2015 Markus Molitor Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese *** (White Capsule)

Year: 2015
Appellation: Mosel
Country: Germany
Wine Advocate: 99+
Vinous Media: 94
James Suckling: 94
White Wine
Price :
$89.95

"Pure and flinty, with perfectly ripe stone fruit aromas that are seamlessly intertwined with the flavors of crushing stones, the 2015 Riesling Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese *** (White Capsule) is powerful, rich and incredibly juicy on the palate but, at the same time, pure, finessed and crystalline. This is a highly complex and salty, endlessly juicy and stony Riesling of great precision and salinity. The finish is long and stimulatingly salty, very rich and powerful and still marked by its yeasty texture. Fermented and aged in 3,100-liter barrel from Stockinger. Bottled in September.

Due to the drought and heat, 2015 was an easy vintage in terms of plant protection. The summer was very dry and the vegetative growing of the plants was pretty moderate. Also, there was no pressure from any fungal diseases. It was crucial, though, to keep yields low and to have a sufficient layer of humus to protect the soils from drought stress. Also, to receive fully ripe and aromatic grapes, it was necessary to harvest as late as possible. "When the rain came in the beginning and in the end of September, many colleagues panicked because they feared another quick spreading of rot like in 2014," says Markus Molitor. "But in fact, we got a really perfect October! It was necessary to extend the hang time because the grapes needed some time to metabolize the biochemical processes caused by the September rain."

Team Molitor started with some pre-selection in early September when the first nests of botrytis were also cut away. The main Riesling harvest did not start before the middle of October and wasn't finished before the middle of November. Several top producers tend to harvest sooner today to keep the acidity fresh and to avoid too big and fat wines, but that is not Molitor's strategy. A too early harvest might cause an atypical early aging of the wines, and they often get some bitter flavors, too, he says. "However, in 2015 there was no problem with acidity at all; the acidity was ripe but remained high even in October when we got perfectly ripe and intensely flavored grapes," Molitor says. "Since there was no rain forecasted, we could go wherever we wanted and pick whatever we wanted. There was so much time to sort and to select! In fact, we picked our grapes at roughly 100° Oechsle and with phantasmagoric acidity levels!" (Note that not a single wine underwent malolactic fermentation in 2015.)

Molitor compares 2015 with 1990 but considers the 2015s even riper and finer. The perfect balance of ripe grapes and pronounced acidities let him select a cornucopia of the finest Auslese Rieslings, Beerenauslesen and no less that seven Trockenbeerenauslesen from "perfect berries" at 200°+ Oechsle. "We never had a series like this before, but I am sure we will produce similar quantities and qualities more often in the future because we have such a great collection of great vineyards and are able so select only top qualities for our highest predicates." Mind, that Molitor's noble sweet wines from the best vineyards are picked very late as well. Botrytis settled on fully ripe 100° Oechsle grapes here, which gives a completely different (riper) aromatic than sweet wines that were made with grapes that were attacked by the noble rot at a sugar ripeness level of just 80° Oechsle. But, that's a question of style rather than of quality.

Readers should be aware that labor costs alone for the noble sweet wines are higher than many family domaines have to pay for the whole harvest. In four weeks, up to 40 workers select daily, evening by evening, up to three hours, selecting raisin by raisin. There is no greater luxury in wine than in a Molitor three star Auslese, Beerenauslese or Trockenbeerenauslese whose perfection is almost too good to be exciting in young years. However, these wines will shine the older they become and should be legends decades from now. Riesling lovers should take every chance to buy some of Molitor *** Auslese selections, which are available in reasonable price categories. These are terrific wines at 12.5% alcohol or less. Only a very few of them were made from botrytized grapes, and in fact they have been rarely that clear, fresh and elegant as well as dense, rich and persistent. They will age for decades, and only in 10 or more years we will really appreciate their true class. But, even Molitor's Kabinett Rieslings-with quantities of up to 20,000 bottles per label—are amazing in 2015. Analytically, these are Auslesen as well, but despite their intensity and structure, they taste lean, light and highly delicate like classic Kabinetts, ready to be enjoyed young although they will gain complexity over the years, too." (WA)

"Site-typical vanilla-tinged apple dominates the nose and lush, creamy palate of this seamlessly rich, polished performance, to which musky, nose-wrinkling notes of narcissus, piquancy of apple seeds and vanilla bean and wet stone underpinnings add interest. The palate projects an uncanny combination of creaminess and almost custardy density with vibrancy born of hidden but highly efficacious acidity. Hints of resin and lanolin point to the newness of the small barrels in which this was raised and translate into a very slightly drying spot in what is otherwise an astonishingly persistent, fruit-filled and suitably slaty finish. Over time, this may well rival its Zeltinger Sonnenuhr counterpart." (VM)

"This has a rather dense and tightly woven texture to it for a site with a reputation for delicacy. A very serious wine that's still rather closed and will be better between 2018 and 2030." (JS)