2015 yielded many dry wines which proved on the powerful side. Not so at Van Volxem, which produced its finest collection to date including a hugely elegant Scharzhofberger GG
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.
While the sweet spot of the vintage was Spätlese and Auslese, some growers used the clean fruit to produce some stunning dry Riesling. This includes Weingut Van Volxem, which crafted a stunning Scharzhofberger GG in 2015.
Roman Niewodniczanski took over the Weingut Van Volxem in 2000 and immediately decided to return winemaking to the methods in use in the heydays of Mosel Riesling, the period from 1880 until 1920, when Mosel Riesling was among the most expensive wines in the world … and the bulk of the wines was dry to the taste.
He went back to fermentation with ambient yeasts, aging the wines extensively in wooden casks on their lees until the wines stopped their fermentation naturally. In his early years, he also relied on extensive pre-fermentation cold soak and very ripe to sometimes slightly over-ripe fruit. This gave his wines a baroque side, much as it did to the wines of his friend Reinhard Löwenstein (Weingut Heymann-Löwenstein) in Winningen.
Also much like Reinhard Löwenstein in Winningen, the style of the Estate has evolved over the years and has become more precise and less opulent lately. As Roman explained, “we have refined our style since Dominik took over, relying on more sorting of the grapes and hence less botrytis. In addition we lightened up the pre-fermentation cold soak. The result is more precise and transparent wines which put better forward the incredible terroir we have here in the Saar.”
The wines have gained in finesse and precision without losing any of the fiery and steely Saar roots. However, this shift of style also means that the wines are less open and charming in their youth. As for all truly great dry Riesling, also the ones of Van Volxem require time to unfold their full potential.
In 2015, the Estate produced a whole series of “Cru” which are the finest dry and dry-tasting Riesling to date. These do not carry any of the power of the vintage. As Roman explained, “the terroir and the cooler Saar certainly played a role, however we also sorted everything three times to make sure not to have any over-ripe fruit in our wines. The result is wines packed with Saar flavors with a moderate 12% of alcohol.”
The evolution of the House style also had an indirect effect: Ripe fruit with lower sugar levels led to wines being analytically drier. In 2015, a few of the different “Cru”, including the regular Scharzhofberger, fermented down to legally dry levels and the Estate decided to label them as Grosses Gewächs (GG).
The Scharzhofberger GG was made from fruit harvested in the upper and slightly cooler part of the vineyard and fermented in cask with ambient yeasts with almost no pre-fermentation cold soak. The result is simply magnificent and potentially the finest dry Riesling of the vintage. The wine is extremely pure and precise, with stunning finesse and delicate fruitiness. However, as all great dry Riesling in their youth, this Scharzhofberger GG is still quite backward at this stage and will need time in the cellar in order to shine.
If you cannot find this Scharzhofberger GG in your part of the world, do not despair: The Weingut Van Volxem produced an amazing collection in 2015, and all wines are worthy of any cellar. Wine lovers should make every effort to lay their hands on some of these gems and they to forgot them in the cellar for ideally more than 10 years to let the wines develop their full elegance. Trust us, you will not be disappointed!
The show-stopping 2015 collection by Van Volxem 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.
Scharzhofberger Riesling GG
This delivers a gorgeous nose of white melon, cassis and pear, all enhanced by great scents of white flowers and smoky slate. The wine is superbly elegant and precise on the palate, with a multi-layered feel of pear, slate and minerals simply playing havoc with one’s senses. A slightly tart side comes through in the ethereally long, delicately powerful yet refined finish. This only needs a little bit of time to shine and develop its full potential. This is a little stunner in the making with huge upside. 2018-2030
© 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.