2021 Schafer-Frohlich, Riesling Trocken "Vulkangestein"
2021 Schafer-Frohlich, Riesling Trocken "Vulkangestein"

2021 Schafer-Frohlich, Riesling Trocken "Vulkangestein"

Nahe, Germany 2021 (750mL)
Regular price$45.00

2021 Schafer-Frohlich, Riesling Trocken "Vulkangestein"

German Riesling labels are famous for containing a lot of information, including, in instances like today’s, the type of soil the grapes are grown in. “Vulkangestein” translates as “volcanic rock” and, wow, is it more than just talk here: Today’s 2021 is a master class in minerality and the concept of “terroir” in general—a white wine that makes as strong a case for the Riesling grape as any, and, if you’ve watched this space for any length of time, you know there are a lot of them. Much as our team may be a broken record on this topic, Riesling may be the most terroir-transparent white wine variety on earth, especially in the hands of a true master like Tim Fröhlich. He and his namesake winery have racked up accolades like “Best Winemaker in Germany” and “Best White Wine in the World,” but as he’ll be the first to tell you, it all starts in the vineyards—in this case, in an assortment of estate parcels rooted in porphyry rock strewn with quartz. It’s there in the glass, plain to see, at a price that is exceedingly fair for a wine of true profundity. If you appreciate legitimately great white wine, you need to taste it.

Like most producers in the Nahe (which is surrounded by Rheinhessen, Rheingau, and the Mosel), the bulk of Tim’s production is Riesling. But his wines are standard-bearers in this region—lithe, powerful, and mostly dry (80%) Rieslings that are unabashedly jam-packed with flavor. Perhaps only his neighbor and peer, Cornelius Dönnhoff, is on the same level. A true soil savant, Tim coaxes the most out of his vines with a meticulous touch, no matter the vintage. The Nahe, unlike The Mosel, has very diverse geology that shifts dramatically from parcel to parcel, and this allows for wonderful diversity of terroir. The 21 hectares of Frölich vineyards, most of which are Riesling, are dominated by two soil types—volcanic and blue slate—with small amounts of quartzite and clay as well. As such, Tim has been producing two distinct bottlings from each of his principle soils for many vintages. They’re labeled simply “Vulkangestein” (volcanic rock) and “Scheifergestein” (slate rock). The former is all about savory, smoky power; the latter is pure precision, and drenched in crushed-rock minerality.

Though Tim is a ninth-generation grape grower, the modern winery wasn’t founded until 1970, when the Frölich and Schäfer properties merged by marriage. But it was Tim, who took the helm in 1995 at the ripe old age of 21, who really put this estate on the map. He added some prized parcels, including sole ownership of two top Grosses Gewachs, “Stromberg” and “Felseneck.” Farming these steep slopes is exceedingly difficult, and is key to providing Tim with the pristine fruit he demands. In the cellar he is meticulously clean, but also insists on using only spontaneous fermentation and long lees aging to best showcase his precocious geology. Again, terroir transparency is his singular obsession.

Today’s ’21, a trocken, was fermented spontaneously in a combination of 600 liter halbstück barrels and stainless steel tanks. It includes some fruit from the prestigious “Felseneck” vineyard, a grand cru in these parts, and it indeed behaves like a top-of-the-line wine: Shining a bright straw-gold in the glass, its smoke-accented aromas leap from the glass, with just about every Riesling sensation imaginable: lemon/lime, white peach, bee pollen, Granny Smith apple, crushed rock, white flowers, and loads of wet stone. The acidity is firmly in the “high” category, and yet the wine is ripe and juicy as well—such is the magic of Riesling. Serve this at around 50 degrees and maybe opt for larger stems to really let it stretch its legs, so to speak. Pair it with the attached tuna tartare recipe from Le Bernardin Chef Eric Ripert, and let the fireworks commence. Enjoy!

2021 Schafer-Frohlich, Riesling Trocken "Vulkangestein"

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