Spicy-grassy wines ideally suited to the last few vintages. 105-year old ungrafted vines—some SIX THOUSAND OF THEM. Makes among the two or three best Kabinetts along the Mosel. This is an old-fashioned winery and so the wines are individuals with all that implies. If I taste across the range I find a certain clarity and purity in every wine, as well as a keen spiciness I assume comes from the soil. Certain casks are cranky like certain folks are cranky, but many casks are miraculous, they hum and glow with vitality, they speak the plain truth of the land with the clearest possible voice. At their best they stand easily with the VERY best anywhere on the Mosel. It was Schmitt who kicked off this year’s catalogue, and I like the symmetry of seeing him near the end again. He’s a vigorous man who has lived his life in wine. Each wine is an aspect of his story. When he brings the old ones out to share with us, he is saying “this is how I have lived.” ~Terry Theise
Rounder and longer than the Kabinett; low layers and saltier mineral, but every bit as racy and brilliant; snappy, extroverted stuff. This is arguably sourced from the oldest vines in the Mosel. The fruit sourced for the Schmitt-Wagner Spätlese comes from vines in the center part of the slope of the Longuicher Maximiner Herrenberg vineyard, which were planted in 1893. This vineyard is a steep one, with an approx. 60% incline, comprised of weathered Devonian slate and a fine tertiary top soil. The winemaking family here began producing wines in 1804. The vineyards previously belonged to the Benedictine Convent of St. Maximin in Trier, but were then secularized and made available for purchase by Napoleon Bonaparte. During this time, it was widely known that the clergy owned only the very finest vineyards. So this purchase from Napoleon Bonaparte, although quite expensive, was a worthwhile investment. In fact, a member of the Schmitt-Wagner family had to travel a great distance to make the purchase, while carrying a very heavy load of gold coins on her back in a wooden grape picking basket. Vinification here is ‘old school’, using all spontaneous yeasts and vinifying in large neutral oak fuder. Truly some of the most unique and natural wines made in the Mosel.
One of the best values from Germany this year. Here’s a superb Kabinett from ancient vines, now 110 years old, planted in 1902. ‘It’s the site just above Maximiner Herrenberg, and is always a little cooler, with always clean grapes,’ says Karl. Prototypical fennel and sassafrass aromas. Fantastically juicy and with a cunning herbal complexity; again absurdly salty and leafy, like chewing parsley and tarragon. The restrained sweetness is perfectly judged and poised.” –