This highlight of our extensive “20-Years-After” retrospective of the 1996 vintage underlines the greatness achieved by Doctor wines at maturity.
Mosel Riesling blossoms as it matures. Every year, we dedicate the Spring Issue of Mosel Fine Wines to the beauty of mature Mosel. This includes the largest "20-Years-After" Riesling retrospectives made anywhere in the world.
The retrospective of the 1996 vintage just published in Mosel Fine Wines Issue No 30 (Mar 2016) underlines the beautiful liveliness of the best 1996 Auslese wines. The best 1996 epitomize everything great about Mosel, being stunningly zesty and fresh, yet at the same time complex and delicately smooth.
Few of the 50 wines we tasted matched the ultimate elegance of the 1996er Berncasteler Doctor Auslese (Auction) crafted by Weingut Wwe. Dr. H. Thanisch (Erben Thanisch).
Thanisch is one of the grand names of Mosel Riesling, with roots going back to the 17th century and a tradition intimately related to that of the great Doctor wines.
The Weingut Wwe. Dr. H. Thanisch (Erben Thanisch) has remained true to the tradition and still largely relies on ambient yeasts, cold cellars and traditional oak casks to produce their timeless wines. The best casks stay on their fine lees often until the summer after the vintage. This traditional winemaking has one drawback. These wines simply need time to blossom.
However, we have experienced time and time again how gracefully the wine from Weingut Wwe. Dr. H. Thanisch (Erben Thanisch) can age. Wines from the 1980s and 1990s remain just as fresh as a daisy.
The Bernkasteler Doktor vineyard has been the stuff of myths since centuries, with its wines being year-in year-out among the most expensive ones of the region. The almost ideal full south exposure and a soil of brown-blue slate with just a little bit of earth to buffer off any hardness have given Doctor wines the edge over almost any other vineyard in the region.
However, Doctor wines are also among the most misunderstood in the Mosel, as they can seem almost broad, backward and quite frankly boring in their youth. It is hard to believe how, seemingly out of nowhere, Doctor wines firm up and their aromatics gain focus and depth. At maturity, these wines can de facto set standards. But one needs to have the patience to wait or, to be more direct: There is little point in opening a bottle of Doctor wine with less than 10 years of age.
The greatness that Doctor wines can achieve is beautifully underlined by the 1996er Berncasteler Doctor Auslese sold by Wwe Dr. H. Thanisch (Erben Thanisch) at the annual Trier Auction in 1997. This wine wraps the racy side of the 1996 vintage into a beautifully elegant and subtle blanket of fresh minerals and soothing beeswax.
Other vintages of Doctor wines from Wwe Dr. Thanisch (Erben Thanisch) regularly achieve similar greatness and balance ... if given enough time to mature. We hope to have convinced you to have a go at maturing some of these Doctor wines and experience for yourself the greatness that they can achieve, in particular in the 1996 vintage.
A comprehensive 1996 20-Years-After Riesling retrospective was published in Mosel Fine Wines Issue No 30 (Mar 2016). You are a subscriber and miss this Issue? Simply send us a request by email and we will be happy to send you a copy. You are not yet a subscriber and wish to get this Issue? Subscribe free of charge by registering yourself here below and ask us for a copy by email.
Wwe Dr. H. Thanisch - Erben Tnanisch
Berncasteler Doctor Riesling Auslese (Auction)
This stunner of a wine, harvested with 122° Oechsle, offers a show-stopping nose of pineapple, coconut and grassy mint. The wine is elegant on the palate and leaves creamy beeswax in a stunningly airy, deep and fresh finish. The after-taste seems to last for a minute, bringing more juicy delicately tropical fruits and fresh mint into the game. What an absolutely stunning wine and a tribute to the greatness of Doctor wines! Now-2026+
© Text by Mosel Fine Wines "The Independent Review of Mosel Riesling"
Disclaimer: Mosel Fine Wines is an independent publication and has no commercial relationship with any Estate, association or organization featured in this article.