The new up-and-coming Weingut Materne & Schmitt delivered gorgeous wines in 2015, including a great off-dry Riesling from the Lehmener Lay.
Few vintages have been as hyped as 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.
One Estate which did outstandingly well in 2015 is the new up-and-coming Weingut Materne & Schmitt, which delivered, among others, a great dry-tasting Riesling from the Lehmener Lay.
Assiduous readers of Mosel Fine Wines Issues will have already heard of the up and coming Weingut Materne & Schmitt set up by two young women, Rebecca Materne and Janina Schmitt, in 2012: It was one of our great discoveries two years ago (see Mosel Fine Wines Issue No 28 from June 2015 for a review of its 2013 collection).
One of the remarkable things about this new Estate is that neither Rebecca nor Janina were born in wine families: They both come from Northern Germany. Yet both independently decided for a career in winemaking out of “love of Riesling, in particular of Mosel Riesling.” They met in Geisenheim, the well-known wine school in Germany. After first separate stints in the wine business, they decided to set up an Estate together in Winningen, where they took on lease some old vineyards.
They started from scratch, making the wine at the befriended Weingut Heymann-Löwenstein in 2012 and 2013 before settling into a picturesque old and unused cellar in Winningen.
Their whole approach is driven by quality: Vineyard management is done without herbicides and winemaking relies on ambient yeasts, stainless steel (although the Estate has just acquired a cask) and long aging on the lees (the wines are only bottled towards the end of the summer). As Rebecca explained, “we do not use any additives such as enzymes in our winemaking. We simply let the wines make themselves.”
The Estate produces essentially dry-tasting wines in a fiery yet elegant style which reminds us of that of its almost-neighbor Weingut Lubentiushof.
Over the past few years, the Estate grew in size but is still a comparatively small affair with no more than 3 ha. Among others, it took over some vineyards in the completely unknown village of Lehmen, a few miles upriver from Winningen.
One of if not the jewel of the Estate is a small parcel in the Lehmener Lay which had been on the brink of being abandoned (it had not been tended for two years when Materne & Schmitt took it over).
The Lehmener Lay is a fine vineyard which was well-rated on the old taxation maps. However, as for so many of the vineyards in the Terrassenmosel, it never really made it to fame because its wines were either sold locally or ended up into anonymous bottlings by large wineries.
Janina Schmitt explained the DNA of this vineyard: “Our parcel forms a small terraced amphitheater at the entrance of the village. It has the particularity of not being too exposed to the evening sun, which means that the grapes do not ripen too quickly and the resulting wines retain some freshness. The soil is quite stony, with a lot of iron oxide giving the wines a great fiery yet focused side.”
These characteristics roaringly shine through in the Estate’s 2015er Lehmener Lay. The wine remains pure and elegant, despite the intrinsic inner core of ripeness running through the 2015 vintage. It proved a huge success which landed on our list of off-dry highlights of the 2015 vintage.
This Estate is only at the start of its career and already produces some remarkable wines. We would be very surprised if we are not to hear about more great things from the Materne and Schmitt tandem in the coming years!
Overall, it is great to see so many quality-minded Estates developing in the Terrassenmosel and rescuing fine old vineyards. This part of the Mosel definitely deserves better than the semi-anonymity in which it was confined for so long.
The successful 2015 collection by Materne & Schmitt 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.
Materne & Schmitt
Lehmener Lay Riesling
This offers a backward nose of greengage, candied grapefruit, white pepper, herbs, spices and slate. The wine is quite intense on the palate but remains beautifully layered and even playful as its great intense flavors of fruits are gorgeously well wrapped into a delicate hint of zest. A touch of cream comes through in the gorgeously long finish and the beautifully elegant after-taste driven by wet stones and herbs. This little beauty delivers the tell-tale intense fiery complexity from great Terrassenmosel Riesling with great elegance and finesse. We would not be surprised if this will even gain in precision and presence as it reaches maturity. What a great wine in the making! 2020-2030
© 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.