2015 saw some superb dry German Riesling at the hand of leading growers. No wonder Emrich-Schönleber hit the bulls-eye with its highly elegant Halenberg GG.
We had the change to taste many of the leading 2015 dry German Riesling last year. Generally speaking, while 2015 may not have been a vintage of the century for dry German Riesling, it did yield many outstanding and quite consumer-friendly wines driven by fruit and zest and which offer much immediate appeal.
Our tastings also highlighted the fact that the 2015 vintage just confirmed the relative pecking order among German growers over the last few years. It is therefore not surprising that Weingut Emrich-Schönleber, and particularly its Halenberg GG, is one of the highlights of the vintage.
Long in the shadow of the internationally better-known Rheingau and Mosel, the Nahe region took the world of Riesling by storm over the last decades and now harbors a disproportionately high number of the leading German winemaking Estates. One of these quality pioneers is behind the wine we highlight in this article, the Weingut Emrich-Schönleber.
Werner Schönleber can proudly look back at a long career: He started to work with his father already in 1969. Over the past five decades, he transformed the small mixed agricultural operation with 2-hectare of vineyards into a full 20-hectare winemaking Estate with sizeable holdings in the finest vineyards in his village, namely in the Grand Cru Monzinger Frühlingsplätzchen and Monzinger Halenberg. The Estate owns today as much as 5.3 ha in the Grand Cru Halenberg, i.e. almost two-third of this 8.3 ha terroir based on blue slate, quartzite and pebble soils.
A perfectionist in both vineyard and cellar management, he gradually drew the wine world’s attention on his tiny but excellent production of fruity and dry wines. It is therefore no surprise that the VDP Nahe invited him to join their ranks in 1994. In 2005, his son Frank officially joined him on the Estate and the pair has gone from strength to strength since, regularly producing some of Germany’s finest dry Riesling.
The production of the Estate is focused on dry wines and the best Riesling bottlings are all matured in large old casks. The Estate wants its wines to combine a fiery energy and good presence with elegance and finesse. This graceful style has struck a chord with lovers of dry Riesling worldwide.
Werner Schönleber rates his 2015 vintage highly: “We had a superb weather in August so that the grapes ripened and gained in sugar levels under near ideal conditions. By the end of the month, we briefly feared that the vintage could turn out as ripe with moderate acidity levels. Fortunately, after some rain at the beginning of September, the weather turned ideal right into October, especially as temperatures were cool at night. This allowed the grapes to mature slowly and gradually gain in aromatic complexity while preserving freshness. In the end, the vintage has nothing from a hot year, and yielded wines which offer much drinking pleasure.”
One of the wines which stood out was the 2015er Halenberg GG, a magnificent dry Riesling and one of the finest from the vintage. The soil and the specific choice of terroir is at the root of this success, as Werner Schönleber explained: “We use our best parcels in the upper parts of the vineyard where the slope is quite steep and select only small ripe golden berries for our Halenberg GG. The soil there does contain quite some slate and quartzite, which gives the wine this extra layer of complexity and elegance.”
The 2015er Halenberg is a major success but also the other GGs which we tasted from the Estate in 2015 are superb in their own right.
We would like to finish this article with a general remark: As all great wines, also dry German Riesling gains significantly from aging. This is no different for the Halenberg GG by Emrich-Schönleber (a wine which ages beautifully well over 10-15 years and more). We would therefore urge readers to leave their bottles alone to give them time to develop their full potential.
The gorgeous collection of 2015 GGs by Emrich-Schönleber was reviewed in Mosel Fine Wines Issue No 32 (Oct 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.
Monzinger Halenberg Riesling GG
This offers a stunning nose of grapefruit, papaya, apricot blossom, herbs and spices. What stands out is the utter elegance, precision and slender silky structure of the aromatics on the nose. The zesty side of the wine is nicely balanced out by a touch of creaminess on the palate but the wine remains focused and precise, without any unnecessary feel of breadth or power. It leaves herbs and reductive flavors of earth in the incredibly airy and spicy finish. The after-taste is full of fresh minerals and flowery flavors. This is a gorgeously elegant wine in the making, and an absolutely mind-boggling GG. 2023-2033
© 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.