• Mosel Lace at its Finest:  Willi Schaefer Domprobst & Himmelreich

    Mosel Lace at its Finest: Willi Schaefer Domprobst & Himmelreich

    Visiting with Christoph Schaefer seven years ago at his family's cellar at the foot of the wickedly steep Domprobst vineyard of Graach (pictured above) was an unforgettable experience. The wines have long impressed me for their featherweight lightness and mineral spring purity of fruit. The balance found throughout the wines coming from the Mosel River Valley captivate us at every turn, but, for me, those from Willi Schaefer sit in a select category. Along with J.J. Prüm, this is where the Mosel reaches its crescendo.

    Today, I'm happy to offer the full range of in-stock Willi Schaefer Rieslings. 

    The list covers current releases as well as extreme rarities. Value can be found with age, now at 15 years the 2004 Riesling QBA at $34/btl is a great example of the magic capable of developing in bottle. And, several Auction (Grosser Ring) bottlings with a big emphasis on the epic 2001 vintage certainly marks the highlight of this group.

    Schaefer's minute holding of 4.2 hectares almost exclusively focuses on two vineyards in the village of Graach, the Himmelreich and Domprobst - both comprised of Devonian slate soils. 

    The Himmelreich, in its youth, is the more approachable, fruity, and silky. Lots of citrus and white peach tend to dominate. There's an agility and sense of weightlessness to Himmelreich that personifies the magic of the Mosel.

    The Domprobst is the more deep, spicy, and powerful. Earthy characteristics reveal themselves here in wines with slightly higher acidity. Flavor profile tends to push further away from the citrus register and into yellow and red orchard fruit notes.
    Posted by Alexander Rosen
  • Saar's Most Radical Symphony:   2016 Lauer Ayler Kupp Riesling

    Saar's Most Radical Symphony: 2016 Lauer Ayler Kupp Riesling "Senior"

    The wines of Germany's Saar region are best defined by expressions from its greatest heroes, Egon Müller and Hanno Zilliken. For over 2,000 years Riesling from steep slopes above the Saar tributary has been known for delicacy, finesse, and sharp clarity. These two renowned ambassadors over the last century have relied on ample residual sugar for their snap-shop of vineyard and vintage. The young Florian Lauer has a very different perspective on the Saar, and he's not been shy about it.

    Today, I'm happy to offer one of my favorite wines released in 2018, and as I see it, the single greatest value in German Riesling, The 2016 Peter Lauer Ayler Kupp "Senior" for $30 per bottle, and down to $27.95 on orders of 3 bottles or more!


    Lauer's departure from the Müller and Zilliken mold can be found in two areas that stand out the most at first glance. His wines focus on a dry-tasting style, and the Saar's conventional "lightness of being" is traded for an unapologetic, deep textural symphony. One with a saturating grip that calls to mind Metallica more so than Mozart. THIS is Florian Lauer's Saar today. And it is awesome.

    I've given up trying to count the number of times a Lauer wine has been poured for a drinker not particular fond or familiar with Riesling only to have them change their tune immediately. Florian's wines have a way of flipping preconceived notions upside down in a flash. They are radical, yet engage us all with their purity, detail, and site specificity.

    Increasingly warmer temperatures in the Saar now allow for this dry-tasting style to excel - it's one that would've been teeth-chattering just a couple decades ago. The magic of Lauer, and his home village of Ayl. comes from old, un-grafted vines worked entirely by hand. Within an exceptional range of wines all worth our attention, it's his Ayler Kupp Fass 6 "Senior" that stands as the proverbial whisper within the world of collectible German Riesling.

    Kupp is the greatest vineyard of Ayl, and here 70-yr-old un-grafted vines are tapped for a wine whose name comes from a special portion of the vineyard that Florian's grandfather was enamored with. This western-most parcel would regularly end up in the Fass 6, a specific fuder that the patriarch would write "Senior" on to mark it strictly for personal consumption. Thankfully, today Florian is more into sharing.

    $30 per bottle puts Senior on my short list of the great values in the entire world of wine. Truth be told, I promise to cellar this wine each vintage, and each year I fail miserably in this pledge. Last year at our annual champagne and fried chicken party in San Diego it was a magnum of Lauer's Senior that emptied before any 750ml bottle -the truest testament to a wine's greatness

    2016 is a vintage truly defined by its perfect, exquisite balance. Everything is in its right place. There's no shortcoming on ripeness. There's no element of acidity that stands out. Each component melds perfectly with its partners. If you're fond of Riesling or maybe been hesitant due to levels of sweetness, this is the perfect bottle to display the noble variety's prowess in the best hands from the best site.
    Posted by Alexander Rosen
  • Run, Don't Walk: 2016 Mosel Rosé from Ulli Stein

    Run, Don't Walk: 2016 Mosel Rosé from Ulli Stein

    The 2015 Mosel rosé from Ulli Stein was the biggest pink hit last season, and it was unfortunate when we weren't able to fulfill follow up requests as the limited quantities had vanished. So, we're getting out way ahead of this one. The just-released 2016 is not available online, and will likely be sold strictly through today's offer.

    Quantities are very limited and orders will be fulfilled based upon time of request.


    Stein's rosé is comprised of Pinot Noir with portions of Cabernet Sauvignon (yes) and Merlot (that's correct). The addition of the latter varieties explain why this Mosel gem is endowed with such distinctive textural 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 simply 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, intricate wines he produces.

    I began to write about the 2016 vintage to give an impression of what to expect, but I realize there's no more informative words on the region than from the inimitable importer, Terry Theise:

    "It is a medium-weight vintage and its weight is elegantly and gracefully dispersed.

    It is graceful overall, and also lithe, limber and lissome. It is strong when it needs to be, but it measures its strength judiciously and with restraint.

    It shows every aspect of superb German Riesling, but doesn’t emphasize any at the expense of the others. It is neither a fruit driven nor floral driven nor mineral driven nor acid driven vintage – it is all of these. Whatever you like about these wines, you’ll find it in plenitude. Except, perhaps, for brash acidity. If you really are someone who craves a yelping brusque acid profile, you might find 2016 too demure.

    But I don’t. I find it nearly perfect, with gazelle grace but with the gazelle’s sinewy energy when it wishes to leap and run."

    2016 Stein Rosé
    $23 per bottle.

    Also available:

    2015 Stein "Blue Slate" Riesling (Dry) (From un-grafted 80-year-old vines)
    $22 per bottle

    Posted by Max Kogod
  • Perfect Storm: 2015 Rosé Rising on the Mosel from Ulli Stein

    Perfect Storm: 2015 Rosé Rising on the Mosel from Ulli Stein

    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!

    Also available:

    2013 Stein "Blue Slate" Riesling (Dry) (From un-grafted 80-year-old vines)
    $22 per bottle

    Posted by Max Kogod
  • 2015 A.J. Adam Riesling: Mosel on the Grand-Scale

    2015 A.J. Adam Riesling: Mosel on the Grand-Scale

    The Mosel is home to the very most laser-focused and filigreed Rieslings in Germany. Here the steepest vineyards in the world perched over the Mosel river are just about the furthest north that grapes can grow. The energy and delicacy of wines from along the winding river have fascinated me to no end for years. Estates like J.J. Prüm and Fritz Haag have put this iconic region on the worldwide collector map since the 1700's. But, today we hone in the new generation and its most adventurous ambassador.

    A.J. Adam's wines thrill for their unmistakably saturating and powerful style, buffered with electrifying acidity that the Mosel is known for. It's the unmatched texture here that really marvels the senses and stands out from the more traditionally-minded estates. At under 4 hectares this minuscule property is farmed entirely by hand. While, sadly, the new generation here is not up for this tall task, Adam embraces it with a contagious fervor. 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.

    Grey-blue slate dominates the slopes in the villages of Dhron and Piesport where Adam works vines planted in the 1950's. The incredibly steep Hofberg vineyard receives maximum sun exposure and is moderated by the Dhron tributary below and the whipping winds coming above from the Hunsrück Mountains. Maximum ripeness is pushed to the extreme and a fierce dry extraction in the cellar is the hallmark here.These are the most textural wines of the Mosel, and among the very most detailed and complex.

    Adam works with many styles from the bone-dry Grand Cru level Hofberg (GG in all but name due to his absence from the VDP category), to his painfully rareBeerenauslese. Wines tasted back to 2001 have barely budged in their evolution, still with fresh salinity and a layered personality unparalleled in Germany.

    The 2015 vintage plays perfectly into Adam's style. Very hot summer temperatures were followed by unusually cold fall nights that have given us wines with outrageous ripeness and concentration, with a stern backbone of acidity that provides the most impeccable balance one could ever hope for. Many growers have not seen results like this since 1971. 

    2015 A.J. Adam Dhroner Riesling Trocken (dry)
    $33 per bottle.

    2015 A.J. Adam Hofberg Riesling Kabinett
    $27 per bottle.

    2015 A.J. Adam Hofberg Riesling Spätlese
    $44 per bottle.

    2015 A.J. Adam Hofberg Riesling Auslese
    $57 per bottle.

    2015 A.J. Adam Hofberg Riesling Trocken (dry)
    $63 per bottle.

    2015 A.J. Adam Hofberg Riesling Trocken 1.5L (dry)
    $134 per bottle.

    2015 Adam & Haart Goldtröpfchen Riesling Trocken (dry)
    $80 per bottle.

    Also available:

    2013 A.J. Adam Hofberg Riesling Kabinett
    $31 per bottle

    2012 A.J. Adam Hofberg Riesling Kabinett
    $32 per bottle.

    2013 A.J. Adam Dhroner Riesling (Off-Dry)
    $33 per bottle.

    2013 A.J. Adam Hofberg Riesling Spätlese
    $49 per bottle.

    2007 A.J. Adam Hofberg Riesling Beerenauslese #6 375ml
    $87 per bottle.

    2001 A.J. Adam Dhronhofberger Tholey Riesling Spätlese #2
    $133 per bottle.

    Posted by Max Kogod