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rarities from a Mosel cellar
selections from 1970-1979
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 a first-look at an amazing cellar we found through contacts in the Mosel. To view the list of wines on offer, email orders@sourcematerialwine.com

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. This tranche focuses on Spätlese and Auslese from 1970-1979.

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.) That said, old wine is always a risk. Please note: ALL SALES ARE FINAL.

The collection includes some wines with big reputations - Fritz Haag, Schmitt-Wagner, Schloss Schönborn, von Simmern, the Staatsweingüter - but today's selection focuses mostly on 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 like 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 1971 Hoensbroech / Hubert Schmitz Wiltinger Kupp Auslese: "A historic estate in Wiltingen, in the hands of the Graf zu Hoensbroech from 1656 until its sale to longtime caretaker and winemaker, Punderich-bred Hubert Schmitz in 1980. Schmitz ran the estate from 1948 on and as Mosel scholar Winfrid Heinen tells it, "with just 2.5 hectares, this is a very small estate in the Großer Ring (the colloquial name for the VDP)... with holdings in the Wiltingen sites Kupp, Braunfels and Klosterberg as well as Niedermenniger Sonnenberg. Here the best wines are matured in wooden barrels. In addition to the great growths from top vintages, robust regional and very dry wines are produced as well." Hugh Johnson is a fan, noting that "the best Auslese comes from the Kupp." Indeed we opened one of these bottles for a recent "Rieslingstudy" event in Philadelphia at Pizzeria Beddia; the wine was lovely, rich with bright with orange-oil notes and caramelized fruits, but still lithe and bouncy and ethereal. This is a lovely, lovely Saar wine from a great vintage. We opened the worst bottle with the worst fill; of the seven being offered one label is stained though all the colors and fills are quite good."

To view the list of wines on offer, email orders@sourcematerialwine.com. Please remember: ALL SALES ARE FINAL.

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 are 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 five 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.

Finally: No wine until the fall! These wines are in the U.S. and we have inspected and photographed each bottle. That said, we want this wine to remain in its temperature-controlled warehouse (where it is safely resting) until cooler fall temperatures. No wine will be shipped before September or October, with no exceptions.

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.

To view the list of wines on offer, email orders@sourcematerialwine.com. If you have any questions, please ask!

Stephen and Robert

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