2015 Weingut Maximin Grünhaus-Von Schubert, Riesling Trocken, Maximin Grunhauser Abtsberg, Ruwer-Mosel, Germany.
The 2015 Maximin Grunhauer Abtsberg Grosse Lage Trocken is pure stony and mineral heaven gaining textural dimension, but with an incredible sense of restraint in fruit and a power sense of place, this chiseled dry Riesling with its golden straw color and steely intensity is almost profound, tasting of liquid rock from where these vines are dug into the slate slopes. This is fabulous stuff with subtle citrus, unripe apricot, granny smith apple and tangy quince fruits leading the way on the medium bodied mouth watering palate along with a hint of petrol, wet flint and saline, this is a soulful and earthy Riesling that has years and years of quality life ahead. The historic Maximin Grünhaus estate, which dates back to 966 AD, lies at the foot of a long, steep south-facing slope on the left bank of the tiny Ruwer river, about two kilometers upstream from where it joins the Mosel. The modern winery began, after the church was forced out of large land ownership by Napoleon when the lands were auctioned for secular use, In 1882, when it was purchased by an ancestor of Carl von Schubert, who is the fifth generation of his family to own the Grünhaus estate. The property, one of oldest and most famous in Germany is divided into three separate but contiguous vineyards of Abtsberg, which was a favorite of the abbots and at one point was theirs exclusively, Herrenberg, and Bruderberg. Each of these Maximin Grunhaus vineyards has its own individual character and taste profile with subtle differences in terroir, which explains the uniqueness of the wines made at Maximin Grünhaus.
Wines from Abtsberg or Abbot’s Mountain were originally destined for the table of the Abbot (or “Abt”) of the Abbey of St. Maximin, so good were the wines they didn’t want to share. The site covers just 35 acres, parts of which have been planted with vines for over a thousand years, as the winery notes. The Abtsberg is set on blue Devonian slate and the hillside runs south-east to south-west, achieving a gradient of up to 70 percent, making getting the grapes at harvest a tough job indeed. The Ruwer Valley is a tiny tributary that joins the Mosel just a bit downstream of Trier. Although, as the importer Loosen Bros. notes, the wines are labeled simply as “Mosel,” the Ruwer has a very distinct and delicate style due to its generally cooler conditions and well-drained slate soils with (in my opinion) less exotic or tropical fruit you see in riper areas of the Mosel. The age of vines range between 30 and 70 years for this Trocken bottling and the grapes are painstakingly hand harvested from these low-yielding mostly old vines in the Maximin Grunhauser Abtsberg vineyard. In the cellar the Von Schubert’s employ a spontaneous “Sponti” fermentation in 1,000-liter Fuder (large German oak) casks. This bottling is a real sleeper and unlike the Prädikat wines, like the Kabinett and Spatlese that are more widely available, this dry version can be found with some effort and is a wildly delicious deal, it should be on your Riesling radar. I was lucky to sit in on a panel with Herr von Schubert, along with Philippe Wittmann, Dr. Loosen and some other esteemed German producers a few years back, where their dry GG’s were discussed as well as poured and Maximin Grunhaus stood out for its quiet nobility, it was something that has stayed with me.
($28 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive