Max Ferd. Richter crafted its most complete collection ever in 2015, as this awe-inspiring Elisenberg Kabinett underlines nicely. Learn more about this wine and how the Estate’s success came about.
Few vintages have been as hyped as 2015 and there is some truth in it. 2015 yielded some stunning wines, and this in all stylistic directions.
But not everything that shines is gold. At its heart, 2015 is a ripe vintage, pepped up by glorious zest, with many wines on the powerful side. Only the very best wines will turn into classics in a decade or two.
The Weingut Max Ferd. Richter handled these conditions perfectly and produced an absolutely awe-inspiring collection of wines in 2015 which includes, among others, a stunning Veldenzer Elisenberg Kabinett.
In a recent article on the Estate’s stunning 1996er Graacher Domprobst BA (one of the highlights of our “20-Years After” retrospective published earlier this year), we highlighted what is for us the unique DNA of the Max Ferd. Richter Estate, namely transparency, be it to the terroir or the vintage.
This attitude to embrace and not fight a vintage was at the heart of the Estate’s approach to the 2015 vintage, as Constantin Richter explained: “After the difficult 2014 vintage, I consciously took two decisions: Firstly, to not prune early and thereby delay the ripening process and get grapes better able to withstand the almost unavoidable September rains. If pruning is needed, one can always do it later in the season! Secondly, to not delay unnecessarily the harvest. Acidity is something positive that we need to embrace! In 2015, we started our Riesling harvest at the beginning of October. Unlike others, we discarded the first botrytis and immediately focused on producing our Kabinett wines for 10 days before turning our attention to higher Prädikat wines.”
The result is easily the most complete collection of wines we have ever tasted at this traditional Estate (and there have been many good ones!). The wines reflect the gorgeous ripe-freshness duality of the 2015 vintage like few others. Yet, they retain the utter lightness that has made the success of the Max Ferd. Richter wines over the decades.
The Veldenzer Elisenberg is one of the flagship vineyards of the Max Ferd. Richter Estate. The story behind the vineyard is (almost) as good as the terroir itself. In 1813, the ancestors of Richter were given a prime slightly south-facing piece of land high up the Veldenzer hill. By the 1820s, they cleared it for winemaking and named the vineyard after the Prussian Empress of the day, Louise, which became Elisenberg over time.
The vineyard is quite particular, says Constantin Richter: “Of course it is close to my father’s and my heart because of the historic bond. But the terroir is quite special and different from the rest of the hill. It is on a slightly deeper soil of grey slate and quartzite than the lower parts of the hill. Also, while most of the hill faces west, this vineyard is situated in a turn and faces south-west to full south. Lastly, the fact that the vineyard is as high up the hill and tucked in a side valley means that it retains more zest and ripens later than the vineyards on the river front. We therefore usually harvest this hill much later than our other prime vineyards.”
In 2015, Dirk and Constantin Richter harvested a Kabinett and a Spätlese from this vineyard, whereby the Kabinett was brought in at 85° Oechsle in the latter part of October, a solid 10 days after the Estate's other Kabinett wines. The wine was then fermented in both stainless steel and traditional wooden cask before being bottled in spring after the vintage.
The 2015er Elisenberg is a huge success as it combines the telltale zest with its usual minty and almost Ruwer freshness. What sets the 2015 in a category of its own is the delicate underlying ripeness, which adds an extra dimension to the wine.
We can only encourage you to hunt down this little beauty. However, should it prove difficult to find in your neck of the world, despair not: Also Richter’s other Kabinett (and the whole collection) are well worth the plunge!
The complete astonishing 2015 collection by Max Ferd. Richter
was reviewed in Mosel Fine Wines Issue No 32 (Oct 2016).
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Max Ferd. Richter
Veldenzer Elisenberg Riesling Kabinett
This gorgeous Kabinett harvested at 85° Oechsle is still marked by residual scents from spontaneous fermentation at this early stage and needs quite some airing to exhibit its stunningly fresh and vibrant scents of grapefruit, cassis, white melon, herbs and spices. The wine is juicy and lively on the palate and leaves a superb cocktail of chalky minerals, grapefruit, white peach and spicy herbs in the long finish. This will be a breathtaking Kabinett at maturity once the acidity will have mellowed away and integrated into the juicy aromatics. 2025-2045
© Text by Mosel Fine Wines "The Independent Review of Mosel Riesling ... and beyond!"
Disclaimer: Mosel Fine Wines is an independent publication and has no commercial relationship with any Estate, association or organization featured in this article.