I first tasted Eva Fricke’s wines almost 20 years ago, in the good old days when anything from Germany was cheap (save the cars). So cheap in fact, that the quality to price ratio was common talk in the UK wine trade. It’s been twenty years since, and has taken this long for wine drinkers to catch up. Alas, prices have caught up too, but for the money, dollar for dollar, we are still looking at some of the wine world’s great bargains. And where does Eva Fricke fit into all this?
In the early 2000’s Eva Fricke was brand new and shiny. Generations of family ownership, with hundreds of vintages, was not something that could be boasted here. But like another great Rheingau producer, Johannes Josef Leitz of Weingut Josef Leitz, Eva brought passion, respect for the environment (certified biodynamic) and a singular vision of how she wanted her wines to feel and taste.
Tasting all those years ago, I remember them being intense and mineral, with a soaring acidity that was verging on force. The fruit profiles reminded me of Clare Valley Riesling, and as I didn’t want to be reminded of Clare Valley Riesling (I had already discovered the wonders of Josef Leitz), I decided to go no further with Eva Fricke. First impressions can be lasting, but one of the iron rules of wine loving is to
keep an open mind, and for drawn conclusions not to be fixed.
Eva Fricke revisited
Eva describes her wines as mineral, intense, delicate and precise. To these epithets I would add ripe, hedonistic, luscious, silky, with tertiary notes of herbs, ash, earth and smoke. The colour is darker than you would expect from most Riesling producers, perhaps a forewarning that these wines have moved beyond the traditional and into the realm of originality.
“It was just what collectors wanted, and have wanted ever since: the conventional thing done skillfully, with nothing to disturb prevalent assumptions. To be sure, they could have seen dangerous indications of originality in his pictures had they known where to look”. Kenneth Clarke on Turner in his collection of essays, The Romantic Rebellion.
Eva Fricke has shrugged off her version of the classical; for only with an understanding of the classics are we able to delight in the original.The original nature of her wines are the expression of a true master. Structurally, the curves are rounder and broader, cut with a weave of acid that cradles the fruit. The relentless rhythm of flavour is folded with the texture of silk, the fruit shimmering and crystalline. Earth, minerals, herbs, ash, wood and smoke are applied thickly, but the power of fruit never wavers. Beyond style and definition is the naked reality of taste, maker, vineyard and vintage. The genius of Eva Fricke is the authenticity of her impressions, free from the artifice of style and classical pretensions. They are a mirror of her country, region and vineyards and a light to all winemakers destined to attempt deliciousness and originality.
Overall Impressions of the latest release
- The wines all display a darkness of colour indicating the faintest touch of skin contact.
- Broad across the palate, like a billowing sheet, they envelop.
- Flavoured structures. It’s hard to define this, but the wines are heavily structured, without the obvious scaffold of pronounced acidity. There is acidity, and the wines are buoyant and fresh, but the acidity is harmoniously integrated.
- Yellow and darker fruit, a gorgeous mirror into a hot, early, low yielding and drought ravaged vintage.
- Texture. That hint of skin contact has bequeathed some muscle to the silken texture. Folded and integrated, like the acidity.
- Hedonism finessed.
- Power hidden in the shadows. Flavour is the thing. Every other detail is exactly that – detail. The complex nature of the wines ensures the joyous expression of flavour, rather than the study of power. To be sure, these wines are immensely powerful.
The Wines tasted
Eva Fricke Rheingau Riesling Trocken 2019 – Fully expressive and enormously complex. Wafts of peach, paw paw, lemon zest, apricots, ash and violets. Juicy and quite full bodied. Earthy, succulent and luxurious. The flavours are vivid and it actually tastes as it smells. Remarkable character and hedonism for this level and price.
Eva Fricke Melange Riesling Trocken 2019 – Attention grabbing, absorbing and I can’t get my nose out of the glass! Cherries, clove, blackcurrant, dried flowers, paw paw, yellow peach, mandarin and thyme. Luscious and silky, the acidity riding the wave of flavour. Pure and decadent. Tastes as it smells, but with the added delight of those incredible textures. Captivating and unique.
Eva Fricke Kiedrich Riesling Trocken 2019 – Distinct from the first two wines with white chocolate, red apple, pomegranate, custard, pear, apricot and white peach. Focused, pure and silky palate; the most caressing and subtle of the three without losing that slight textural squeeze. Exquisite detail, and immensely complex. Very fine.