botrytis element, surprisingly, really reveals itself only on the finish, which is honeyed and hints subtly at truffle but at the same time is sensationally vibrant. A rush of fresh grapefruit and pineapple leaves the mouth tingling and refreshed.” 94 David Schildknecht
“This Auslese was harvested late from shriveled berries at 120° Oechsle from vines with minimal f yields. It delivers a rather restrained but very pure nose of date, honey, nut, apricot and strawberry on the nose. The wine is nicely zesty on the palate (the wine does have 10 g/l of total acidity) and leaves a superbly unctuous feel in the racy and complex finish. The after-taste is all about date and ripe exotic fruits as well as pink grapefruit. This is an amazing effort which proves pure and electrifying in its light “BA-Eiswein” style. 2026-2046” 95 points MFW
Nectars of the Gods: We enter the realm of some very rarefied nectars of the gods, with some truly superlative examples of Eiswein. It just doesn’t get better than this….!
2016 Mullheimer Helenenkloster Eiswein – The monopole Helenenkloster yielded two Eisweins this year, and both are knockout gorgeous. “Wow….An incredible sense of juicy pineapple fruit purity, with a hint of pine/mint and citrus, all gliding along effortlessly on its beam of acidity. This stuff is just plain delicious.” Oh my goooodness…
“This Eiswein was harvested at 140° Oechsle at -9°/-10°C (16°/14°F) on December 5. It offers a beautiful nose of date, brown sugar, greengage, apricot blossom and earthy spices. The wine is nicely balanced with good tension between fruit and unctuous sweetness right into the juicy finish. The aftertaste is still on the sweet side but the overall balance of this Eiswein is simply beautiful. While already quite enjoyable now, this fruit-driven expression of Eiswein will develop nicely as it matures. 2026-2036” 94 points MFW
2016 Mullheimer Helenenkloster Eiswein ** Fass 103 – As good as the first Eiswein was, this one was otherworldly, truly the greatest young Eiswein I have ever tasted. Constantin and his friend Christian Hermann of Dr Hermann joked that this will be the next German wine that will be awarded 100 points….pretty darn close in MFW. There are only 15 cases of this elixir, with an ethereal, senses bending experience of 13g/L acidity and 200ish g/l RS. Chosen only from perfectly ripe fruit with zero botrytis. “Holy holy sh!t. In purity, this is a shimmering, luminous nectar of the gods. The interplay of its kaleidoscopic array of fruits and acidity is positively mesmerizing. Any soul lucky enough to experience this is lucky indeed.” A little * star awarded here. Get what you can justify…..incredible.
“This Eiswein was harvested at 160° Oechsle at -9°/-10°C (16°/14°F) on December 5 from the main pressing of only fully frozen and clean grapes. It starts with some stunningly fruity and fresh notes of cassis, pear, mirabelle, raspberry, honey, pineapple and cinnamon. A great feeling of focus, freshness and bright fruitiness emerges on the palate. This carries over right into the elegant yet razor sharp finish. Far from being over-powering,this remains elegant and light, with just the right amount of sweetness to ensure longevity. This is a little masterpiece of an Eiswein in the making but one with a very high feel of acidity which makes us opt to enjoy this earlier than later. This Eiswein is a dream. 2021-2031+” 98 points MFW
There is a wonderful array of in stock 2015s for those of you who missed the boat on the first two go arounds. You can look on my website (www.downtoearthwines.net) in the Germany section, or inquire directly with me. I just don’t have the energy to type them all up…..again……some gorgeous cherries still remain.
I cannot stress enough just how impressed I am both with Constantin’s work and his person, as he exudes the kind of I-was-born-to-do-this sense of mastery and oneness with Riesling that are the stuff of the Jedi. His ’16s are bonkers gorgeous wines that any Mosel wine lover would be remiss to let pass on by. What else can I say? Horse, meet water…..
CHEERS TO CONSTANTIN, TAKING IT ALL IN STRIDE, KEEPING CALM, AND CARRYING ON IN MOST IMPRESSIVE FASHION!!!!