Steel – Stone – Wood, Round Two!
And finally, Round 2 of the tastings of Steel, Stone and Wood from the “Sixpack” from Weingut Andreas Schmitges. If you do not yet know what these wines are all about – or need to refresh your memory – please check out my post on the experiment here, as well as the results from Round 1 of the tastings here.
This review of the three wines is taken from the second round of tastings, conducted on the 25th, 26th and 27th of October, after having received the wines on the 17th of June. It has been four months since bottling – and three since I last tried them – and I’m hoping to better understand the direction that these wines are going.
A brief summary of the raw materials, the pedigree and the vinification
The wines are made from the fruit of 25-year-old, ungrafted vines originating from wood cut from vines in the Wehlener- and Zeltinger Sonnenuhr vineyards – this means they came from very old genetic material. The grapes were hand-harvested on October 29, 2016 – a year ago tomorrow – after having reached 93° Oechsle, and come from a 5500m² parcel of the Erdener Treppchen – south-facing and with a 60% grade. Fermentation was spontaneous (indigenous yeasts) after a short maceration and very gentle pressing at just 0.4 bar. Fermentation took place without temperature controls in three different vessels: a 1050-litre oak Stück (second-fill), a 1000-litre steel tank and a 1000-litre granite barrel. Temperature remained between 15°-20°C, with the lowest temperatures in the granite barrel. Filtered once with diatomaceous earth, but unfined. Sulphured only once: on April 15. Filled on May 21. The wines are under screwcap – there should be no variance in the oxidation that has taken place after bottling.
The Tasting Notes – Round 2
Mosel – “Sixpack” Steel – Stone – Wood 2016 12.5% abv – Weingut Andreas Schmitges
All three of these wines continue to look fairly pale lemon in the glass, but Steel has the barest hint of green reflexes, where the other two do not. I don’t remember this being the case from the last round of tastings. All three are, of course, still very young, offering mostly primary fruit characteristics and nothing from bottle age. The acidity in all three has smoothed a little, integrating better with the wines, which have become smoother, rounder and somewhat fuller. All three remain very enjoyable, even at this very early stage, and show the quality of both the vineyard and the grapes.
This wine has become even more fruit-forward, and there is no hint of reduction anymore. Full of lime juice, lemon zest and a subtle beeswax note that I’ve only noticed since doing a comparative tasting with my new glass. Honeysuckle has become acacia blossoms. The baking powder of four months ago has sublimated into a charming chalky minerality, and the acidity – while remaining very fresh – is well on its way to marrying fully with the rest of the wine’s structure. The aromatic profile has, otherwise, changed very little, but the wine is rounder, the elements adjoin one another more seamlessly.
Now this was interesting. Stone has developed an even brighter mineral aspect, without becoming saltier or more iodine-heavy. Mandarin juice and lemon curd have joined the other citrus elements, and the wine has kept its lovely floral notes, though they have receded a tad. Like the other wines, it is rounder, smoother and more seamless, but this mineral component helps it to come across as fresher and more mouth-watering – though it is somehow less aggressively mineral than four months ago. And it remains my favourite of the three. It jumps out of the glass a bit more, and really makes itself felt on the palate – in a good way!
Of the three wines, this one strays farthest from the common elements. The ginger note has intensified, the acidity has become the softest of them all. Even rounder than the other three, the wine also exhibits more sweet fruit extract. And when I used the Gabriel Gold glass, I was able to notice a hint of grapefruit for the first time. Chalky minerality here, too, but it was much more subtle. It is an interesting, developing wine. And I can imagine that it would appeal to many people more than the “Stone” or “Steel” would, due in large part to that softness and the sense that the acidity is less than the others. For me, it was the least compelling of the three in both rounds of tasting.
A Word About the New Glass
I tested not only the wines this time, but also a new glass: the Gabriel Glas Gold Edition. This is the mouth-blown version of the glass that I normally use for my red wine tastings, which is machine-made. I got it on the advice of the Schmitges family, who couldn’t be more pleased with it and who use it in their tasting room. All in all, I’m quite pleased with the glass as well. I find it aesthetically very pleasing, and it obviously has all the benefits of being mouth-blown, such as lightness and a very fine, thin rim. I’ll be testing it out with other wines now, too, of course. But for this tasting, I really wanted to see it in direct comparison with the Riedel glasses I have always used with whites and rosés to this point. I have to admit, it brought out more and finer aromas in the wines, making it easier to assess the quality. I’ll definitely be interested in how it does with others.
The One-Line Takeaway
Well worth tracking down and finding out where your preferences lie – and for the hedonistic enjoyment of Riesling well-made.