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rarities from a Mosel cellar
hits from 80ers and 90ers
provenance is everything

{ There is no machine you can buy, no subscription service, no cream or online workout regimen that will give you the experience of an older wine. }
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There is only one way to taste a mature wine: allow a bottle of wine to age for many decades.

Then open it.

Today we are thrilled to offer the second tranche of an amazing cellar we found through contacts in the Mosel. This smaller tranche focuses on wines from the 1980s and 1990s. 

A few important notes. First, old wine is always a risk.

As for the provenance, technically, the collection was sourced from three separate cellars of people who worked in the wine industry, in various roles, through some of the most formative decades of the post-war period.

We can't say every bottle was bought on release, but it seems most likely that every bottle went directly from the estate's cellar into the cellars where we took the bottles, only some months ago. As all the collectors worked in the industry, the really important parts of the bottle (the capsule, cork) were lovingly cared for - you'll note many bottles were "re-capsuled" and some were even hand-waxed. These were, however, natural cellars with high levels of humidity; many of the labels are quite dirty, stained or torn. This is a ridiculous thing to say, but it bears repeating: The label condition does not affect the wine inside the bottle!

When buying older wine, provenance is everything; here the provenance is very, very good. (See below for more on the aesthetics of the wines.) 

The collection includes some better known estates, from the Dr. Pauly Bergweiler to the Hospitien to Schmitt-Wagner, but today's selection includes lots of growers that are relatively unknown. These wines are, very literally, a historical representation of what people in the industry were collecting and drinking through the 1950s to the early 2000s. These are estates we wanted to learn more about, stories we felt needed more than just a "here's a bottle of old wine, buy it!" So we did some serious work - our thanks to John Ritchie for hours and hours spent researching these different estates. Each wine comes not only with a condition report, but with as much context and information as we could find.

Here is but one example regarding the Erbens Dr. Weins, Willi Weins 1983 Graacher Himmelreich Auslese: "Anna Maria Prüm was a sister of J.J. Prüm and as such, in the early 20th century, inherited a portion of the original Prüm estate. She married Dr. Franz Weins and they had three children, one of whom was Wilhelm "Willi" Weins. Another of their children, Marianne, had a son by the name of Bert Selbach, the owner of Dr. F. Weins-Prüm until quite recently. It's not clear how long this particular estate was in operation - "Weingut Erben Dr. Weins, Willi Weins" as the labels so care-takingly points out - but there are references to wines being made here in the 70s and 80s. Rudi Wiest reported that at some point in the 90s or early 2000s, "over one acre in the best portion of the Graacher Himmelreich was acquired from the estate of Willi Weins," by Thomas Haag at Schloss Lieser. The labels are a touch soiled, but not badly, while the fills and capsules are beautiful. We opened the worst-looking bottle of the bunch (which still looked pretty good) and the wine proved to be lovely: quiet fresh and primary, vivid even, with lively spiced pear and citrus notes very present and finely woven on the mid-palate. The structure of the wine is all Himmelreich - saturating and fruity, yet firm and a touch austere... just great acidity and tension and has a really nicely integrated and fresh-feeling salty quality on the nose. This is a really, really lovely bottle of wine and has some time ahead of it honestly. Willi Weins we barely knew ye; this bottle makes me wish we knew ye better."

We also wanted to outline a few larger thoughts on thinking about and buying older wine.

We are pricing everything very fairly, but there is risk involved here. We have opened too many bottles that had protruding corks and low fills and where the wine inside looked like motor oil... that turned out to be great wines. Conversely, we've had too many bottles that were just perfect in every way, that contained wine that was dead, or corked, etc. In most cases we have pictures of the very bottles for sale, so you can make your own choice. But if you buy a bottle, it is yours and there will be no refunds of any kind, period. We're simply giving you the same terms we were given - terms that we believe are fair.

Second: some important comments on aesthetics. These wines are from the collection of three people in the Mosel who worked for various estates in various capacities for many decades. Thus, the bottles have many aesthetic peculiarities, such as neutral capsules (meaning the wines were at some point given new capsules that were bought generically and do not have the estate's logos, etc.) or even waxed tops over the capsules. Both practices were common for loving collectors who had natural cellars; obviously people working in the industry would have had the knowledge on how to do such things and easy access to any required equipment.

These wines all come from natural cellars so they can be quite dirty to our 21st-century eye. It's ridiculous to say, but please note that a ripped or stained label does not affect the wine inside the bottle! Natural cellars, with their extreme humidity, are great for corks and wines, and very bad for paper and metals - thus the collection is a veritable showcase of how paper and various metals can be stained, dirtied, made moldy, corroded, ripped, etc. We have tried to make honest assessments of the things that can (but don't always) indicate quality: fill levels, capsule and cork condition and wine color. These are crude guides, to be honest, but they are all we have.

Third: Provenance is everything. We have at this point tasted over six cases of wine from this collection - a mixture of quality control and our own passion and interest. For nearly every lot we have tasted, we took the worst-looking bottle (lowest fill, darkest color, etc.) and nearly every wine has been good, to very good, to simply awesome. All in all, we can say with complete transparency that we believe this collection represents some of the better mature German wines we've seen on the market in a long time. Perhaps that is underselling the collection and its condition. With wines like this, provenance is everything. While all wines likely weren't bought on release, given the collectors' roles in the industry, it is safe to assume that nearly every wine went directly from the estate into their cellars. They were brought to the U.S. this spring in a temperature-controlled container and now rest in a temperature-controlled warehouse. As far as wines that are decades old, it doesn't get much better than this very often.

A few random notes on drinking and experiencing older wines, if you don't have much experience.

Corks crumble. Most of the corks used in the latter part of the 20th century were just not meant to age for many, many decades. They crumble upon opening with a normal cork screw even if they were perfectly stored. Save yourself a lot of headaches and buy an "Ah-So" or a Durand opener. The former can be had for around $10; the latter is expensive at $150 but well worth it if you have many older bottles to open. Have a paper towel around and once you remove the cork, wipe the inside of the top of the bottle. Have a decanter around and a fine sieve if you have one. If a cork does fall into the bottle, simply pour the wine out into a decanter and through the sieve to keep the cork or cork-crumble out. We have saved countless wines like this. In short, just be prepared. Older wines do require more work; they can be well worth it.

Old Riesling needs air. Allow the wine to breathe. I don't normally recommend decanting older German wines, but many people seem to feel like there is a stopwatch that starts the second you open an older bottle and you better drink it before the wine goes bad. Many older red wines do seem to lose some of their heady perfume, their fruit, after a shorter time open, but our experience with older Riesling has almost always gone the other way. Bottles opened that tasted corked, funky, brothy, smoky, dank, mossy or just plain bizarre... often resolve themselves with a half-hour or much longer, open. Good bottles often improve into great bottles. I have had many experiences where bottles written off as dead or just not good, have transformed themselves into lovely wines with a few hours. I've even had some wines show as good or better on day two - even wines 40-50 years old. I'm not saying open all these old wines in the morning to consume at midnight, I'm just saying give the wines time.

Hopefully that covers everything. We are so excited to be presenting this history, to be drinking these older wines. 

This offer is now closed. If you need help finding the wines please email

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