2015 Willi Schaefer Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Spatlese

Year: 2015
Appellation: Mosel
Country: Germany
Wine Advocate: 92+
Vinous Media: 93
James Suckling: 93
Mosel Fine Wine Review: 93
White Wine
Alcohol by Volume: 7.5%
Price :


"The 2015 Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Spätlese is super ripe and intense on the nose, with ripe apple aromas, but less spicy and flinty flavors. Very intense and lush on the palate, this is a generous and fruit-intense Spätlese with fine acidity, and good mineral grip and structure. This wine is a decade too early to show all its talents, which are also hindered by sulfur. The finish is pure and salty, but also concentrated, lush and aromatic.

"We had a beautiful and very relaxed October in 2015," says Willi Schaefer, who in general doesn't care much about analytics; instead, he prefers to taste the grapes before he decides when to pick them. He also recruits an experienced harvest team to pick the four hectares of family-owned Riesling vineyards, which are almost entirely based in Graach except for a small plot (or one 1,000-liter fuder) in the Wehlener Sonnenuhr. Most of the wines are predominantly fermented and aged in traditional fuders, but even the stainless steel parts are aged for three months in traditional oak vats that were partly made by Willi's grandfather.

In 2015, the Schaefers have produced outstanding predicate wines, namely in the Graacher Domprobst: There are pure and piquant Kabinett wines; lush and precise Spätlesen; and intense and complex, perfectly balanced Auslesen (all types are unrivaled in their price/quality relation); as well as an immortal Beerenauslese. In general, Schaefer's Rieslings are highly finessed and elegant, but also intense and complex. His 2015s are picture-book wines of this style." (WA)

"This year, Himmelreich seems to have enjoyed a rare advantage vis-à-vis Domprobst in the Schaefer cellars, and not only qualitatively. There are 1,500 liters of this Spätlese, three times the amount of the corresponding Domprobst. Site-typical apple, lemon and grapefruit are laced with sweaty, mouthwatering salinity and underlain with wet stone. At first glance, this struck me as a yet more energetic and gripping variation on the themes announced by its Kabinett counterpart. But a slightly decadent fruit character and pungent spice signal an element of botrytis, which brings with it a slight diminution in finishing clarity and sheer juiciness." (VM)

"Wonderful tart, peachy fruit and some delicate floral notes. Very sleek and pristine with a long, super-clean finish that's really exciting. A beauty now, but with a great future ahead of it. " (JS)

"Shy on the nose (where it only hints at more than exhibits fresh fruity scents of grapefruit, tangerine and a touch of mango as well as mint) this Spätlese proves surprisingly open on the palate as smooth and ripe flavors of juicy fruits play havoc with one’s senses. The finish has great intensity and presence with more fresh ripe fruits. This is a superb Spätlese in the making. 2025-2040" (FWR)

Winery Notes:
Cox orange apples lead into a leaping euphoric yawp of fruit but again all stretched and tensile, slate sprinkled like powdered sugar over the almost nervy fruit; a zippy complex Mosel Riesling. -Terry Theise