2018 Weingut Willi Schaefer, Riesling Spatlese, Graacher Domprobst #5, Mosel Germany.
The Schaefer Graacher Domprobst lot #5 is a special small batch that was picked and fermented separate from the main bottlings and is a fabulous unique edition that was hand harvested on a later pass through the vines and where only perfect clusters were chosen prior to the Auslese pick and without any botrytis, from what I understand, making for a more concentrated expression that still shines with brilliant freshness and mineral tones. While the 2017s were ultra luxurious and dense, these 2018s are slightly more lacy and show a finer delicacy without being less sensual or impactful, and clearly as per normal Schaefer has made a fantastic set of wines, with this one really standing out. Terry Theise, Riesling guru and the importer of Schafer’s wines, says without hesitation or without any doubt that Willi Schaefer is one of the greatest estates in Germany, and I am and most critics will never question that, this address is the gold standard for quality with two main parcels in Domprobst and Himmelreich all on pure Devonian slate. Thesise adds, located in Graach, Weingut Willi Schaefer is blessed with south-to-southwest exposition, (meaning) the vines have great sun exposure all day as well as having a natural spring that runs through the hillside, guaranteeing good water supply even in warm vintages. The Romans already knew the benefits of Graach’s sites and cultivated vines here, with each plot here, again Theise explains that (this) Domprobst is more mineral, smokier, shadowy and takes longer to emerge, while (the) Himmelreich is buoyant, more floral, lighter in texture and is open from day one, making them easy to love young. Terry calls these Schaefer wines calm and without pretense, which is true, but they are also wine royalty, confident and magnificent in my opinion, I never miss a chance to enjoy them, neither should anyone.
This 2018 Domprobst #5 Spatlese is dense, more than out right sweet on the palate with plenty of brooding complexity and balanced detailing, it shows tightness at first, but unfolds with beautiful and brilliant fruit with crisp green apple, lime, apricot and a mix of subtle tropical fruit along with smoky shale, wet stones, spearmint and chamomile tea and delicious lingering tangerine sorbet, peach flesh and rosewater, that comes from the must weight and residual sugar. This wine will get much more interesting as its baby fat and its deep inner spice comes through, as there is only a hint of crystalized ginger and tangy notes, but the youthful acidity keeps it from feeling heavy adding a sense of lightness to this serious Spatlese, this is going to reward those lucky enough to have it for decades to come. This chiseled and crystalline Riesling has clarity and it delights the palate with a tease of rich fruitiness and a cooler sense of being and restraint keeping a nice impression of tension, this all the reason these wines are so sought after and coveted, not only by Riesling junkies, but by Schaefer’s peers and friendly rivals, such is the respect and quality here. Willi’s son Christoph and his wife Andrea have become more and more involved and the wines only seem to get better, so this estate is going from strength to strength and they are now doing an extremely rare set of dry wines with the release of a set of Grosses Gewachs in recent years, while the traditional Kabinett, Spatlese and Auslese remain the core focus, with the Schaefer Kabbies being some of the most exceptional values in the wine world. This #5 is a collector gem and while imported, it will take some searching to get, though worth it! If you get some, cherish them and if you can’t wait to open it, do so with high end Asian, like Thai cuisine, slightly hot/spicy that has fresh ingredients that highlights simplicity. As a note, the regular Dombrobst Spatlese (92 Ponts) and all the Schaefer the Kabinett(s) are also pretty fantastic too, so don’t overlook any in this lineup.
($70 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive