A Nice Lot of Mature Rieslings from Willi Schaefer


When it comes to wine nomenclature and taxonomy, the Germans have a gift of nearly Linnaen proportions. And while each Prädikat level has a legal definition, each also suggests a certain style or use. And while must weights and harvest time determine the category of wine, the expected style or use of the wine can be a bit murky. One such designation, Qualitätswein bestimmter Anbaugebiete (or QbA), has historically implied a simple, everyday quaffing wine meant to be enjoyed immediately. However, as is often the case, producer and terroir trump designation. So when we recently came across a good quantity of well-stored, aged QbA Riesling from Mosel legend Willi Schaefer, we couldn't resist purchasing the lot.

Willi Schaefer produces some of the world's most ethereal white wines from 4 hectares spread across three Mosel vineyards: Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Graacher Domprobst, and Graacher Himmelreich. Each vineyard's character is clearly articulated in the wines at all levels. Graacher Domprobst is pungently mineral; Wehlener Sonnenuhr shows layers of ripe fruit framed by mineral spice; while Graacher Himmelreich produces wines of charming fruit balanced by subtle minerality. The wines age beautifully and seem to gain energy with time in the bottle. This lot of QbA Riesling is no exception; the wines are fresh, lively, and absolutely lovely—just what one would hope for in an 18-year-old table wine. John McIlwain

Schaefer, Willi 1997 Mosel Graacher Himmelreich Riesling QBA

It's somewhat startling how lovely and young the 1997 Willi Schaefer Graacher Himmelreich QbA shows at 18 years old. Of course it should come as no surprise as Riesling is exceptionally long-lived and Willi Schaefer is certainly worthy of its gold standard reputation. The litheness of Graacher Himmereich is apparent here as the wine is racy and charming, rather than pungently mineral as in Graacher Domprobst. On the nose there are notes of white peach, apple blossom, and golden delicious apple overlying aromas of slate and hints of petrol. On the palate there is more lovely ripe fruit and slate with good cut and a lively, fresh, floral finish. John McIlwain

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