• Mosel's One & Only: 2020 J.J. Prüm

    Mosel's One & Only: 2020 J.J. Prüm

    My visit to J.J. Prüm just before harvest in 2012 proved there were more mysteries than answers to be found at this historic estate. A cellar tour was off-limits, as is often the case with visitors. However, the estate's idyllic setting at the shore of the Mosel River was a fantastic place to taste wines with Dr. Katharina Prüm.

    Today's offer features the 2020 release, which harkens back to the featherweight Rieslings we saw in 2008 and 2013. The wines have a high-acid component yet are well-integrated and even softer than the previous vintages. Many things are left unknown about the methods here, but one thing is abundantly clear: These are the most regal and crystalline examples of Mosel Riesling.

    Also, we still have the rare 2007 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Grosser Ring, or auction bottles, sourced from J.J. Prüm's best füders. This vintage is a personal favorite in the Mosel, turning out wines of lighter body and finesse met with an unmistakable cool slate finish. For acid lovers of yesteryear, this is as good as it gets, and these special bottles will go even further in the cellar than their "standard" counterparts.

    Shop J.J. Prum

    Posted by Max Kogod
  • Nahe Thunder: Emrich-Schönleber

    Nahe Thunder: Emrich-Schönleber

    The Nahe's Emrich-Schönleber, alongside Keller, Dönnhoff, and Schäfer-Fröhlich, comprise Germany's most noble estates in the Grosses Gewächs realm, where the country's best dry Rieslings are found.

    Halenberg is a towering wine built for the cellar. While Fruhlingsplatzchen, from red slate and clay soils, offers more immediate charm, Halenberg, deriving from blue slate soils, is more reserved upon release. With time, in cellar or decanter, notes of crisp green apple, candied lime, and peppermint emerge. Halenberg stands apart from other GGs with its saturating, deep mineral expression on the palate, with many layers unfolding when given patience.

    Importer (and my long-time Riesling guru) Stephen Bitterolf of Vom Boden highlights where Emrich-Schönleber lands stylistically: "They are neither as baroque and lavish as Dönnhoff, nor as fiercely angular as Schäfer-Fröhlich... In fact, for me, stylistically, you would have to leave the Nahe altogether to find the wines that remind me the most of Emrich-Schönleber, and that would be Keller in the Rheinhessen."

    Led today by Frank Emrich, this family began growing Riesling on the treacherously steep slopes along the Nahe river in the mid-1700s. In the 1960s, they began to focus entirely on viticulture and winemaking (Before then, it was a risky proposition to have their livelihood be at the will of nature so directly). Over the next two decades, the estate steadily grew to ten hectares.

    Shop Emrich-Schönleber

    Posted by Max Kogod
  • Mosel Lace: 2001-2020 Willi Schaefer

    Mosel Lace: 2001-2020 Willi Schaefer

    The balanced Rieslings found in Mosel River Valley captivate at every turn, but for me, Willi Schaefer sits in a select category. These wines have long impressed me for their featherweight lightness and mineral spring purity. Along with J.J. Prüm, this is where the Mosel reaches its crescendo.

    Schaefer's minute holding of 4.2 hectares focuses on two vineyards in the village of Graach—Himmelreich and Domprobst—both comprised of Devonian slate soils. Visiting Christoph Schaefer at his family's cellar, situated at the foot of the wickedly steep Domprobst Vineyard, was an unforgettable experience.

    In its youth, Himmelreich is the more approachable, fruity, and silky, with lots of citrus and white peach. Its nimble weightlessness personifies the magic of the Mosel. Domprobst, in comparison, is much deeper, spicy, and powerful. Earthy characteristics reveal themselves, slightly higher acidity, and the flavor profile moves toward yellow and red orchard fruit notes.

    Shop Willi Schaefer

    Posted by Max Kogod
  • Pfalz Wizardry: 2020 Koehler-Ruprecht Saumagen

    Pfalz Wizardry: 2020 Koehler-Ruprecht Saumagen

    Pfalz's Koehler-Ruprecht bears little resemblance to neighboring producers nor those next door in France's Alsace. Though Riesling is the focus here, a supernatural element exists within the wines that make them stand out among their contemporaries.

    The sweet spot of their holdings comes from Kallstadter's famed Saumagen Vineyard. Pfalz is home to an amalgamation of soils—in Saumagen, limestone takes center stage and bears the most responsibility for this site's crystalline nature and peerless transformative abilities in bottle. Winemaker Dominik Sona says the 2016 vintage was Koehler-Ruprecht's last late harvest as the region grows warmer from climate change.

    I'm thrilled to have received these bottlings directly from the domaine! Unlike other wineries, Koehler-Ruprecht determines designations by taste rather than calculated sweetness levels: The lightest wine of the vintage becomes Kabinett while the most complex is Auslese.

    Shop Koehler-Ruprecht

    Posted by Max Kogod
  • Marvelous Mosel: 2020 A.J. Adam Riesling

    Marvelous Mosel: 2020 A.J. Adam Riesling

    The Mosel is home to the most laser-focused and filigreed German Rieslings. Estates like J.J. Prüm and Fritz Haag put this iconic region on the worldwide collector map in the 1700s, but today's offer highlights the new generation. A.J. Adam marvels the senses with saturating and powerful style, electrifying acidity, and unmatched texture that stands out from traditionally-minded estates.

    A.J. Adam works with 1950-planted vines in Dhron and Piesport and farms their minuscule four hectares entirely by hand. The incredibly steep Hofberg vineyard receives maximum sun exposure, moderated by the Dhron tributary below and the whipping winds coming above the Hunsrück Mountains. The estate's hallmark is maximum ripeness with a fierce dry-extraction in the cellar.

    The lineup ranges from the bone-dry Grand Cru-level Hofberg and Goldtröpfchen to the painfully rare Beerenauslese. Wines tasted back to 2001 have barely budged in their evolution, still showing fresh salinity and pale straw hues. A visit just before harvest in 2012 was my first exposure to these wines, and since then, each vintage has been accumulating in my personal cellar.

    Shop A.J. Adam

    Posted by Max Kogod