2012 Weingut Selbach-Oster, Riesling Auslese, Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Mosel Germany.
The lush deeply golden hued 2012 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese by Selbach-Oster is at a great stage already with plenty of maturity and supple layering of fruit along with exceptional purity delivering a classic array of flavors, including ripe apricot, apple, dried pineapple, lemon and honeyed orange citrus. Selbach has long crafted some of the greatest Auslese wines from prime sites, especially the Zeltingen, and Wehlener Vineyards, such as Himmelreich, Schlossberg and Sonnenuhr, as seen here in this gorgeous version, all set on blue Devonian slate, on very steep slopes and these historic vineyards are considered some of the very best terroirs in Germany. They were classified in the highest categories of the 1868 vineyard classification, which was started by the French and finished and published by the Prussians, as well as now by the VDP, easily recognized as Grand Crus. Typically, for Selbach, the Auslese is selected by successive passes through the vineyard, as they pick fruit for Kabinett and Spätlese first and leaving the healthiest berries on the vine to concentrate, to be sure the highest quality standards apply for the Auslese. Selbach’s approach in winemaking is minimal, Johannes, who is one of Germany’s finest vignerons, and his Sebastian, now helping in the cellar, allow wines to ferment naturally, as slow or as complete as manifest, resulting in more dry wines in some vintages and more fruity wines in others. The lineup at Selbach-Oster is full of very compelling Rieslings, and I am in particular very much drawn to their Spatlese wines, as well as the old vine Feinherbs, which drink a bit drier in style and the set of single parcel wines, especially the Rotlay (in the Zeltingen Sonnenuhr, rich in iron ore), the Schmitt (in the Zeltingen Schlossberg), and the Anrecht (in the Zeltingen Himmelreich), which are picked at Auslese levels and fermented almost dry.
Today, Johannes Selbach and his wife Barbara, with the help of son Sebastian, manage their vineyards and this Mosel based winery with passion and respect for the estate’s long held traditions. A substantial portion their 24 hectares of vines are on their original ungrafted rootstocks, in the Zeltinger and the Wehlener, Schlossberg, and Sonnenuhr, including also Graacher and Bernkasteler too. These vineyards, especially where this wine came from, with the mentioned Devonian slate soils, they are on a steep, contiguous slope facing south-south west and represent some of the most prestigious sites in all of the Middle Mosel, in fact, as the winery notes, 85% of Selbach’s vines are on these incredible steep slopes that contributes the intensity and complexity of the wines. The Selbach family’s heritage in the wine business dates to the 1600s when Selbach’s ancestors used to ship wines down the Mosel in their own ships, with the wines being carried in oak barrels made by cooper Matthias Oster, the great-grandfather, as the winery adds, on the paternal side of the family. The family over time became both a top estate producer, crafting some of the region’s best wines, and also as a négociant that helped smaller growers in the local area. Johannes Selbach, like his late father Hans, as mentioned above, and now his son Sebastian, has continued the use of traditional 1000L oak fuders in the cellar, bringing in these new large casks every few years. Vinification is carried out in a combination of fuder and stainless steel, in the mentioned, hands-off manner with no fining, and with wild yeasts or Sponti. The focus is always on meticulous work in the vineyard, employing organic and sustainable farming, to bring in highest quality grapes, as this wine, coming from vines directly next to the sundial that gives this site its name, shows perfectly. In 2016 Christian Vogt, former winemaker at Karthauserhof for many years, was added even more talent to the cellar, and I highly recommend exploring the full range of wines here, all of which are outstanding, great with certain food choices, and fabulous values.
($40 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive