The Inestimable Hofgut Falkenstein
Today, one could say that Hofgut Falkenstein is off the beaten path, but in 1981, when Erich Weber began to piece together his small estate, the vineyards of Niedermennig and Krettnach were genuinely obscure. The relative insignificance of these villages in the 1980s allowed Erich to buy up old-vine parcels in several of Germany's finest vineyard sites. His foresight was significant, as today the wines of Falkenstein sell out with alacrity and worldwide plaudits are innumerable and extravagant. In the vineyards, the Webers are close to organic, but prefer small amounts of synthetic sprays instead of the organic-approved mixture of copper sulfate and lime (copper, a toxic heavy metal, builds up in the soil over time) to fight mildew. No herbicides are used and their vineyards abound with healthy local flora and fauna. In the winery, intervention is minimal, and each bottled wine is the product of a single parcel raised in a single barrel. We'll argue that there's no better expression of terroir and its intricacies than the wines of Hofgut Falkenstein, which are, also just some of the world's most delicious wines. Literally everyone who I've witnessed taste these wines, remarks how good they are, typically with a wild and delighted look in their eyes.
The Wine Advocate recently published an article about the Mosel in which Stephen Reinhardt writes of Falkenstein: You need to have a great relationship with your supplier, because even at the domaine you won't get a bottle to buy, only to drink. Erich and Johannes Weber could sell each bottle at least two times. There is no other domain that is as "hot" as the Falkensteiner Hof right now.
At Craft and Cru, there's always a stash of Falkenstein, so we've got you covered for now.
N.b. all of Hofgut Falkenstein's wines are bottled by the barrel and labeled with an AP number that corresponds to the individual barrel, which we have noted below
Niedermenniger Herrenberg Red Wine trocken (AP 10) 2017
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir, but it never goes through malolactic fermentation, so the German wine bureaucracy has determined that it is atypical and cannot be labeled as a Spatburgunder (the German name for Pinot Noir). We will be happy to discuss the effects of malolactic fermentation with you on Saturday, but for now we will simply assure you that this wine tastes very much of Pinot Noir. Made with whole clusters of grapes (not destemmed) crushed by foot, as with all of Falkenstein's wine, a little as possible was done to the wine before bottling. Fresh and tart, it is full of berry flavors and notions of diverse vegetation. Notes of strawberry, cherry liqueur, green olives, pine needles, moss, beets and raw cacao combine to great effect on the nose. The palate is lean and tart, with many amaro-like notes next to flavors of cherries and ripe strawberries. It is young and in balance, and will most likely improve for many more years. And yes, we will serve this red wine before the white wines.
Niedermenniger Sonnenberg Riesling Spatlese trocken (AP 9) 2018
Airy and breezy on the nose, with notes of white peach, lime, mint, chalk and smoke. There's something special about the aroma of this wine that is reminiscent of a freshly picked fuzzy peach; almost like you can smell the native yeasts that would reside on the skin of such a fruit. On the palate, it is fresh and dry (like very very dry, not just kinda dry), with a fine line of acidity carrying fresh tart fruit notes. From start to finish, the wine has an incredible minerality that grips the palate and lingers long. This is delicate dry Riesling in excelsis. Nobody does it better.
Niedermenniger Im Kleinschock Riesling Kabinett (AP 20) 2018
From the same vineyard as the wine above (the Sonnenberg of Niedermennig) but from ungrafted (but not so old) vines on a special parcel that deserves separate mention, hence the "Im Kleinschock" designation. This wine also has that perfect peach skin note, but there is a richer fruit component here (tangerine, pineapple, pear, apricot...), as well as gorgeous wafting floral notes. Silky, seamless and textured on the palate, it is delicately sweet and its minerality is perhaps less clear than the wine above. It is, however, the epitome of freshness and delicacy, with significant stony and salty nuance to the finish, and not a trace of heaviness. It is a baby and although you may swoon today, it will reward patience. This wine will be worth saving for at least 10 years, if not 20 or 30.
Krettnacher Ober Schafershaus Riesling Spatlese (AP 18) 2018
From a special parcel in the warmest section of Krettnach's Altenberg vineyard, these grapes are usually made into a powerful dry wine, but in 2018 the wine wanted to be sweet and the Weber's never get in the way of their wines' self determinations. We might never see another sweet Ober Schafershaus, so if you're ok with a bit of sugar, you might take stock in this one. Although there's 60 grams of residual sugar in this wine, it is still all about delicacy and freshness. Spicy and floral, as well as the most exuberantly fruity wine of the line up, there are quite a few tropical fruit aromas. On the palate it is downright creamy, but the typical freshness of Falkenstein is ever present. The interplay of rich sweetness and zippy acidity combine for an enigmatic and engaging texture that I cannot help but describe as "fluffy". Powerful and complex, it really deserves some time in the cellar, though one might relish it with a sweet and spicy dish today. Hard to say when this wine might begin to falter, you could certainly save it for a couple decades with not a jot of worry.