2018 Weingut Willi Schaefer, Riesling Trocken, Graacher Himmelreich, VDP Grosses Gewächs, Mosel Germany.
The Willi Schaefer Gaacher Himmelreich GG is a unicorn wine, maybe one of the rarest bottles you’ll see of a current release by this winery and I feel incredibly to have got one, this Dry wine from one of Germany’s great vineyards and greatest producers is a treasure. Based in Graach, Willi Schafer has a fabulous collection of vines with south-to-southwest exposition, these parcels have great sun exposure all day as well as access to a natural spring that runs through the hillside, guaranteeing good water supply even in warm vintages. This GG is deeply mineral laced and shows a tight array of tart apricot, green apple, white flowers and zesty citrus fruits, flinty spices, wet rock, a touch of lees and almond paste. This is not as expansive and generous as the Schaefer Spatlese offerings are and this wine is nervy serious, though its personality really changes as it gets air and a bit more warmth in the glass, it impresses much more with food and time to unwind. The Romans knew the benefits of Graach’s sites and cultivated vines here in ancient times helping create the reputation for quality that has stood the test of time. In the Prussian times too this area was producing some of the world’s most expressive and prized wines and their classification of the Mosel vineyards from 1816 to 1832 indeed gave Graach’s vineyards, like the Himmelreich the highest ratings. Schaefer known for their classic Prädikat wines, Kabinett, Spatlese, Auslese and Beerenauslese does an ultra small batch of Trocken, with this Graacher Himmelreich VDP Grosses Gewachs (Grand Cru) being the ultimate find in dry Mosel offerings, right up there with Dr. Lossen and Maximin Grunhaus, but far more limited.
According to the famed importer and Riesling guru Terry Theise, Schaefer is absolutely, without question, one of the greatest producers in Germany with Riesling that is crystalline, ethereally complex and limpidly clear, they have a quality of calm, these wines I will add are joyous and happy, you cannot be a wine lover without celebrating in them. This small family estate which dates back to 1121 and only does Riesling is a benchmark for the Mosel and are coveted not just by collectors, but by other growers. The Schafer’s plots are located on steep weathered Devonian slate (soil) slopes and consist of up to 100-year-old, ungrafted vines. Theise also notes that Himmelreich is buoyant, more floral, lighter in texture and is open from day one, all of which is hard to argue with and these qualities also make Graacher Himmelreich a superb source for Schaefer’s elite dry wine. In 2015 Christoph Schaefer took the helm of the winery from his illustrious father and together with his wife Andrea continue to run it with the highest level of quality. Christoph and Andrea met while studying oenology-and viticulture at university, the famous Geisenheim, where Germany’s top winemakers get trained. Christoph joined his father Willi back in 2002 so his experience and the transition was seamless guaranteeing that these wines remain some of the world’s most coveted, with this 2018 GG being a shinning star! I highly recommend putting this away for another 3 to 5 years and let it get some secondary elements going here, which I believe will transform this GG into a beautiful swan of a wine, patience will certainly be rewarded, in the meantime drink any and all of the Schaefer Kabinett(s) and Spatlese(s), from the Graacher Domprobst and Graacher Himmelreich you can get!
($65 Est.) 93-95 Points, grapelive