Roll in my Sweet Baby's Arms: In praise of Residual Sugar at Weingut Willi Schaefer

5/17/22 -

It's no secret that the Rieslings of the Mosel (Saar and Ruwer) are some of the most articulate expressions of terroir in the world. At their finest, they are filigreed, detailed, mineral, and pure. The region is home to a number of sensational growers: J.J. Prüm, Egon Müller, Vollenweider, Von Schubert, Lauer, not to mention one of our favorites—Willi Schaefer. This 4.2 hectare estate in Graach produces some of the most poetic, age-worthy, terroir specific examples of Riesling from three vineyard sites. The blue Devonian slate vineyards of Graacher Himmelreich and Graacher Domprobst produce wines that are charmingly pretty and pungently mineral. Given the small size of their holdings (4.2 hectares), Willi Schaefer has an outsized reputation due to their mastery of pradikat Mosel Rieslings. Crystalline, pure,and filigreed are apt descripors for the wines. For those who love them, soulful often comes to mind and Schaefer's 2020s (not to mention 2019s) do not disappoint. And yes, these are wines with varying degrees of sweetness. But this residual sugar is not only balanced by pinpoint acidity, but in the wines of Will Schaefer stunning terroir precision. And bear in mind in the case of these pradikat wines over time the sugar esterizes lending aromatic and textural complexity to the wines and the nuance and intricacy can be breathtaking. John McIlwain
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