Weingut Willi Schaefer (4.2 hectares)
Graach / Mosel / Germany
If you’re new to all this, there’s a reason these wines are so beloved. Part of it is they’re so scarce; the estate is all of 4.2 hectares with no desire to grow. Part of is the wines themselves; they’re silly delicious. You cannot be unhappy drinking these perfect ur-Mosel Rieslings. And as crystalline as they are, as ethereally complex and limpidly clear, they have a quality of calm; they don’t fuss at you with how amazing they are. Since 2015, Christoph Schaefer and his wife Andrea run this storied family winery in Graach, the pair met while studying enology at Geisenheim. Their winemaking philosophy is not much different than that of Christoph’s father or grandfather. The focus is not on numbers or analytics, but on how the grapes taste. From harvesting each plot to the fermentations with natural yeast, all the way through bottling, everything is done by taste and feel.
In the village of Graach, with south-to-southwest exposition, the vines have great sun exposure all day as well as natural spring that runs through the hillside, guaranteeing good water supply even in warm vintages. The Romans already knew the benefits of Graach’s sites and cultivated vines here. In the Prussian classification of the Mosel vineyards from 1816 to 1832, Graach’s vineyards had the highest ratings. Compared to the wines just slightly northwest in Zeltingen, the wines from Graach show cooler green and white tones rather Wehlen and Zeltingen’s more orange and red flavors. These wines perfectly reflect this unique terroir and show the distinct differences between these two sites right next to each other. Domprobst is more mineral, smokier, shadowy, and takes longer to emerge while Himmelreich is buoyant, more floral, lighter in texture, and is open from day one.
Schaefer is absolutely, without question, one of the greatest producers in Germany. This is a benchmark for the Mosel and the wines are coveted not just by collectors, but by other growers.
- Vineyard area: 4.2 hectares
- Founded in: Schaefer records date back to 1121
- Annual production: 2,900 cases
- Top Sites:
- Graacher Domprobst: Weathered Devonian slate with clay, over a large water table
- Graacher Himmelreich: Weathered Devonian slate with clay
- Wehlener Sonnenuhr: Stony, Devonian slate
- Grape Varieties: Riesling