2017 Weingut Schäfer-Fröhlich, Riesling Trocken “Felsneck” Grosses Gewächs, Nahe, Germany.
The thrilling, gripping and intensely mineral driven Felsneck GG by the Nahe’s premier Schäfer-Fröhlich comes from mature organic vines at the legendary Bockenauer Felsneck Vineyard, the steep VDP Grosse Lage (Grand Cru) site that is set on a rocky sparse hillside with classic slate, basalt and quartzite soils, making this wine a prestigious and powerful monument to its terroir. This 2017 is still firm and austere with an ultra reductive and slate flinty personality, it is like drinking liquid stones and the fruit, while dense and deep, is subtle with a bright core of energy, which comes through in taut waves of lime, lemon, quince and apricot essences. This a purist wine, it is not hedonistic, it is a wine chiseled from stone and it takes its time to unwind, in fact I might not want to open another bottle for another 5 to 10 years! Sometimes a great wine allows early drinking pleasure, this is not that wine, this is serious dry Riesling for the GG enthusiasts that have the patience of the Saints, as it opens you get seductive teases at what surely will come with time, at the moment, this wine is at the extended foreplay stage with outrageous tension. The medium bodied palate reveals loads of secondary elements that includes wet stone, salty shale, bitter citrus oil, orange leaf, chamomile tea, clove spice, grapefruit pith, lemon grass and verbena notes. The Schäfer-Fröhlich’s wines are made naturally with “Sponti” spontaneous fermentation and the GGs, all of which are reductive like classic white Burgundy, are aged in mostly traditional stainless and stay on the lees for an extended period, with at least 9 months in tank before bottling.

Tim Frohlich, known for his exceptionally pure terroir wines at the famous Schäfer-Fröhlich in the Bockenau, he is one of the many stars of the Nahe, a region that despite being one of Germany’s smallest, is producing some of the great winemakers and wines. 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 (with time) in his outstanding wines, like this one.
($125 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

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