YES this is exactly what I mean! You know how highly I regard Mosel Wine Merchant and always try to remind people about the importance of what you did. You and Dan were highly passionate, knowledgeable and did a tremendous amount for German wine and you still do beyond your Hofgut Falkenstein role. I don’t have to name, names but these distributors who pick off one German producers here and there do zero for German wine and maybe even do some harm.
I know who imported the Falkenstein that ended up at WHWC after the initial release and I would buy with 100% confidence. I’ve bought 100+ bottles (both new releases and back vintages) from this source and I’ve never been remotely disappointed. I’m not sure provenience is the issue people have with the “gray market,” but I wouldn’t be remotely concerned with buying anything from WHWC, which has one of the most impressive Riesling inventories in the region.
I buy a lot of presumably gray market from Woodland Hills and elsewhere and agree. As I said above more because of availability than anything else.
Just had another 2021. Julian Haart “Fass 3” Kabinett. It is a wine he makes together with the Danish importer so notes are probably not that important. But it is such an intense and delicious wine. I had an older vintage a few years back which i thought was just okay. But this 2021 is so good. Such an exciting vintage for my taste.
I normally do not buy much riesling, but i will go deep(ish) on the 2021 Kabinett’s (and a few Spätlese probably).
I finally started cracking open some of my 2021 Lauer Seniors.
All I can say is wow. Such a beautiful balance of ripe, brisk acidity and a delicious blend of lime and orchard fruit.
I ended up buying some more Seniors and Neuenberg because this was just so delicious and good (at least for my palate).
Thanks Robert for lifting up the Senior earlier in this thread! I’m so glad I have some to enjoy now and in the future with some bottle age.
As most of you know, the Grosse Gewächs Vorpremiere (GG sneak preview for wine professionals) is currently going on in Wiesbaden, Germany. Felix Bodmann aka “Schnutentunker” is one wine writer who blogs his impressions in quasi real-time from the tasting. Now, just one data point of course, but he’s just concluded the Mosel GGs with the verdict “overall solid performance”. Sounds rather unenthusiastic for what had been hailed as the best vintage in living memory in particular for the trockens.
You can find his impressions here.
Do you go to Germany and buy wines directly from the producer or otherwise source wines from outside the US. If so, isn’t that just purchasing from the gray market in another way?
I don’t buy direct from producers. I do buy from sources in the U.S. that gray market certain wines that are either not imported into the U.S. or in limited supply.
Trust me I buy more than my fair share of German wine through the 3 tier system.
As always, you are the voice of groundedness.
I wish I spoke German, but sometimes I’m glad I don’t because otherwise I wouldn’t read automatic translations like this one:
Zilliken’s intoxication is compact, firm, contrasts the very crunchy acidity with ripe fruit and has good grip in the finish. I can imagine exactly how this will mature and bet it will be good.
Or at least I hope Zilliken doesn’t use Rausch to mean intoxication.
Thankfully, one 2021 Riesling GG I’ve already bought seems to have good notes:
Schäfer-Fröhlich adds his very own nose note – also his wine with a beautiful structure and the best facilities. In the rock corner the acidity is powerful, fruit and sugar buffer it well and then comes a lot of structure. Wonderful.
I’m not sure what to make of his note on the 2021 Silvaner GG I bought:
Flight 1 starts in the wet with a lot of hay and straw, but on the palate the flight (and thus wine 1) starts a bit lemonade. But before the fruit becomes too dropsy, herbs and phenloic appear and provide seriousness. Nice start with medium pressure and good pull: Hoheleite by Paul Weltner .
Thanks, Guillermo. Actually, I’m a bit worried I might have misread or at least (severely) underestimated the vintage for trockens. So far, I haven’t committed to any '21s at all, and am unsure what to do with the GGs. Felix’s tasting notes don’t seem to point at a terrible oversight, because other than the usual suspects (Riesling, I don’t drink Silvaner) he doesn’t report on any outstanding performance even outside the Mosel region.
As to the Hoheleite Silvaner by Weltner, Felix has a typo, Nasse should read Nase (nose). The wine starts a bit lemonade-y, but before it gets too close to hard candy, herbs and phenolics (i.e., tannins) appear and provide seriousness. Medium weight/body, good drinkability. (“Druck” and “Zug” are two of the many words used by German wine writers that don’t exactly make sense.)
HTH & Cheers,
You’re welcome. Credit where credit is due.
The thing is, I think we won’t know the truth of it for at least a decade. The acid seems to be so high, the trockens (including the GGs) are apparently inscrutable (which makes sense). My bet is the GGs won’t be approachable until the 2030s (and probably well into). I don’t think there will be an early-drinking window as in some other vintages. This might be a sterile discussion until then.
Many of the 2021 GGs I have tasted are stunning. Schafer-Frohlich in particular.
A few weeks ago, my wife and I drank a bottle of Hofgut Falkenstein Niedermenniger Herrenberg Riesling Kabinett Trocken AP 1 “Mutter Anna”.
I sloshed it back and forth between the bottle and a carafe twice before putting it back in the fridge with the intention of following it’s development over the coming days, but we weren’t able to take the first glass until two days later.
The first glass was mostly citrus (two days after airing the bottle).
The third day the wine had opened up, the lemon and lime was joined by a slight herbal character (if I remember correctly) with good mineral and high acid structure without any sourness whatsoever (“ripe acids” - no puckering!).
I don’t remember the fourth day, but the wine held together.
The last glass on the fifth day after opening the wine had reduced to lemon-water.
I was particularly struck by the concentration (dry extracts), it was much more than I expected. A delicious wine, and only 10.5% alcohol! Eric Weber and the team at Hofgut Falkenstein are brilliant! I promptly ordered a selection of the other Falkenstein trockens!
I’ll try to wait five years before I begin to drink these!
Problem is what to drink while we wait…
Edit: I removed “…entry level” as corrected by Lars Carlberg below.
I guess I am not as big a fan of the three-tier system as you are. I agree that Terry Theise and Rudi Wiest did an outstanding job of bringing great German wines into the US and deserved to be supported (and I did). I can remember the first time I tasted Terry Theise wines at a Williams Sonoma store just across the street from a store called Rex in DC where David Schildknecht was the wine buyer (circa 1985 or so). Terry gave a very enthusiastic presentation for his producers, none of which I had heard of previously and several of which I have now had a lot of wine from over the years.
But, for every one of those importers, there is a Kermit Lynch (and others) who have jacked up Burgundy prices (and prices for other wines) for the US far beyond what they are in other countries. Do they deserve monopoly rents for top wines forever because they first brought the wines into the US decades ago? Even patent protection does not last forever. Over the years, I have bought wines from producers like this in Burgundy, etc., whenever I have seen them there.
So, I guess my view on gray markets, etc., is it depends.
I think we mostly agree. I hate the three tier system because of the parts of it that add little value. I don’t think what Kermit has done is because of the three tier system I think he would happily sell you some Coche Corton Charlemagne direct for the current price of $6500 and keep 100% of the margin.
I do think there is value in importers building up Domains and or categories that is why I believe it is a necessary evil.
Only up to a point.
And whatever that point is, they reach it much earlier today than they did 40+ years ago when all the laws that protect them were conceived.
For example, my interest in Falkenstein has zero to do with the importer and everything to do with good reviews here and in MFW.
I get that certain importer-retailers (like Fass) play a much more active market-creation role for certain wines (in his case Thorle and Brisset come to mind), but they also don’t tend to screw customers with absurd pricing. On the contrary, it’s usually great pricing.
Thanks! There are no entry-level wines at Hofgut Falkenstein. To put it in perspective, Mutter Anna is a single cask from low-yielding old vines.
My bad Lars, it didn’t feel “right” when I wrote it. Thanks for correcting me!
I edited my post so as not to mislead readers.
Thanks for your recommendations for the other H.F. trockens, I now have AP 1, 9, 18, 19, 21, and Kabinett AP 8.
Which should cover our needs.
I just had my first '21, Max-Ferd. Riesling Spätlese Veldenzer Elisenberg, and WOW! This wine is excellent with brilliant acidity front and center. This is probably the best first impression I’ve had of any recent vintage. If this wine fairly reflects the character of the vitnage, I’ll be buying a lot of 2021s.