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This article is the continuation of my exploration of Germany during a visit at the end of April. We pick up the following day after visiting Gut Hermannsberg with a short 20 minute drive west along the Nahe river to Weingut Emrich-Schönleber, situated in Monzingen in the westernmost winegrowing reaches of the Nahe. At this point, the terrain flattens out quite a bit apart from the two huge hills to the north of the river and road. A break between the two opens up a perpendicular valley wherein lies the town of Monzigen. The Schönleber family's viticultural history can be traced back there to the middle of the 18th Century and their ancestors, the Emrich family. The estate was initially used for various other agricultural pursuits before 1965, when Wilhelm Schönleber and his son Werner converted the entire estate to viticulture. They expanded the vineyards to a total area of approximately 25 acres. The estate's Monzingen vineyards are situated on both slopes on either side of the town comprised of stony slate soils.
Referred to by Janis Robinson as "The gentle giant of the Nahe", Emrich Schoenleber is oft compared with other Nahe greats such as Donnhoff and Schafer-Frolich. Since 1997, Frank and his father Werner have focused on producing a series of single-vineyard Riesling wines predominantly from their 30-acre Monzinger Frühlingsplätzchen plot and 12-acre Monzinger Halenberg vineyard. The Frühlingsplätzchen vineyard sits atop a mixture of red slate and gravel soils on south-facing slopes. It always seems more expansive, diffuse, lighter and finessed, producing wines with stunning florality and vivid aromatics. The Halenberg is all grey-blue slate that shapes a wine of rigor, density and power. This is perhaps the more mineral, more ageworthy of the two Grand Crus. The wines we will present today are the younger vine expressions of these GGs called “Halgans” (Halenberg) and “Frühtau” (Frühlingsplätzchen) which offer a very concise articulation of these amazing vineyards. The "Mineral is a blend of of younger vines from both of the Grand Cru sites; this is Emrich-Schönleber’s version of Keller’s “von der Fels.” As with the “von der Fels,” this represents maybe the greatest value at the estate: 80% of the Grand Cru wine for 50% the price. Finally, the Estate Riesling tends to be lighter, bouncier and airier than you might guess, based on the stately elegance of the Grand Crus but everything you would want in a calling card, introductory wine.
ALL WINES ARE AVAILABLE IN STORE TODAY AND WE WILL OPEN THE ESTATE TROCKEN AND MINERAL AT TODAY'S OTHER GERMAN TASTING FROM 4-6PM !
The calling card. entry level Riesling sourced from all of Schonlebers's vineyards from young vines and earlier passes, hence higher acid and lighter bodied. The nose starts somewhat muted with faint aromas of herbaceousness but the palate bursts with juicy limeade and vibrant acidity. "Most excellent" and offering up pure summer refreshment "party on" vibes. Giselle Hamburg
Sourced from the younger vines of the Halenberg and Fruhlingsplatschen GG vinyards, the Mineral offers an incredible value to Riesling lovers. Surprisingly saline whilst true to it's name, Mineral hews razor-blade like precision with hammer like slatey minerality buoyed by linear acidity (even in 2022). A wonderful showcase of all the terroirs of the Nahe. Giselle Hamburg
This is the earlier picking/younger-vine selection from the Grand Cru Frühlingsplätzchen. This would be the estate’s equivalent of “Spätlese Trocken” if they were allowed to label it as such. FRÜHLINGSPLÄTZCHEN is just what the name implies in German, a “special place in spring”. It's extremely steep 70 % gradient and south facing aspect allows the site to thaw early and the first messages of spring appear as the snow melts, awakening from dormancy earlier and enjoying a longer vegetation period compared to other sites. As with the Grand Cru, the Fruhtau (fruit in German) is delicate, finessed, very mineral and herbal – it drinks perhaps younger than the denser wines of the Halenberg which is all grey blue slate compared to Fruhtau's red slate. The red slate combined with the morning mist and fog imparts aromas and flavors of light spice, papaya, apricot and peach. The finish is fresh and herbal like a cool spring morning with an underscore of oyster shell minerality. Breathtaking! Giselle Hamburg
The GG HALENBERG is one of the smallest vineyards in Monzingen, but it has the best reputation. It lies to the east of town between 160 and 220 metres with a slope of 20-70 percent and a southern exposition. Its blue-grey slate and quartzite soil makes the steep vineyard easily warmed. Prone to dryness in summer, the difficult, arid growing conditions cause the vines to compensate with small, highly aromatic grapes. Named after the long necked geese that fly overhead it every year, Halgans is a study in power combined with grace. Notes of herbaceousness and grapefruit mingle with steely stoniness and cool spice whilst underscored by vibrant acidity and an incredibly persistent length. As with the Fruhtau, this younger expression of it's GG can benefit from several years ageing. If one is too tempted to wait that long, then at least let it settle till Christmas and serve with... some roast goose, the Schonleber's traditional pairing! Giselle Hamburg