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Seehof
Grand Cru Dry January II
the other old vines of Morstein

{ the second of a 3-part series }
sold out


Part II focuses on a Morstein for mortals.

The ultra-cool, limestone-riddled Morstein has become one of the most lauded Grand Crus of the Rheinhessen. There is simply a force, a structure, a mineral-intensity to this wine that is unchallenged by nearly any other site in this expansive region.

Klaus Peter and Julia Keller deserve a lot of credit in making this one of the most renowned vineyards of the Rheinhessen, though Philipp Wittmann and his Morstein also deserve plenty of praise. There are only two problems with this vineyard: price and availability. Keller's Morstein trades between $500-$700 a bottle. The current release of Wittmann's Morstein is certainly more affordable, but it is also a trophy of the region and clocks in at over $100 a bottle.

Today, for part two of "Grand Cru Dry January" we offer the "other" Morstein, a stunning bottle that is Morstein in its mineral-clarity and punching force.

Florian Fauth of Weingut Seehof is a genial, honest character. The family has been making wine in and around the village of Westhofen for many years. In fact, if the list of sites the family farms - Morstein and Kirchspiel among them - feels familiar to fans of Keller, that is not the only, nor perhaps even the most relevant, relationship between the two estates: They are family. Florian is Julia Keller's brother; this is her family's estate.

This is in no way to suggest that Florian's wine is a Keller wine, or vice versa - that would be equally insulting to both Seehof and Keller, each of whom is following their own path. Yet, in the 2020 vintage there are similarities among Keller's, Seehof's, and Wittmann's bottlings of Morstein: the profound limestone signature of the soil. There are vital differences too.

For those of you who do end up securing some bottles, we'd love to hear your thoughts (Source Material is a conversation not a lecture), but we would describe the three Morstein bottlings - Keller, Seehof and Wittmann - in the following way. The Keller bottling is pure energy; for us it is the finest, yet also most forceful and penetrating of the three producers. There is no denying the magic of Keller's bottling. Wittmann's Morstein is most often broader, perhaps not as crystalline, yet there is an unflinching limestone core to the wine. The wine has the feeling of a fortress made of limestone: rigid, unmovable. Wittmann's Morstein often reminds me in ways of the broader and more pushing wines of Chablis; a Montée de Tonnerre à la Westhofen?

So where does that put Seehof's Morstein? It'd be convenient and simple to say, "right in the middle!" - but that doesn't really convey the expression. Seehof's Morstein is, if not more linear than Wittmann's, somehow more attenuated. The 2020 vintage in the Rheinhessen gave the wine (compared to vintages like 2018 and 2019) a bit more finesse, a slightly finer shape and feel. In this way, Seehof's Morstein does bear a familial resemblance to Keller.

While the Seehof does not have the massive limestone core, the jaw-dropping structure of the Wittmann, the Seehof Morstein flaunts beautiful, tactile and clear layers of citrus and stone fruit, a presentation of cooling fruit that is neither generous nor lacking. These satiny layers of fruit are woven together with a very polished presentation of limestone - a stunning depth and concentration, thanks to the old vines. The true beauty of this wine, for us, is its inherent balance, its ability to offer just enough without overstepping the line in the least.

It is, in the end, a beautiful and complex dance. Pulling it off at all is no simple feat; making it feel so natural and easy is truly impressive. So, we can and should say bravo to Keller and Wittmann; they deserve the accolades. But for Grand Cru dry January, let's open the door and let another worthy grower into the discussion.

Stephen and Robert

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