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Germany 2020

2020 is an exceptionally charming vintage: delicious, elegant, featherlight wines with a relaxed flowing quality that makes them as fresh as a mountain stream on a hot day. They can be drunk almost immediately, and their balance and seamless integration will ensure a long life.

They are less extracted than the 2019s, but they are finer and more nuanced, and they have less alcohol and smoother, riper acidity. Just because these wines are easy to drink doesn’t mean that they lack gravitas or complexity. They are perfectly in balance, each element clearly defined. There is ripe green, yellow and some red and black fruit, bright smooth lemony acidity, and a supremely elegant salty minerality to give lift on the finish

Conscientious growers who kept their yields low were well-placed to produce an excellent range of Kabinett, Spätlese, some Auslese, and superlative dry wines. The wines hark back to the past. In recent years the more reliably warm weather has produced riper grapes with high sugar levels, often giving richer wines with more sweetness and/or alcohol. In 2020 however, dry weather combined with heat actually slowed ripening, with the result that sugar levels are lower, and the unique style that made Germany famous – light, elegant and zippy – is back.


We have the following wines to offer:

(Pre-arrival in bond Seckford late 2021)

Franken
  • Rudolf May Silvaner Retzstadt £54/6
  • Rudolf May Silvaner Retzstadter Langenberg £72/6
Mosel
  • Fritz Haag Brauneberger Juffer Kabinett £66/6 | £87/3 magnums
  • Fritz Haag Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr Spätlese £96/6
  • Fritz Haag Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr Auslese £126/6
Ruwer
  • Maximin Grunhaus Herrenberg Kabinett £84/6
  • Maximin Grunhaus Abtsberg Kabinett £84/6 | £111/3 magnums
  • Maximin Grunhaus Herrenberg Spätlese £102/6
  • Maximin Grunhaus Abtsberg Spätlese £102/6 | £123/3 magnums
Saar
  • Zilliken Saarburger Rausch Kabinett £90/6
  • Zilliken Saarburger Rausch Spätlese £132/6
Nahe
  • Schaefer-Frohlich Vulkangestein £87/6
  • Schaefer-Frohlich Schiefergestein £102/6
  • Schaefer-Frohlich Felseneck Kabinett £84/6
Rheinhessen & Rheingau
  • Battenfeld-Spanier Mölsheim Riesling £96/6
  • Knewitz Appenheimer Riesling £72/6
  • Wittmann Westhofener Riesling 1. Lage £108/6
  • Peter-Jakob Kühn Oestrich Lenchen Kabinett £78/6

Please read on to find more information about each producer and their wines


 

Franken.pngFranken

Rudolf May founded his estate in 1998 with two hectares, and through hard work and focus on quality has grown it to sixteen and a half. His main interest has always been Silvaner, and he is one of only a few growers to demonstrate that this often overlooked varietal can produce distinctive wines with ageing potential. May’s Silvaners are the finest in Germany, his poor, fossil-rich soils enabling him to make very fine, pure, mineral-driven wines.

The growing season was smooth and trouble free. Most of the estate’s old vines did not suffer in the dry weather, and they were able to irrigate the young plots. Judicious canopy management, whereby a thick umbrella of foliage shaded the grapes, prevented sunburn, and low yields ensured ripening did not slow in the warm weather.

Silvaner Retzstadt 2020

£54 | Case of 6 - 75cl

Made from vines between 25 and 40 years old, this Ortswein is vibrant and smooth, with well-defined citrus fruit and some tropical notes, leading to a fine chalky finish with a hint of salt. It is bottled in the traditional Franconian Bocksbeutel.

Drink 2022 - 2028

Silvaner Retzstadter Langenberg 2020

£72 | Case of 6 - 75cl

An Erste Lage (1er cru) made from 40-year-old vines in the heart of the vineyard, growing on very poor limestone soils that yield only very small berries. Matured in three-to-five year-old casks, it is pure and angular, with ripe citrus and orchard fruit, defined on the finish by silky stony mineral flavours with a hint of oak and a healthy dash of salt. 

Drink 2022 - 2030


Morsel.pngMosel

Weingut Fritz Haag makes the most elegant of German wines. They do not shout and are often overlooked in favour of more showy bottles, but for balance, finesse and subtlety they are hard to beat. With a pedigree like this, it’s no surprise that the wines have a fantastic ability to age. The great Juffer vineyard in Brauneberg, one of the few designated ‘grand cru’ by edict of Napoleon in 1804 has everything to do with it.

Oliver Haag took over the family estate in 2005. The heart of the estate is the Juffer-Sonnenuhr, where vines are clustered on a dauntingly steep and rocky slope around the sundial. Oliver’s wines have an understated subtlety that becomes increasingly apparent as the wines age.
 
The Juffer is a dry site, but the estate’s vines are now of sufficient age not to be adversely affected by the rainless summer. Astute canopy management has kept yields low, so less water was required to get the grapes to perfect ripeness. They are lower in alcohol than 2018 or 2019 and have a gorgeous flowing elegance and great finesse. Once again, they are amongst the finest wines of the vintage. 

 

 

Brauneberger Juffer Kabinett 2020

£66 | Case of 6 - 75cl
£87 | Case of 3 - 150cl

Hard to think of a better Kabinett from this year: it is featherlight, all about finesse rather than power. There is no aggressive edge, but rather a relaxed and effortless quality, a wine comfortable in its own skin. It has meltingly pure grapefruit and peach fruit, a hint of cool green, some spice, and a long, ethereal finish with a cool slaty salinity. 

Drink 2022 - 2032 | Bottles

Drink 2023 - 2038 | Magnums

Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr Spätlese 2020

£96 | Case of 6 - 75cl

Made from vines clustered around the sundial in the rocky heart of the vineyard. The rocks absorb warmth quickly, and the resulting wines are richer than those from the surrounding Juffer vineyard. The wine is riper, finer and more elegant than the plain Juffer, with more pronounced melting yellow fruit and spice notes, and it dances to a smooth, complex dark slaty finish. 
Drink 2022 - 2035

Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr Auslese 2020

£126 | Case of 6 - 75cl

There is only a marginal difference in ripeness between this and the Juffer Auslese, but the grapes come from vines in the oldest plots around the sundial, and the result is quite distinct: the wine is richer and riper, the salty minerality impossibly fine, and the acidity enlivening and juicy, along with a fine creamy note on the long smooth finish. Power without weight, effortless elegance – Oliver Haag has done it again. 

Drink 2025 - 2041


Ruwer.pngRuwer

Maximin Grunhaus produces some of the best wines in Germany from one of its very finest terroirs, a contiguous strip of the three vineyards Bruderberg, Herrenberg and Abtsberg. There is something magical about these wines: if you have the patience to wait, they acquire a melting elegance that calls you back for more.

The Grünhaus vineyards are surrounded by woods, and Maximin noted how well the sites had been chosen: during the hot dry summer months the trees suffered and some died, but the water supply to the grapes was uninterrupted. Like his colleagues in the Saar, Maximin decided not to risk waiting for Auslese ripeness, so no wines above Spätlese level were made. Across the board the wines are sublime as ever, with balance, precision and typicity.

Herrenberg Kabinett 2020

£84 | Case of 6 - 75cl

Pure, elegant spicy green-tinged fruit is framed by a fine slaty minerality, bright lemony acidity and a juicy fresh salty finish. A beautifully lean, elegant wine that is a perfect ambassador for this magical terroir.

Drink 2022 - 2035

Abtsberg Kabinett 2020

£84 | Case of 6 - 75cl
£111 | Case of 3 - 150cl

More opulent and expressive than the Herrenberg; the fruit is a little riper and yellower than its neighbour, but still suffused with notes of fresh herbs, and there is an intense superfine slaty saline minerality gaining in intensity as it glides to a long elegant finish.

Drink 2022 - 2035 | Bottles

Drink 2022 - 2036 | Magnums

Herrenberg Spätlese 2020

£102 | Case of 6 - 75cl

A very cool, lean Spätlese, bright, elegant and dense, with exuberant yellow and green fruit and a cool fresh saline seam running through to the finish.

Drink 2022 - 2038

Abtsberg Spätlese 2020

£102 | Case of 6 - 75cl
£123 | Case of 3 - 150cl

How Spätlesen used to be: just off-dry, slightly angular, with very juicy green-tinged yellow fruit, bright citrus acidity and cool fresh slaty minerality: flowing, seductive and moreish. 

Drink 2022 - 2038 | Bottles

Drink 2022 - 2042 | Magnums


SaarSaar.png

Dorothee Zilliken took over the running of this venerable estate in 2016, the eleventh generation to do so. 11 of the 13-hectare estate are in the Rausch, climbing an impossibly steep hill directly above the town centre. The soil is slate, dotted with quartz and pockets of basalt, and southern exposure ensures it gets a lot of sun. Low yields and painstaking vineyard work, combined with fermentation in old oak casks in a very cool cellar give a stunning range of classic Saar wines that can take many years to reach their full potential. 

2020 saw a record number of sunshine hours in Saarburg, but it was not the hottest year on record. For years the Zillikens have been mulching their vineyards, which prevents water evaporation, so there were no drought problems. The harvest began on 21 September, and only went as far as Spätlese. The wines are juicy, elegant, and ripe, with the typical fine steely notes of the Saar.

Saarburger Rausch Kabinett 2020

£90 | Case of 6 - 75cl

A Kabinett in a richer, softer style. The fruit is smooth and yellow: apricot, peach and mango, and there is a cool herbal minty note too. It is given focus by juicy lemony acidity and 
a fine creamy stony minerality ending on a pronounced salty note. A gentle, elegant wine that is very appealing now but will mature beautifully.

Drink 2022 - 2032

Saarburger Rausch Spätlese 2020

£132 | Case of 6 - 75cl

A magical combination of tropical fruit – pineapple and mango, with fresh green herbal notes. The wine is cool, juicy and zippy, its sweetness tempered by a finely wrought salty mineral structure, and there is a rich, satisfying finish.

Drink 2022 - 2036


Nahe.pngNahe

Schäfer-Fröhlich produces uncompromisingly angular wines that display breathtaking energy, precision and finesse. Tim Fröhlich took over responsibility for making the wine in 1993, at the tender age of 19, and supported by his father, who looks after the vineyards, has elevated the estate to one of the very best in Germany. These are reductive wines that can be drunk young, but the best take years to showcase the terroir of their vineyards.

Tim Fröhlich reports that the Nahe is not as dry as it used to be, and that it rained enough in the summer to avoid drought. He will of course concede that old vines are a big help, as their deep roots have access to water, but for him it was a perfect season. His yields are always on the low side, and he has lowered his canopy to slow ripening. The grapes were so perfectly structured that he needed to do little in the cellar and the wines did not need extra power, so he left them on the fine lees, which accentuated their finesse and elegance. He has produced a magical set of wines: charming, complex and beautifully relaxed. 

Vulkangestein Trocken 2020

£87 | Case of 6 - 75cl

From 30-to-40-year-old vines in Felsenberg and Stromberg. A cool, elegant crystal-clear wine with smooth greenish fruit (courtesy of the fresh breezes from the woods surrounding the Stromberg), ripe lemony acidity and a long vibrant stony finish: you’d never think it had been a hot year!

Drink 2022 - 2032

Bockenauer Schiefergestein 2020

£102 | Case of 6 - 75cl

From 30-to-40-year-old vines in Felseneck. From the get go, the unmistakeable aroma of blue slate – dark and lemony – is in evidence. There is green fruit, density, energy and purity, and elements of smoke and spice as it drives to a long juicy saline finish.

Drink 2022 – 2032

Felseneck Kabinett 2020

£84 | Case of 6 - 75cl

Another proper Kabinett: vibrant, fresh and forward, with fantastically bright lemon acidity, citrus fruit, dark smoky notes and a finish that bursts with energy.

Drink 2022 – 2037


 

Rheinhessen & Rheingau

Battenfeld-Spanier lies in the southern-most part of Rheinhessen, and the vines are grown on limestone, which gives them a lifted, citrus character. The estate converted to organic viticulture in 1992, and biodynamic in 1995. These wines are beautifully pure, restrained, and with the promise of a long life.

To avoid drought issues, they place a layer of straw and compost in the vineyards, which prevents water evaporation, and releases moisture slowly into the soil after rain. Careful viticultural techniques – a low canopy and above all low yields – ensured that the grapes ripened early, and the entire harvest was picked before the October rains. Oliver Spanier was delighted with the quality, likening it to the excellent 2002 vintage. The wines are brisk, ripe, and quite charming.

Mölsheim Riesling 2020

£96 | Case of 6 - 75cl

A beautiful example of a Riesling growing on limestone soil. It is full of intense stony citrus flavours, with a fine pithy minerality and a long, vibrant finish. Outstanding!

Drink 2022 - 2032


Tobias Knewitz

Tobias Knewitz took over the twenty-five-hectare Rheinhessen estate from his father in 2009, and together with his brother produces superbly crafted Rieslings and excellent Chardonnays, the latter well suited to the limestone soils. 

2020 was a cooler year in Northern Rheinhessen than 2018 or 2019, but drought was the greatest challenge. As usual, the Knewitz family laid a protective layer of humus between the rows, and straw mats immediately around the vines. They are lucky that their vineyards have a good water supply from underground streams, but towards the end of the summer even that was not enough, and ripening slowed. This turned out to be a positive, as it allowed grapes to keep their acidity. The wines are bright, charming and delicate.

Appenheimer Riesling 2020

£72 | Case of 6 - 75cl

Made from young vines in the Hundertgulden vineyard, this is a wine in absolute balance, each element suspended in perfect harmony gliding effortlessly from start to finish. It is pure and stony, with generous juicy grapefruit and citrus notes, bright acidity and a very fine cool chalky finish. A great wine.

Drink 2022 - 2030


 

Wittmann

Wittmann is based in Westhofen, the heart of southern Rheinhessen, surrounded by some of the region’s best vineyards. The Wittmans are not exactly newcomers to the area, having made wine here since 1663, and perhaps this gives them a sense of responsibility for the soils in their vineyards: they were pioneers in adopting organic methods in 1990. A conversion to biodynamism followed in 2004, and Philipp Wittmann reports that his wines now have more character and depth.

Westhofen had a good year in 2020. The only potential issue was drought, but here they were lucky: the village saw rain just at the right times, and judicious canopy management and old vines kept the vegetation fresh and green. Philipp noted that as the climate changes, vineyards at higher elevations are providing higher-quality fruit, so he adjusted his blends accordingly. The wines are classic: charming, transparent and forward.

Westhofener Riesling 1. Lage 2020

£108 | Case of 6 - 75cl

A blend of young vines from Morstein and Brunnenhäuschen, full of fine, charming citrus and yellow fruit and gentle smooth salty stoniness lasting for minutes. The most seductive Westhofener I have tasted.

Drink 2022 – 2032


 

Peter-Jakob Kühn (Rheingau)

Peter-Jakob Kühn (Rheingau) started in 1979, the eleventh generation of his family to take charge. This is one of the few estates in Germany to use biodynamic methods, and he and his family do it with awe-inspiring passion and thoroughness. They realised that the chemical industry was encouraging an unhealthy dependence in farmers on its products, side-lining nature in the process. So they abandoned herbicides and insecticides, anti-fungal sprays, and cultured yeasts; in 2001 they took the plunge and became biodynamically certified. They are now one of Germany’s leading growers. 

2020 was the third warm vintage in a row, and Peter-Bernhard’s vines are coping well with the new conditions. After many years of work ‘balancing’ them so that they are in harmony with their environment, he has established that his vines ripen phenologically – giving complex aromatics – earlier than they did in the past, but with correspondingly lower sugar levels. The wines are therefore more elegant and are able to reflect the energy of the warm summers without getting too powerful. It is a wonderful year here, with transparent, charming wines that are lovely now and have a great future. 

Oestrich Lenchen Kabinett 2020

£78 | Case of 6 - 75cl

Harvested from a parcel rich in quarzite, it is smooth and elegant as usual, this year particularly melting and succulent, with a cool green note and vibrant lemony acidity, given further definition by a pithy dark earthy finish.

Drink 2022 - 2030




 

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