Is EUR 100+ ex-cellar justified for a Kabinett? Well, in many ways, unfortunately for our wallets, yes. Even "worse", we may even have to be thankful for it. Here are the reasons why.
(images: Dee Vee Wines, VDP Mosel, all rights reserved)
The 2013er Scharzhofberger Kabinett Alte Reben by the Egon Müller Estate created quite some controversy this year. It was hammered off for a staggering €113 per bottle and this even before commission, sales tax and shipping costs! (more info about the Auction and the wine can be found in our Auction Guide 2014 downloadable here).
Many asked us: "how can a Kabinett, a humble Kabinett, cost so much?", "We ARE talking about the humble little summer wine, right?" or "how can one pay so much for seemingly so little?" Well, unfortunately for our wallets, this price is fully justified by the combination of great terroir, great Estate and the fact that Kabinett can be so much more than a humble quaffer!
This wine is made in minute quantities from the best grapes (selection of clean but not overripe grapes at full maturity from very old vines), from a mythical terroir (the Scharzhofberg) by a leading German winemaker (Egon Müller)
This wine has a stunning track record. Made more in the old ‘Naturrein’ style (as usual at Egon Müller) than the “fully fruity-style”, it can be a climax in Riesling enjoyment after say 20 years, as shown by scores of gloriously mature examples.
It is hard to argue why such an iconic wine should cost less than many other "star wines" on the international market (be them from France, Italy or the US for instance)
Of course, one can debate its price relative to that of other Kabinett bottlings: Does it really taste 50% “better” than the Estate’s 2012er Kabinett auction or 500% (and more) “better” than a Kabinett from other makers? This, to us, is however a side debate: Ultimately, it remains the buyer’s choice to decide whether or not he/she is ready to pay such prices for enjoying a “world wine” or whether he believes he will get a better deal by buying other examples.
You could wonder, why any winemaker would go through such a hassle and clear such vineyards? Well, there are essentially two reasons, which are best explained on the example of the Lambertskirch vineyard in Ayl which the Estate cleared a few years ago:
And one additional thought: Not only is the price “justified” in the international context. In many ways, we should be thankful that a Kabinett gets this type of “recognition”. Kabinett, as a category, has been pushed into the “cheap and cheerful” corner since its inception in 1971, despite the fact that some of the resulting wines can be among the finest expressions of Riesling on earth. While we are not looking forward to all Kabinett costing over €100 ex-cellar, maybe this will help the region as a whole to take this style direction even more seriously and reward us with many more of these light, delicious and quite age-worthy wines.
© Text by Mosel Fine Wines "The Independent Review of Mosel Riesling"
Disclaimer: Mosel Fine Wines is an independent publication and has no commercial relationship with any Estate, association or organization featured in this article.