2018 Weingut Selbach-Oster, Riesling Feinherb, Graacher Domprobst “Alte Reben” Mosel, Germany.
One of the sleepers in Johannes Selbach’s fabulous collection of 2018 wines is the stunning old vine Graacher Domprobst Feinherb that delivers a dry style and energy driven palate with a fantastic play between crystalline mineral lightness and the extract density that comes through as textured layers. This is incredible Riesling, in a lineup of incredible Rieslings from slate slopes above the Mosel, making it hard to see its individual excellence, in fact it did take time and reflection to get clarity on this Graacher Alte Reben Feinherb which, when focused on, gives a performance that rivals the best of the region with layers of generous green apple, lime, mango and quince fruits, dried ginger spices, smoky flint stoniness, citron/verbena and salted melon sorbet, in a weightless and steely frame. The acidity hides the residual sweetness (off dry), again showing why a non trocken (dry) can be more balanced and still drink crisply dry, especially in a wine of this purity and quality, where exceptional work was done in the vineyards and experience in the cellar that allowed this wine’s unique true personality and soul were allowed to come through without forcing it into a category that would have changed its life force. Some will say that if Selbach had fermented a shade or two drier he could have made a GG out of this wine, but that would take away more than it would have given, this wine is better for the extra fruity quality and it certainly drinks much drier than the average Burgundy or California Chardonnay, but the point is Selbach has revealed the absolute best of the place and grapes to shine through, it is magnificent and a Riesling that shows the heart of the Mosel. The Graacher plots are on primarily blue Devonian slate with a layer of loam underneath, that brings out the fruit, and it’s that expression that Johannes celebrates and spotlights here, this is a special old vine section and this Riesling, which came in the winery with about Spatlese must weight, bursts at the seams with gorgeous tension and intensity, though presented with grace and poise.
Selbach’s holdings in the middle Mosel includes some of the best old vines in the region with about half of their vines being on their original rootstocks, in Zeltinger Himmelreich, Schlossberg, and Sonnenuhr; Wehlener Sonnenuhr; and, Graacher Himmelreich and this one from Graacher Domprobst. These vineyards are set on the classic weathered Devonian slate and are on a very steep, contiguous slope that gathers the sun and the reflection off the river with perfect south and south west exposures. These vines make for an impressive set of parcels, which are all picked separately, of course by hand and each is faithfully fermented to create very individual wines that pay great respect for each site and what story they each want to tell, I am in particularly fond of certain sites and over the 20 plus years I’ve been enjoying and tasting Selbach-Oster I have developed favorites that speak to me personally, like Zeltlinger-Schlossberg, which no matter how it is treated and or sugar level it makes my heart sing and beat a little faster, though I always love the Kabinett, always a guilty pleasure. 2018 has proved more difficult to fully understand and my vision has been blurred by greatness, all of the Selbach wines are brilliant to point where it is terribly difficult to pick out the highlights, hence the need for reflection, but I highly recommend looking for and searching out all of the single parcel wines, like the Bomer, Rotlay and Schmitt, plus this Graacher Domprobst Feinherb, which is a steal for the quality on offer! Johannes uses traditional oak fuder in his cellar, adding, according to his importer Terry Theise, a few new large casks every couple of years and the ferments are done in a combination of fuder (German oak cask) and stainless steel, predominantly these wines are allowed to start with “Sponti” or with wild yeasts, and aged on the lees for an extended period. This wine was fermented in those old Mosel Fuder barrels, some up to 60 years old, almost as old as the vines themselves, this stuff deserves your attention and it should really gain with another 10 years in the cellar, if you could keep your hands off it!
($38 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive