2019 is an epic vintage for intense Kabinett though few achieved the grace of the Domprobst by Willi Schaefer.
We already wrote this in our sneak preview to our readers in the January Issue. Our tastings published in Part I of our detailed vintage report amply confirmed it: 2019 is an epic vintage at the top, and this thanks to not excessive Oechsle degrees, bright and ripe flavors, and impeccable sweetness-acidity balance.
Among others, the vintage delivered some stunning Kabinett wines although few achieved the grace of the 2019er Graacher Domprobst Kabinett by Willi Schaefer.
In the eyes of many wine lovers, Weingut Willi Schaefer stands as one of the foundations of Riesling and this not only for Graach but for the Mosel as a whole.
The basis of the Estate's success has been its continued quest for elegance, as Christoph Schaefer underlined: “We want our wines to be elegant, lively and animating. All our winemaking is geared towards that. We do not have a set recipe in our vineyard management or winemaking. We may harvest earlier or later depending on the quality and maturity of each grape. In principle, we leave our wines in traditional Fuder. But this may be for more or less time in function of the vintage. We just deal with nature every year in order to give our wines some inner harmony.”
In order to retain this freshness, the Estate does not defoliate, aims at low yields so that the grapes are ripe early, and harvest early in order to get ripe grapes with not excessive sugar content. They also press whole-bunch and fraction the pressing to retain lightness and acidity. Winemaking is as traditional as can be: Wild yeasts, old Fuder casks, no additives or other interventions except for racking, and a little sulfur and filtering at bottling.
The Estate has produced many hugely successful vintages over the years, but its performance in 2019 is breathtaking, even by the high standards of the vintage. As we shared in our review of this Estate’s 2019 collection (see Mosel Fine Wines Issue No 52), all wines are outstanding if not outright classics in the making.
As Christoph Schaefer explained, timing proved key in 2019: “The late bud break and flowering made us thought at first that the harvest would start in October. But things speeded up during the summer. By early September, the grapes looked great and even started to be quite tasty. We decided to call in our harvesting team for an earlier schedule than expected, and were able to start already on September 25. With hindsight, I am really happy that we took this decision as it allowed us to harvest some beautiful grapes for our Kabinett wines.”
The Estate only holds parcels in the Graacher Domprobst, Graacher Himmelreich, and Wehlener Sonnenuhr, all three “Grand Cru” vineyards by any standards. As Christoph and Andreas Schaefer explained, “the stony slate in the Graacher Domprobst adds an extra layer of saltiness and even dryness to the wines. Our wines from this site come over as intense yet remain light-footed.”
The Estate picked the grapes for its 2019 Domprobst Kabinett in different parcels in the early part of the harvest. These were then pressed and fermented with ambient yeasts in traditional Fuder casks before being bottled in Spring 2020.
The result is simply breathtaking: The combination of freshness, precision, and intensity, all delivered with airy elegance, is simply to die for! Already now, it is clear that this is a modernday classic in the making.
We understand that laying one’s hands on a few bottles from Willi Schaefer can prove incredibly difficult as there is not much wine around. However, we can only encourage our readers to undertake any effort to unearth this particular wine or some other of the beauties that Weingut Willi Schaefer crafted in 2019: The reward will be immense. Happy hunting!
The stunning 2019 collection by Willi Schaefer
was reviewed in the Mosel Fine Wines Issue No 52 (Jun 2020).
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Graacher Domprobst Riesling Kabinett
The 2019er Graacher Domprobst Riesling Kabinett was fermented down to fruity-styled levels of residual sugar. It offers an absolutely tantalizing and hugely complex nose made of yellow peach, minty herbs, grapefruit, lime peel, a hint of whipped cream, and fresh lily flowers, all wrapped into fine residual scents from the spontaneous fermentation. The wine has grip, energy, and great focus on the palate, yet remains at all moment extremely light and balanced. A bracing and spicy touch of acidity then kicks in, giving the wine structure and blending the flavors together as well as whipping them up right into the tight and hugely long finish. This remarkable Kabinett in the making is set to become a modern-day legend! 2027-2043
© 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.