2017 Weingut Carl Loewen, Riesling Trocken, Longuicher Maximin Herrenberg 1896, Alte Reben, Erste Lage, Mosel Germany.
I’ve long been a follower and fan of the Carl Loewen wines, but I have say since Christopher Loewen took over they are some of my absolute favorites, with this Old Vine Longuicher Maximin Herrenberg Dry Riesling being one of the wines I try to get every vintage, as it is seriously close in quality to the GGs, but almost half the price, it is a killer bargain for what is in the bottle. The 2017, I somehow missed and just found now, is gorgeous crystalline wine that is developing nicely. The historic Weingut Carl Loewen estate dates back to 1803 when a set of vineyards and buildings that was formally owned by the Maximin order, much the same way the famous Maximin Grunhaus (Von Schubert) started after the Church’s lands were sold off to fund the secular Napoleonic government, and this sale included Loewen’s prized, ultra steep, Longuicher Maximiner Herrenberg, one of the Mosel’s greatest vineyards, where this wine was born. The soils here are unique with a combination of Devonian era slate (red) with a band of red iron and volcanic veins running through these vineyards, which Christopher notes that this band of soil runs between Urzig and Longuich that which is very rare in the Mosel and adds to distinction of these amazing wines. This 2017 is lightly golden in the glass with delicate florals, smoky slate and the palate is vinous and rounded, but the early fat fat this vintage had has largely turned into a thrilling sex appeal with highly attractive layers of tangerine, apricot, quince and a touch of tropical fruit that is perfectly accented by wet shale, a salty note, tangy peach pit, apple skin, key lime, clove spice and a decedent leesy yeasty finish. This wine is really coming into its own and as it warms in the glass it gets more and more interesting and has a thrilling impact, it doesn’t get much better than this, instead of severity and or brutal force, there is a heightened sense of pleasure and beauty to be admired here.
Christopher Loewen, who’s brought in a new sense of passion and organic farming to the famous Weingut Carl Loewen after taking over the winemaking here new, has a set of offerings that are brilliant Rieslings, absolutely world class stuff, especially his gorgeous dry styles, including this Maximin 1896 Herrenberg Alte Reben Trocken Premier Cru (Erste Lage) that has the class, mineral intensity and elegance of a Grand Cru Chablis, but with the slate driven terroir of the Mosel. The GG’s and the 1896 Feinherb here are without question some of the best Rieslings in Germany, but when you get into the basic and Premier Cru stuff, you see some outrageously good values, like this one and the Kabinett bottlings, none of these wines should be missed. The Maximiner Herrenberg vineyard, as mentioned in my prior reviews and as well noted was originally planted in 1896, making it the oldest ungrafted Riesling vineyard in Germany and is now farmed by Loewen using organic methods. Loewen carefully sorts the grapes here as to not have botrytis in the dry wines with this parcel being in the lower slopes, set on red slate soils, closer to the Mosel river, where they benefit from reflective light from the river that adds to the full ripeness. Using modern natural methods in the cellar, Christopher, the grapes are all whole cluster pressed, and Loewen is careful not to move the pomace so to not get bitterness or harsh phenolic flavors, then the juice, according to the winery, is “browned” or oxidized pre-fermentation to stabilized the wine and get away from reduction. All of Loewen’s ferments are “Sponti” completely natural without addition of enzymes or nutrition, with these single vineyard wines, Christopher notes, are individually block picked with the above treated juice going directly into classic Fuder barrels (German oak) which average 25 years old to age. With the dry wines seeing about a year on the lees in these large oval casks to allow depth and complexity to develop before bottling, these wines are stunning in any vintage, but the string of years, 2016 through 2020 are extraordinary and should be on any Riesling lovers radar and wish list!
($48 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive