2017 Weingut Carl Loewen, Riesling Trocken, Maximin Klosterlay, Mosel Germany.
The Maximin Klosterlay, a Erste Lage site, from the village of Detzem, where is gorgeous Riesling hails from, was the first site acquired by the Loewen Family in 1805, with the estate now currently run by Christopher Loewen, who is one of German’s hottest winemaking talents, and his father Karl-Josef. As Loewen’s American importer, Terry Theise notes, in the late 1980s and 1990s, Karl-Josef was always looking for old vineyards and grew the Loewen by purchasing steep old vineyards that were very low yielding and intense site that no one wanted to work anymore. Now the holdings are spread over 4 villages that include Leiwen, Longuich, Detzem and Thörnich, with over 50% of the holdings being ungrafted, original clone, very old vines that range from 60-120 years old and as mentioned on ultra steep slopes.
Loewen is practicing organic farming and Christopher is crafting highly detailed wines in the cellar with ferments are completely natural without any addition of enzymes or nutrition, Loewen whole cluster presses, but the pomace is never moved. Loewen notes “when you move the solids, you break stems, which leads to phenolic (bitter) flavors”. So the juice is “browned” or oxidized pre-fermentation and the single vineyard wines, which are block picked and go directly into Fuder barrels (around 1000L) which average 25 years old, where they are fermented with native yeasts and aged. This Maximin Klosterlay is made from 45 year-old vines in the central part of the vineyard and was fermented all the way to 11 g/l of residual sugar, and 12% natural alcohol. Christopher’s wines are never inoculated and without temperature control being used or needed, because the cellar temperature is only about 11 C degrees.
The premier cru Maximin Klosterlay, which is all grey slate terroir driven, has made for some outrageously stunning Kabinett(s), but now with Christopher at the helm is Trocken, and this 2017 is so good, you’d be forgiven for not thinking you were drinking a top GG, such is the presence in the glass here, this is serious stuff. The nose starts with that slate smoky intensity before allowing rosewater and chamomile to show that leads to a layered, but crunchy mineral laced palate with salty stones, ginger spice and lovely range of yellow fruits, with apple, apricot, lime, kiwi and quinces. This is brisk and powerful Riesling with plenty of pure extract, ripe golden hues, flavors and vivid acidity, this is a wine that will appeal to Riesling freaks, like me, but also those that love flinty wines, like Premier Cru Chablis and or Cru Sancerre as well. Air brings out texture and adds some peach, cheesy/leesy notes and earthy tones, making for a wine of stylish complexity and a remarkable value for the price, this Riesling is sleeper in Loewen’s latest set of awesomeness, and while I love his Herrenberg 1896 wines, coming from German’s oldest Riesling ungrafted vines, this Klosterlay Trocken is exceptional.
Weingut Carl Loewen is a tiny winery, but these latest vintages, 2014, 2015, 2016 and this 2017 are some of my favorite wines, and Riesling guru and famous importer Terry Theise put them as winery of the vintage for their 2017 collection, adding, Carl Loewen is the estate with whom he was most profoundly impressed. They not only ascended to a hitherto undreamt-of level of quality, they seemed to have the Midas-touch, as wine-after-wine-after-wine was almost eerily perfect, gorgeously balanced, and poised not with any great assertiveness but instead with a serene gentle perfect-pitch of the purest harmony. For him, the Loewen wines, along with Donnhoff and Selbach-Oster are must haves, and I totally agree, especially this Maximin Klosterlay Trocken, the price is stupid low for the quality and class you get, drink over the next 5 to 10 years.
($26 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive