2015 Weingut Fritz Haag, Riesling Spatlese, Brauneberger Juffer, Mosel Germany.
This 2015 Brauneberger Juffer Spatlese, by Oliver Haag at the world renown Fritz Haag estate in the Mosel, is a classic example of slate driven Riesling with a gorgeous array of generous fruit, smoky mineral tones, heightened aromatics, smooth acidity and delicate spices, it is a wine that has that has all come together brilliantly. The deep palate includes layers of peach, apple, orange sorbet, mango, dried pineapple and sweet apricot fruits, wet flinty stones, candied ginger, clove and rosewater. Though dense with residual sugar this wine drinks much drier than expected and is wonderful with hot and spicy dishes, especially Asian cuisine. As mentioned in my prior reviews, the earliest documentation of the Haag estate dates back to 1605 and at that time, the village in which it is situated was known as Dusemond, but that changed In 1925, when the village was renamed Brauneberg in respect for the vineyards here. The Brauneberger refers to brown mountain, because of the color of the slate soil in this area of the Mosel, with the name change being, as the winery notes, an endeavor to further promote the reputation of its world class vineyards, like this “Brauneberger Juffer”. “Juffer,” which translates as “old maid” or “virgin,” in the local dialect, goes back to 1790, when the proprietor of these exceptional sites at the time, the aristocratic Kurpfälzische Kammerherr Wunderlich, who basically nicknamed it after his three daughters who all remained unmarried and lived the lives of spinsters. As a consequence, when they took over the vineyard management from their father, the name “Brauneberger Juffer” was cemented, and the wines soon became famed throughout the wine world. Wilhelm Haag was the first, from the winery to recognized, when he was named Gault Millau’s “Winemaker of the Year,” a highly coveted accolade introduced in 1994. Since 2005, his son Oliver has taken over the reins, and taken the wines to the next level with extra care going into the vines and cellar work, to produce wines such as this.
The historic Fritz Haag wine estate, as mentioned above and before in my prior reviews, is located in the heart of Germany’s middle Mosel River Valley, where it is known for its classic and traditional Riesling wines, mainly in Kabinett, Spatlese and Auslese levels, while more recently they added a dry GG from their top Grand Cru vineyard to the lineup, like Willi Schaefer has also done, to great effect. The Haag’s importer is the Loosen Brothers, with huge support from Ernest Loosen (Dr. Loosen) who has long loved the wines here, citing that the terroir is very distinct and the Loosen’s add, that this excellent micro-climate and the deep slate soils of the Brauneberg hillside yields some of the most intensely flavored and elegantly-structured Riesling wines of the whole Mosel region. Which after having this and many other of Haag’s wines over the years has convinced me of the greatness here, and this wine definitely highlights the quality found here. Having loved Fritz Haag wines in the past, with some 1970s stuff being incredibly delicious, and in modern times, especially since the 2005 vintage, when Oliver Haag fine examples came online. I had held this bottle back a few years and was thrilled with the results and know for sure it still is a baby, this wine has another 10 to 20 years to go, it was drinking wonderfully and was one of the wines of the night when poured against some serious Riesling company, including some outstanding Auslese and a few GGs. Going back to this 2015 Brauneberger Juffer Spatlese again and again over the course of the evening revealed more depth and nuance, and especially with the food, reminding me again that we shouldn’t fear Spatlese as a table wine, especially wine like this that have good natural acidity and low alcohol, giving palate cleansing or refreshment when paired with dishes that have heat. When I look for Mosel Rieslings, Fritz Haag continues to be high on the list, along with Dr. Loosen of course, and J. J. Prüm, Selbach-Oster, Carl Löwen, the mentioned Willi Schaefer and Mönchhof to name a few of my favorites. I highly recommend exploring the Haag collection, and especially their higher must weight wines, like the Spatlese and Auslese from this vineyard.
($40 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive