The 2021er Ockfener Bockstein Riesling Kabinett Mia (the reference to this internal cask name is provided in small print on the label after the AP number) is made from fruit picked at 83° Oechsle on old vines planted in the 1960s and was fermented down to barely fruity-styled levels of residual sugar (40 g/l). It offers a stunning and finely chiseled nose of citrusy fruits, smoke, herbal elements, and a dash of whipped cream. The wine proves beautifully zingy and packed with citrusy fruits on the palate and leaves a stunning feel of herbs and spices in the almost dry-tasting finish. This is a huge success and a great addition to the Falkenstein portfolio. 2029-2041 94 Points – Mosel Fine Wines, Issue 62 – June 2022
Out of stockProducer: Hofgut Falkenstein
Erich and Johannes Weber are one of the last producers making traditional Mosel Riesling. Not members of the VDP, Hofgut Falkenstein do things their own way, including delivering most of their wine across Germany themselves.
Falkenstein’s adherence is to natural wine production, favouring the traditions of the pre-1971 wine laws. The wine laws of 1971 gave producers greater autonomy to ‘adulterate’ musts and, to a degree, made uniform the wine production processes of the various Pradikats. In other words, many estates, including the most famous were given greater latitude in regards to adding sugar, taking acid away, using enzymes, cultivated yeasts and so on – essentially encouraging wine producers to make wines to fit within categories.
The Webers of Hofgut Falkenstein, apart from small additions of sulphur, don’t add anything. Saar based, there are 13 hectares of steep south facing vineyards, mostly of old vines. One hectare is ungrafted and the grapes of young vines are sold off, rather than make an inferior product. Fermentation and ageing is in 1000 litre fuder, plus a couple of 500 litre halbfuder. The musts are allowed to ferment without any help whatsoever, and when it stops, that’s it, finished. In other words, if the must ferments dry or with a level of residual, it doesn’t matter. The pH is very low, usually around 3 and the acidity levels are high, ensuring stability, freshness and long ageing potential.
Falkenstein’s wines do not fit easily into classifications, at least as most of us would imagine them. If for example a Falkenstein wine is labelled as a Kabinett Trocken, then you will find a “light” dry wine. They are indeed light, being picked at the required Oeschle (between 67 and 82 degrees), but there is a vibrant density of flavour, unimaginable in a Riesling from anywhere else. Going to the other extreme, pick an Auslese, and you will find sweetness, but nothing along the lines of a Prum, Haag or, closer to home, an Egon Muller. Rippling, tense and charged, with the volume of a white burgundy but the vibrancy and thrashing intensity of crashing surf. Sugar is the balancing act, under shadow. Imagine ethereal, silken Prum, the luxurious decadence of an Egon Muller, or the pristine linear grace of Fritz Haag. All familiar, all great, but not Falkenstein.
Further, the Falkenstein wines are classified according to their Pradikat level (Kabinett, Spatlese, etc) and vineyard name (Niedermenninger Herrenberg, Krettnacher Euchariusberg etc) along with an AP number. The AP number denotes a precise cask or fuder which also carries a name, usually the previous owner of the vineyard. Most estates will bottle with the name of the vineyard and Pradikat level, or occasionally denote a special parcel or cask, but not fuder. Bottling by fuder is a Falkenstein tradition and it is a truly wonderous experience to taste and drink the different ferments. Not even the Burgundians bottle barrels!
Bottling is completed at the estate, by hand, without machine, straight from the fuder. Vineyard expression, as important as it may be, is only as important as the traditions and processes of wine production. These wines are the Mosel, or strictly speaking Saar as it was, as it still is, as it should be. Beyond the history, the wines are simply thrilling. Thrilling enough to be worlds finest and at prices that a great many of us can afford. A new benchmark, on so many levels, is set.