2017 Weingut Georg Breuer, Riesling Trocken, Artist Label, Rüdesheimer Berg Schlossberg, Rheingau, Germany.
The dry Grand Cru Schlossberg bottling from Breuer is one of the most serious terroir driven wines in the world, with this 2017 showing a warm ripe detail, while showcasing the slate character this site is famous for with a smoky/flinty edginess and tension on the medium bodied, but concentrated palate that never lets you forget the intensity of this incredible and special place overlooking the Rhein River. Tasted twice now, this 2017 is riveting and has ages to go, it delivers a slightly rustic and authentic performance in the glass, which some would find austere, but in reality it is just getting started and is gorgeously put together with classic Schlossberg transparency and crystalline detailing of the flavors here, including lime, green apple, apricot and quince fruits, along with a background of chamomile, verbena, tangy herbs, peach pit and wet, salty stones. The picturesque Schlossberg Cru is located on the steeper western end of the Rüdesheimer Berg majestically overlooking the bend of the Rhiein, what the Breuer’s say is the so-called “Binger Loch”, west of the old town and opposite Bingen, the confluence of the Nahe River, and the Mäuseturm. Here, the Rhein changes direction and flows North again after its Rheingau East-West Intermezzo, when it has its widest point. This vineyard is very steep, surrounding the castle ruins and the rows of vines rise up from the Rhein here with an impossible 65 percent incline and soaks in the sun with a perfect Southwest exposure giving the wines, which are mostly dry here power and density, with this 2017 Breuer being an excellent example of the force of nature that is this place. I love Schlossberg in the glass and I love walking the vineyard, I have twice now spent time here, back in 2009 and more recently at harvest time in 2016 and both visits included tasting with the Breuer’s in downtown Rüdesheim, unforgettable experiences. This lightly golden 2017 Riesling follows my recollection of early vintages, but while tightly wound it gains a grace and textural pleasure that is a marker of this particular year and the aromatics seems a bit more expressive at this stage, it is just beginning to blossom and there is a lot more to come.
I have long been a fan of this historic winery, which was originally founded back in 1880 and I admire the direction Theresa Breuer has taken the Georg Breuer label with her more holistic approach in the vineyards and in the cellar, while continuing to be faithful to her father’s vision. Bernhard Breuer, who, as the winery notes, was one of the key members of Charta, an organization formed to promote a drier style of Rheingau wine, sadly died way too young, but his legacy is alive and well with Theresa’s own talents. She has taken her dad’s ideas to heart and has been raising the quality here with each vintage, through grit, hard work and natural practices in the vineyards and a gentle hand in the cellar. Bernhard was a huge proponent of this GG style of wine, and believed that the Rheingau was perfectly suited to producing very fine, single site, elegant and flavorful dry Reislings. This is obviously true, especially today as you can see in his daughter’s wines, as this wine shows, as well as those of Kunstler, Leitz, Kesseler and others that also do their own mighty versions of Schlossberg. Bernhard was also a strong advocate for a vineyard classification system based on geology, historical precedent and quality of wines. The vineyards are, like Schlossberg with its slatey and rich in quartzite soils, all farmed using organic methods and are certified by Fair N Green and In the top sites, again like this one, see tiny yields to promote depth and complexity, while retaining loads of natural acidity. Physiological and “aroma ripeness” are more important to the winery than must weight and the grapes are picked when Theresa and her team feel the fruit is perfect, and the results have proved they have great insight into their vineyards. Botrytis, as the winery notes, is avoided as the majority of the production at Breuer is dry, with gripping extract and taut structures. The fermentation(s) are old school and natural or started with pied de cuve, basket ferments in the individual vineyards, with fermentation and élevage being done in large used barrels for the top wines such as the Monopole Nonnenberg, Rottland, Roseneck and Schlossberg bottlings. There is a raw appeal to Theresa’s wines and I seem to be more and more drawn to them, especially this extremely rare artist label Schlossberg bottling, which has a cult like following, I highly recommend putting it on your must try list and suggest exploring this amazing and historic wine region, I can’t wait to get back myself.
($150+ Est.) 96 Points, grapelive