This week, we take you to the Mosel in Germany, to discover a crowning jewel of the region, domain Willi Schaefer. These wines – which according to Danish blogger René Langdahl have been known to “make adult men cry » – are at once unmissable and hard to come by…
The Willi Schaefer domain only comprises four hectares, but its small output is making a global reputation for itself. Established in the village of Graach in Mosel since 1121, it is now famous for producing the most delicate and mineral wines of Germany. With remarkably well-located parcels in the area (Himmelreich and Domprobst) as well as Welhen (Sonnenuhr), on slate slopes that plunge into the Mosel, the domain only cultivates Riesling, a grape variety that reaches its zenith in this superb terroir.
Importantly, Andrea and Christoph Shaefer have kept their humility despite their success. A success that they owe not only to their outstanding terroirs of Himmelreich and Domprobst, but also to their abnegation: manual labor, extremely strict and arduous harvests, attentive monitoring of the various vinifications and élevages, etc.
In the vineyards, viticulture is focused on the balance of the soil and the health of the plants. The 4.2 hectares are distributed over a hundred plots, and ungrafted hundred-year-old vines enjoy a perfect south/south-west exposure which gives them maximum sunshine throughout the day. This, combined with deep clay and slate soils and a relatively cool climate, transforms these delightful slopes into a paradise for Riesling.
In the winery, the same philosophy applies. Vinifications are very low intervention and the domain lets nature guide the way: fermentations (with indigenous yeasts) and élevages (long and on lees) take place in old German 1000-litre barrels. During fermentation, the wines are regularly tasted to analyze the balance between sweetness and acidity. Everything is driven by gravity, an approach that is of primordial importance to Christoph: it retains the nuances of fruit and terroir in each of its cuvées. Crystalline and limpid, the domain’s Rieslings reveal sublime purity and ethereal complexity.
As Danish wine critic René Langdahl puts it: these vinous nectars « can make adult men cry ». What Andrea and Christoph Schaefer seek above all is to reveal the elegance, transparency, character and great aging potential of their wines.
If we’ve succeeded in teasing your tastebuds, why not check out all of the cuvées from domain Willi Shaefer on sale on iDealwine?
What the critics say about Weingut Willi Schaefer
While not very well-known in France, the wines of domain Willi Schaefer are nevertheless lauded by the international press.
James Suckling (former editor of the Wine Spectator and one of the world’s most influential wine critics), in a tasting of the 2017 vintage was visibly impressed, see notes below:
2017 Graacher Himmelreich Kabinett 95/100
2017 Graacher Domprobst Kabinett 96/100
2017 Graacher Himmelreich Spätlese 95/100
2017 Graacher Domprobst Spätlese #10 96/100
2017 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Spätlese 95/100
2017 Graacher Domprobst Spätlese #05 98/100
2017 Graacher Domprobst Spätlese #13 97/100
2017 Graacher Domprobst Auslese #15 98/100
I MIGLIORI 100 VINI E VIGNAIOLI FROM ITALY
Luciano Ferraro and Luca Gardini of Italian national newspaper Corriere della Sera named Willi Schaefer the BEST INTERNATIONAL GROWER award.
Wines from domain Willi Schaefer currently on sale
This Riesling has a lovely nose of pear and apple lifted by notes of white flowers. Will amply reward ten years of aging.
Feinherb is a semi-dry wine with low levels of sugar. This Riesling is the family domain’s entry-level cuvée. Purity, balance and elegance are the watchwords, with aromas of peach, orange and flint, as well as a wild side. Superb.
An intense wine with white fruits (pear) on the nose, lifted by floral notes. On the palate, the balance between minerality and unctuosity. The finish is saline and incredibly long.
Aromas of white fruits, white flowers (jasmine) and honey. This cuvée delivers a pleasant minerality and lots of freshness on the palate, which balances perfectly with the suave side of the wine.
Situated on the steep vineyards of Graach, Domprobst is on a 70-degree slope in its best parts. This parcel is one of the finest of the terroir, and this cuvée is of a remarkably high level. Vibrant, complex and profound, this Kabinett Riesling proves the remarkable quality of German Riesling. With petrol notes on the nose, minerality on the palate, and a long, complex finish, this is THE wine for lovers of Riesling.
The nose is mineral, with fruity notes. On the palate, the wine is voluptuous and structured with nice concentration. Good aging potential.