Saturday night's Rieslingfeier at the Wythe Hotel in Brooklyn was, again, one of those pinch me evenings surrounded by some of the world's greatest producers and tables filled with historic wines. Established by importer Stephen Bitterolf, Rieslingfeier is a celebratory weekend gathering enthusiasts from all over the globe. I found myself lucky enough to be seated with one my heroes in the world of wine, Christoph Schaefer of the Mosel's Weingut Willi Schaefer.

Visiting with Christoph 6 years ago at his family's cellar at the foot of the wickedly steep Domprobst vineyard of Graach was also an unforgettable experience. The wines have long impressed me for their featherweight texture and mineral spring purity of fruit. The balance that the Mosel River Valley can captivate us with is always on full display in the Willi Schaefer wines. And their finish reminiscent of cake frosting with dancing mineral stardust is what's always stuck with me since being introduced to the producer a decade ago by Jill Bernheimer's top shop, Domaine LA.

Schaefer's minute holding of 4.2 hectares primarily focuses on two vineyards in the village of Graach, the Himmelreich and Domprobst - both comprised of Devonian slate soils. Only .2 hectares of the Sonnenuhr vineyard of Wehlen round things out here. 

Himmelreich is the more charming, 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.

Domprobst is the more deep, spicy, and powerful. Earthy characteristics reveal themselves here in wines with slightly higher acidity, lending an even greater aging capability. Flavor profile tends to push further away from the citrus register and into yellow and red orchard fruit notes.

The 2016 vintage featured today is an ideal one for Kabinetts (the lowest on the sweetness scale from Schaefer). The vintage is characterized first and foremost for its balance, not favoring ripeness or acidity, but rather a sense that everything's in its right place. Tasting with Christophe Saturday morning at Craft restaurant in Union Square really hit home just how impressive this vintage is right out of the gates. Following the powerful 2015's, this new release is so perfectly suited to appeal to purists as well as newcomers interested in learning about Germany Riesling.

I was lucky enough to be introduced to the wines many years ago by Jill, and today they represent the lion's share of my personal Riesling collection, as well as the back-vintage collection I've sourced for the shop. There is no producer I recommend with greater fervor than Willi Schaefer.

2016 Willi Schaefer Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett
$30

2016 Willi Schaefer Graacher Domprobst Riesling Kabinett
$33

Cellar Gems:

2x 2001 Willi Schaefer Graacher Domprobst Riesling Auselse #8 Grosser Ring (Auction) 375ml
$189

3x 2001 Willi Schaefer Graacher Domprobst Riesling Auslese
$187

2x 2001 Willi Schaefer Graacher Domprobst Riesling Auslese Grosser Ring (Auction)
$399

6x 2001 Willi Schaefer Graacher Domprobst Riesling Spätlese #5
$129

6x 2001 Willi Schaefer Graacher Domprobst Riesling Spätlese Grosser Ring (Auction) 
$249

1x 2002 Willi Schaefer Graacher Domprobst Riesling Spätlese #09
$84

2x 2002 Willi Schaefer Graacher Domprobst Riesling Spätlese #12 
$84

2x 2003 Willi Schaefer Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Auslese #16
$99

8x 2004 Willi Schaefer Estate Riesling QBA
$34

12x 2004 Willi Schaefer Graacher Domprobst Riesling Spätlese #10
$84

3x 2004 Willi Schaefer Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Auslese #12 
$99

1x 2005 Willi Schaefer Graacher Domprobst Riesling Auslese #06
$99

1x 2005 Willi Schaefer Graacher Domprobst Riesling Kabinett
$58

6x 2005 Willi Schaefer Graacher Domprobst Riesling Spätlese #07 
$84

11x 2005 Willi Schaefer Graacher Himmelreich Auslese #09
$94

To view more Willi Schaefer wines, including 2006-2015, please click here.