The overall riper 2016 vintage hides in its midst some true gems cut along the canons of Mosel classicism, including this awe-inspiring Kabinett by Hofgut Falkenstein.
After a most challenging start in the growing season, the 2016 vintage has turned out to be a charmer with much early ripe appeal. But the 2016 vintage also delivered racier wines including a few stunner cut along the great canon of the 1997 vintage, one of the finest vintages ever, as our recent 1997 retrospective has amply shown.
One wine that epitomizes this racy and elegant side of the vintage best is the awe-inspiring 2016er Krettnacher Euchariusberg Kabinett Alte Reben by Hofgut Falkenstein.
Hofgut Falkenstein is a beautiful Estate tucked away in a side valley behind the Saar called Konzer Tälchen (literally meaning "the little valley of Konz"). Erich Weber set up his Estate in the early 1980s and runs it now together with his son Johannes.
While always a fine source for Saar Riesling, the quality at this Estate has soared over the last few years. Its wines made it onto our lists of vintage highlights with increasing regularity, in particular in 2014 and 2015. Last year, we featured its 2015er Niedermenniger Herrenberg Riesling Spätlese Feinherb AP4, one of the finest Feinherb wines of the vintage, as wine of the month.
However, what Hofgut Falkenstein managed to extract from the 2016 vintage is simply awe-inspiring and trumps anything the Estate has done so far. After completing our Issue No 35, we briefly met up with the Webers to try to understand what makes these wines so special.
Erich Weber puts forward several factors: “Clearly, the structure of the vintage helped, with its low sugar levels and good weather from July onwards. The new vineyards which we added to our portfolio lately, among which those in the Gross Schock sector in the Euchariusberg [more on this below], prove of the highest of qualities. We continuously try to fine tune our approach to make elegant, light and playful Saar wines with good acidity. We never de-leaf the vines for our white wines in order to retain fruit freshness. We rely on whole bunch pressing and our whole fermentation process is gravity-based and we don’t use any additives, just leave the wines in large traditional Fuder and let nature do its work. Lately, we have introduced fractional pressing in order to only keep the first pressings for our single-vineyard wines. This has given our wines additional finesse.”
One of prides of the Webers is its holdings in the “Gross Schock” sector of the Krettnacher Euchariusberg. On the whole, the Euchariusberg is a west-facing hill. The Gross Schock sector turns towards the south. It is not without reason that this prime sector was already classified “dark red” (i.e. in the highest categories) on the taxation maps of the 19th century.
Painstakingly, the Webers set on to take over parcel after parcel in this sector, often from local growers who were selling their wines in cask. Today, the Estate owns approx. 1.5 ha here, making it the largest owner in this sector. There are a few things which make this sector so special, according to Johannes Weber: “Besides the favorable orientation, the vineyard has deeper soil, allowing the roots to go deep. They hardly ever lack water. There is always a cold wind which runs through the vineyard. This preserves acidity and keeps our grapes clean for longer. This is particularly true for the plot still planted with un-grafted vines where we harvested the fruit for the Alte Reben Kabinett in 2016.”
The Webers produced three Fuder of Euchariusberg Kabinett in 2016. The Euchariusberg Kabinett Alte Reben was block-harvested at 87° Oechsle and was only made from the first pressing (up to 0.8 bar) of the must which was then fermented in a dedicated cask, as is the norm at this Estate.
We have tasted this wine several times now over the spring (including again, a few days ago, when visiting the Weber) with always the same conclusion: This is one of the finest young Kabinett we have ever tasted and one which we can't wait to taste when it will have fully blossomed at maturity. Think auction quality from the finest of growers.
This wine was unfortunately only made in tiny quantities: One Fuder (1,000 liters), not more. Should this wine not be available in your region, despair not: The quality of the 2016 wines at Hofgut Falkenstein is mesmerizing and every single wine is a highlight in itself. Any lover of elegant and racy Saar wines should take any action to lay their hands on a few (or many!) of these beauties crafted by this shining star in the Mosel (well Saar) sky!
The awe-inspiring 2016er Riesling collection by Hofgut Falkenstein
were reviewed in the Mosel Fine Wines Issue No 35 (Jun 2017).
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Krettnacher Euchariusberg Alte Reben
The Euchariusberg Kabinett Alte Reben comes from a parcel still planted with un-grafted vines in the prime Gross Schock sector of the vineyard which was classified in the highest category on the old taxation maps. This wine delivers an absolutely sumptuously elegant nose of yeasts, white peach, mint, grapefruit, flowers, smoke and bergamot. It dazzles through restrained elegance, intensity and freshness on the palate, with juicy and light fruits just adding the little je ne sais quoi to the mid-palate. This finish is loaded with energy and yet superbly complex and the length is just stunning. This is one of the very best young Kabinett we have ever tasted and a great tribute to this uniquely light and elegant style of Riesling! 2024-2036
© 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.