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Jakob Tennstedt
a new release
a new mystery

{ In a curious way, it is exactly the people who are rather indifferent to the 24-hour, hype-machine that is our über-connected world, who tend to grab our attention the most. }
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2018 Riesling "Perlmutt" (2nd Fuder) 

These people have authenticity, you can feel it; it is like cold water to a person with thirst.

And so it is with Jakob Tennstedt.

He is alone, farming less than two hectares in a rather wild and unknown corner of the Mosel valley (see photo above), making wines that are utterly unlike anything else in the Mosel... and maybe even Germany.

Yet, even before he had officially released any wines, he was making waves.

On a visit back in 2020 the Wine Advocate's Stephan Reinhardt wrote the following about a 2018 Tennstedt bottling: "It is one of the finest dry Rieslings I have tasted in the Mosel this year."

Rheinhardt continued: "I have hardly ever drunk a more rested, deeper and more expressive Mosel wine... These are clear, profound and terroir-shaped Rieslings, which are of a calmness and digestibility that I don't know anywhere else in the Mosel. The prices are reasonable in view of the effort and the yield and of what they hopefully give to you as well."

This offering - less than four cases are available - is a wine of profound meditation. I don't know how else to explain these wines - or their hold on me (and many others). This offer is worth the jump. It is worth the experience.

Consider that the grapes were picked later (the dry Riesling has 13% alcohol) and Tennstedt will include healthy botrytis. The wine was in barrel (old Fuders) for four years - always topped off - before being bottled without sulfur. It then spent another year in bottle before being released fall 2023. It has just arrived.

Yet for all this (to say nothing of the riper 2018 vintage) the wine is exceedingly clear and fresh. After being open for over four hours, the wine was still nearly shut down. It smelled of wet stone, herbs and paraffin. It was taut, dense, silken, yet still coiled up and... not nervous, but tense.

The next evening - after being open over 24 hours - the mid-palate began to slowly unwind, revealing a subtle, honeyed melon base highlighted by green apple skin, lemon pith, ginger, resin, pine needle, dried spices and a wild garden's worth of flowers.

Yet for all this, the wet stone minerality washed over everything; the overall effect was pushing and cooling, like a winter stream.

The wine changes everything you think about 2018 and maybe about Mosel Riesling? It has a glowing clarity, an energy. They are among the most complex Mosel wines I have had; in large part they are a mystery.

The truth is, because so many of Tennstedt's wines’ obvious characteristics are so different (in fact exactly opposite) from what I am normally attracted to in Mosel wine (high-toned citrus, salt and acid!), I’ve had to really reflect on what, exactly, I find so compelling in these wines – why I keep coming back.

Part of it is just the astounding quality.

I loathe this word but the wines have “breed.” What I mean is that they have a very obvious balance, a near-perfect seamlessness, a shimmering quality. These wines present easily, naturally, like the greatest of great white Burgundies.

Robert has mentioned the wines of Edoardo Valentini and Maison Valette as comparisons. Jakob is in fact an ex-chef who worked widely in Italy; when wine became the fascination he worked for a while at Chateau de Béru before finding the Mosel and making it home.

Beyond just the obvious quality, there is something deeper and more important with Jakob's wines – and more elusive. I don’t know how else to say this: There is something about the conviction of these wines, the authenticity, that I just find very moving.

More than most wines, these are just bottles you have to experience. Then you can make your own judgment.

Please do not miss these wines; they are worth the leap of faith. They move people - myself, Robert... Stephan Reinhardt - and they are limited

Stephen and Robert

Jakob Tennstedt

As the wines themselves are unfined and unfiltered they would never pass the Mosel wine authorities’ taste tests. As such they are bottled as “Landwein der Mosel” and they cannot declare their village or vineyard, even though Jakob does hold to the custom of single-vineyard bottlings. Jakob found a beautiful solution to this problem: he simply names the wines based on a bird or insect that seems to embody the vineyard. Again, not revolutionary or shocking, just subtle, poetic.

The 1.4 hectares Jakob is farming are in a deep side valley behind Traben-Trarbach. Standing in these steep vineyards one looks south not over the Mosel, but over a dark, dense forest as far as the eye can see. With blue skies and sunshine this place seems as idyllic and luxurious as the garden of Eden (see the photograph in the gallery above); with storm clouds on the horizon and wind rattling the leaves it can feel foreboding, even dangerous. Maybe it is the sense of isolation that makes the emotional register in these vineyards feel extreme. Although we are only a few kilometers from the traffic and tourism of the Mosel, this place feels wild. Aside from a quiet road running up the valley and a few scattered houses and buildings, there is only forest. Jakob likes this isolation, the quiet. He tells me he didn’t want “the influence” of other people in a way that is both very deeply felt and very vague.

Being alone, on one’s own path, is a meta-theme here.

2018 Riesling "Perlmutt" (2nd Fuder)
The "Perlmutt" is sourced from a tiny site called Taubenhaus. This is a relatively cool site, on the slope opposite the Schlossberg - as such it is normally the brightest and most high-toned of Tennstedt's wines, yet it still has ample power and momentum. In 2018 Jakob had a few Fuders of this wine. Each Fuder is bottled separately, only when it is ready. This is the 2nd (and I believe final) Fuder to be bottled. It is extraordinary.

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