Focusing on small-production wines has a lot of advantages, but an equal amount of challenges. When coming across something you love there simply may not be an opportunity to go deep. Rewind to the release of Ulli Stein's 2014 rosé from the Mosel. By the time the shop officially opened it was gone. So, when the flawless and psychedelic 2015 vintage was released I didn't blink. It was clear upon first taste this was special, but looking into the future I could surmise the best was yet to come. This Sunday on the beach in Encinitas marked the realization that the 2015 Stein Rosé, a grand achievement, has totally arrived in a big, bold way.
2015 truly was a perfect storm for the Mosel. Hot, dry summer met with unusually cold fall nights. We have very high ripeness, perfectly pronounced crisp acidity, and a dry extract that drenches the palate with a saturating, broad texture and laser-focus. Stein's rosé is comprised of Pinot Noir with portions of Cabernet Sauvignon (yes), and Merlot (again, yes). The addition of the latter varieties explain why this Mosel gem is endowed with such distinctive characteristics.
The Mosel's blue slate gives a cool fruit quality and salinity to the finish. There's a mélange of bright red and blue fruits with herbs and flowers in abundance. The total picture is one that's wrapped seamlessly together with mind-boggling texture and an explosively long finish.
Ulli's un-grafted vines on the very steepest slopes along the Mosel River (see below) lie on terraces that were once abandoned as the hand work required was a non-starter for many. Ulli has been described as a "true bohemian", living with his wife atop a mountain overlooking the Mosel. Their "inn" doesn't have rooms to book, yet it's always filled with friends, musicians, artists, and writers. Conversations here fuel the eccentric mind of Ulli who's beloved in this idyllic setting among his vines on ancient terraces. As you can imagine his attention to detail and natural approach to viticulture and winemaking is the foundation for the dynamic and intricate wines he produces.
To close I'll just say that this has been one of the more exciting discoveries over the last couple years with the shop. 55 degree, pitch black storage has its benefits, and the 2015 Stein Rosé has flourished beautifully over the last year. There are no signs this will tire anytime soon - I will certainly be re-visiting my bottles for many years to come.
2015 Stein Rosé
$22 per bottle.
12 bottles or more down to $19 per bottle!
2013 Stein "Blue Slate" Riesling (Dry) (From un-grafted 80-year-old vines)
$22 per bottle