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on Michelangelo, Schäfer and liquid energy
or, when winemakers go shopping for themselves
(the secret value of the auction)

{ They say that Michelangelo’s genius in sculpture was to see the finished form in the rough stone; he in turn simply removed all that was not absolutely essential. }
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In drinking my last bottle of 2019 Joh. Bapt. Schäfer’s Goldloch Auction Kabinett, this was the thought that kept coming into my mind: the absolute genius of this wine is that there is nothing that is not essential.

This is simply a profound Kabinett - easily one of my favorite bottles of the year. What Sebastian Schäfer is achieving here is the purest form of the Kabinett: liquid energy.

The auction bottles - if you're unfamiliar with the event - represent in a way, the best of the best. They all have the little "VDP" circular sticker (see photo above) and are only sold at the annual auction, each fall. This year's auction took place in November; I bought everything I could. (For more on the magic of the German auctions click here.)

I’ve had the 2020 auction bottle twice now; it may be even better than the 2019. The 2020 version is even more electric, zesty, more "drinky!"

This is glacial spring water filtered through Riesling. A vibrant list of descriptors ripples through the synapses as you smell and drink (the emphasis is on garden-fresh green notes – green apple, green apple skins, lime zest and then into a dizzying array of complex citrus and citrus oils), yet what is so miraculous about this bottle is how one element seems woven into the next to make one simple, stunning, evaporative form.

I only bought three bottles of the 2019; I was not going to make that mistake again. We bought everything we could. I wish it were more but it amounts to only a few cases. Worse (sorry), I’m keeping a case; the rest however is for you. Do not miss.

We are working as lean as possible – as is our retail fulfillment partner – to keep this bottle as affordable as possible. It is not the cheapest Kabinett on the shelf, but I assure you it is worth the tariff and much more.

My best guess is – if the quality remains at this level – this wine will soon develop an outsized reputation. And the price will go up, deservedly so.

In the last few years it’s become apparent that Schäfer’s Kabinett has become something of an “insider’s" auction wine. In fact, none other than Klaus Peter Keller recommended Schäfer’s auction wine to me in passing a few years ago. With his recommendation, I took a flyer on it. And now, every year I note more and more *serious* collectors – the ones who have no problem going deep on the pricey titans of the auction, like Keller and Egon – also buying Schäfer’s Kabinett in six-bottle and case-quantities.

If you’re a buyer, I’d get the buying done sooner rather than later. Keep in mind our quantities are tiny (Sebastian only sent about 240 bottles to auction). However, once you’re done with all that, I did want to write a bit about Sebastian and the estate.

Sebastian Schäfer is farming some famous sites in the lower Nahe, including the Goldloch (where this auction Kabinett is sourced) and Pittermännchen, to name only two. This is the lower section of the Nahe, a few miles downstream from Monzingen, where Emrich-Schönleber’s two sites are. Sebastian is farming only eight hectares; this is a small scale, family estate in all the ways we truly value. Sebastian started working in the winery with his father in 1997, though his first true vintage (where he made all the calls in the cellar) was 2002. The reputation of the estate has grown quite a bit; Frank Schönleber said to me once that Sebastian is excellent at making wines, but not very interested in promoting himself. Well, people are noticing regardless: In 2014 the estate was welcomed into the VDP. The 2020 Goldloch Auction bottling is only the fifth ever made (2014, 2017, 2018, 2019 and now 2020).

For me, this wine is a star, a profound calling card for the estate. This is one of my wines of the year and a more than appropriate way to end our year's offerings. Don't miss.

2020 Joh. Bapt. Schäfer Riesling Goldloch Kabinett Auction 
The grapes for the 2020 Goldloch auction were harvested at the end of September, with a brisk 84° Oechsle (this is 20.2 Brix for those of you interested). It is sourced from vines that are up to 55-years old; Sebastian produces only one Kabinett (which goes to auction) and then a Grand Cru dry, the GG, from this site.

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