2018 Max Ferd Richter Mulheimer Sonnenlay Riesling Zeppelin QbA

Year: 2018
Appellation: Mosel-Saar
Country: Germany
Wine Advocate: 88
John Gilman: 90
White Wine
Alcohol by Volume: 11.0%
Price :
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"From purchased and own grapes, the 2018 Mühlheimer Sonnenlay Riesling (Zeppelin Label) is a very commercially successful Riesling in the Kabinett style. The nose shows a rather coolish and flinty bouquet of ripe seed fruits intertwined with crushed stones. On the palate, this is a lush, almost Traminer-like Riesling with lychee, nutmeg and rose petal flavors on the boldly juicy palate. This wine surely did not have any drought problems in 2018. Tasted from AP 6 19 in March 2019.

Constantin Richter describes 2017 as "a more classic, relatively cool vintage." He said, "In 2017, we got everything: frost, hail, drought in spring, rain in summer, early botrytis, but, luckily, coolish and windy nights, so the berries often shriveled under healthy conditions. However, we had to be highly selective during the harvest, and all negative botrytis was sorted out. During the dry weeks, we didn't break up the soil in order to minimize the pressure of botrytis and to keep our grapes in a positive stress situation." Richter compares the 2017 botrytis with that from 2013: "The berries were ripe and botrytis was clean after the selections....Also, 2001 is similar due to the high level of ripeness, botrytis and a concise acidity." In four to five weeks, starting with mid-September, team Richter picked only 50% of a normal harvest in 2017. Due to the rain in August and the low yields, the extracts are very high and this includes high acidity levels.

Chez Richter, 2018 also brought "normal" acidity and low pH levels of 2.8-3.2, which were "all pretty much as in 2017," said Richter. The analytically lower acidity levels taste fresh, because the tartaric acid remained stable. The yields were pretty good (nine fuder barrels instead of the allowed 12.5), but 2018 is far from overproduction here. Richter benefits a lot from a big portfolio of old vines in 2018. "There was no drought stress, the grapes were perfectly ripe and the acidity was round and ripe. We had only [a] little botrytis, but were able to select several Auslesen, BAs and TBAs, which we find really beautiful." Botrytis settled early, but the acidity was still fresh. "2017 was similar, and the 2017 sweet wines are sublime because of the early botrytis," Richter finds. 2018 was one of the earliest harvests ever at Max Ferdinand Richter, where Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc marked the start in early September. "We harvested until end of October and were fully relaxed all the time." End of September, the Kabinett wines and the crus were picked, "not too early but with ripe phenols." Only then did Richter pick the basic wines. In the meantime, the team went out to select the grapes for the BAs and TBAs. There is no Eiswein from 2018, although the grapes were all healthy, but in the end too ripe for Eiswein.

The wines I tasted here in spring this year are fascinating and include several highlights, of which I'd like to point out the Brauneberger Juffer Kabinett as one of the finest Rieslings of the category I tasted this year. I highly recommend trying it." (WA)

"The Zeppelin label bottling of QbA from Max Ferdinand Richter is very, very good in 2018. This is made from a fifty-fifty blend of estate grown and purchased fruit, with most of the cuvée raised in fuders, but a small percentage in stainless steel. This had already been bottled (and was indeed already in the US market a few weeks after my return from Germany) and was showing very well, delivering a fine bouquet of apple, pear, bee pollen, salty soil tones, spring flowers and a bit of wild yeasts. On the palate the wine is fullish, pure and nicely filigreed, with fine focus and grip, a long, bouncy finish and fine nascent complexity. This shows beautiful acidity for a 2018ers (8.2 grams this year), to go along with around thirty-five grams of residual sugar and alcohol at ten percent. A very, very well made Estate Riesling bottling and an exceptional value." (JG)

Winery Notes:
Tasting Notes:
This wine was fermented down to fully off-dry levels. The nose is initially quite reduced and driven by residual scents from spontaneous fermentation. It only gradually reveals some smoky notes of grapefruit, lemon, herbs and green apple. The wine is nicely structured on the palate, where a delicately smooth and fruity touch of sweetness add some charm to the wine. The finish is lightly smooth and nicely long.