Weekend Vinopolpick- November 2nd

November 2, 2013

Weingut Selbach-Oster

For Johannes Selbach, the current generation in the Selbach-Oster lineage, quality is always the focus, and this goal has rewarded consumers over the past decade. For years, Selbach-Oster has been universally accepted as one of the very best producers of the Mosel and their wines are among the best made anywhere in terms of quality at any given price level. Noted importer and German wine lover Terry Thiese, always a fan of Selbach-Oster, says, “The ambitiousness of Johannes Selbach has made this estate the region’s most prominent rising star. Since 1989, [Selbach-Oster is] always among the very best wines of the collection.”

The ancestors of the Selbach-Oster estate have been cultivating Riesling since 1600. The Selbach family originated from the village Ürzig and the Oster family comes from the small village of Zeltingen on the opposite side of the river. Selbach’s ancestors shipped their wines along the Mosel in their steamship, the wine carried in oak barrels made by cooper Matthias Oster, the great-grandfather on the paternal side of the family. With these two families intertwined, the winery developed as both a top estate, producing some of the region’s best wine, and also as a négociant, consolidating the production of smaller growers and offering a broad range of German wines. Today the companies are separated into three distinct groups, with Weingut Selbach-Oster focusing on farming and producing exclusively the wines from their own estates.

With a respect for the family traditions and a passion for Mosel Riesling, Johannes Selbach and his wife Barbara are currently running the estate with the increasing help of their son Sebastian. Working from some of the best sites that Mosel has to offer, the goal of Selbach-Oster is to realize the full potential the individual soils, vineyards and vintages have to offer.

“As wine producers, we have not forgotten that we are people who live from the land,
who are dependent on nature.”

Selbach-Oster vineyards from Bernkastel to Wehlener
Winegrowing in the Mosel is no easy task. The Riesling vineyards here are steep, making mechanical farming methods impossible. Everything from pruning to harvesting to securing the vines with stakes must be done by hand, with much of this needing to be redone after heavy rainfall, which happens often. This labor intensive process has helped forge the focus for Johannes in creating his wines: “Hands on in the vineyard, hands off in the cellar.”

As Selbach-Oster state, “Every single vineyard on that short stretch of river has its own special environment and microclimate—its terroir. Each single lot of wine in the cellar shows its own individual, complex ‘fingerprint’. No single day is alike and each year, each vintage has its own unique character, its

signature”.” Their sites are some of the most famous in the Mosel, perhaps some of the best in the world. Each of the vineyards faces to the south and, based on soil composition and placement on the slope, have very distinct profiles. The gentle slopes of the Bernaksteler Badstube vineyard offer sleek and racy wines due to its somewhat cooler temperatures and mineral rich soil at higher elevation. Further up the Mosel at mid-slope is Wehlener Sonnenuhr, one of the finest spots for more delicate and refined Riesling. The Northernmost vineyard of Mosel is Zeltingen, with Sonnenuhr and Schlossberg as its most prominent vineyards. The vineyards lay very close to the Mosel River and the dry, shallow soil soaks up much of the sun’s rays reflected from the Mosel River. Schlossberg is known for its richer wines with healthy amounts of fruit, truly Mosel wines, while Sonnenuhr, easily one of the most treasured sites in Mosel, is known for its complexity and finesse.

For an estate with over 400 years of history, Selbach-Oster produces wines that are modern and fresh. In the vineyard modern practices and careful grape selection lead to ultra-low yields, magnified by the fact that 60% of all Selbach-Oster vineyards are planted with ungrafted old vines which produce small amounts of fruit. Once in the cellar the fruit is handled as little as possible while guided to completion, with wild yeasts, cool fermentation and gravity flow transport for the juice. Fermentation occurs in 1,000 liter neutral oak casks called “Fuders” and stainless steel tanks and the wine spends one to two months sur-lie. Once again making wine for the people, these wines are approachable when young and continue to improve with a few years in the cellar. This mix of old and new practices represents the idea of great Riesling at Selbach-Oster and a man with vision enough to let the land and the grape speak for itself.

Selbach-Oster Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Riesling Beerenauslese 2005 375ml ($149.95) $119 special 2+ cases remaining
Wine Advocate 98 points
 “The 2005 Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Riesling Beerenauslese smells intensely honeyed, with nut paste, apple jelly, citrus oils, and a hint of molasses as well. In the mouth, this offers a most amazing combination of jellied viscosity and caramelization of fruit, a nut-brittle character of almond and hazelnut, and along with all this, the clarity and purity of a stream of fresh fruit. An intensely esterous, billowing finish carries apple, white raisin, and toasted nuts on waves of caramel, fruit jelly, and a persistently refreshing core of fresh fruit that only Riesling can deliver under circumstances this ripe and nobly rotten. It’s hard not to get carried away on these waves and with this wine.”

Selbach-Oster Bernkasteler Badstube Riesling Beerenauslese 2006 375ml ($109.95) $89 special 12 bottles here
Wine Advocate 96 points
 “Smells of liqueur-like, jellied, vanilla and chocolate covered purple plums and black cherries. The implosive palate concentration though is simply beyond “liqueur-like” and into realms I can’t recall. Strong brown spices, herbal concentrates add complexity and a buttery, creamy texture does not prevent this wine from preserving the most remarkable clarity of jellied pit fruit concentration, photo-electric brilliance of fruit acids lighting the way to an endless finish. It may not be the most complex Beerenauslese today, but give it time! Is this a “fifty year” wine … “seventy”…? All that matters is to decide whether you want to greedily take it with you to the grave or pass some on. The Germans have an expression: “So was kurz vorm Sterben” – “to experience such a thing shorly before dying.” This wine is one of those things.”

Selbach Oster Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Riesling Spatlese 2007 ($34.95) $28 special
Wine Spectator 90 points 
“Apricot, citrus, spice and mineral permeate the lush texture in this soft, bright Riesling. Harmonious and graceful, with lingering apricot and nectarine notes on the finish. Drink now through 2025.”

Selbach-Oster Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese 2007 375ml ($249.95) $219 special 3 bottles remaining
Wine Spectator 97 points 
“Though extremely sweet, this dessert white is also delicate and light-weight, offering tangerine, apricot and honey aromas and flavors. This has staying power on the finish, with a clean citrus and honey aftertaste. Drink now through 2045.”

Selbach-Oster Bernkasteler Badstube Riesling Eiswein 2007 375ml ($109.95) $89 special 1 bottle remaining
Wine Advocate 92+ points
 “Harvested on the second of the two days when this was possible, Selbach’s 2007 Bernkastler Badstube Riesling Eiswein mingles tart lemon and lime with candied cherry, white raisin, vanilla icing, and caramel. Here is another 2007 of great richness yet bright, penetrating, and invigorating as well. There is something of a tooth-rattling aspect to the intense finish here that makes me think “brrrrrrr … .” Dive in if you dare over the coming couple of decades.”

Selbach-Oster Riesling Spatlese 2009 ($29.95) $24 special 12 bottles remaining
Wine Spectator 92 points
 “Racy flavors of quince, peach and spiced pear fill this vibrant white. The long finish of strudel shows hints of butter, and is lush, creamy and elegant. Drink now through 2021.”

Selbach-Oster Bernkasteler Badstube Riesling Spatlese 2009 ($31.95) $26 special 1 bottle remaining
Wine Advocate 92 points
 “Johannes Selbach is keen to bottle Kabinett and Spatlese restrained in residual sugar, and even though his 2009 Bernkasteler Badstube Riesling Spatlese plunges us into 7.8% alcohol and correspondingly rises in residual sugar compared with what has become the recent norm, the balance achieved is once again impeccable and in no way overly-sweet. Fresh lime, cherry, apple, and high-toned herbal essences seduce even before you take the first sip of this juicy, invigoratingly tart, delicate, subtly stony Bernkastel essence. Lick your lips all you like, it will be hard to eradicate the finish of this archetypical modern Mosel Spatlese and terrific value that ought to be worth following for two decades. ”

Selbach-Oster Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spatlese 2009 ($31.95) $24 special 4 bottles remaining
Wine Advocate 91-92 points 
“A very slow fermenter that had still not been bottled when I tasted it in September, Selbach-Oster’s 2009 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spatlese smelled of lily, apple blossom, and heliotrope, with corresponding apple, vanilla, and wafting floral persistence on a delicate, creamy palate, complimented by hints of apple pip piquancy and wet slate. This is generously juicy, mouth-watering, and at once soothing and simulating, its finish persistently billowing and gently undulating. Look for 20 years of delight in its company.”

Selbach-Oster Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese 2009 ($49.95) $39 special 22 bottles remaining
Wine Advocate 92 points 
“The Selbachs’ 2009 Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese smells complexly of spiced apple, lily, narcissus, sassafras, musk, and white raisin. It may give up something in elegance, refinement, textural allure, or finishing juiciness vis-a-vis typically exemplary performances chez Selbach of this site and degree of ennoblement, but it offers a dynamic, interactive multiplicity of flavors with pungent penetration and exotic intrigue. Look for 20-25 years of fascination.”

Selbach-Oster Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Riesling Rotlay 2010 ($49.95) $39 special 22 bottles remaining
Wine Advocate 93 points
 “The remarkably nuanced, savory complexity as well as the combination of creaminess with vivacity and elegance that characterize this site at its best certainly accrue to the Selbach’s block-picked (at 140 aggregate Oechsle!), Pradikat-free 2010 Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Rotlay, just as in this year’s corresponding Spatlesen and Auslesen. Nut paste, honey, citrus cream, dried apricot, and brown spices are among the layers to be found densely packed yet coursing with almost electric energy and citricity (at 14 grams acidity!). Its hold on my palate is equaled by that on my imagination. Following this over the next two or more decades will be an adventure, and I suspect that it will unfold its layers and its sheer dynamism will turn to captivating dance.”

Selbach-Oster Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese* 2010 ($59.95) $49 special 2+ cases remaining
Wine Advocate 95 points
 “Honeysuckle, lily and heliotrope; apple and white peach essences ravishingly scent the Selbach-Oster “one-star” 2010 Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese*, then reconvene on a creamily-textured yet insistently juicy palate that conveys an irresistible sense of tenderness, delicacy, caress, yet at the same time vibrancy. The savor of browned butter, salt, and deep nut oils here are like catnip to the salivary glands. This glorious epitome of its great site finishes with extraordinary, multi-layered, and in the end almost ethereal persistence. The berries here were still largely green-gold, freckled, but only delicately (“perhaps 20-25%”) botrytized, relates Johannes Selbach, and this seems to me entirely recognizable in the glass. I would hope to follow and be spoiled by some of the 2,000 liters of this for the next quarter century.”

Selbach-Oster Zeltinger Schlossberg Riesling Auslese** 2010 375ml ($49.95) $36 special 11 bottles remaining
Selbach-Oster Zeltinger Schlossberg Riesling Auslese** 2010 750ml ($79.95) $66 special 7 bottles remaining
Wine Advocate 92 points 
“Surprisingly, the ashen smokiness and cyanic apple-pit piquancy that I so often associate with Schlossberg come out in the nose of Selbach-Oster’s “two-star” 2010 Zeltinger Schlossberg Riesling Auslese to an extent unequalled by any other wines from that site in this particular collection. Dense and chewy, this suggests cider with lots of residual apple skin and laced with char, crushed stone, apple pips, and cinnamon. A brown butter savor adds compellingly to the striking complexity of a gripping finish. I would expect this to be worth following for 20-25 years.”

Selbach-Oster Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett 2011 ($24.95) $19 special 16 bottles remaining
Wine Spectator 89 points
 ” This has a smoky and minerally essence to the chamomile and glazed citrus flavors that linger on the ripe, juicy finish, which features hints of sea salt. Best after 2026.”

Selbach-Oster Zeltinger Schlossberg Riesling Kabinett 2011 ($24.95) $19 special 6 bottles remaining
Wine Advocate 90 points
 “Yeasty fermentative residues segue into site-typical smokiness in the nose of Selbach’s 2011 Zeltinger Schlossberg Riesling Kabinett, along with an adumbration of the lemon pip piquancy that accompanies its cidery apple on the juicy, buoyant palate. Impeccable sweetness and saline saliva-inducement help render the succulent finish here next sip-compelling. This promises at least ten or a dozen years of satisfaction.”

Selbach-Oster Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Riesling Spatlese 2011 ($34.95) $27 special 6 bottles remaining
Wine Advocate 90 points
 “The Selbach 2011 Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Riesling Spatlese mingles caramel, honey, marzipan, quince preserves and vanilla cream with lightly-poached apple for an exceedingly ripe, nearly confectionary, and texturally soothing and buoyant performance. Its actual sense of sweetness, though, is quite modest. Incursions of lime and fresh apple lend welcome refreshment in the finish but are, for now at least, not entirely in harmony or synergistic counterpoint with the wine’s creamy, confitured, and near-confectionary aspects. It will be fascinating to see how this impressively persistent Spatlese evolves over the coming decade or two.”

Selbach-Oster Pinot Blanc 2012 ($34.95) $26 special 2+ cases remaining
“Exotic and outstanding, from best vineyard parcels, fermented in a new barrel, vanilla and rich fruit, still elegant with 13% alc., very limited”-Importer notes

Selbach-Oster Zeltinger Riesling Kabinett Trocken 2012 ($24.95) $18 special 12+ cases remaining
“Great wine, more like a dry Spatlese”-Importer notes

Selbach-Oster Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Riesling Spatlese 2012 ($34.95) $26 special 9+ cases remaining
“Perfect balance, one of the Selbach-Oster 2012 highlights”-Importer notes

Selbach-Oster Bernkasteler Badstube Riesling Spatlese 2012 ($31.95) $24 special 10+ cases remaining
“Full-bodied and rich, with minerals and lemony finish”-Importer notes

Selbach-Oster Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese 2012 ($49.95) $31.90 special 4+ cases remaining
“Very fine, elegant and long finish.”-Importer notes

Selbach-Oster Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese 2012 ($49.95) $31.90 special 4+ cases remaining
“Classic Mosel Auslese, very elegant”-Importer notes
 Pre-Arrival Wines- All Arriving Mid-November

J&H Selbach Bernkasteler Kufurstlay Riesling 2012 ($14.95) $10.90 special
J&H Selbach Piesporter Michelsberg Riesling Kabinett 2012 ($16.95) $11.90 special
J&H Selbach Piesporter Michelsberg Riesling Spatlese 2012 ($17.95) $14 special
Selbach Riesling Kabinett (Fish Label) 2012 ($19.95) $14 special