Putting aged Willi Schaefer wines on the website is one of the hardest things I do. These personal wines will only improve as the decades pass, while quantities will be long gone. Now, off-dry German Riesling clearly pairs well with spicy cuisine, my first pick for favorite Thai and Szechuan, but the magic of pairing with a pork shoulder and other heavier proteins always feels like it was destined.
Recently I was at Majordōmo L.A. and was so close to ordering a 1990 Mosel Riesling with the Bo Ssam pork shoulder. We went in another direction, but that just means that if this 2001 Dombprobst Spätlese below doesn't sell, then I'm going to just bring it back there next dinner.
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 (See picture below).
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.