2018 Weingut Willi Schaefer, Riesling Spatlese, Graacher Himmelreich, Mosel Germany.
One of the greatest wines in the world and a traditional Riesling of sublime nobility the Willi Schaefer Graacher Himmelreich Spatlese, especially this 2018 vintage, is a gorgeous wine with wonderful fruit and crystalline mineral charms, it’s a Mosel classic. With the complexity and extract, as well as the natural acidity, this semi-sweet Riesling has the flexibility to go with almost any cuisine, it is great with Holiday meals, Asian spicy dishes along with briny sea foods and or savory meat dishes, not fear the Spatlese, certainly never turn down a chance to try Willi Schaefer, no matter what sugar level, these are masterpieces and in particular this Graacher Himmelreich, which is one of the most sought after wines in the world. This micro winery in Germany’s Mosel region in the village of Graach has roots in wine growing that date back to the 1121, though it’s modern history started in the 1590’s! But the greatest success began when Willi joined the family business in 1971, and in recent times the reputation of Shaefer, who makes only about 3,000 cases each year, has grown to cult wine status, helped when Terry Theise, the Riesling guru and famous importer starting bringing these amazing wines to America, made in such tiny amounts, these Rieslings are unbelievably coveted and age worthy. Schaefer pays great attention to their plots and farm sustainable in practice and spend an incredible amount of time hand tending these vines with the Spatlese seeing all hand picking and is done in two passes to achieve it’s depth of flavors and complexity with one pass catching the bright acidity and the next pass to get the concentration, then Schaefer ferments with long cool ferments and the Riesling rests on its lees for a lengthy period before a late bottling. Christoph notes, the fermentation takes place with natural yeasts from the vineyard mainly in old 1,000-liter Fuder German oak casks. Also adding that In the cellar, they try to intervene as little as possible, tasting often, but allowing the vineyard to shine though in each wine.
Willi, who since 2002 has had his children, Christoph his son and Andrea his daughter, who both graduated from the prestigious Geisenheim University, helping him in the cellar is still crafting the magically Rieslings from this estate vines set on the pure Devonian slate soils and impossibly steep slopes of the Graacher Himmelreich, Domprobst and the Wehlener sites. This vintage is beautiful clear and translucent with smoky minerals, exotic fruits, lush texture and fine salinity making for a delicately balanced expression of Spatlese, where the residual sugar is well integrated and shows more as creaminess than sweetness, Shaefer like Katrina Prum (J.J. Prum) and Johannes Selbach (Selbach-Oster) make sweet wines that are seriously impressive in form and life easily hiding concentration and sugar in wines that delight the senses and unfold with grace and length, these are some of the most seductive wines you can ever have. According to Theise, who named Willi Schaefer the winery of the vintage, the Graacher Himmelreich is (more) buoyant, more floral, lighter in texture and is open from day one, which I found especially true here in the ’18 version, it shows lush details with candied lime, apricot, white peach and green apple fruits, a sense of flinty spice, wet shale/rock, a touch of dried ginger, spearmint and hints of tropical elements with touches of pineapple and plumeria flower as well as sea breezes, saltiness and lingering tea spices and rosewater. If you love Riesling, you need to get your hands on these 2018 Schaefer offerings, especially these Spatlese wines, with the Graacher Domprobst #10 and this Graacher Himmelreich, which are just coming out now, but don’t hesitate as the collectors are already grabbing them up, plus be sure not to pass up the Schaefer Kabinett(s) either, and if you see the Auslese, which are ultra rare, fight for it, and put it away for 10 to 20 years! These 2018’s look set to be legendary with loads of cellar potential, though they can be enjoyed now too.
($50 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive