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The 2017 vintage has seen yields down across the board for most winemakers in the Mosel and Saar valleys, be it from late frosts in spring, or loss to not-so-noble rot in the fall. The Webers at Hofgut Falkenstein in the Konz valley (Saar) were not immune, with hits to their yields early on from frost. That being said, the rest of the year coasted on with minor challenges, and they were able to meet the vintage with confidence and vigor, and of course, intelligent, intuitive vineyard work. This gave them the ability to bottle their expansive line-up of wines, albeit, with less bottles available.
To reintroduce, the Webers have been making wine at the estate since the mid-eighties, with winzer (winegrower) Erich Weber now working with his son Johannes in the vineyards and cellar. No pesticides or herbicides touch the vineyards, and local grasses grow between the vines, helping with biodiversity, protection from erosion, and providing competition for water when necessary. In the warmer months, they resist the urge to de-leaf, which (aside from increasing risk of sunburned grapes) can cause thicker skins, and unwanted petrol flavors in the finished wine. The Webers have been methodically accruing top plots from around the villages of Niedermennig and Krettnach and currently farm around 8 hectares, with a total of one hectare of ungrafted vines. Soil type in the valley is predominately grey slate and quartz at different levels of decomposition. Winemaking here is incredibly straightforward: a vineyard block is hand-harvested, the whole bunches are pressed gently, and juice flows via gravity into an old, wooden fuder (~1000L barrel) to settle, followed by a racking into its specific fuder for fermentation and aging. Wines are bottled with low sulfur additions (lots of sulfur isn't necessary when your wine's pH hovers around 2.8). Each parcel has its own fuder (often named after previous owners of the specific parcel) that is used every vintage and will not be blended, making for truly terroir-driven wines. Depending on yields, some parcels will fill multiple barrels, and these will end up as two separate bottlings, all wines designated by AP number. Fans of the wines look to these numbers every vintage, as we all have our favorite fuders to check in on. Across the collection, the wines crackle with life, and with each passing vintage, continue to demand our attention.
From what we've been able to taste, the 2017 vintage at Falkenstein continues to impress with its signature freshness, balance and verve. Many apologies for the glaring lack of tasting notes, this year's visit was more of a lesson on the overall Saar, interspersed with some tastes in the field (literally, standing in a field), and at the end of the day, looking back at what I cryptically mashed into my phone's note-taking app, there's not much to go on. Rest assured, we at Chambers Street will do our best to get notes up as soon as we get to taste through the line-up in a focused setting. It's a hard job, but a good one to have! Help us taste through some of these at the shop this Friday*, August 10th from 5-7PM, Tess pours! If you absolutely can't wait, touch base with Mosel Fine Wines for a full vintage report, and Lars Carlberg's website has great insight into the wines and vintage, as he works with the Webers at Falkenstein. You can also peruse past vintage reports we’ve written, to gain more of an insight into the style of the wines. Prost! Cari Bernard
*First tranche of wines arrives this Thursday, 8/9.
(AP-5 Großschock Kupp)
(AP-1 Mutter Anna)
(AP-7 Altenberg) Altenberg stands further afield from the estate, with mostly gray slate, a cooler microclimate, and south/southwest exposure.
(AP-18 Lorenz Manni) The Webers were able to obtain this 0.2 hectare parcel three years ago, located on the Krettnacher Altenberg with old vines upwards of 70 years in age on green basalt soils (with quartz and gray slate): a 'dream parcel' according to Erich Weber.
(AP-11 Meyer Nepal)
(AP-12 Kugel Peter) Beautiful, silky texture, citrus oils and stone fruit -- bright and concentrated. CB
(AP-8 Gisela) All of the Falkenstein Kabinett bottlings are technically from 'Alte Reben' or old vines, but the vines for the Alte Reben bottling are 80 years old and ungrafted. Thanks Lars Carlberg, for the info!
(AP-6 Klaus Lang) The two different Euchariusberg Spätlese bottlings (AP 6 and AP 14) are sourced from two separate parcels, found further up the Großschock slope from the plots used for the Kabinett wines.
(AP-14 Forster/Ternes) The two different Euchariusberg Spätlese bottlings (AP 6 and AP 14) are sourced from two separate parcels, found further up the Großschock slope from the plots used for the Kabinett wines.