Select Page

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.

 

The 2020 Release

Great producers churn out the goods, producing the best of what they have, regardless of vintage. The obsession with vintages seems to prejudice the good taste of wine lovers – buying the points, the numbers, the hype. But what of taste? If every year was the same, then wine drinking would be no different from drinking blended juice, or cordial and there would be nothing to get excited about. Eva Fricke’s 2020 release is something to get excited about, just like the 2019s, or the 2021s or any other vintage for that matter.

Discussing differences is one of the iron rules of great drinking. If Eva’s 2019s were characterised by concentration, expansive mid palates, dry extract, ripe yellow fruits and raw power, 2020 has yielded up some rather different beasts. ‘Classic’ comes to mind, but perhaps this term is becoming rather redundant. Cooler fruit, higher levels of acidity, more citrus and less stone/orchard fruits, linear structure, mineral and herbal notes. They are undoubtedly more aristocratic than the decadent 2019’s. Rheingau, typically is more high toned, linear in shape and mineral and as great as 2019 was for Eva Fricke, 2020 is certainly a return to ‘typicity’.

Eva Fricke is now firmly established as a great estate. We have seen the style evolve over the years, more importantly,  the wines are as much defined by the vintage conditions as they are by their maker. They are invariably long lived, and it will be fascinating to see these wines in 10, 20, 30 years hence. They could certainly do with another year or two in bottle, including the ‘entry level’ trocken. Their acidity, precision and length of carry beg for more time. That is, if you can resist.

 

Eva Fricke Rheingau Riesling Trocken 2020

Straight out of the blocks, what a way to start a wine tasting. Expressive, explosive and intense. Lemon, thyme, vine leaf, white peach and umami. Very narrow in profile, initially, but with a bit of swirling, warmth and time, really opens up and fleshes out. There is a mineral and saline quality, lip-smacking and with terrific carry. Lots of layers and detail for a wine at this price and mid-palate flesh to pillow the intensity of structure. One of the longest lived regional wines out there.

 

Eva Fricke Lorcher Riesling QBA Trocken 2020

Perhaps the most classic and aristocratic wine in this line up and a defining wine of the vintage. Intense, powerful, with great clarity of flavour, focus and precision. Citrus, white peach, a touch of peach skin for texture, minerals, tarragon and salt. Tingly and throbbing, huge energy and breadth and the overwhelming impression of hidden delights. There’s flesh too, that armour to foil the fruit and the massive structure. Live for decades. Giant Killer.

 

Eva Fricke Keidrich Riesling Trocken 2020

Volume and luminosity on show here with a wealth of texture and flavour. Darker fruits, with yellow peach, lime, blackcurrant and plum. Riper and rounder than the Rheingau trocken, with some dry extract adding weight to the crystalline fruit. Dustings of gentle spice and a slaty, salty mineral kick. Very long carry, finessed structure and immense presence. Giant Killer.

 

Eva Fricke Rheingau Riesling QBA Melange Trocken 2020

Always one of our favourite dry Rieslings and is particularly wonderful in 2020. Decadent and expansive, the most controlled Melange we have tasted, a more precise wine to the luxurious opulence of the 2019. Dense and concentrated, with ripe citrus, stone, orchard, plum and cherry fruits. Less mineral than other wines in the Eva Fricke stable, but no less focus. So much tension between the wealth of flavour, dry extract and structure. So well cut, immensely structured – reminds me of Arnold Schwarzenegger in Predator. 

 

Overall Impressions of the 2019 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.

 

 

 

 

 

Pin It on Pinterest