Stein - Alfer Hölle 1900 2019
Stein’s “1900” bottling is one of the more extraordinary wines of the Mosel.
Here we have a historic site, the second oldest producing Riesling vineyard in the Mosel with just over 1,000 vines planted in the year 1900 (thus the name of the cuvée). This is a vineyard Ulli Stein tends like a garden. The wine is fermented in neutral barrel and Stein allows it to find its own balance. Thus we have in 2018 a wine with the density and heft of a Spätlese, yet with only about 20 grams residual sugar, the feel is only delicately off-dry, something like a Feinherb.
Tasting notes are hard in this case; what is truly extraordinary about this wine is simply the breadth of what it offers, which, in the simplest terms, is something like everything. Allow the wine to unfurl (decanting is a good idea, or just give the bottle a few hours to open) and it is one of the most exotic, perfumed wines of the Mosel; explosively aromatic, crushed flowers and slate, ripe, luscious, glycerin-rich stone fruits, layer after layer like a mille-feuille of apricot, quince and slate.
Yet for all this exoticism, the “1900” always, always has an uncanny sense of balance – there is a quivering and clean counterbalance to the baroque flourishes. Even in a year like 2018, the small, thick-skinned berries of the old vines, retained acidity and offer the wine not only minerals and rigor, but even a tense, green-resinous grip, something like pine needles ground up with mint.
It is wines like this that simply transcend those easy categories we use to organize the world and our experiences. Thus, words come up short.