It’s fun travelling through the vineyards in this part of the world because, despite a recent consolidation of holdings, parcels can still be quite small. Each is discretely but clearly signposted with the name of the vineyard owner, so to walk around Wehlener Sonnenuhr, for example, is to see a roll call of famous names: J.J. Prüm, S.A. Prüm, Willi Schafer, and so on. Joy for the wine geek.
From a vintage that yielded fuller wines comes this rather buxom Spätlese from Graach-based producer Willi Schaefer. Despite a striking richness of fruit, this has more than a whiff of Wehlener Sonnenuhr minerality, chiselling both nose and palate with angles of slate and savouriness. Fruit is very much in a tropical spectrum, with mango and paw paw alongside tauter notes of citrus and orange blossom. This requires a good deal of balancing acid in the mouth, and this wine’s particular trick is that it constantly threatens to spill out of its dress while never quite doing so. Mineral flavours are key — shapewear to the fruit’s love handles — consistently pulling the wine back into some semblance of line.
This is rather rich for a Spätlese and I wouldn’t be surprised if the fruit that went into it could have been classified riper. While I can certainly appreciate the flavours and generosity on offer, my personal tastes lean towards a tauter line with, perhaps, a bit more acid and texture. Still, undeniably sophisticated and delicious.