2020 Weingut Schäfer-Fröhlich, Riesling Trocken “Schiefergestein” Bockenauer, Nahe, Germany.
Tim Frohlich, known for his exceptionally pure terroir wines at the famous Schäfer-Fröhlich in the Bockenau region of the Nahe has done another fabulous set of wines in the much hyped, and for good reason, 2020 vintage with two of his entry level dry Riesling bottlings already showing the years’ potential greatness, in this case, its his absolutely thrilling Schiefergestein Trocken sourced from, as the winery notes, young vineyards (approx. 35 years) at the Felseneck cru. Felsneck a VDP Grosse Lage (Grand Cru) vineyard set on rocky sparse hillside with classic slate and quartzite soils, with this wine coming off mainly the slate and harvested about one week earlier than the prestigious GG-wines, giving a bit more lightness and freshness, but still getting the true nature of the place and this vintage is none the lesser, making this an outstanding value, considering just how exclusive and pricy the Felseneck Grosses Gewachs is, with excellent concentration and depth on display even now. I was wowed by the intensity of flavors here in Frohlich’s Schiefergestein and the striking mineral focus, the crispness of the fruit detail and the savory, almost bacony notes, that can sometimes also can be found in top Hermitage Blancs! This is a divine Riesling and a sleeper in the Schäfer-Fröhlich portfolio and one I highly recommend searching out for its class, powerful slate influenced nature and potential to age with layers of racy citrus, stone fruits, including tree picked apricot, green apple, pineapple, smoky flint, subtle white flowers, bitter peach pit, mouth watering saline, chamomile and a hint of spearmint. The dry extract is gripping, almost like a tannic, making this a very chiseled Riesling with a strong personality and has the potential to get remarkably more rewarding in the next 3 to 5 years.
From what I understand, the Fröhlich family has been vignerons and working vineyards since the 1800s, but the Schäfer-Fröhlich label didn’t come into being until the 1970s when the two families through marriage merged and created the winery. Over time this estate has become one of the top wineries in Nahe, joining the region’s elite like Donnhoff and Diel to name a couple. More recently Schäfer-Fröhlich has cemented its reputation in Germany and throughout the world, gaining the following of Riesling enthusiasts, making these wines collectors items, even here in California. This fame is largely due to Tim Fröhlich, who is in charge at Schäfer-Fröhlich after taking over his family’s business in the 1990s. Fröhlich, known widely as a perfectionist and a hard working sort that never rests on success, he made his first vintage in 1995 at the age of 21, and has never looked back. The village of Bockenau, the winery’s location in the Nahe was close to being unknown until Tim’s wines achieved international success, with the wines now some of the most sought-after Rieslings in Germany. Schäfer-Fröhlich’s success is also a reflection of the greatness of the slate-based, quartzite-laced Felseneck VDP Grosse Lage in Bockenau, a truly amazing site with its steep slopes. Fröhlich, as mentioned, looks for extreme purity in his wines, and is a true terroir fanatic, according to his friends and admirers. He has a sublime touch and is hugely talented, capturing the essence of the place with precision, subtly and elegance in his outstanding wines, like this one. This winery has the reputation of being a label to stock up on when vintage conditions are difficult, it’s a solid choice in off years, big tribute to Tim’s gift and his relentless nature. The wines often show the effects of the reductive winemaking and get more rewarding over time, but these 2020s are already compelling and are integrating beautifully, don’t miss these outstanding Rieslings, especially the trockens!
($40 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive