The Dry Riesling movement has been in full swing now for many years in Germany. While in U.S. markets, consumers still think of Riesling as an easy-going, off-dry white with a fun zing of acidity. The reality is that Germany is now producing some of the most exciting, world-class, dry (Trocken) Rieslings we have ever encountered. A number of producers have been at the forefront of this movement. I have recently been touting the name Keller, in the Rheinhessen, with their tremendous Trocken and Grosses Gewächs. Yet, just west of this region we find the Nahe, and a winery making some of the most exciting wine in Germany today: Emrich-Schonleber.
Here, it is the story of a forward-thinking family and two amazing vineyards. With a vine-growing history that goes back over two centuries, it wasn’t until the 1960s when Werner Schonleber worked with his father to reform their family farm and focus on the vineyards and winemaking. His primary goal was to reclaim the greatness of two of the Nahe’s most prestigious locations, Frühlingsplätzchen and Halenberg. At the time, their holdings consisted of only 5 acres mixed throughout the two locations. Yet today, the family is in full control of a total of 44 acres spread across the region, but focus primarily in their historic Grand Cru family vineyards.
Werner’s son, Frank Schonleber, took a special interest in winemaking over the past decade, and worked to focus the family’s efforts on the categories of Trocken and Grosses Gewächs. The recent success that Emrich-Schonleber has enjoyed is very much the result of Frank’s forward-thinking methods in the cellar, which include spontaneous fermentation and treating each individual parcel in a way that he feels will best accentuate the translation of each unique terroir. To achieve his goal, there are no strict rules to barrel size, aging vessel or the time it takes for each wine to mature before release.
The combination of Werner’s work and strict selection in the vineyards, the family’s holdings in two of the most prestigious sites in the region, and Frank’s methodologies in the cellar, has catapulted the wines of Emrich-Schonleber to the apogee of Germany’s dry wine revolution.
That said, they aren’t cheap, but the reality is that the majority of German wine in this category is currently undervalued, and I believe the day will come when these wine are looked back upon as relative values as they mature for decades in our cellars.
On To The Wines:
Emrich-Schönleber Riesling Kabinett Monzinger 2014 – On the nose I found light lemon and sweet, spiced pear. It was vibrant on the palate, with soft textures and spiced pear, yet it’s a bit one-dimensional. The finish was incredibly long on ripe pear with great acidity. Yet there’s a level of depth that’s missing in this spicy and soft Kabinett. (90 points)
Emrich-Schönleber Riesling Trocken 2015 – The nose showed floral undergrowth, ripe melon, and hints of herbs. On the palate, I found zesty textures with savory, mineral-driven stone fruits and hints of lemon. Tart citrus and minerals lasted long on the finish. (91 points)
Emrich-Schönleber Riesling Troken Mineral 2015 – The nose showed intense minerality with lime and green apple. On the palate, I found silky, acid-driven, mineral textures, with ripe citrus and green apple. The finish was fresh and laden with minerals. (92 points)
Emrich-Schönleber Riesling Lenz 2015 – The nose was floral and rich with ripe stone fruits. On the palate, I found weighty textures with intense green apple acidity, spice, minerals and inner florals. The finish was remarkably long with tart apple and citrus. (93 points)
I must admit that of the two Schonleber crus, that Halenberg is my favorite. The stoney blue slate and quartz soils force the vines in Halenberg to dig deep for nutrients, which helps explain the structure and mineral intensity found throughout these wines. Also, don’t skip the Halenberg Trocken (renamed Hagans in 2014), while this may be seen as a second wine, I promise you that it’s only a baby-step below the pricier GG.
Emrich-Schönleber Riesling Monzinger Halenberg Trocken Halgans 2014 – Here I found a wonderfully fresh and vibrant bouquet, with crushed stone and yellow florals. On the palate, soft, mineral-driven textures gave way to notes of green apple. It was long and tart on the finish, with stone fruit and citrus, and a zing of minerality. (92 points)
Emrich-Schönleber Riesling Monzinger Halenberg Trocken 2012 – Another fantastic performance, the bouquet was gorgeous, opening with intense minerality and wet slate, gaining richness in the glass, as notes of peach and pineapple formed, then changed to smoke, crushed stone and floral undergrowth. On the palate, it showed razor-like focus with tantalizing acidity, giving way to notes of melon, green apple, minerals and lime. There’s so much tension here as a coating of minerals and citrus saturated the senses, made the checks pucker, and lasted for up to a minute. (94 points) @morrell
Emrich-Schönleber Riesling Trocken GG Monzinger Halenberg 2014 – The nose showed savory minerality with an almost seashore quality, before going to floral undergrowth, minerals, and washed cheese rind. On the palate, it was textural with balanced acids paving the way for ripe stone fruits, intense, chalky minerality, and inner florals. The finish was intense with tart citrus, minerals, melon and inner floral tones. (94+ points) @morrell
Emrich-Schönleber Riesling Monzinger Halenberg ‘R’ 2012 – The nose was massive yet refined, with ripe peach and pear giving way to minerals, spice and floral undergrowth. On the palate I found soft, voluptuous textures with ripe stone fruits and great acidity, soothing the palate, along with inner florals, and hints of lemon. It coated the palate in pure melon and stone fruits, with lingering floral tones, in an amazingly long expression. (96 points) @morrell
Defined by it’s red slate and gravel soils, along with a 70% incline at its steepest point, the Monzinger Fruhlings Platzchen enjoys southeast to southwest exposures and creates Riesling of undeniable finesse and elegance.
Emrich-Schönleber Monzinger Frühlingsplätzchen Frühtau 2015 – The nose showed intense crushed-stone minerality, floral undergrowth, and green apple. On the palate, I found soft textures with ripe stone fruits and citrus. The finish was remarkably long with tart citrus and melon. I wanted more acidity. (91 points)
Article and tasting notes by: Eric Guido
For the last two weeks NYC has been honored to host the who’s who of Piedmont for Antonio Galloni’s La Festa del Barolo, and with many of these producers came my first taste of 2013 Barolo from bottle. Let me just say that the hype is officially warranted.
Over the last two years we’ve been hearing hints about the possibility that 2013 could be the next great vintage. Producers would wax poetic over their expectations, and as friends returned from the region having tasted from barrel, each one would go on and on about the vintage.
The first clues we had to the potential of 2013 came from Antonio Galloni of Vinous, who is constantly on the ground in Piedmont and tasting across a wide range of both young and mature wines. I still think back to his 2012 Barolo article “Grace Under Pressure”, where he tipped his hat in saying “The 2013 Barolos I have tasted from cask are aromatically compelling, rich and structured; in other words super-classic. At their best, the 2013s come across as slightly richer versions of the 2010s.” The comparison to 2010 and the thought of an added level of richness set my imagination on fire.
However, there was another thing to consider, and that’s the escalation of Barolo prices and how important it is to get in as early as possible, especially when you consider the mad dash that collectors made for the 2010’s. All of this has cumulated into one of the most highly anticipated vintages that I have ever witnessed.
And so, as the list of Barolo producers who would be in town for La Festa grew, my message to everyone I knew was to please, please, please let me taste some 2013 Barolo–and my wish was granted.
Chiara Boschis, Elisa Scavino, Fabio Alessandria, and Giuseppe Vajra all took the time to taste and talk with me about the vintage, and what I found was nothing short of spectacular. The 2013 vintage was defined by wet and humid conditions in the spring, yet balanced out into a long and warm growing season, followed by the perfect yin and yang of warm days and cool nights in the fall. The result was a perfect crop for any producer who tended their vineyards with care. Giuseppe Vajra, of G.D. Vajra, told me that he “…feels like the 2013 vintage is closest to the 2008s,” which happens to be one of his all time favorites.
For me, I find the structure of 2010, the aromatics of 2012 and the vibrancy of 2008, but we can talk in these terms for days. In the end, these are some of the most enjoyable young Barolos I’ve ever tasted. They posses stunningly layered aromatics, which continue to open in the glass over time, coupled with beautifully refined tannin, depths of fruit and enveloping textures. Frankly, it was difficult to pick favorites in nearly every tasting. I also couldn’t help but notice how enjoyable the Barolos made from a blend of vineyards were as well. The Paolo Scavino Barolo and Carobric, the Chiara Boschis Via Nuova, and the Vajra Albe were all amazing wines that will be thrilling us for decades to come.
I’m happy to say that 2013 Barolo will be arriving on our shores very soon, and I will certainly be a buyer. Let the hunt begin.
2013 G.D. Vajra Barolo Bricco delle Viole – The nose showed incredible depth with exotic floral tones, saline minerals, a bit of marine flora, plum, dusty spice and rosy florals. On the palate, I found mineral-laden cherry, cranberry, inner floral tones, exotic spice, and exquisitely fine tannin. The finish was long, long, long with masses of inner floral tones and dried berries. This wine has a long life ahead of it, and I can’t wait to see where it’s going. (97 points)
2013 Vietti Barolo Rocche di Castiglione – The nose was gorgeous and lifted with bright rosy floral tones, brilliantly pure red fruits, dusty earth, soaring minerality, wet stone, and exotic spices. On the palate, I found feminine textures with tart red cherry, herbs, inner florals and gorgeous, balancing acidity. It finish long and fresh on sweet herbs, minerals and fresh cherries. This is classic Rocche. (97 points)
2013 Paolo Scavino Barolo Bric dël Fiasc – The nose showed intense mineral-infused red berry, cherry, cranberry and hints of plum with a savory edge, then evolving into mint, licorice, undergrowth and hints of herbs. On the palate, silky yet massive textures gave way to a dark mix of both ripe black and tart red fruits, with notes of dark earth, minerals and a twang of bitter herbs. Tannins saturated the senses, yet they weren’t drying or tiring, as a coating a dark red fruits soothed the palate. This was a remarkably balanced Bric del Fiasc that is deceptive in its early appeal. (97 points) @morrell
2013 Comm. G.B. Burlotto Barolo Vigneto Cannubi – The nose showed masses of dark red fruits, crushed berries, wild herbs, pretty floral tones, and dusty spices, yet through the entire experience remained floral and finessed. On the palate, I found, dense, silky textures which coated the senses with notes of crushed berry and strawberry, before transitioning to inner florals and leather tones. It was much more lifted and refined than expected, with a long finish, displaying fresh red fruits and inner floral tones. (96 points)
2013 Vietti Barolo Ravera – The nose is incredibly deep, rooted in minerals, earth and spice, with dark floral tones, black cherry, plum, blackberry and mint. With time it opened even more to to reveal ethereal florals and herbs. On the palate, I found elegant, velvety textures, with sweet tannins and brisk mineral-laced acidity, giving way to dark fruits, minerals, plum, dried citrus, and hints of lavender. The finish was incredibly long with saturating dark fruits, yet youthfully tannic and closed in on itself. (96 points)
2013 Paolo Scavino Barolo Carobric – The nose on the ‘13 Carobric was stunning. Here I found a layered, lifted and classic mix of crushed cherry, rosey florals, minerals and undergrowth, which turned savory over time, adding hints of dark spices and tobacco. On the palate, I found a vibrant yet silky expression with depths of red cherry playing a sweet-and-sour act on the senses, along with savory herbs and zesty acidity. It finished fresh yet structured on cherries and spice. (96 points) @morrell
2013 Comm. G.B. Burlotto Barolo Monvigliero – This is unmistakably Monvigliero. The nose displayed black olive, savory herbs, exotic florals, crushed strawberry, and Indian spice. On the palate, I found soft textures with pure red berry fruit, inner florals and a balanced mix of fine-grained tannins and brisk acidity. It was lifted, pure and classically structured throughout. The finish was long of dried cherry, strawberry and floral tones. (96 points)
2013 Vietti Barolo Lazzarito – Here I found a dark and brooding bouquet of black and red fruits, moist earth, minerals, fresh mint, and hints of exotic spices. On the palate, I found silky, enveloping textures laced with fine tannin, giving way to saturating dark red fruits, hints of spice and bitter herbs. The finish went on and on–and on–with minerals, mint and a bitter twang of herbs. This an amazing vintage for Lazzarito. (96 points) @morrell
2013 E. Pira & Figli (Chiara Boschis) Barolo Cannubi – This is a chameleon of a wine, with a bouquet that showed medicinal herb, raspberry, at times almost dark syrupy, then turning to black cherry, balsamic tones, giving way to minerals, dusty exotic spices and earth. On the palate, I found silky textures (very textural and dark – almost imposing at times) and dark red fruits which coated the wine’s fine tannin and saturated the senses over time. It was imposing and intense on the long finish, as fine grain tannin coated the senses, yet it’s wonderfully balanced. This should have some future in store. (96 points) @morrell
2013 E. Pira & Figli (Chiara Boschis) Barolo Via Nuova – The nose was remarkably pretty with dark red fruits, roses, minerals, and exotic spices. It was brooding and at times reticent, until a note of minerals and crushed stone joined the fray. On the palate, I found lean, dense textures with dark red berry fruit laced with minerals and a web of fine tannin that saturated the senses. It was amazingly long on saturating dark red fruits and tannin. So classic. (95 points) @morrell
2013 Paolo Scavino Barolo Cannubi – The ‘13 Cannubi was a dark and imposing wine of massive depth. Here I found notes of black cherry, sweet herbs, dark chocolate, dusty spice, and crushed stone. On the palate, a massive wave of velvety textures flooded the senses, and red and black fruits gave way to fine tannin. It was quite monolithic yet not over the top, and it tempted me with what was yet to come. The finish displayed intense tart black and red fruits with lasting minerality, seeming to create a black hole on the palate. I can’t even imagine what this wine will reveal in the decades to come, but I’m sure it will be something very special. (95 points) @morrell
2013 Paolo Scavino Barolo Bricco Ambrogio – This showed a stunning array of aromatics, as eucalyptus and mint opened up to become tart cherry, roses, minerals and hints of undergrowth. On the palate, I found weighty textures of sheer silk, yet lively and balanced, as notes of plum and black cherry gave way to savory tones of salinity and herbs. It finished long on black cherry, spices and fine-grain tannin. (95 points) @morrell
2013 Luigi Baudana Barolo Baudana – The nose was dark and rich with brown spices, crushed blackberry, a dusty mix of minerals and spice with a hint of animal musk. On the palate, I found remarkably soft, velvety textures with zesty black fruits, ripe plum and a bitter hint of herbal spice. It was at once youthfully tannic, yet fresh with a dark and imposing persona, finishing long with dark red fruits, saturating spice and a coating of fine tannin. (95 points)
2013 Luigi Baudana Barolo Cerretta – The nose was spicy, with sweet florals and minerals, tart cherry, wild berry, and brown spices. Over time it became more polished and dark fruited, yet never losing it’s mineral thrust. On the palate, it was dark yet lifted and fresh with notes of wild herbs, blackberry and gruff tannin. Drying over time with youthful tannin, the finish was long and structured, only hinting at fruit. The cerretta will require many years in the cellar to show its best. (94 points)
2013 E. Pira & Figli (Chiara Boschis) Barolo Mosconi – The nose was polished yet earthy, showing dark red fruits with dusty spices, crushed stone minerality, dark earth and floral tones. On the palate, I found pure, silky textures offset by vibrant acidity with tart red fruits, fine tannin and with a zesty acidity that created a bright expression with inner rosy florals. It finished long with tart berries and clenching young tannin. (94 points)
2013 Vietti Barolo Brunate – The nose was dark and rich, showing mineral-laced floral tones, iron, hints of sweet dark spices, and balsamic tones. On the palate, I found savory, silky textures, with dark red berries, plum, and hints of balsamic. It finished incredibly long and brooding with penetrating notes of dark red berries and dried spices. (94 points) @morrell
2013 G.D. Vajra Barolo Ravera – What an incredible bouquet on the 2013 Ravera. Here I found sweet dark florals, and brown spices in an exotic and hauntingly beautiful mix, than minerals, earth and undergrowth come forward. On the palate, I found soft textures with ripe dark red fruits, minerals and slow mounting tannin. It finished refined with saturating, brooding tannin and caking minerality. (94 points)
2013 Paolo Scavino Barolo – This displayed a remarkably layered and engaging bouquet for an entry-level offering. Here I found woodsy earth tones with hints of mint, opening to mineral-infused cherry and tobacco. On the palate, I found lifted textures with a fine web of crystalline tannin that gently caressed the senses, as notes of tart cherry were smoothed out by zesty acidity. It finished long and structured on tart cherry and herbs. This was a fantastic showing. (94 points) @morrell
2013 Comm. G.B. Burlotto Barolo Acclivi – What an exotic and floral bouquet, showing wild herbs, strawberry and hints of rose. On the palate, I found soft textures offset by tart red berry, inner floral tones and dusty spices. It finished dry with a coating of fine tannin and masses of dry extract. (93 points)
2013 Vietti Barolo Castiglione – The nose opened with hints of cedar dust, dried cherries, and crushed fall leaves. On the palate, I found refined and silky textures, with pure red fruits, spice, intense minerals and savory depth. The finish was long with hauntingly dark floral tones and hints of bitter herbs. (93 points)
2013 G.D. Vajra Barolo Albe – The bouquet displayed intense bright cherry, mint, pine, hints of cedar, roses and spice. On the palate, I found silky textures with a cherry and plum mix, lifted by wonderfully balanced acidity and a hint of youthful tannin. The finish was long with a coating of tart cherry, blackberry, medicinal herbs and hints of spice. (93 points)
2013 Comm. G.B. Burlotto Barolo – The nose was gorgeous, showing crushed raspberry, hints of herbs, and dusty spice. On the palate, I found soft textures, lifted by pure red fruits, inner floral tones and light tannin. It was remarkably pure, leading in a long finish with hints of tannin and inner floral tones. (92 points)
2013 Paolo Scavino Barolo Monvigliero – The nose displayed sweet herbs, undergrowth and cherry liquor. On the palate, silky textures were offset by a bitter twang of tart red fruits and herbs, as the Monvigliero maintained its freshness through zesty acidity. The finish was long with saturating dark red fruits, spice and mint. I enjoyed this quite a bit, yet it lacks the textural heft that brings balance throughout the rest of the lineup. (92 points) @morrell
Article, Tasting Notes and Photos by: Eric Guido
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