This stunning high-end Auslese by Weingut Selbach-Oster underlines the incredibly high quality of the 2017 vintage.
After a brilliantly vibrant 2015 and a gorgeously sensual 2016, the Mosel hit the bull’s eye three times in a row despite (or thanks to) the fact that 2017 was hit by some devastating yield-reducing frost.
The finest of the 2017 wines are simply amazing, combining intensity, purity, and balance ... and there is perfection at the top!
One wine which epitomizes the brilliance of the 2017 vintage particularly well is the stunning Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Auslese Rotlay by Weingut Selbach-Oster.
Weingut Selbach-Oster is one of these traditional Household names with family roots going back centuries. Besides being at the helm of one of the finest Estate of the Mosel, Johannes Selbach is also one of the region’s great ambassadors, being regularly overseas, in the markets, spreading the good word of Mosel Riesling.
The Estate has grown steadily from a few hectares in the 1960s to well over 20 ha today. The holdings are spread over the finest central part of the Middle Mosel, from Bernkastel down to Zeltingen.
It is therefore no surprise that the Estate was getting at its limits regarding space. It inaugurated a brand new building earlier this year which will help it manage things more effectively.
“2017 is gigantic.” With these words, Johannes Selbach set the tone of our tasting of his new collection. And he was spot on. 2017 is a major success at this Estate which is not short of successful vintages.
In particular, the sweet and noble-sweet wines prove simply magical. However, also the dry and off-dry wines are among the finest of the region.
In 2003, Johannes Selbach introduced the first from a series of Auslese which were labelled by a "Lieu-Dit." These wines were be harvested “en bloc,” i.e. in one go. As Johannes explained, this idea emerged from a bet with his father Hans: “My father was complaining that we were making so many selections for our Auslese with up to three stars. He argued that selections made for admirable wines but that it took away a playful side found in the old Auslese which came from harvested together grapes with different grading of ripeness and botrytis levels. So we made a bet. I would do my selections and he would choose one vineyard, where no selections would be made and the vineyard would be harvested at the optimal moment, en bloc. We would then compare the results.”
Laughing, Johannes Selbach added: "and, of course, my father won. My Auslese were outstanding, but like museum pieces, to be admired. The block-harvested wine was somehow more wholesome. That's when we decided to continue this style of wine."
One of these “Lieu-Dit" Auslese was the Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Rotlay (first introduced in 2004 in a vineyard formerly owned by the mythical von Schorlemer Estate). The Rotlay refers to arguably one of the finest terroir in the Mosel. It was already classified in the highest categories on the old Prussian taxation map introduced in the 1860s and one of the few named on the maps.
The 2017er Rotlay (as it is referred to on the main label) was also block harvested, at the end of the harvest from partially botrytized fruit at a 104° Oechsle. As with all his Lieu-Dit Auslese, Johannes Selbach also fermented this one in traditional Fuder casks before being bottle early.
The wine is a roaring success and one of the finest dessert wines of the vintage. 2017 added concentration and zest compared to any normal vintage. This did marvel with this block-harvested Auslese at Weingut Selbach-Oster.
If you cannot find this particular modern-day classic of an Auslese in your neck of the world, you will be happy to learn that Weingut Selbach-Oster produced a whole range of stunning sweet wines (and, for the record, dry and off-dry ones as well). Happy hunting!
The stunning 2017er collection by Selbach-Oster
were reviewed in the Mosel Fine Wines Issue No 43 (Oct 2018).
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Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Auslese Rotlay
The 2017er Rotlay, as it is referred to on the main label, was block-harvested at a 104° Oechsle in this privileged sector of the Zeltinger Sonnenuhr situated near the border to Wehlen (the reference to Zeltinger Sonnenuhr is only mentioned on the back label). It delivers a superbly delicate and immensely complex nose driven by a hint of cassis, candied grapefruit, fine spices, anise and bergamot. The wine seems to dance on the very pure and intense palate. Despite its huge presence, this smashing Auslese proves remarkably fresh, complex and pure, and this right into the long and zesty finish. What a treat! 2027-2057
© Text by Mosel Fine Wines "The Independent Review of Mosel Riesling ... and beyond!"
Disclaimer: Mosel Fine Wines is an independent publication and has no commercial relationship with any Estate, association or organization featured in this article.