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Van Volxem Scharzhofberger Riesling Grosses Gewachs 2015

Van Volxem Scharzhofberger Riesling Grosses Gewachs 2015

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"Pit- and seed-inflected white peach and pear are garlanded in iris and lily-of-the-valley, cresses and mint, for a bittersweet, invigoratingly piquant, yet soothingly cooling performance, as intimated on the head-turning nose. A striking combination of textural creaminess with animating juiciness as well as transparency to a near-kaleidoscopic array of floral, herbal and mineral nuances carries into a buoyant, tinglingly bright, exhilaratingly vibrant finish of prodigious sheer length and not forgetful of Riesling’s first duty to refresh. Drinking window: 2017-2030. 94 points

“Not one wine is over 12 percent alcohol,” noted a justifiably proud Roman Niewodniczanski of his superb 2015 collection. And that’s even though once again this vintage virtually all of the wines save for those labeled with a Prädikat are legally trocken – not just, as required, those that have for the first time been labeled “Grosses Gewächs.” (That having been noted, you still won’t find the descriptor trocken on any Van Volxem labels.) Niewodniczanski displayed even more than his usual enthusiasm in gushing over the 2015 vintage. “We never before tasted such delicious berries during harvest. The cool autumn was even cooler on the Saar than elsewhere,” he maintained, “and that gave us finesse and brilliance on top of almost exotic ripeness.” For the first time, all of the important sites were picked in no fewer than three passes, a process that began in late September and proceeded with unusual leisure throughout October. As in other recent years, a team of specialists (all female, Niewodniczanski again insisted on noting) deftly picked out any remaining imperfections from the raw material as it entered the press house. “That applied to the ‘Schiefer’ Riesling every bit as much as to the grands crus,” insisted Niewodniczanski, so that “not one botrytized or shriveled berry made it into the dry wines.” Bottling was completed by August. These 2015s delectably demonstrate the extent to which Niewodniczanski and cellarmaster Dominik Volk have perfected the art of balancing lees-enrichment against refreshment and clarity. Although I consider this a case of going out on a limb, with my latest drinking windows I have met Niewodniczanski roughly halfway in predicting how well his wines will age.

The 2016 harvest was processed in a huge and sophisticated new facility atop the Saarfeilser Marienberg, which will accommodate so many new concrete tanks and fuders (of oak from Niewodniczanski’s native Eifel) that he can gradually fulfill his dream to hold back a portion of most wines – and not just vineyard-designated ones – for a second or even third year before bottling. Beginning with 2015, Niewodniczanski has acquired extensive acreage contracts along the Mosel in Mehring and Schweich, not far downstream from Trier, whose fruit will inform both his “Schiefer” and “Alte Reben” (formerly “Saar Alte Reben”) bottlings. I wrote in my introduction to this estate’s 2014s about the audaciously ambitious project of clearing and replanting the Ockfener Geisberg, but while Niewodniczanski waits for those young vines’ first fruits, old-vine parcels next door in Ockfener Bockstein have been taken aboard with the 2015 vintage."

David Schildknecht, Vinous (05/17)