Joel B. Payne (International Wine Cellar): “Pale golden yellow with a greenish tinge. Very rich aromas of apricot and lemon oil are lifted by a hint of spicy botrytis. Generous peach fruit extract saturates the palate, masking the wine’s subtle spicy acidity. More about richness than elegance, this wine needs time.” 92/100 pts
Wine Advocate: “Originating in the same steep, stony portion of its Einzellage and exhibiting the same distinctive personality as in other recent years, the Schafer-Frohlich 2009 Bockenauer Felseneck Riesling Spatlese Gold Capsule delivers a Chartreuse-like aromatic melange of floral and herbal essences, whose creamy, liqueur-like essence supplemented by pear nectar and quince preserves is reinforced on the palate by a bit more sweetness than found in the ‘regular’ Felseneck Spatlese. Faintly struck flint pungency and invigorating salinity add to the allure of this remarkably delicate and irresistibly refreshing Riesling, resulting in an enhanced mineral dimension that would be the last thing you ordinarily expect in going from a ‘regular’ to a gold capsule bottling. Look for a quarter century of entertainment.
Tim Frohlich (for some of whose comments on the 2009 vintage consult my general introduction to this report) continues his streak of ever more intensive vineyard work on ever-greater acreage, rendering a persistently expansive range of phenomenally high-quality bottlings that covers a stylistic breadth few German wineries are interested in, much less can equal. ‘Once I began smelling the musts of these 2009s’ says Frohlich, ‘I knew that this was what I always wanted to achieve.’ Reliance on ambient yeasts has become the norm here and – like late harvest (this year not commencing until the second half of October) something that Frohlich passionately advocates. This year, Frohlich left-behind more solid matter in the tanks to feed the fermentations which, for the dry wines, extended into February – and ended up with correspondingly generous lees on which, as usual, the young wines rested after fermenting (although he still bottled the top dry wines by late June). This approach to fermentation and elevage made particular sense, opines Frohlich, due to the quality of this year’ fruit. He showed me a photograph of transparent, utterly blemish-free but already freckled golden-green Riesling berries that delivers a profound lesson once he explains that it was taken six weeks before the first bunch was cut for the 2009 Gutsriesling! ‘The truth is,’ contends Frohlich, ‘with grapes this perfect, cultured yeasts are liable to give you wines that are dominated by sheer peachy, straightforward fruit at the expense of differentiation, complexity, and authenticity.’ On the other hand, he thought it best to tread very cautiously this year when it came to pre-fermentative skin contact. There’s certainly no need to worry on any of those counts given how things turned out, and the dry wines in the present collection don’t reflect even the moderate levels of alcohol that they in fact possess (in the top wines, around 13%). Many are the Grosse Gewachse rendered in very small quantities, about which growers are sometimes reluctant to impart the actual production numbers. Tim Frohlich will proudly tell you that nearly half of his huge vine acreage in Felseneck made his qualitative cut for Grosses Gewachs, and the totality of his four 2009 Grosse Gewachse represents 25,000 bottles. At the botrytis end of the spectrum, despite the paucity of shriveled grapes, Frohlich relates that ‘I had six people employed exclusively for picking out whatever raisins they could find,’ and the result is a dazzling range of nobly sweet elixirs.” 92/100 pts