Willi Schaefer 2009 Graacher Domprobst Spatlese 95
by Robert Millman
One of the joys of dining in New York is finding wines on wine list that have all but disappeared from the market. Such was the case when I opened the formidable list at Momofuko Ko, David Chang’s superlative high end restaurant tucked away in a cul-de-sac in Manhattan’s lower east side. This may be an improbable location for a great restaurant but it is somehow fitting. The back of the restaurant is devoted to an Omakase style multi course sequence of unusual and compelling dishes representing a multiplicity of food styles: A culinary representation of New York itself. The front part including the bar features a potpourri of à la carte dishes ranging from the best cold fried chicken drum sticks ever to lobster fried rice, to exquisite slices of raw scallops, etc. The food is excellent, the service outstanding and the wine list perhaps the best in New York. So, what does one drink with such eclectic food? Riesling of course! And what a list of Rieslings at Momofuko Ko. I was thrilled as were my dining companions. There were two wines from my favorite Mosel producer, Willi Schaefer. I am hardly alone in loving the Schaefer wines. The respect and affection in which they are held is richly deserved. We found the 2009 Spatlese from their Graacher Domprobst holdings on the list. I have not tasted the wine in years.
The Schaefer estate, run by Willi’s son Christopher and his wife Andrea since 2015 is a mere 4.7 hectares. Fortunately, most of the hectarage is divided more or less equally between Graach’s two Grand Crus: Himmelreich and Domprobst. Yes, there is religious nature to the names of these two vineyards. And rightly so as there is something divine in the experience of the wines made by the Schaefers from these sites. Contiguous but certainly not the same as the Himmelreich, the Domprobst is the richer and earthier of the two wines. Most prefer the filigree and airiness of the Himmelreich–as in the name. I prefer the Domprobst which is my favorite German Riesling. I am pleased to report that the 2009 Spatlese is doing just beautifully, now twelve years in the bottle. The 2009 vintage was warm and stress-free coming after the much cooler 2008. If there was a limitation in the wines in that they lacked some of the tension that comes from difficult growing conditions. The Schaefers never seem to have any problems getting the best from their grapes every year. The smoky bouquet which alternated fruity and citrusy notes was most attractive. The fatness and juiciness of the vintage was apparent in the luscious entry flavors of the wine. Then the wine took off ending in one of the longest, most expressive and evenly textured finishes I have encountered in a late harvest Riesling. The beginning was merely a prelude to the “real” wine. The heat of the vintage may have determined the surface of the wine but the terroir determined the wine’s texture and finish. The wine was so delicious and so interesting that we easily could have had a second bottle. The wine is at peak now but will surely hold its own for another five years. Drinking Window: 2022-2027.
Draga 2017 Malvasia Natural Art Miklus Collio 91
by Ian D’Agata
Deep yellow-orange. Aromas and flavours of apricot, peach, honey, herbs and custard cream. Layered and complex, with a suave tannic backbone carrying the flavours on the long clean back end, this offers a luscious mouthful of wine that leaves an impression of creaminess and sweetness despite being a classically dry wine. From fifteen and sixty years old vines, this is an orange wine made by macerating five months on the skins, and it’s one of the better examples of this style of wine you will come across. Drinking window: 2022-2032.