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Jakob Tennstedt
new releases
from the wild Moselle

{ Jakob Tennstedt's wines access textures and flavors that are simply unprecedented, exceedingly rare, or, to be honest, explicitly avoided in most Mosel Riesling. }
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2019 Tennstedt Riesling "Mauerfuchs" 
2019 Tennstedt Riesling "Perlmutt" 

Perhaps - just perhaps - you've heard something of the wines of Jakob Tennstedt. There has been a good amount of buzz about him and his wines. In a curious way, those who most quietly follow their own path, who seem indifferent to the ways of the market and the 24-hour-hype machine, these are the people that tend to grab our attention the most.

And so it is with Jakob.

Then of course there was the bombshell review - in many ways Jakob's introduction - in 2020 by the Wine Advocate's Stephan Reinhardt, who wrote the following about a 2018 Tennstedt bottling he had tried: "It is one of the finest dry Rieslings I have tasted in the Mosel this year."

In his short essay about Jakob following his review, he 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."

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

The first small allocations we received arrived in the spring of 2022. They quickly sold out. This is only the second allocation to reach these shores. So far as we know, this is one of the U.S.'s first offers for these wines.

We have two wines on offer, both from 2019, both current releases. These wines not only push boundaries; they are creating a new language of the Mosel. We know they are not inexpensive. They are fully worth the tariff.

Please note that while these wines should be handled very carefully as they are bottled without sulfur, they can be drunk over hours or even days. We don't necessarily encourage decanting, but opening the bottles a bit early is often a good idea. More on both wines below.

Jakob is farming around a hectare and a half of very old vines, with very low yields, in a remote side valley of the Mosel. He picks solely on taste and feeling; he does no measurements at harvest. Although his wines ferment to complete dryness he allows all healthy botrytis in his selections; this is quite unusual. Fermentations take place in old Fuders over many, many months – they can take more than a year. Jakob then tastes the wine, constantly filling the barrel, until he thinks it is ready to bottle, a decision made, again, by feel, by intuition. A wine may be in barrel for well over two years before being bottled, unfined and unfiltered and with no sulfur.

Despite this (because of this?) the wines have a glowing clarity, an energy.

The truth is, because so many of the 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.

And if the project seems wild or adventurous (neither of which is incorrect, exactly), the other truth is that in many ways this is a deeply traditional estate. Jakob is only farming Riesling. He is only bottling single-vineyard wines. This is the deep culture of the Mosel; it just presents a bit differently here.

But this is the beginning of a new and exciting chapter in the Mosel. There is little doubt that Tennstedt will be one of the more exciting authors.

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.

2019 Riesling "Mauerfuchs"
The "Mauerfuchs," named after a type of butterfly, is sourced from the Trarbacher Schlossberg - a site some people may know from Weiser-Künstler's bottling. Tennstedt's bottling is, obviously, quite different - bone dry and clocking in at 12% alcohol. This is a coating Riesling, showing warm fruit, caramel, butterscotch and even butter, pistachio, almond, brioche, fresh cream, though what is so fascinating is that the wine glows with the warming freshness of just-barely ripe mango, a zip of green apple. There is a subtle energy here as the wine transforms into a complex array of spice, wet tobacco, pepper, and spice details. This is expanding and authoritative – it's not forceful, but it doesn't have the more subtle restraint of the Perlmutt.

While the wines feel quite different, I spoke with Jakob about this and he said both wines were harvested very close together. The aging time in the barrels (just under two years) was also the same. The difference is the vineyards.

2019 Riesling "Perlmutt"
The "Perlmutt" is sourced from a tiny site called Taubenhaus. This is a relatively cool site, on the slope opposite the Schlossberg. As the site is a bit difficult to get to, Jakob has decided to stop farming it - 2020 is the last vintage, it is still in barrel. Curiously, this is the darker of the two wines - it shows a touch of oxidation. I ask Jakob about this and he says yes, he's noticed the Perlmutt in youth reacts more prominently with air - he doesn't quite understand why. Despite this gentle touch of oxidation (not unlike an older J.B. Becker Kabinett Trocken), the wine has more delicacy (it is only 11% alcohol) and energy on the palate, with tart red fruit - almost amaro-like - and a zing that comes from citrus as well as green apple. The wine has a really beautiful resiny green spice, a salty stream, a prominent minerality with really tremendous clarity and balance and presence. This is a lot of wine somehow packed into only 11% alcohol. Superb and gripping and young.

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