Steinmetz 2012s: Top Vintage from a Mosel Classicist

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It will come as no surprise to anyone who’s read our missives about the 2012 vintage in Germany, that, like some of our other favorites, Stefan Steinmetz had a banner year. He crafted delicate, fragrant, chiseled, dry-ish wines that are emphatically old-school Mosel in style. Stefan always makes attractive, traditional dry and off-dry Rieslings, so when a classic, subtle vintage like 2012 comes along, he simply excels. He is a true farmer-vintner who spends equal time in the vines and in the cellar, and he’s got the gruff, weathered look to prove it. He has a lot of neighbors that wear fancier clothes, drive fancier cars, and sell their wines for much higher prices, but that’s not what’s important here. Steinmetz seeks to make honest Mosel wines, wines that express lightness and minerality, from important, historic vineyard sites that are largely ignored outside of the region.

Stefan Steinmetz summed up his philosophy brilliantly and concisely last year at a visit to his estate that stretched out over a long afternoon with over two dozen wines and more than one thunderstorm (fortunately no hail!). He wants to be known as someone who makes affordable wines from small parcels in many different sites, rather than to be associated with a single, show-stopping vineyard or two; his goal is to be seen as someone who is helping to preserve historic vineyards that have fallen out of favor, and is able to extract the most that each site has to offer. Prestige doesn’t interest him, value does (he mentioned that he’s frequently passed on purchasing any Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr — “it’s so famous that it’s too expensive. I’d rather buy more land in Kesten.”) Also, he’s never going to buy a subpar parcel in a famous vineyard, just so he can increase quantity of a certain wine, he would rather expand to new sites as long as the site is historic, has good exposition and great material. Thus, the Steinmetz family of plots has now grown to over ten different vineyards. The villages in which he works: Wintrich, Kesten, Piesport, Dhron, Mulheim, Brauneberg and Veldenz are all quite close to each other (the drive from Veldenz to Dhron, the two villages furthest from each other, is a bout 20 minutes). He’s no flying winemaker, despite the vast number of sites he's choosen to work. It’s all local and he spends as much time as possible in the vines.



For a few years now, Geierslay has been gaining in stature; more and more people are recognizing it as Steinmetz’ signature site and he is singlehandedly returning it to its deserved place of prominence. The Geierslay ‘Sur Lie’ is a perennial favorite at CSW and is once again, a knockout. As much as we love Stefan’s 2012s, special attention should be also be paid to the 2011 Veldenzer Grafschafter Sonnenberg. When we told Stefan how great we thought it was, he agreed, saying, yes, he’s pretty sure it’s the best dry wine he’s ever made (only 8 bottles left, so act fast). Also available is a little more of the excellent 2010 Mulheimer Sonnenlay Spätburgunder, the beloved 2013 Estate Riesling Liter, and the bracing 2012 Kestener Herrenberg Trocken.  -jfr
 

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Steinmetz, Günther 2012 Wintricher Geierslay Riesling Sur Lie

Stefan Steinmetz describes Geierslay as a "sometimes extremely steep south-facing slope," and this almost verges on understatement. There's no shortage of steep sites in the Mosel, but Geierslay is really something special and Steinmetz' 5 hectares include some great parcels of very old ungrafted vines. Even though he labels the wine "Sur Lie" it doesn't see any more lees contact than any of his other wines; he does, however, ferment this in a 950 liter pressurized steel tank, thus the lees circulate differently during fermentation. The 2012 is the driest Geierslay yet, clocking in at 11.5 degrees alcohol and just under 8 g/l residual sugar, with a whopping 8 g/l acid to match (as with all his wines, Stefan never uses cultured yeast and he lets the wine ferment to its natural stopping point). High-toned and citric, this is a mineral-lover's dream with a finish that almost tastes like Gerolsteiner. Intense and invigorating. -jfr

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $25.99

Steinmetz, Günther 2011 Mosel Veldenzer Grafschafter Sonnenberg Ries. Alte Reben

People love to joke about how much of a mouthful the names of certain German wines tend to be. Hofgut Falkenstein has some particularly lengthy ones (it doesn't seem to help that the many of the wines come from the village of Niedermennig), but this one from Steinmetz really takes the cake: the Veldenzer Grafschafter Sonnenberg Riesling Alte Reben (Veldenz is the village, Grafschafter Sonnnenberg the long name of the specific site, Riesling the grape and Alte Reben is German for "old vines"). Now we have to point out though, that while you may think it takes a while to pronounce the name of the wine, just think how long the finish lasts! In fact, this is the best wine Stefan Steinmetz made in 2011 and is very possibly the best dry wine we've ever tasted from him. It's everything great dry Mosel should be: it's light but long, pure, achingly mineral, angular but not stern or austere. It has everything going for it and, like all of Steinmetz' other wines, remains an incredible deal at under $30 for a world-class bottle of Riesling. -jfr

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $25.99

Steinmetz, Günther 2010 Mulheimer Sonnenlay Pinot Noir

Stefan Steinmetz makes this in used Burgundy barrels, some of which make their way to him through our buddies in Baden, Enderle and Moll. The nose is a mixture of dark fruit, mocha and some surprisingly bright herbs and spices. Since this is from Germany's crazy high-acid 2010 vintage, there's plenty of cut to balance the dark fruit and the finish is fresh and invigorating. A bit more muscular than Falkenstein's Pinot, and more Burgundian in nature; but try to find a single-site Burgundy at this price that tastes this good! -jfr

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $23.99

Steinmetz, Günther 2013 Mosel Riesling 1 Liter

The 2013 Liter, due to the greater challenges of the vintage, was sourced from a mixture of Stefan's holdings. Yet the result is hardly a mixed bag: it is just as thrilling a deal as always. Zippy, cool, understated and chalky, with a touch of sweetness that is simply delicious in all its poise and elegance. Refreshing, breezy, endlessly versatile. Jonathan Kemp

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  • white off-dry
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  • $16.99