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Kabinett Trocken
with a Decade + of Cellar Rest
2009 Ludes Ritsch Kabinett Trocken

{ "Kabinett Trocken" as a category is simultaneously ignored, overlooked, misunderstood, threatened, disappearing... and, CELEBRATED by many as perhaps the apogee of a cool-climate viticulture. }
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2009 Hermann Ludes Ritsch Kabinett Trocken

Today we offer an *EXTREMELY SMALL* parcel of a glorious Kabinett Trocken from one of the Mosel's remaining traditionalists with over a decade of cellar rest.

Now, you may be forgiven for believing that the term "Kabinett" refers only to a wine with noticeable residual sugar. In truth, the Kabinett designation suggests only a certain delicacy, a nervy vigor and a lower level of alcohol. Here, the "Trocken" part means the wine is dry.

Yes, a Kabinett can be bone dry: enter "Kabinett Trocken." Think of the Kabinett Trocken as the smaller, but no less serious, brother to the powerful GGs, for those of you familiar with the category of the Grosses Gewächs.

However you want to think about it, Kabinett Trocken is a category Robert and I are both super passionate about. As I write in a TRINK piece published last year (see link below to view the issue), Kabinett Trockens have been some of the "most transparent, detailed and soul-stirring wines I have ever had." These are wines that are diminutive in alcohol only, most often carrying 11.5% alcohol or less. The legendary wine scholar David Schildknecht, in the same TRINK issue, wrote: "The notion that somehow because a wine is lightweight, its vineyard identity won’t be expressed and should be concealed from consumers rather than used as a selling point is baseless and ludicrous. If anything, delicacy brings distinctive details into greater focus."

They are delicate, yes, but they are serious. I have personally had single-vineyard Kabinett Trockens at close to 40 years old and they have been lively and fresh, though my personal preference is to drink them young, around 5-15 years post vintage. You may have heard us exclaim this phrase; it is as absurd as it is worth remembering: "Age your Kabinett Trocken!"

For this offer, Hermann Ludes and his nephew Julian Ludes have done the aging for us. I had this wine recently at a @rieslingstudy that Robert and I hosted in the Mosel (Julian brought a bottle from his cellar) and it was stunning. Even with more than a decade of age it was garden fresh, with surprisingly ripe fruit adding just the most delicate and seductive layer of sheened and cooling fruit to what is otherwise a study in polished mineral and acidity. As per my preferred drinking window, this wine is ready to go now though it will have no problem with another 5+ years and probably much longer.

I may be overlooking something, but I cannot think of another wine culture that asks for so much specificity - up to the "Grand Cru" single-vineyard designation as in the case of the 2009 Ludes Thörnicher Ritsch - while also asking for only what is most essential. "Petit Chablis" may value vigor and refreshment, but it does so at the expense of place and "seriousness."

Kabinett Trocken is the wine world's most extreme editor, not simplifying anything, but rather polishing even the grandest terroir into only what is most tactile and immediate. Hermann and Julian Ludes are some of the few remaining masters of this genre in the Mosel, right there with Stein, Hofgut Falkenstein, Weiser-Künstler and Max. Ferd. Richter.

Maybe the fine-ness, the angelic incisiveness, the mineral-water refreshment and ultra-light essence of these wines isn't for everyone, but, as Schildknecht wrote in his TRINK piece last year: "When everything works, the effect can be transparent, kaleidoscopic, and electric."

If you missed it last year, or want to revisit, we went deep last year with the German wine scholar David Schildknecht and our friends at TRINK, exploring the historical context and current-day status of Kabinett Trocken. Please check out TRINK volume 06 "The Forest for the Trees" with reflections on Kabinett Trocken by David Schildknecht, Jérôme Hainze and me.

Stephen and Robert

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