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  • March 1, 2015
  • Willi Schaefer’s 2014 Vintage Report

  • by Andrea Schaefer

2014 Jakob mit Jonathan und OpaEditor's note: Andrea Schaefer of Weingut Willi Schaefer, a leading 4.2-ha property in Graach/Mosel, wrote this 2014 vintage report.

Last winter, it was unusually mild, followed by the warmest March that we had since 1948. Already in the second week of March, temperatures exceeded 20 degrees C (68 degrees F). Thus the budbreak was very early. In the beginning of June, flowering went perfectly.

The large number of grape clusters and their positive development raised hopes; particularly because of the low yields we had the previous vintages.

Until the beginning of August, the vegetation was about four weeks ahead of a normal year, and we expected a very early start to the harvest. But August turned out to be rather cool and rainy. Thus the vegetation was curbed and the aroma and flavor development of the Riesling grapes profited from the cooler temperatures.

In early October, heavy rainfalls and warm humid weather quickly accelerated the maturity of the grapes. So we started harvesting on October 4. From the beginning, we had to carefully select the grapes. And again we were glad to have our loyal and highly skilled team of pickers, as the harvest was a great challenge.

The expected yield was greatly reduced due to the necessary and strict selection of the grapes. Tasting the young wines now shows that all the effort was worth it!

The long vegetation period led to a detailed development of the aromas and a good maturity of the grapes. As a result, we can be delighted about our delicately fruity, fine, and brisk Rieslings.

Above all, we were able to produce our basic estate- and village-level wines—also in trocken (dry) and feinherb (off-dry)—as well as fruity Kabinetts. Grapes for Spätlese and especially Auslese were rare.

This vintage is a welcome variation to the previous years, and so we can offer you, once again, Mosel Rieslings “for every day”!

Weingut Willi Schaefer, February 2015

Photograph courtesy of Andrea Schaefer. A shot of Jakob and Jonathan with Grandpa Willi Schaefer.

  • Thanks to Andrea for her report on the 2014 vintage.

    In October, I worked the entire harvest at Hofgut Falkenstein in Niedermennig/Saar. (I represent this estate for those who don’t know.) Like the Schaefers, the Webers of Falkenstein also began picking on October 4, and they, too, have an experienced harvest team, most of whom are locals.

    It was a beautiful, sunny morning on Oct. 4, when we picked the first parcel of Riesling grapes in a prime section of Niedermenniger Sonnenberg, plus a part of a small, old-vine plot in the adjacent Niedermenniger Herrenberg.

    It rained a few days later. Some areas of the Saar and Mosel (especially the Lower Mosel) were less fortunate and had serious issues with rot, because of the rain and warm weather. Pickers needed to make sure not to include vinegary grapes. It was therefore vital to do a strict selection in the vineyard, as Andrea mentioned above, and to make sure the grapes were brought quickly to the press house.

    The Webers always tried to make sure that the grapes stayed cool by picking in the morning, if necessary. It helped that they prefer to gently press the grapes whole, thus avoiding off-flavors from any botrytized grapes, and to let the resulting grape juice settle naturally on its own, which is why they didn’t want the picked grapes to get too warm.

    We finished harvesting on Oct. 25. The last two parcels in Krettnacher Altenberg and Niedermenniger Herrenberg were perfectly ripe, with little rot. Other growers were less pleased with the quality of their grapes and completed the harvest already by mid-October.

    Despite the difficult and speedy harvest, the young wines are showing quite well. It should be a vintage of easy-to-drink wines.

    (Before I forget, in September, a plague of Drosophila suzukii—in German called Kirschessigfliege, a vinegar fly—affected red grape varieties. This was the first time in the Mosel wine region.)

  • Andrew Bair says:

    Andrea and Lars:

    Thank you for the reports. I look forward to some really nice 2014s from both Willi Schaefer and Hofgut Falkenstein that should drink well early on.

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