2016 was a major vintage for Eiswein. The Laurentiuslay *** by the still under-rated Blees-Ferber Estate proves one of the vintage's finest and most affordable. Here some background.
After a most challenging start in the growing season, the 2016 vintage has turned out to be a charmer with much early ripe appeal. But the 2016 vintage also delivered racier wines including a few stunner cut along the great canon of the 1997 vintage, one of the finest vintages ever, as our recent 1997 retrospective has amply shown.
One thing in which 2016 differs from 1997 is that 2016 was a major vintage for Eiswein, a fact underlined by the number of successes on our list of 2016 noble-sweet Riesling highlights.
One of the finest was the 2016er Leiwener Laurentiuslay Eiswein *** by Weingut Blees-Ferber.
Readers of Mosel Fine Wines will have heard of the still under-rated Weingut Blees-Ferber in Leiwen since a few years now. We were, among others, quite impressed by its 2013 collection. We highlighted its 2013er Piesporter Gärtchen Auslese (from a vineyard in single ownership) as a wine of the month back in 2015.
Stefan Blees has been at the helm of this 10.5 ha Estate with vineyards essentially in Piesport, Leiwen, Trittenheim and Neumagen, since a solid decade now. In 2015, he took over a key parcel in the Neumagener Sonnenuhr and, immediately in his first vintage, produced one of the finest TBA of the 2015 vintage out of this tiny vineyard.
Vineyard management relies on a single bow, i.e. with quite low yields, and winemaking is done with ambient yeasts in stainless steel. The resulting style of the Estate is one of precision but also of presence.
Stefan Blees has developed a speciality for Eiswein and is one of the growers who leaves some parcels out for Eiswein in every vintage. “It is quite a risky game, which I last won in 2012, i.e. 4 years ago. But it is worth it.”
Stefan explained that 2016 is a great vintage for Eiswein as two stars aligned: “2016 gave us clean grapes as there was hardly any botrytis in 2016 and an early frost hardly 3 weeks after our main harvest.” In fact, Mother Nature meant it well for Mosel growers, as it gave the opportunity to harvest this frozen gold on three separate occasions: November 30, December 5 … and January 6.
In 2016, Stefan Blees harvested Eiswein in a parcel in the Leiwener Klostergarten and in the Leiwener Laurentiuslay. While the Klostergarten is well known for its frost pockets suitable for Eiswein, an Eiswein from the Laurentiuslay is more surprising.
As Stefan explained, the Laurentiuslay extends not only on the super-steep south-facing hill on the left shore of the Mosel. There is also a small part on the other side of the river, on gentler slope, tucked in between the Leiwener Klostergarten and the Trittenheimer Apotheke: “I wanted to have something special. The risks are higher in the Laurentiuslay as the vineyard is warmer, but the rewards should be higher, also because the vines are 50 years old.”
On November 30, Stefan only had the time to harvest Eiswein in his parcels in the Leiwener Klostergarten. Fortunately, the weather proved even colder on December 5 (-8.5°C / 18°F), when he was able to harvest the remaining grapes of the Klostergarten as well as those in the Laurentiuslay. Only the first press of the Laurentiuslay grapes went into the Eiswein bottling.
The wine, as many of the Eiswein in 2016, plays on gorgeous fruitiness rather than complex nuttiness. Not only is this Eiswein one of the finest of the vintage, it proves also remarkably fairly priced, certainly for such an elusive noble-sweet wine. Also the Estate’s “regular” Eiswein from the Klostergarten, even more reasonably priced, proves a classic in the making.
This is a fine address for Mosel Riesling and we hope to have enticed more Riesling lovers to discover its wines.
Much of the 2016er Riesling collection by Blees-Ferber were reviewed in the Mosel Fine Wines Issue No 38 (Oct 2017). 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.
Leiwener Laurentiuslay Eiswein ***
The 2016er Leiwener Laurentiuslay Eiswein *** comes from fruit harvested at 144° Oechsle in a parcel on the right bank of the Mosel on December 5, 2016. Still comparatively closed at this early stage, this only gradually reveals amazing notes of pineapple, anise, honey, pear, carambola, litchi and passion fruit, all wrapped into some classy scents of smoke and spices. The wine starts off by exhibiting the rich and initially quite thick presence of a rich BA on the palate. But acidity quickly kicks in and conveys an electrifying side to this hugely rich dessert wine. The finish has immense intensity, and offers a stunning tension between sweetness and acidity. This is a massively impressive Eiswein in the making! 2021-2036
© 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.