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2015 was a very warm vintage, with drought conditions during the summer months, followed by intermittent rains later in the harvest. Although wines were on the more concentrated and ripe side, acidity still remained fairly fresh for the vintage. Paraphrased from the Weygandt website: Rotes Tor is a reference to a gate in the town wall that was red with blood during the Swedish Wars (1630). Vines here are on average 25 years old, planted on a mix of gneiss, mica, schist, and brown soil.
Altenberg stands further afield from the estate, with mostly gray slate, a cooler microclimate, and south/southwest exposure. The Webers have recently acquired another tiny parcel in this vineyard, unique for its concentration of green basalt in the soil. Wine from the new parcel will debut with the 2016 vintage. The block of vines for the 2015 bottling comes from a more southwest orientation, with slightly richer topsoil. Cari Bernard
Eva Fricke's journey from child of doctors in Northern Germany to winemaker in the Rheingau with ten leased hectares (only seven currently in production) and going for organic certification for the 2016 vintage is quite the story. Eva has worked at wineries in South Africa, France, Italy, Spain, Germany, and Australia, and also holds a degree in Oenology from Geisenheim as well as a Masters in Business Management from Oestrich-Winkel. During her seven-year tenure working with Johannes Leitz, she slowly began to branch out into her own vineyard plots and winery, officially leaving Leitz in 2011. Her determination and dedication to quality is inspiring. During her tasting in the store this past February, she spoke excitedly about the importance of organic farming, and the positive influence it has on her vines, even in difficult vintages. By choosing to work the steep slopes organically in the Rheingau, she has taken on a challenge rarely even considered in the region. 2015 was a stellar vintage for Eva, and across the board her wines have pitch-perfect clarity and vibrant acidity. The Lorcher Riesling trocken has grapes from both Schlossberg and Kapellenberg vineyards, grown on slate with loess and quartzite. The wine is stony and salty on the nose, with notes of citrus zest and dark slate; focused yet still has a sense of fullness across the mid-palate, with flavors of tart white grapefruit, juicy apricot, and a firm mineral structure. This wine should open up nicely in three to five years. Cari Bernard
Karthäuserhof is a treasure in the Ruwer valley; a monastery run for nearly 500 years by Carthusian (hence the name) monks starting in the early 1300s, it was secularized in 1803 and purchased by a French general in 1811. Since then it's been passed down family lines for seven generations with its 19-hectare monopol, the Eitelsbacher Karthäsuserhofberg. Soils on the 'berg are mostly Devonian blue slate with iron oxide striations at varied levels of erosion, and some veins of clay in the soil below to help with water retention. The dense forests in the region bring both shelter from the winds on the slope, and also a variety of fauna and insects to the vineyard. In the bottles I've been able to try, I always find something mineral and green in these wines. Not green as in young, but green, like a freshly rain-soaked forest. In 2010 there were lower yields all around Germany, and this was also true in the Ruwer. Karthäuserhof had close to a 50% loss in yields, but was still able to produce a Beerenauslese, due to the clean, beautiful botrytis and sustained acidity from the cooling weather around harvest time. These bottles came to us from a private cellar, and we would love to hear any reports about how this is tasting. I'm assuming it's probably still very young!! Cari Bernard
Some day in the near future, I fear, we won't get to drink wines like these anymore. No one else on the Mosel makes light, charming, shimmering wines quite like these; they're light, fresh and honest, grown on old vines on steep, difficult to farm slate slopes and raised in the same classic Mosel fuder they've been using for decades. The Würzgarten is their signature site and this wine shows everything we love so much about wines from the Merkelbachs: notes of pear, melon and strawberry, terrific, dancing acid and an unexpectedly long finish given the wine's ultra-light frame. -jfr