2016 Weingut Carl Loewen, Riesling Feinherb, 1896 Longuicher Maximin Herrenberg, Mosel Germany.
The new vintage of Christopher Loewen Feinherb 1896 is a gorgeous wine, maybe not as concentrated or showy as the 2015, but maybe even more pretty in form and detail (both years are awesome, time will tell which one will be best, it’ll be close), it is one of Germany’s most talked about wines and this 2016 should continue to keep tongues wagging for decades to come, I am of the opinion that it is utterly spellbinding and glorious, my view aligns with Terry Theise, Loewen’s famous importer, and Stuart Pigott, one of Germany’s most experienced wine writers and I humbly echo their love and admiration for this one, the Loewen 1896 Feinherb* Riesling, is special bottling from what are believed to be the oldest Riesling vines in Germany at Maximin Herrenberg, planted as the label says in 1896 on pure slate soils of the Mosel. The follow up to his amazing 2015’s looks set to almost equal them with these 2016’s, proving the quality of the vines here and the rising talent of Christopher Loewen, who’s new set of offerings are brilliant Rieslings, with his drier wines being stars of the vintage, including a new old vine Grosses Gewachs from a historic site at Ritsch, along with both the old vine Maximin Herrenberg 1896 bottlings, the already reviewed Trocken and this amazing Feinherb. Being a Feinherb, this unique wine has a bit more natural sugar than the Alte Reben Trocken, but still feels cleanly dry in style, though you do get a bigger mouth feel with this stunning Riesling, and you’ll want to consider this wine in it’s own little vacuum, much in the same way you must look at some of the single block wines of Johannes Selbach (Selbach-Oster), these are wines that are unique terroir expressions, these are not wines that need classification limits, in particular this one shows a historic sense of place and is a special tribute to the past and maybe the future. The 2016 1896 Feinherb shows striking mineral, flinty stony/spicy notes along with a lively fruity core of apricot, peach and lime citrus as well as subtle floral notes and saline/brine savory tones, gaining a creamy form, while flowing with intense vibrancy, acidity and steely energy, this is a Riesling that is youthful, but seems to have an old soul and class. Graceful in a shy way, with only a faint fruity/sweetness on the lean palate, at first it’s personality takes a little more time to unfold in contrast to the more flamboyant 2015 version and while there might be an expectation of this 2016 that would be unfair at this stage, this Riesling will slowly reveal itself, patience will be rewarded and certainly is needed, I’d say without a doubt in my mind this one will be a legendary wine in 10 years or so, and it should be amazing in another 4 to 6 in bottle. This wine even in a few minutes changes in the glass gathering up verbena, tangerine sorbet, wet river rock, white fig, a touch of Thai basil and rosewater, and the nose parks up with air too with white flowers, oyster shell, quince and crushed shale. I tasted this wine with the winemaker, Christopher Loewen back in June of 2017, it was a pre sale sample, and it was a wine that needed some reflection, I have gone over my notes many times now to find the right words, sadly they just don’t seem to do justice to it’s quality and character, so I’ll finish by saying this is fantastic stuff and it’s wine that will blossom into something that will be iconic, best from 2024 on! Also, while I have focused on Loewen’s dry Rieslings, the Kabinett and Spatlese are beauties too and are sexy value offerings, especially the Leiwener Laurentiuslay Spatlese, this is winery that is really worth searching out and these 2016’s are lovely wines that deserve your attention.
($87 Est.) 95+ Points, grapelive
*Feinherb, classification, off dry Riesling, but in the modern sense they tend to be weightier than Kabinett and drier in feel, think of Loewen’s as a powerfully serious Riesling slightly sweeter Grosses Gewachs! Think of them as lightly fruity mostly dry Rieslings that have textural palates, I try to relate to some as if you took spatlese mouthfeel added the Chablis like quality of Erste or Grosses Lage Trockens. Like Spreitzer’s Feinherb 2016’s these wines are monumental wines that fall foul of VDP guidelines for what is technically a dry style, but deserve your full attention, and in many cases are more true to the terroir and history, plus usually exceptional and excellent values with massive aging potential as well as being less serve and wonderfully drinkable in their youth!