Gray slate in Knebel's terraced Uhlen vineyard

Long-Awaited 2012ers From Immich-Batterieberg and Knebel

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Back in early April we offered these wines on pre-arrival. They are here and they are deserving of all, if not more, of our original enthusiasm. Overall, the wines have a magical grace and poise, an ethereal and delicate brightness that allows the terroir to come through with considerable clarity. However, harvests were not robust—at Immich-Batterieberg they were down by half compared to 2011—so we are making sure those of you who have not already purchased some get a fair warning before they are gone.

Gernot Kollmann began making wines without intervention while working at Van Volxem from 2000-2003 and took this approach to Weingut Knebel from 2004-2008, where he had an eager pupil in Matthias Knebel. Fermentations are spontaneous, crus are vinified separately, only old oak barrels are used, and sugar levels are determined naturally, depending on when fermentation comes to a stop. There is no use of chemicals in the cellar, no chaptalization, no acidification or de-acidification. Sulphur is kept to a minimum, and used only at bottling. Matthias Knebel’s embrace of Gernot’s instruction has resulted in a steadily growing appreciation for the Knebel estate, and his 2012ers are heady, transcendent, soulful, and unflinchingly pleasurable, taking Knebel's rising star to a new high.

At Immich-Batterieberg Gernot has been busy revitalizing an estate with a history dating back to A.D. 911 and a cellar to 870. 80% of the vines are ungrafted, and there are four different sites with distinct types of slate in each. Recent history was decidedly destructive to the winemaking traditions, favoring a more modern, but also lazier approach that threw all the grapes from separate crus together and inoculated with commercial yeasts to create fruity, reductive wines that eventually left the estate bankrupt and without customers. Kollmann is turning back the clock, once again expressing the remarkable vineyards through the wines. Sugar levels are generally low and the wines all finish fairly dry though each bottling is distinct. For instance in 2012 the basic C.A.I. bottling ended up with 14 grams/liter of residual sugar, the Escheburg with 5 grams/liter, and the single vineyard Zeppwingert with 17 grams. The differences are only natural, as they represent the nuance and subtlety of their respective sources. Despite differences in terroir—sunlight exposure, drainage, acidity, and must weight—all the wines share the same lively tension and sleek balance. They are astoundingly delicious and beautiful wines.

As 2013 will be an even smaller vintage than 2012, you are duly encouraged to grab these now. JK

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Immich-Batterieberg 2012 Mosel C.A.I. Riesling

As in previous years, C.A.I. tastes close to dry and is a blend of purchased fruit (from smart, committed growers) up and down the Mosel and Saar. This year is particularly interesting as there are some old vine parcels in the blend from the Oberemmeler Altenberg that bring great depth to the wine. According to Lars Carlberg, this old vine parcel may be bottled as a separate wine in 2013; it's that good. This C.A.I. is much more like the 2010 in character than the 2011, although not quite as vigorous and biting as the former. Tasty, tasty Riesling! JFR

Unashamedly easy to enjoy. Plenty of crisp acids but they are gently integrated with sensations of perfectly ripe nectarine. Wildly versatile, eminently tasty, but not a moment goes by while drinking this wine that you don't seriously reflect on the fortuitous mix of elements in the vineyard and the cellar that created such a high level of deep pleasure. JK

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $21.99

  • Organic

Immich-Batterieberg 2012 Mosel Escheburg Riesling

2012 Escheburg has a very different makeup from the 2011, with the majority of the fruit coming from old vines in the Batterieberg vineyard with an average vine-age of 60 years. At just 7.5 g/l RS, this dry mid-tier wine (a blend of multiple sites but all estate fruit, nothing purchased), continues to be the best introduction to the Immich-Batterieberg style as well as the perfect value wine for those who can't commit to the pricier wines. JFR

Intensely satisfying, lemon-y refreshment. Integrated elements bound with an exciting, linear structure. Simply exploding with citrus and the sensation of vibrant sunshine. JK

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $33.99

  • Organic

Immich-Batterieberg 2012 Mosel Steffensberg Riesling

Steffensberg is Immich's only site that isn't on the famous Starkenburger Hang, the southwest facing slope directly overlooking the Mosel. Steffensberg is just north of here in a side valley off the river and faces directly south. It's warmer here, with more direct sun exposure, so the slight increase in ripeness is reflected with just a hair more sweetness at 12 g/l. (Pictured is a doorplate at the Hotel Steffensberg, a lovely place to stay across the street from Immich-Batterieberg in Enkirch) JFR

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  • white
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  • $49.99

Immich-Batterieberg 2012 Mosel Ellergrub Riesling

I wouldn't be surprised if Ellergrub quickly becomes the cult favorite the more that people get to know these wines. 1.4 hectare, blue slate. At only 8.5 g/l RS. and 8.5 g/l acid, this is the driest Ellergrub yet, and it sure is pretty. Aromatically it's somewhat quiet now but the texture is just so lovely and distinctively Immich. Super-long and super-expressive. JFR

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $55.99

  • Organic

Immich-Batterieberg 2012 Mosel Batterieberg Riesling

Batterieberg is a 1.1 hectare monopole of the estate's. It abuts the Mosel and is surrounded on all other sides by Zeppwingert. It's made up of blue and gray slate with quite a bit of quartz as well. Once again, this shows as the driest of the Immich lineup and the aromatics are focused and deeply mineral. True to what we've come to expect from this site, scrubby, salty minerality is on display in spades. Batterieberg is the most linear, laser-like and zippy of the lineup, with a dense mineral core and an insanely good, intricate finish. John Ritchie

Still very youthful, with a gorgeous concentration of fruit that is surrounded by layers of lithe acids, minerals, salt, and spice. From the poorest soils of Immich's holdings, this subtle, structured wine will no doubt slowly reveal itself to be quite a rich treat. Jonathan Kemp

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $44.99

  • Organic

Immich-Batterieberg 2012 Mosel Zeppwingert Riesling

Finally, Zeppwingert. Gernot only has .5 hectares and it's directly next to Batterieberg. It's a terraced, ungrafted, old-vine section, and the vines used to belong to our friends at Weiser-Künstler until they sold to Kollmann. As is becoming a theme for this vintage, it's drier than in the past and has great depth, precision and superb length. -jfr

This shows less citrus notes than the other bottlings from this vintage and is instead voluptuous and mouth-watering, with more ripe pear. Enticing, savory, and fragrant with wet stones and a dark, sultry attitude. 100 year-old vines from a small parcel of just 8 terraces. JK

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $57.99

Knebel 2012 Mosel Riesling

Knebel's basic estate Riesling, the dry one that is soaked with minerals, the one we keep stacked up in the front of the store, the one we sell from the fridge, is finally getting some recognition. As we wrote recently, Matthias Knebel is continuing to come into his own as a winemaker, and 2012 is poised to be seen as his breakout year, one in which vintage conditions aligned perfectly with his stylistic ambitions. Matthias is a really great, talented guy and deserves your support. Drink more Knebel! JFR

Forward and herbaceous, with a dark, mysterious depth. Quince and Anjou pear notes add richness which is balanced by a chewy structure. A complex, soulful, wine with the added benefit of being simply delicious. JK

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  • white
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  • $17.99

Knebel 2012 Mosel Brückstück Riesling

Brückstück wraps around Röttgen much like the Himmelreich does to the Domprobst in Graach, and Zeppwingert does to Batterieberg in Enkirch. (Map fiends should definitely check out this site, one of our favorite resources). Even though all four of Knebel's sites are in the same village and are vinified using the same methods, the differences in soil composition and vine exposure produce remarkably unique finished wines. Blue slate dominates here and while the wine has more RS than any of the others (20 grams) it still tastes fairly dry and is absolutely beautiful on the palate. Length, intensity and finesse are the apt descriptors for Matthias' 2012s. JFR

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  • white
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  • $36.99

Knebel 2012 Mosel Winninger Röttgen Riesling

Röttgen is downstream from Uhlen and Brückstück and is known for making lighter, brighter wines than the denser ones from Uhlen. Knebel often makes a lovely off-dry Kabinett from this site but this year we were most taken by this, the drier and more herbal rendition. Some of their oldest vines go into this bottling and in 2012 it's characterized by tremendous depth and verve. One of the hallmarks of the estate's style is that regardless of the weight of the wine, the degree of sugar or the acidity, there is always a rush of dense, stony minerality on the finish that's distinct from the slate-tones one finds elsewhere on the Mosel. The stony intensity increases as you go up the ladder and this is one of the stoniest, most exciting Rieslings we've tasted in a long while. JFR

Luscious. Thick with mouth-coating, cooling minerals, menthol, and pine all buttressed with a squeaky clean structure. JK

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  • white
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  • $38.99

Knebel 2012 Mosel Winninger Uhlen 'R' Riesling (Arrives Mon. 7/7)

Uhlen is the granddaddy site of the lower Mosel and is perhaps the most famous (only Röttgen comes close in renown). The 'R' is made from a special sub-section called Roth Lay with a high percentage of red sandstone along with the ever-present weathered, hard slate. The 'R' is also a subtle tribute to Matthias' father, Reinhard. Only 750 bottles of Uhlen R were producer and it comes from 70-year old ungrafted vines. This is the best wine of the lineup this vintage with great acidity, unreal minerality and a broad, palate-coating texture. I've tasted this wine twice and have been floored both times; Matthias Knebel has arrived! JFR

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $59.99