The 2015 vintage produces a whole string of gorgeous wines playing on zesty ripeness. Few Spätlese highlight this as well as this Saar beauty by Dr. Wagner.
Few vintages have been so hyped than 2015 and there is some truth in it. 2015 yielded some stunning wines, and this in all stylistic directions.
But not everything that shines is gold. At its heart, 2015 is a ripe vintage, pepped up by glorious zest, with many wines on the powerful side. Only the very best wines will turn into classics in a decade or two.
Few wines got us excited as much as those of the Weingut Dr. Wagner, the crowning jewel in this collection being its Ockfener Bockstein Spätlese.
The Weingut Dr. Wagner can look back on an old and glorious history. Set up towards the end of the 19th century by Josef Heinrich Wagner, the Estate was to experience the boom and bust period of the early 20th century when J.H Wagner built one of the largest Sekt Houses in Germany. Unfortunately, it went down in the troubled decade of hyper-inflation and depression of the 1920s.
The holdings in Saarburg and Ockfen as well as the townhouse and cellar could be rescued from this wreckage. After the war, step by step, the Wagner family made a name for itself for producing steely elegant Saar wines. In 1996, it was then to join the Grosser Ring, the Mosel branch of the VDP.
In 2009, Christiane Wagner took over the family Estate and stuck to the recipe that has made its success for so long: 0ld vines (many parcels on the 5 ha Estate are still trained on single pole and over 50 years old), fermentation in traditional casks ... but also comparatively high yields and grapes with low sugar levels. As Christiane Wagner puts it, “we are no sugar hunters. We want to retain the playful side of Saar Riesling. This may make the wines seem a bit light in their youth but they gain in presence with age.”
The Estate tends vineyards in three prime sites: The Saarburger Rausch, the Saarburger Kupp and in the Ockfener Bockstein. Its holdings in the Ockfener Bockstein are all situated in the former Herrenberg part of the vineyard which is situated at the entry of the Bockstein side valley. Until 1983, the Ockfener hill was split into several single vineyards reflecting the different orientations and micro-climate prevailing on the hill.
The Herrenberg sector was one of the great sites of the Mosel as it was classified in the highest categories on the old taxation maps and this for good reasons. Its wines often achieved higher prices than those of the original Bockstein (situated at the end of the side valley).
In 2015, Christiane Wagner could play the strength of this hill to the full as it tamed the intrinsic power of the Ockfener hill and the 2015 vintage through the lightness of the house style. This included a Spätlese harvested at a comparatively low 88° Oechsle (i.e. with sugar levels often used for Kabinett at other Estates) from 50 year-old vines which oozes freshness and complexity as well as great aromatic intensity.
Overall, the light style favored by Weingut Dr. Wagner delivered a string of gorgeously playful and deeply flavored wines in 2015. The vintage is a great success at this Estate.
Overall, this Estate does particularly well in warmer and riper vintages as its gorgeous 2006er Ockfener Bockstein Spätlese reminded us only recently. This wine proved one of truly great highlights of our extensive 10-Years-After retrospective of the 2006 vintage (the tasting note can to be found in Issue No 30).
THe complete 2015 collection by Dr. Wagner was reviewed in Mosel Fine Wines Issue No 31 (Jun 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.
Ockfener Bockstein Riesling Spätlese
This offers a stunning nose of fresh cassis, herbs and spices. The wine is superbly elegant and juicy on the palate, with a hint of tangerine and orchard fruits adding freshness and vibrancy to the wine. The lightness and aromatic complexity is remarkable. This gorgeously well balanced success is a great tribute to Saar like in the 1990s! 2025-2040
© 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.