I really, really, really want an Arnolt Bristol. It’s an object of considerable desire for sure but at something around a quarter of a million squids these days, it’s very sadly likely to remain just that. Anyway, we went to Germany a few weeks ago! We visited quite a few estates on our trip and we’ll be returning to visit a few more shortly. We certainly hope to add more during the coming year but curious, verging on inexplicable, self-restraint sees us start with just two new agencies… and what agencies they are! We’re genuinely thrilled to announce the start of our relationships with Weingut A.J.Adam and Weingut Horst Sauer.
Part 1: Weingut A.J. Adam
Andreas Adam and his sister Barbara farm just 5 ha of largely precipitous Riesling vineyards in the Dhron valley (a tributary of the Mosel). It was the first visit we made on our packed itinerary and there was that unsettling feeling, a bit like when you decide to move house, start looking and the very first one you see looks perfect. You know that never happens so you try to discount the feeling and make yourself doubly critical… after three wines though… and these were the ‘introductory’ three, we just gave in… we were clearly somewhere special. These two are without doubt absolute masters of dry Mosel Riesling (and none too shabby when we get a bit sweeter either actually). We compared notes as we drove away and we felt clumsy, our lumpy faltering English no match for the delicious purity, the precision, the quiet insistence, the discreet generosity, the sheer beauty of what we’d just tasted. Acidity is bound to salinity which is woven into the very heart of the wines, they ask questions, they shine, they occasionally shimmer, they are pure, they’re delicate and they are powerful at the same time. A couple of them politely declined to meet us halfway but then when we mentally just took that extra step…
Then there were great discussions. There was ‘dark’ in some of the wines… what’s ‘dark’ in Riesling ?… I don’t know but we all noted it somewhere in our notes as a distant sensation… was it a product of the vineyards, the winemaking, the vintage… Who knows, so much to learn, so much to explore, so much to enjoy. These are very serious yet financially and stylistically very accessible wines and this feels like the start of a fascinating journey.
I urge you to try them, I urge you to buy them, I urge you to do your best to get behind them. ‘We can’t sell German Wines’ just doesn’t come into it, these are simply beautiful, exciting wines and surely anyone can sell those.
Keep your eyes peeled for Pt. 2 coming soon but for now, here’s my thoughts on the wine to keep you entertained:
Weingut A.J. Adam im Pfarrgarten Riesling feinherb 2017
‘Im Pfarrgarten’… ‘The Garden of the Rectory’… is part of the famous Hofberg, the Dhron valley’s most important, historic vineyard. It’s the flatter lower part of the hill around the ancient stone building and it’s from this plot of 30-50-year-old vines that Andreas makes one of his most charming and welcoming wines. There’s proper slate and nice subtle spice in the background and a beautiful, bright, citrus acidity that just makes sure you’re awake as each sip starts to depart but the overwhelming impression isn’t of a flavour, it isn’t of sweetness or dryness, (it’s actually a fairly bouncy 26g/l residual), it’s more about the sheer friendliness, liveliness and joyfulness of the wine, the voluptuous cushion of fruit and the curiously deceptive scale of the wine. It’s not big in a concentrated or powerful way, it’s big in a sort of, ‘if you were in the middle of all those light, playful, swirling flavours, it would take you quite a long time to walk to the edges’ kind of way. As with all their wines, this is absolutely minimal intervention material and 100% wild yeast ferment. It’s a wine that should be on restaurant lists the length and breadth of the country.
Weingut A.J. Adam in der Sangerei Riesling feinherb 2017
Steep, steep slopes here, a sort of amphitheatre shaped sub-plot within the Hofberg, warm, old vines, lots and lots of concentration, lots of flavour.
This is fiercely engaging wine! There’s us thinking that ‘feinherb’ was sort of code for gentle, soft, nicely ‘fluffy’ styles of wine and you blink and this incredible wine has you by the throat and is quite literally jumping all over every square inch of your palate and yet it’s genuinely delicate… how does it do that? It’s lively and it’s playful but it’s also dark, slatey and insistent. It’s a great bottle of wine, glorious right now and, whilst we’ve no direct experience as yet, it’s most assuredly going to be truly spectacular in 5, 10, 20 years’ time too.
Weingut A.J. Adam Hofberg trocken 2017
Sit in an incredibly minimal, bright white room, find a spectacular fine stemmed glass, open a bottle of this and watch James March’s ‘Man on Wire’. Produced from 60+ year old vineyards deeper into the valley, on precipitous heavy slate soils. Fermented in foudre and kept on fine lees to add slight breadth to this otherwise thrilling, fine and focused wine.
Weingut A.J. Adam Dhroner Trocken 2014
Exciting wine from vines of around 45 years old from selected plots around the village of Dhron. In most years this wine is roughly 50/50 stainless steel and oak ‘foudre’. Due to the very small volume of 2017 however, this year it’s 100% ‘fuder’. There’s fabulous fruit ripeness and the five months of lees ageing has given a beautiful creamy, nutty, textural quality in the centre. It’s a very, very eye-catching wine, lean, tense and vibrant at first, opening quite exotically in the middle. Bone dry and very focused but totally calm and approachable.