2018 yielded much dry Riesling which is broad and powerful. Not so at Knebel, as its Winninger Uhlen GG superbly underlines.
2018 is a ripe and consumer-friendly vintage characterized by fruit and mild acidity. For lovers of racy Mosel, is there therefore little to cheer? Not really, as we explain in Part I of our 2018 vintage report: A few growers completely defied the ripe DNA of the vintage and produced some truly stunningly fresh and racy wines.
One such wine turns out to be the 2018er Winninger Uhlen GG by Knebel, which is nothing short of a modern-day classic in the making.
Weingut Knebel is a small (approx. 7 ha) family Estate located in Winningen which has attracted growing attention lately.
The Estate hit some tough times when Reinhard Knebel died unexpectedly in 2003. His son Matthias, who is at its helm now, had just started his winemaking studies and candidly admits: “Was it not for the help and support of Gernot Kollmann, now at Weingut Immich-Batterieberg, and the incredibly dedication of my mother Beate, the Estate would have probably not survived this very difficult period.” .
The support of Gernot Kollmann proved also beneficial in another way: The Estate started to make a name for itself for great dry and dry-tasting Riesling from these steep terraces around Winningen.
Young Matthias Knebel (despite his 10-year tenure, he is only in his mid-30s) continued this effort to refine his over recent years, capturing more freshness from the grapes and lightening up the mid-palate structure. As a result, he developed what was already very good Estate into one of the finest sources for dry and dry-tasting Riesling (it was already for noble-sweet wines since several decades).
Unsurprisingly, we highlighted its 2008er Winninger Brückstück Feinherb Alte Reben as one of our “Issue Highlights” back in 2010, and its superb 2015er von den Terrassen in 2017. The Estate was also to become a member of the VDP Mosel in the same year.
The pride of the Estate is its holdings in the Grand Cru vineyards Uhlen and Röttgen in Winningen. These includes approx. 1.2 ha of vineyards in the terraced and south-facing part of the Uhlen: We tend vines on the three very different sectors – Laubach, Blaufüsser Lay and Rothlay – of the vineyard, whereby the biggest part is situated in Laubach. We are lucky to have now comparatively old vines, 45 years on average.”
On paper, the 2018 vintage did not bode well for dry Riesling from terraced vineyards in the Terrassenmosel. The vintage was dry (terraces suffer always more as they retain little water in dry vintages). The Terrassenmosel is the hottest area in the Mosel and 2018 was already a very hot vintage. Risks were high to produce ripe, phenolic and alcoholic wines.
Not so at Weingut Knebel, as Matthias went to extreme lengths to retain freshness in his wines: “We discarded some lesser terraces where grapes had obviously suffered too much Of course, giving up grapes was not a catastrophic decision in a vintage like 2018 with good yields. We also ruthlessly declassified non-perfect grapes to our lower-end wines. We also adapted our winemaking to the vintage, avoiding any pre-fermentation cold soak and relying on fractioning during pressing for our top end wines.”
The result is simply stunning. In particular, the Uhlen GG dished up by the Estate proves a model of freshness, finesse, elegance and playfulness. It completely defies the ripeness of the vintage. This modern-day classic dry Riesling is easily one of the finest of the vintage, not only in the Mosel, but in Germany overall. The only drawback is that only two casks of this beauty were only produced.
Overall, the remarkably elegant and playful 2018 collection by Matthias Knebel is loaded with highlights: Happy hunting!
The suberp 2018er collection by Knebel
was reviewed in the Mosel Fine Wines Issue No 48 (October 2019).
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Winninger Uhlen Riesling GG
The 2018er Uhlen Riesling GG, as it is referred on the main part of the label, is a legally dry wine which comes from old vines in the Laubach part of the vineyard and which was fermented and aged on its fine lees in stainless steel (2/3) and used small oak barrel (1/3) for 9 months. It offers an under-cooled and minty nose of dried white flowers, spices, candied citrus, grapefruit, smoke, and sea breeze, all wrapped into residual scents from its spontaneous fermentation. The wine proves very pure and vibrating on the smooth, tart, and mineral palate. Some bitter citrusy flavors add cut to the experience and give an additional dimension in the already extraordinarily complex and elegant finish. The wine proves assertive, but in no way over-powering as one is left with tart fruit zest, minerals, and a hint of earthy spices in the long and lingering after-taste. This stunning dry Riesling even has some upside, if it manages to develop further its aromatic precision at maturity. 2024-2038
© 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.