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Saalwächter Grand Cru
two sides of the river Rhein

{ For me these are among the top Pinot Noirs and Silvaners being made in Germany right now. }
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Carsten Saalwächter Grand Cru Three-Pack: $280
1 bottle of 2021 Spätburgunder "R"
1 bottle of 2021 Spätburgunder Assmannshausen Hollenberg
1 bottle of 2021 Silvaner "Grauer Stein"

It's a very curious situation to be put in for someone who wants to both express a very honest opinion, and (believe it or not), not over-hype or over-sell something.

It's at least a curious situation to be put in when the honest opinion is that these are some of the finest Pinot Noirs being made in Germany right now, period.

And this line for sure will feel like a salesy-zinger, but it is just the honest truth: I had the same feeling and general sense of boundaries being transcended with Saalwächter's Pinot Noirs as I did when John and I first tasted through the cellar at Wasenhaus. We looked at each other and didn't even have to say anything. We both knew.

(This is my oh-so-subtle way of saying buy these damn wines now, before they are widely known. We know what happens then.)

Already - this is only the second offer for the Pinots and the Grand Cru Silvaner - people are talking. This offer represents the only time you will see all three of these wines - there are only 36 three-packs available. First come, first served.

These are wines of amplitude and force. There is a certain swagger and even voluptuousness to the palates - a very serious concentration and depth - yet the wines have such energy, such incredible drive and transparency. I have been barrel tasting with Carsten since 2019 and even five years ago, with his first barrels and bottles, the wines had a very serious and authentic sense of style.

It isn't that often that a winemaker seems to just understand what they want to do, and then knows how to do it.

Every year the wines have gotten better and I quickly and easily said yes to the small allocation we are offering today.

We've provided pretty detailed information on all the bottlings below. There are two main terroirs Carsten is farming: the cool, limestone-riddled vineyards of his hometown Ingelheim in the northern Rheinhessen. Second, Carsten also farms just a few tiny parcels (totaling only around one hectare) of the legendary Höllenberg vineyard in the village of Assmanshausen in the Rheingau, just across the river. This is a storied, near-mythical Pinot Noir vineyard with a 70% incline and an expansive view of the Rhein, see photo above.

Thank you so much for the support and please do let us know what you think.

Stephen and Robert

These wines will be able to ship late February.

2021 Silvaner "Grauer Stein"
This is Carsten's top Silvaner bottling from the oldest Silvaner vines at the estate, around 70 years old. Only tiny quantities are made; it is released after two years in barrel and then additional bottle-aging. This is the only white wine on offer today and only a few bottles are available.

For all the grandiosity and fullness (albeit a disciplined fullness), the Silvaner "Grauer Stein" is broad-shouldered, yet taut and lean-feeling. There is so much salty density here while the wine is at once buoyant (upward looking) and incisive (downward looking). Carsten often talks about Silvaner as a phenolic grape, about the wine being as much about the architecture as the taste, and this is an uncanny flex into this aspect of the grape. Burly, fine, phenolic, elegant, deep, lean - none of this makes total sense, I admit, but this is the wine. While Carsten harvests neither particularly early nor very late, he does favor a very slow and serious pressing cycle - he wants the phenolics. The wines then see a mix of barrels, some new, some older and neutral, where they will normally age for a year - two years in this case. They are then blended into stainless steel tanks for about six months before they are bottled - a similar process is used at Wasenhaus and many more Burgundy-oriented estates.

The wine is still silly-young - cellar if you can, otherwise decant or drink over a few days.

On the Pinot Noirs...
Carsten Saalwächter is working two general terroirs with his Pinot Noirs: The first is in and around his hometown of Ingelheim, in the northern-most part of the Rheinhessen - essentially across the river from the Rheingau. The Spätburgunder "R," presumably meaning "Reserve," is his top bottling from his hometown.

The second terroir is from the vaunted Spätburgunder village of Assmanshausen in the far-western Rheingau, right around the corner and downstream from Rüdesheim. While texts from the mid-twentieth century and the post-war period speak of the reds of Assmannshausen in glorious terms, for sure some of the luster and acclaim - and even awareness of this village's history and reputation - has faded in the last few decades. I have to be honest that I have tasted many Pinot Noirs from this village over the last twenty years and always felt some sense of disappointment. They never seemed to live up to their historical reputations. Carsten's Grand Cru bottling, the Höllenberg (pictured above), is honestly one of the first Pinot Noirs from this place to simply floor me. He is farming only around one hectare in these steep, slate-riddled slopes; do not miss this.

2021 Spätburgunder “R”
This is the top Pinot sourced from the vineyards in and around Ingelheim - again we're talking limestone. This specific bottling is sourced from one of the parcels that is most isolated and the coolest, with old vines that push up against an old forest. And you taste that, in a way. This is for sure the most serious of the Ingelheim group. This is very structured and right away has a more forceful herbal edging with a very serious tannic structure. It is dark-fruited and inward looking, brooding almost. Lots of forest floor notes and great resin details on the layers of dark, mineral-driven fruit. Damn this is a mysterious and engaging wine, both a bottle for serious Burgheads but also in a way for Riesling drinkers, in the compact, herbal-mineral density and the wine's transparency.

2021 Spätburgunder Assmannshausen “Höllenberg”
This from the Grand Cru and very famous vineyard Höllenberg, photographed above. This wine is showing super restrained and tense, with a very airy and juicy strawberry fruit. Somehow this is the deepest and also maybe the freshest and most perfumed of the wines. It has a such a long mid-palate, with epically multidimensional fruit, shimmering and juicy and sleek and bright, lovely acids and an impressive tannic structure. This is fucking superb honestly.

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