2018 Weingut Selbach-Oster, Riesling Trocken, Zeltinger Sonnenuhr***, Mosel Germany.
The 2018 Zeltinger Sonnenuhr “Three Stars” barrel sample is Selbach’s Grand Cru dry Riesling, a GG by another named if you will and it has the presence, brisk mineral crunchiness and structure to rival the best in region, but with this estate’s gorgeous vinous pleasures and generosity on the palate and like its siblings the block designate Andrecht, Rotlay, also in Sonnenuhr, and the Bomer, this Riesling has weight and impact you’d see in a Hermitage Blanc. As Terry Theise, the famed Riesling guru and importer notes, the Selbachs are the primary owners of this Sonnenuhr site, named for the hours of radiant sunshine it receives. This is, Theise adds, the steepest of the main three vineyards at Zeltinger, and there are large outcroppings of rock with chunks of blue Devonian slate with a very shallow subsoil of decomposed slate and this is also the driest of the vineyards, and generally speaking, these wines are full-bodied, and a bit flashier in style, which I also find, with amazing mouth feel and exotic notes. This is sexy jaw dropping stuff in this vintage, and even though it wasn’t in its final form, you can just tell this is next level stuff with layers of orchard fruits, crisp citrus, tropical essences, wet stones and spicy crystalized ginger race at you, it kind of reminds me of a dry version of a Willi Schaefer Graacher Auslese with that impressive richness and never ending aftertaste, though still high toned and structured with gripping extract. This Sonnenuhr Three Stars Trocken cascades across the lush palate with creamy apricot, mango, green apple and tangerine fruits, but is exact and chiseled with vivid acidity and steely/flinty mineral tones as well as crystalized ginger, minty herb, salty sea shore, wet shale, a hint of smoke and lees along with a delicate lime blossom, verbena and lingering peach.
Theise adds as well, that the Selbach family’s heritage in the wine business goes back centuries to 1660, with Selbach’s historical ancestors shipping wines down the Mosel in their own ships, the wine carried in oak barrels made by cooper Matthias Oster, the great-grandfather on the paternal side of the family, noting Thus, the winery developed as both a top estate producing some of the region’s best wines, especially their Rieslings like this one, and also as a négociant, a wine trader and shipper. The cellar at Selbach, under the direction of Johannes, has continued the use of traditional oak fuder in his cellar, bringing in new large casks every few years. The vinification here in this renown Mosel estate is carried out in a combination of fuder and stainless steel, in an hands-off manner with no fining, and predominantly with “Sponti” of wild yeasts. Johannes Selbach, who has the talents of Christian Vogt, the ex winemaker at Kartauserhof, as well as Sebastian, his son and next generation helping him out, is in pursuit of purity and aims for a typical modern Mosel style, which reflects the minerality of the rocky Devonian slate soils, a bit drier than 20 years ago, as well as the elegance and finesse of perfectly grown and ripe Riesling fruit. This vinous and captivating Riesling is an under the radar Grand Cru quality offering that you’ll have to really search out, but it is worth it, as very few wines reach this level of greatness at this price, and the more commonly found Kabinett level wines with their low alcohol grace are also exceptional Rieslings for any occasion, 2018 is another gem of a vintage for Selbach-Oster, keep an eye out for them.
($45 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive