2008 Schäfer-Fröhlich Bockenauer Riesling Kabinett


Wine Spectator: 92/100
International Wine Cellar: 91/100
Wine Advocate: 89/100

Well-balanced and elegant, this kabinett punches far above its weight.”



Professional reviews:

Wine Spectator: “Displays plenty of orange and nectarine aromas and flavors, with spice notes to match. Lime and slate flavors emerge by the finish, making this complex, layered and concentrated. Still, this stays light and fresh. Drink now through 2022. 500 cases made. –BS” 92/100 pts

Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar (Joel B. Payne): Melon, pineapple and lemon oil on the nose. The velvety-sweet fruit and pure mineral salts unfold to offer a sensuous tactile quality. Well-balanced and elegant, this kabinett punches far above its weight.” 91/100 pts

Wine Advocate (David Schildknecht): “The Schafer-Frohlich 2008 Bockenauer Riesling Kabinett is – not unusually for this bottling –marked by yeasty and faintly cheesy notes from its spontaneous fermentation, which segue into struck flint, Pouilly-Fume like pungency. On the palate, though, this is very like the Mosel-Riesling archetype that Frohlich had in mind, levitating in its lightness; spritzy; brightly citric, and managing to render high residual sugar delightful and not in the least overbearing. Luscious honeydew melon and purple plum add to the pleasure, along with the invigorating chew of fruit skin, smoky black tea, and savory salinity. This will remain delightful for at least 8-10 years. And those with high tolerance for what the Germans call “sponti” notes will find my rating too low. Drink 2010 – 2020 89/100 pts

I have devoted a lot of attention to the wines of the Frohlich family and the emergence of Tim Frohlich as one of Germany’s star wine makers (see for instance my accounts in issues 161 and 167), and by now I am surely not the only wine writer to be almost tapped-out of superlatives. But the hits just keep coming, and the 2008 vintage Schafer-Frohlich collection represents another amazing achievement. Tim Frohlich keeps finding new ways to push the qualitative envelope, and in 2008 one of them was through sheer delay of harvest, which didn’t really get going here until the first of November and, according to his account, “went on for 27 uninterrupted days. I won’t try to tell you that we were never nervous about this approach,” he added wryly, “but in all that time we didn’t lose any acidity or freshness in the wines, they remained perfectly brilliant.” Indeed, the effects of such long hang time incorporate phenomenal levels of concentration but – as far as I am able to report – harbored no down-sides. (Quantity was another matter: the crop was small even by this estate’s recent standards.) Frohlich believes that such extended hang time – even when the foliage has fallen and concentration is largely via dehydration – pays dividends of complexity and elegance in small-berried, low yielding Riesling vines, and it’s precisely grapes of this sort than inform his Grosse Gewachse. While nobly sweet wines were (as my tasting notes explain) more oriented toward block picking than classic selection this year, that does not mean there was less work on the sorting tables. On the contrary, Frohlich reports that the effects of sporadic esca (a fungal disease increasingly pernicious in California as well as Europe that leaves afflicted portions of bunches hard to identify until you handle or taste them) kept his team up until 2 and 3 many mornings. Meanwhile, each year we just keep lengthening and widening the tables and putting on more people, he remarked in a tone of resignation. Stringent control of temperature in the numerous compartments of his cellar; re-apportionment of lees; plus selective and judicious use of cultured yeasts (it seems like yesterday when Frohlich first experimented with spontaneous fermentations, but now they represent the rule here) enabled him to achieve the volumetric majority of trocken wine that his German market demands. Incidentally, the Frohlichs have continued to add prime acreage in Bockenau on top of the major investments made several years ago in Schlossbockelheimer Felsenberg and Monzinger Halenberg and Fruhlingsplatzchen, so that virtually 100% of their wine – including generic bottlings – now comes from estate fruit.”

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