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Ulli Stein's Alfer Hölle (the 1900 plot is a bit down the river)
Rieslingfeier; Recent German Arrivals, New and Old

There's been lots of activity in our German section recently. More of the excellent 2012s are arriving (and one should stock up on these as the 2013 vintage looks to be quite tiny); great producers are offering library releases, and we are continuing to find collections of well-stored older wines that we are able to offer at very affordable prices. Highlights amongst our newer selections include some of Germany's best reds from Swabia's young burgeoning star, Andi Knauss, and outstanding releases we couldn't pass up from the likes of Spreitzer, Leitz, Eugen Müller, and Ulli Stein (Stein’s Alfer Hölle Spätlese comes from vines planted in 1900).

Another producer that deserves to be on everyone's radar is VOLS in the Saar. Headed by Helmut Plunien, VOLS makes delicious, bright, piquant wines from the Ayler Kupp in an old-school style that brilliantly contrasts the fuller, more expansive wines we know and love from Lauer. Good thing there's no need to choose between the two!

For some older wines, Carl Ehrhard in the Rheingau and Harald Hexamer in the Nahe have dug deep into their cellars and have sent us some really tasty 93s, 94s and 01s; we actually have good quantity of some of these if you’d like to see how they continue to develop over time. Notice also the single case we’ve acquired of the incredibly rare 2005 Ayler Kupp Auslese from Peter Lauer. At the end of the list you’ll find a smattering of old wines from the 70s-90s from producers both familiar and less well-known. As always, we stand behind each older bottle we sell; order soon as these are likely to disappear quickly.

Also, the second annual Rieslingfeier is fast approaching! We'll be participating again in the city-wide Riesling Crawl on Saturday, February 22nd, a day-long event at seven different retail shops. We'll be the last leg from 6-8pm and will be joined by our good friend from the Mosel, Clemens Busch. Rieslingfeier has a number of other great events taking place that weekend, including a seminar led by David Schildknecht and a not-to-miss dinner at Betony featuring Cornelius Dönnhoff and Christoph Schaefer – as of today there are a few tickets left to both and you can purchase them here at the Rieslingfeier website. Hope to see you on the 22nd! -jfr

Vols 2012 Saar Ayler Kupp Riesling Trocken

2012 is a great year for dry Riesling at Vols and the Kupp is one that's really singing right now. Helmet Plunien, the head of the estate, only ferments with native yeasts and avoids skin contact to keep his wines fresh, bright and mineral. While these wines are lighter than many others on the Saar, such as a Lauer or a Loch, they're also more wild and earthy. Fascinating wines and a great addition to the complex stylistic landscape of the region, and made with very little intervention in the cellar outside of the use of sulfur. -jfr

white  |  2 in stock  |  $31.99
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Vols 2011 Saar Riesling Feinherb

90% of the fruit in this complex but drinkable Feinherb comes fom Ayl while 10% comes from the nearby village of Wiltingen. Apple-y acidity is complemented by a richly complex sponti character. This is a perfect introduction to the Vols style of wine and reminds me a bit of what the Von Schubert house style would taste like when superimposed over the vineyards of the Saar rather than the Ruwer. Fermented in a mixture of fuder and stainless steel, all whole-custer. Welcome, Vols! -jfr

white off-dry  |  19 in stock  |  $18.99
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Knauss 2010 Württemberg Lemberger R

Lemberger is the local Swabian name for Blaufränkisch. I can’t decide which name is less likely to encourage Americans to actually try the wine. Lots of Austrian Blaufränkisch is drenched in new oak but Andi Knauss knows better and would never do that to a great red wine such as this. Andi’s wines taste like earth and stone; they have high-toned fruit and great definition and should be drunk slightly cool. Drink more Swabia, especially Knauss. -jfr

red  |  10 in stock  |  $24.99
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Weingart 2012 Mittelrhein Bopparder Hamm Engelstein Kabinett Feinherb

It's been a long time since we've had a new vintage from the Mittelrhein on the shelves. Florian Weingart is getting more focused these days and is selling off much of his property in order to streamline his work and take most of it on himself. The more focused he's getting as a winegrower, it only naturally follows that his wines are getting more focused and delicious as well. The soil in this part of the Hamm is slate with limestone, an interesting combination you don't really find too many other places, especially not for Riesling. The texture of the wine is silky and so pretty; it's fermented spontaneously and has clean, shimmering apple fruit tones along with hints of smoke, flint and salty minerals. We love the direction Weingart is headed and hope you check in to see what's new in the Mittelrhein. -jfr

white off-dry  |  19 in stock  |  $27.99
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Spreitzer 2012 Rheingau Ries Kab Winkeler Jesuitengarten Halbtrocken

This is really, really tasty Halbtrocken, and one that's lighter and more delicate than you normally expect from the Rheingau. Stony and chalky but with great acidity and just enough sweetness to make things taste round and pleasant. We didn't get very much of this so I'll set aside my bottles now for easy-going springtime drinking. Peachy, round and bright, bright, bright! -jfr

white off-dry  |  27 in stock  |  $19.99
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von Schubert Maximin Grünhaus 2012 Ruwer Riesling Abtsberg Superior

Superior is Von Schubert's top dry(ish) wine from the oldest parcels of Abtsberg. While it's drier than most of the wines in the portfolio, it's best described as a 'feinherb' in style. Like the top wines of Florian Lauer, the estate isn't so concerned with making sure the wine is absolutely legally 'Trocken' as they are with making sure the wine is balanced, filigreed and utterly riveting. Like at most estates in the Mosel and its tributaries, 2012 is a terrific vintage at Grünhaus and this fabulous, old-school wine is not to be missed. Fermented with native yeasts in large, old Mosel Fuder. -jfr

white  |  1 in stock  |  $54.99
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Ehrhard, Carl 2001 Rheingau Rüdesheimer Berg Rottland Ries Aus Fein

white off-dry  |  4 in stock  |  $34.99
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Ehrhard, Carl 1993 Rheingau Rüdesheimer Berg Rottland Ries Spätlese

Carl Ehrhard is great friends with Gunter Künstler whose base is way at the other end of the Rheingau in Hochheim. They share a similar outlook of near-organic farming and less manipulation in the cellar. Stylistically, Carl's wines are some of the more delicate in the Rheingau. The sweetness/acid balance is great in all three of these library selections and the 1993 and 1994 are drinking particularly well right now -- fully mature, complex and drinkable Riesling. -jfr

white off-dry  |  15 in stock  |  $28.99
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Ehrhard, Carl 1994 Rheingau Rüdesheimer Berg Rottland Ries Spätlese

white off-dry  |  13 in stock  |  $28.99
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Klitzekleine Ring 2010 Mosel Bergrettung Riesling Spätlese

Following the 2008, this is the second vintage of Bergrettung we've had the privilege to offer. This time around the group is working the Trabener Zolltrum, a site very close to the better-known Enkircher Ellergrub, and the Spätlese was made by the immensely talented Daniel Vollenweider.  -jfr

white sweet  |  7 in stock  |  $37.99
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Bürklin-Wolf, Dr. 2007 Pfalz Riesling Gaisböhl

Gaisböhl is, along with Rechbächel, one of Bürklin-Wolf's two monopole sites in the Mittelhaardt, this one in the sleepy village of Ruppertsberg. Bürklin has long used its own classification system of sites based on the Burgundian system and they call this seven-hectare site G.C. (for Grand Cru). The vines were planted in 1977 and the soil is largely sandstone-based, as is typical for the region. The '99, '03 and '07 all just arrived direct from the the estate as a library release and are a great opportunity to taste dry Pfalz Riesling that has been maturing in perfect conditions in the cellar where they were produced. These are round and full Rieslings, raised in traditional Pfalz casks and each showing the unique character of the vintage. The 1999 and 2003 are drinking particularly well now, and the 2007 will continue to evolve and improve for at least another 5-10 years. -jfr

white  |  1 in stock  |  Biodynamic  |  $67.99
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Von Othegraven 2010 Saar Ockfener Bockstein Riesling Kabinett

white  |  3 in stock  |  $23.99
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