Fritz Haag Brauneberger Juffer Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese 2018 (375ml)


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“We searched everywhere [in Juffer] over the entire course of harvest for the shriveled grapes that informed this wine,” reported Haag. And as sometimes happens when there is shriveling, here not just flavors and sugars were prominently concentrated, but also acidity. Candied lemon and lime peels; quince, mirabelle and apricot preserves; and a light layering of caramel and marzipan inform a heady nose and a palate that, despite its gloss, seductive creaminess, honeyed viscosity and sheer sweetness, leads into a finish of remarkable vibrancy and clarity, one revealing both animating juiciness of fresh citrus and mouthwatering salinity. (I tasted this the day before it was to have been bottled, but it had already withstood filtration as well as sulfuring, and l have every confidence that no mishaps will have been allowed to occur thereafter.) Drinking window: 2020-2070. 96-97 points

Oliver Haag’s team commenced picking on September 15, 2018. “Physiological ripeness had arrived, while must weights were rising – and we didn’t want dry wines with too much alcohol,” he explained. “In the end, the dry wines are half a percent stronger [in alcohol than their 2017 predecessors] and a bit lower in acidity, but still fine, elegant and minerally, not to mention very approachable. It’s a very good vintage,” he concluded, “even if not among the top vintages of the past decade. The wines are a pleasure to drink now, but I have no concerns about cellaring them. And I think this will not be one of those vintages whose wines fall into a deep hole somewhere in their evolution, but that they will perform very consistently. We picked all of our parcels twice and most of them three times,” he continued. “I instructed the harvesters first to take what was still a bit green in color, for Kabinetts with freshness and levity. Next up were the Grosse Gewächse, so that they didn’t end up with too much alcohol. Those were picked in the first and especially the second week of harvest. We had each cluster examined to remove any botrytis-affected grapes, so that must weight didn’t become too high. I left some healthy grapes for later and ended up with one parcel at 99 degrees Oechsle. Okay, the grapes were wonderful in a way, but how to accommodate something like that? It was too much.” (Those last two words were spoken in English.) Picking here continued through the first week of October, with what relatively little there was of noble botrytis being carefully curated along the way. I think Haag’s overall assessment of his 2018 collection may sell his talents and the vintage’s potential short, especially given how impressively the nobly sweet wines show. ”

David Schildknecht, Vinous (11/20)