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who loves Silvaner?
Peter Leipold
Grand Cru Franconia

{ "Peter's wines touch my heart." -Keller }
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2020 Leipold Silvaner Gässberg "Grand Cru" 
2020 Leipold Silvaner Schilfsandstein "Grand Cru" 

Klaus Peter Keller writes: "For me, Peter Leipold is on the way to becoming a young genius... He worked for two years here at our winery before leaving for Liger-Belair. He has a special feeling for wine, something you don't learn at school. His Silvaners are great, soil-driven wines that evaporate in the glass... What Peter does with Pinot and Silvaner in Franconia reminds me of what Julian Haart is doing in the Mosel... Peter's wines touch my heart."

You'll have to forgive the blatantly salesy move here, using one of the most famous winemakers in the world to provide a hook into a new, younger grower. But the region of Franconia and the grape Silvaner are just so little understood in the U.S. - we needed a way to convey, quickly, the true greatness of these wines.

But the truth is you don't have to know anything about the region or the grape. If you care about deep, mineral white wines with form and rigor - Chablis being the easiest comparative reference, though honestly Peter's wines are more delicate and linear than most modern Chablis - these wines may be a game changer for you. AND buying both of Peter's wines will cost you less than a single bottle of serious village-level Burgundy.

Leipold's wines were featured in our second offer, Keller's "Golden Generation." They were among the most talked about wines of the collection. People - including myself and @soilpimp - literally freaked out. It's just rare to have a grower, so young, emerge with such a developed style, with such mature and self-confident wines.

This is a bit embarrassing but here is my tasting note on the 2018 Silvaner Gässberg, back in the winter of 2021, doing R&D while the world was still in lockdown. Keep in mind I write these notes for myself, not only to remember the wine and the traits, but also to remember the emotion and feeling when I was tasting the wine.

"The palate is so clear and fine and precise… it’s like the weight is only in the phenolics on the finish, not at all on the palate. Wow. This was just the first sip. This is just stunning – airy, crystalline nose of salt and lemon, fresh greens (Boston bib lettuce), garden notes – so integrated, unified. Beautifully mineral and rocky wowowowow. Lime zest woven into this – such a delicate fruit spectrum, fine weaves of so much various citrus woven together. A beautiful play of extract, glazed but sharp and refreshing, balance, energy, clarity, vigor. This is just a beautiful Silvaner. Has the energy and lightness of Keller’s basic Silvaner with something of the depth and power of his Feuervogl. Stunning."

And the 2020ers are, in many ways, much better.

Keller's reference to Julian Haart is interesting because, like Julian, part of the fascination here is the clear development of a style, a signature, at such a young age. These feel like the wines of someone who has been working in the vineyards for many, many years and knows exactly what they want to do, what they want to say. Yet Peter has only taken over the reins at the family estate in the last few years.

I have no doubt that a line I wrote about Julian - many years before he became the cult darling he is today - will prove true with Peter as well: "These will be wines of consequence."

Here's your chance: The wines are available and fairly priced, right now.

As but a little background: Franconia is a broad swath of land due east of Frankfurt, roughly following the Main river as it twists and turns to and through the most famous city in Franconia, Würzburg. It is a wildly diverse region (in terms of wine styles, grapes, soil-types, microclimates) with a very complicated history; there is simply no easy narrative here.

Well, no easy narrative except this: Franconia is one of the most exciting, most dynamic wine regions in Germany right now, period.

There is a whole new generation of young growers in Franconia that are wildly motivated. The region still has the coolness to shape wines of simply mind-bending rigor and finesse. There is a deep culture here of very dry wines. There is a good amount of limestone. There are a thousand other tiny but important details and they all point in the same direction: Franconia is about to explode onto the world's wine map. The "Silvaner Revolution" that we talk about, half-jokingly, is only one part of the story. The Pinots, Chardonnays, Weissburgunders and, yes, Rieslings, can be revelations.

When you travel through Germany, there is just this quiet, general admission when you talk to people who really know German wines (Keller being only the most famous of them): this region is due for some serious recognition.

Start here: Peter's wines are worth the leap of faith.

2020 Leipold Silvaner Gässberg "Grand Cru" 
I was introduced to Peter's wines through KP during the pandemic. It's a strange way to learn about anything, let alone wine, removed from the person, the place... just tasting the wine(s) alone in your kitchen. During the height of the pandemic I had cases of samples stacked in my cellar - it was work every night to get through two to four bottles. But I still remember tasting Peter's wines for the first time - the tasting note from above is from one of these sessions. Two words echoed in my head: saturation and evaporation. Peter's Silvaners especially are incisive; they are like a thousand nano-arrows of limestone fired into your palate, the sensation is deep and bracing. The wines are immediate, tactile. There are a thousand explosions of flavor, from yellow fruit to flower and mineral - yet the best of his wines are airy too. They seem to levitate. If the energy of the wine reverberates for quite some time - the weight does not. The 2020 Gässberg Silvaner is Peter's most mineral, most linear Silvaner; the soils here are largely limestone and you can feel that structure and grip. The tension, the contrast, is what makes this wine so beguiling - Baroque minimalism. This wine is just superb and will cellar nicely, benefitting from 5+ years.

2020 Leipold Silvaner Schilfsandstein "Grand Cru"
The Schilfsandstein is sourced from a different site with a very specific type of sandstone. And this is the genius of Silvaner, how sensitive it is to soil, how transparent. This wine is a completely different animal than the Gässberg - it is fuller and more floral. It isn't heavier per se, but it feels more expansive and textural, there is more momentum and push. And this is often the profile you get when comparing limestone to sandstone: tension and cut versus an expansive power. Yet what makes Leipold's Silvaner Schilfsandstein so good is the buoyancy and lift. This is a richer wine, yet it has so much energy and bounce - saturation and then, quickly, evaporation. Damn these wines are so good it's silly.

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