Frighteningly fine

I have not met Tim Fröhlich in over a decade. He was a humour-filled, passionate man who was very proud of the improvements made at Weingut Schäfer-Fröhlich in the years preceding our encounter. This, and the other wine of his I have tried recently, demonstrate I have been misguided and foolish to have been away from his vital fluids for so long.

Schäfer-Fröhlich make a lot of dry and Grosser Gewachs wines, but I was drawn to try his Kabinett and Spatlese from the Grand Cru of Bockenauer Felseneck. I loved the Kabinett I tasted a couple of weeks back, so was looking forward to this. I shall try and report on another bottle of Kabinett soon, as that excellent chap Keith Prothero has provided some bottles to entertain Team Elitistreview over the autumn and winter months.

As a Spatlese Goldkapsel at only 7%, I would expect this to be quite sweet, but Goldkapsel wines often have an extra thrill of acidity. Therefore, I guessed there might be some excitement to the wine.

Up, up and away (with the cork)!

Felseneck Spatlese Goldkapsel 2022 from Schafer-Frohlich

Riesling Felseneck Spatlese Goldkapsel 2022, Weingut Schäfer-Fröhlich

Popped and poured straight from the fridge.

It is a little reticent at this low temperature, but it is obviously ripe, with peachy, apricot fruit as well as the more usual Riesling lime and lemon characteristics – both quite voluptuous here. I only get hints of the slight nutty aroma I usually identify with Nahe wines – just on an initial sniff it would be easy to mistake this for a ripe Saar wine.

So, a taste…

SMACK! I have driven my palate into a massive wall of acidity! It is purifyingly, penetratingly, petrifyingly painful – oh it is so good! This acidity is not so much ‘glisks of afternoon sunlight’ as ‘mid-day sun intensity focussed through a magnifying glass so it makes your skin melt and boil’ (do not ask for more information but, believe me, I know this pain). It is asterine in its precision, mind-wiping in its clarity. How utterly brilliant!

Behind this firebrand of an experience, there is just discernible sweetness and plenty of ripe fruit. There are a lot of slate-y characteristics too. Straight from the fridge like this you would say, “Jesus Christ! This is an Egon Muller or Peter Lauer Auction Kabinett… but… it is better? Really? YES!”

You see, despite the searing, terrifying, delicious acidity, it is extremely finely balanced. The Editor claims that really fine wines have an uncompromising element to their balance – a ‘terror balance’, as he likes to call it. This has that going on, oh yes! Oh yes it does!

As it warms up I get more of that Nahe nuttiness on the nose and more fruit and minerality show both there and on the palate. A touch reductive too? Yes. It is dazzlingly complex and stunningly long. With the intense acidity it seems superficially dry and sapid but, without too much imagination, you can feel sweetness there. Amazing essence of Spatlese.

This is the nec ultra plus Nahe Spatlese experience; properly fruity, pleasingly slate-y, complex to a delightful level and fearsomely acidic. Yeah.

I have had some great wines this summer but, by arse, none of them as arrestingly, refulgently, arousingly brilliant as this. Beg, borrow or steal to have a taste.

Get this scintillating entity from Howard Ripley here. Also listed there is the Schäfer-Fröhlich Felseneck Kabinett 2022. That is objectively nicer than this, although also quite an experience, and I recommend that with furious intensity; the attractive price also makes it a no-brainer.

However, this Felseneck Spatlese Goldkapsel 2022 is a coruscatingly brilliant wine. When you tell your grandchildren about your first taste, climate change will mean they have no conception that drinking wine could be such an effulgently vivid experience.

We will meet soon, Tim Fröhlich!