The 2017er vintage produced many glorious Spätlese. Few are as refined as this special cask of Doctor Spätlese which was sold at this year’s VDP Mosel Auction.
The 2018 VDP Mosel Auction saw the most expensive young Kabinett and Auslese ever changing hands. Generally speaking, prices were unsurprisingly on the high side, a tribute to the greatness of the 2017 vintage for fruity-styled and noble-sweet wines and the ever increasing interest for German Riesling worldwide.
But the Auction saw some true bargains as well as many fine values. This includes a remarkably elegant and refined special cask of Doctor Spätlese by the classic Weingut Wwe Dr. H. Thanisch (Erben Thanisch).
Wwe Dr. H. Thanisch is one of the major Estates based in Bernkastel with a winemaking tradition going back to the 17th century. At the end of the 1980s, the original Estate was split into two separate ones, whose name only differ by the ending “Erben Thanisch” and “Erben Müller-Burggraef.”
The Weingut Wwe. Dr. H. Thanisch (Erben Thanisch) still largely relies on ambient yeasts, cold cellars and traditional oak casks to produce their timeless wines. The best casks or tanks stay on their fine lees often until the summer after the vintage. This traditional winemaking has one drawback. These wines simply need time to blossom.
This does not bade well in a time of instant gratification. However, wine lovers with the patience to let their wines mature are in for great refinement at this Estate: As we have experienced time and time again, the wines from Wwe Dr. H. Thanisch (Erben Thanisch) age gracefully well and remain simply as fresh as a daisy. The Estate's 1996er Berncasteler Doctor Auslese (Auction), one of the highlights from our 20 Years-After Retrospective of the 1996 vintage, underlines this admirably.
The Thanisch Estate has been the proud owner of a major part of the Doctor vineyard since the late 19th century. The Weingut Wwe Dr. H. Thanisch (Erben Thanisch) holds about 1 ha (approx. one third of the whole vineyard). Its holdings are still largely planted with very old un-grafted vines trained on single poles.
Typically, the Estate produces two casks of Spätlese from its Doctor holdings each year, a regular one and one which is sold via the annual Trier Auctions. The Auction bottling of the 2017er Berncasteler Doctor Spätlese was made from partially botrytis-affected fruit harvested at approx. 100° Oechsle. The wine was fermented with ambient yeasts in a traditional oak cask until being bottled in April 2018.
The Bernkasteler Doktor vineyard has been the stuff of myths since centuries, with its wines being year-in year-out among the most expensive ones in Germany. The almost ideal full south exposure and a soil of brown-blue slate with just a little bit of earth to buffer off any hardness have given Doctor wines the edge over almost any other vineyard in the region.
However, Doctor wines are also among the most misunderstood in the Mosel. They can seem almost broad, backward and quite frankly boring in their youth. It is hard to believe how, seemingly out of nowhere, Doctor wines firm up and their aromatics gain focus and depth with age. At maturity, these wines can de facto set standards. But one needs to have the patience to wait or, to be more direct: There is little point in opening a bottle of Doctor wine with less than 10 years of age.
This is also the case with the 2017er Doctor Spätlese Auction. This wine is subtle but still quite broad and will need at least a decade if not more to develop its full potential.
Should you have missed out on this Auction bottling, the Estate produced some of its finest fruity-styled Doctor wines of the last decade in 2017. There is plenty to choose from!
The beautiful collection of 2017er Riesling wines by Wwe. Dr. H. Thanisch (Erben Thanisch)
were reviewed in the Mosel Fine Wines Issue No 42 (Aug 2018).
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Wwe. Dr. H. Thanisch (Thanisch)
Berncasteler Doctor Spätlese (Auction)
The 2017er Berncasteler Doctor Spätlese Auction was harvested at 101° Oechsle with some botrytized fruit. It offers a gorgeous nose mixing beautiful floral and herbal notes with yellow peach, pear, citrusy fruits and spices. The wine displays the full creaminess and juicy fruitiness of an Auslese on the still rather sweet palate. The finish is already gloriously elegant and balanced as zesty acidity adds tension to the after-taste. As so often with Doctor wines, this simply needs time to develop its beautiful complexity. 2027-2067
© 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.