2017 Falkenstein just hit the shores and I have to be lightening quick to get this out before anyone else grabs it. The Mosel recorded its earliest and smallest harvest in 50 years for 2017 but while yields were small, the stuff that remains is superb. More serious in feeling and denser in texture than the winsome and lyrical 2016’s, we’re very excited to see what the best producers are going to do here. Especially Falkenstein.
The only problem is that there is not much of it.
Falkenstein, the tiny boutique winery based in the Saar, was a runaway success last year. Thanks to crazy high press and crazy low prices (and a relentless push on our part) we sold more Falkenstein than nearly any other German producer. That includes J.J. Prum, Selbach-Oster, von Winning and Keller. That’s huge. This is price to quality, the best you can do for fine German Riesling. PERIOD.
While the press for 2017 has yet to be released, I am extremely confident the quality will match, if not succeed the glorious 2016’s. While prices have expectedly raised due to the low harvest, the quality to price ratio is still downright silly.
2017 Niedermennig Herrenberg Kabinett Trocken (dry)
From last year’s review: “The Herrenberg Kabinett Trocken AP19 (known internally as the “Egon” cask) comes from a parcel planted with 50 year-old vines situated just below the Estate. It offers an absolutely stunning nose of grapefruit, cassis, green herbs and chalky minerals. The wine is still somewhat hard and loaded with citrusy acidity on the palate but the quality of the feel in the zesty finish is already hinting at greatness to come as one discerns white minerals, flowery elements, ripe citrusy fruits, white peach, a hint of tangerine, fine herbs and spices. The feel in the after-taste is pure elegance and vibrancy. What an absolutely beautifully elegant dry Kabinett made in a refreshingly light style! 2021-2031” 92 Points, “Outstanding” Mosel Fine Wines
2017 Krettnacher Euchariusberg Kabinett Alte Reben
From last year’s review: “The Euchariusberg Kabinett Alte Reben comes from a parcel still planted with un-grafted vines in the prime Gross Schock sector of the vineyard which was classified in the highest category on the old taxation maps. This wine delivers an absolutely sumptuously elegant nose of yeasts, white peach, mint, grapefruit, flowers, smoke and bergamot. It dazzles through restrained elegance, intensity and freshness on the palate, with juicy and light fruits just adding the little je ne sais quoi to the mid-palate. This finish is loaded with energy and yet superbly complex and the length is just stunning. This is one of the very best young Kabinett we have ever tasted and a great tribute to this uniquely light and elegant style of Riesling! 2024-2036” 95 Points, Mosel Fine Wines
2017 Krettnacher Euchariusberg Spätlese
From last year’s review: “This delivers a delightful nose driven by freshness and elegance as notes of smoke, spices, lemongrass, basil and lemon zest emerge from the glass, enhanced by gorgeous floral nuances after some airing. The wine is driven by quite some juicy yellow peach and apricot at first, yet quickly gains in focus as a stunningly racy acidity provides structure in the very long and pure finish. Candied citrus, grapefruit, lime and spices are driving the aromatics in the after-taste. What an energetic and lively Spätlese! 2024-2036” 95 Points, Mosel Fine Wines
2017 Krettnacher Euchariusberg Auslese
From last year’s review: “Only 500 liters of this superbly refined Auslese made from selections at a comparative moderate 94° Oechsle were produced. The wine offers amazingly gorgeous aromatics including coconut cream, bergamot, yellow peach and almond as well as some fresher notes of gooseberry and grapefruit. It proves exquisitely creamy and even smooth on the mid-palate, yet great precision and lightness comes through in the hugely long finish. It is just so light yet packed with so many zesty flavors. What a great refined Auslese. 2024-2036” 95 Points, Mosel Fine Wines
More About the Wine
Even in the small world of fine German wine Falkenstein offers the lowest, craziest values I have ever seen. Selbach-Oster does it as well, so do the Merkelbach brothers (God bless them), but Falkenstein is somehow priced even lower. I don’t know how it is remotely sustainable, but I won’t turn it away either. Look, this is pretty extraordinary. This is the sort of thing you need to leap out bed for.
Why? Because I did.
I love everything about these guys. I adore classical Riesling. No herbicides, no chaptalization, no acidification, no added nutrients, and a lot less drowning with sulfites. Everything is hand-harvested and the whole cluster grapes are gently pressed in a pneumatic press. They use ambient yeasts in old oak 1,000-liter Fuder casks. Everything is about showing their vineyards in the most pure, un-manipulated manner possible. Bonus points for their zero use of stainless steel—do you know how refreshing that is? Very.
Their top vineyard sites are located on various south-facing hillsides, including the once highly prized wines from Niedermenniger Herrenberg, Niedermenniger Sonnenberg, Krettnacher Euchariusberg. Euchariusberg, in particular has historically been one of the most renowned sites in the Saar. On the old Prussian tax maps, it was considered “Grand Cru” because it garnered the highest tax. That’s a really, really important distinction. This is excellent terroir.
Ultimately, the success of Falkenstein represents the success of German wine today. Here is an estate which re-discovered very old vines in neglected, forgotten vineyards and through years of hard, traditional work have produced somet