vintage-reports

No two years are alike, which also means no two harvests are alike either. The art of wine making masters and cherishes the differences in every single year.

Here you can read the vintage reports from the Von Schleinitz Estate and learn about some of the challenges and advantages Konrad Hähn has worked with and crafted into high quality wines that bring out the best each vintage has to offer.

Good quality but very small quantity

All vineyards have been harvested by late October making 2016 a very short harvest.

While easy from a workload perspective, 2016 was a very challenging year. The consequences of climate change are visible in the volatility of the weather patterns throughout the year:

Cold temperatures and rain in May and June caused a heavy infection of downy mildew. This fungus destroyed a significant amount of grapes early in the year already.

In late August and September the weather was very dry and hot, to the point of some grapes experiencing sun burn. The heat let the remaining grapes achieve very high ripeness with a fine ripe acidity, letting us look forward to great rich-tasting wines.

Only using healthy and ripe grapes resulted in a total yield reduction of about 40% overall, so 2016 resulted across the vineyards to only about 60% of a regular harvest.

The Pinot varietals, like Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris were particularly hard hit with losses of up to 75%, while the Riesling was more resistant.

As a result, very little red and rose wines will be available of the 2016 vintage.
The Pinot Blanc and Gris will be great gems in the VS portfolio due to the small grape harvest at wonderfully high ripeness levels. On the positive side, the grapes harvested were pretty much all Auslese level ripeness and above considering the legal requirements.

More specifically, VS has harvested small quantities but great full flavored grapes and while CARA will still not be made in 2016, there will be small quantities of UHLEN, APOLLO and NITOR as well as WEISSENBERG. The non-single vineyard wines will need to be supplemented by grape and juice purchases to supply our customers with sufficient quantities of these wines for the year to come as the 2015 harvest has already very much been depleted from our cellars before the 2016 harvest arrived.

Overall we are grateful for the high quality of the fruit we were able to harvest after such a challenging year in the vineyards and are looking forward to the results in the bottle come spring 2017.

Excellent year with perfect ripeness and very high quality

2015 was an excellent year – just as winemakers wish for! A dry and warm summer lead to healthy grapes with perfect ripeness.

The amount harvested was a little under average, but therefor quality far above average.

The 2015 vintage produced fruity, harmonious white wines with a beautiful balance between sweetness and acidity as well as aroma rich red wines with great color.

The biggest challenge in over 30 years: A year of contradictions

For the 2014 harvest, steady nerves and a skillful hand were required from us winemakers in the Mosel valley, especially in our northern area of the Terrassen Mosel.

Development began early with the first bud break on 10 April. Yet temperatures then dropped in the second half of the month, with damaging frost nights reported in some areas on 17 April and 4 May.

Early June flowering had finished by the middle of the month in what many called a “picture-perfect flowering.” A wet summer promoted vigorous shoot growth, leaving us with our hands full maintaining the canopies and the good vine health throughout the remaining summer months.

The capricious weather of cold and rain through summer and early autumn kept us on our toes, and ultimately produced a number of — in some cases extreme — contradictions. (stimmt das für VS und wenn ja wieso?)

The wet weather at harvest did put the harvesting teams to the test; to bring in healthy grapes, strict selection strategies needed to be undertaken early and quickly. Cold and wet autumn caused berries to pop and botrytis followed immeadetly. The warm weather spurts accelerated the mold and destroyed a lot of grapes. More so for Riesling than for Pinot Noir. Pinot grapes were not so tight and could handle moisture better. In the end some vineyards were not even worth harvesting anymore, rampend development of mold had already taken over and the fruit was no longer useable for quality wine making. Especially the top vineyards suffered and mid tear vineyards allowed for better fruit selections.

Oddly Pinot Blanc, normally harvested before the Riesling, was harvested after Riesling because the grapes still looked good and the longer riping time was awarded with a great fruit character.

Also, the winery had the first harvest in the recently acquired vineyards in Lehmen , the neighboring village upstream. Those vineyards span over 2.5 ha (7acers) and were acquired in 2014.
With the grapes from those vineyards containing Dornfelder, Regent and Pinot Madelaine, a new wine CUVEE RED was created.
A fruit-forward, light yet flavorful red with soft tannins.
A very nice wine that will also taste well in summer slightly chilled.

Overall yield was down by about 40% with the Riesling affected even more than the Pinot Noir.

The first 2014 wines have been noted as having high extract levels in the fruit we were able to sort out and save with clean fruit flavors and a well-integrated yet above average acidity.

VS finished the harvest with very low amounts of wine, but those were solid. We are missing the top wines as the vintage did not allow us to select for these outstanding qualities, but what we have will be a pleasure to enjoy and we do have 2012 and 2013 top selections still in stock, so we will bridge to the next hopefully better vintage in the future.

Good quality but smaller quantity

Despite this year’s weather conditions, 2013 vintage achieved some nice qualities.
Due to unfavorable weather conditions during the blossoming period in June, grape setting was very diminished and especially the Pinot varieties did not produce the expected quantity of fruit settings. In addition, quality-improving reduction measures led to lower yields.

Harvest results, however, differ significantly in the individual vineyard areas depending on grape varieties and climatic conditions.

Overall at about 75% of an average harvest, VS was able to harvest some excellent Riesling in the vineyard uhlen rich mineralic dry Riesling and even a selection from the Uhlen named CARA. Both wines were later awarded with a gold medals.
The WEISSENBERG produced a very fruitful, elegant Riesling

Pinot Noir rose and blanc de noir were harvested in small amounts but resulted in very harmonious, delicious wines, that will make beautiful dry summer pleasures.

Still new at VS, so only for the second time, we harvested pinot blanc grapes, that turned out to be perfect and the was awarded with a gold medal.

Highlights of the vintage are the wines from the UHLEN vineyard and Weissenberg.
The Estate Riesling dry was later awared a Gold medal.
And we are very happy about the great reception our newest member in the family, the PINOT BLANC received: a gold medal.

Overall 2013 is a small vintage but with good ripe fruit. Some wines show a slight botrytis profile in the taste as a nice underlying nuance.

Very healthy grapes thanks to a moderate summer

Moderate temperatures throughout the summer followed by a sunny fall allowed for a very long ripening phase of the grapes, which benefits the fruit and aroma characteristics.

The grapes were also particularly healthy and offered perfect conditions for top wines in all varieties and sweetness levels.

Solid quality at a high volume

With a warm, early spring, the year began some three or four weeks ahead of the norm. This came to the joy of a lot of growers including Von Schleinitz since we had made much less wine in the small 2010 vintage (about 60% less for Von Schleinitz and about 25% less than usual for the whole of Germany), because it gave hope that a larger yield might have the chance to ripen during the course of the year.

In early May, much of the country was devastated by early frost. The vineyards most affected were those on deeper ground as the freezing air rolled down the steeper hills of the better vineyards and settled in frost-pockets (many of which had been known even by the Romans to be poor land for the cultivation of vineyards for this reason.) There was damage in almost all of the 13 wine regions yet the vineyard sites of Von Schleinitz due to all being steep terraces were not affected and we enjoyed seeing a near perfect fruit-set in 2011.

In July, rain finally started to come and really accelerated the growth of the vines.

In late August, there was a much more publicized hail-storm that devastated parts of Baden, the Pfalz, Rheinhessen, and most notably the Mosel, where major damage was incurred in some of the most famous vineyards of the Mittelmosel. Again, von Schleinitz was not affected by these devastating storms.

The advanced ripeness of the grapes from spring through summer lead to a very early start of the harvest.

The Pinot Noir grapes were harvested around September 20th and were healthy and ripe. After two very small harvest of Pinot Noir in 2009 and 2010 we can look forward to a wonderful 2011 release of red, rose and Blanc de Noir.

This was the first year that we ever harvested Riesling grapes in September, but in 2011 we already harvested half the Riesling crop by the end of September. Especially in the best vineyards the noble rot started and forced an earlier harvest.

The ripeness of the grapes was reflected in high must weight and a ripe fruit acidity even with the larger amounts of grapes harvested.

Overall we are looking to an exciting vintage of excellent wines from both of our favorite grapes: Pinot Noir and Riesling and finally they will be in good supply as well.

We hope to release the Pinot Noir Rose and Blanc de Noir early spring since we were already sold out of the 2010 vintage before the new harvest.

Low volume, good quality

For all of Germany’s winegrowers the yield in 2010 was to be the smallest of the last 25 years, approximately 25 percent less than last year’s harvest in average. For Von Schleinitz it was the smallest vintage ever with about 60 percent less wine than an average vintage. Yet. quality-wise, the 2010 vintage is considered to be good.

The reason for the unusually small yield is mainly due to the reduced fruit set caused by the low temperatures at the time of the blossoming. Additionally,

The heavy rainfalls in August and September reduced the number of grapes further and started a widely spread botrytis (noble rod) infection. This caused the remaining grapes to shrink and concentrate.

For the harvest we did receive a nice Golden October which brought those late-ripening grapes such as the Riesling and the Pinots an opportunity to soak up some sunshine and to dry off from the summer rains.

The 2010 vintage wines will be less full-bodied than those of previous years, yet they are very rich of minerals and show a spicy well structured character.

Solid wines in large quantity

With very few exceptions, the grape harvest in Germany has yielded good to very good QbA and Prädikat wines in large quantity. 2008 was the largest vintage for Von Schleinitz in its history so far and the wines are developing stunningly in the cellar.

After favourable conditions in summer, with a good mix of sunshine and rain, relatively cool temperatures and some periods of precipitation in September curbed the ripening process in some areas of the Mosel but the steep terraces of our vineyards provide such a favourable micro-climate that we harvested everything all the way up to TBA.

Riesling and Spätburgunder profited from the sunny weather later in autumn, which greatly fostered the development of typical varietal aromas.

In November , with early frost arriving, we also harvested Eiswein at a ripe high Beerenauslese level. A delicious treat.

Long growing season lead to exceptionally high ripeness

Thanks to early bud burst and optimal autumn weather, German wine grapes had an unusually long growing season in 2007. This year’s harvest was relatively unhurried and took place over several weeks. Grape musts and young wines are showing well, with a fabulous wealth of aromas, high ripeness and extract levels, and a well-integrated, harmonious – yet marked – acidity. After 2006’s small harvest we were happy and very satisfied with the size of this year’s crop.

With Pinot Noir harvest in late September, Riesling harvest began in October and lasted the entire month. Ideal weather, with mostly dry, sunny autumn days as well as cool (at times cold) nights, made for a stress-free harvest. These weather conditions enabled us to conduct a very selective harvest seeking optimal ripeness levels for the individual vineyards.

The 2007 wines seem particularly rich in minerals and extracts. Riesling grapes on the terrasses had considerable time to absorb minerals from the slate soil – ultimately reflected in a wine’s aroma and flavor. This year’s growing season (the time between blossoming and harvest) was particularly long: 100 days is the norm; in 2007: 120 to 150 days.

We can expect well-structured wines with straightforward fruit aromas/flavors. Must weights primarily reached Prädikat levels, often 100 degrees Oechsle and above and yields are significantly higher than in 2006.

Cool October nights slowed down a reduction in acidity in the Riesling, and the young wines have a harmonious ratio of ripeness to crispness.

2007 brings us a vintage with high ripeness and very exciting wines.

Many difficulties, but great results

The relatively cool spring time damped initial expectations but vine growth accelerated in July’s sunny spell. The vines had reached a healthy level of development, in line with the average.

The grapes benefited from rainfall at the beginning of August after the very dry conditions of the previous month. During August alternating sunny and rainy conditions and with more rain arriving in September, the healthy grapes were rapidly affected by botrytis which was accelerating its coverage throughout the vineyards.

The ripeness levels were comparable to those of 2005, but with the botrytis we were losing grapes quickly due to the warm, moist weather providing ideal growing conditions for botrytis. The grapes were literally dripping juice during harvest and speed was of essence to retrieve the crop before it was lost.

It was the quickest harvest von Schleinitz ever had to perform in order to not lose all of the grapes. The results were stunning and especially the Auslese Weissenberg, harvested at 120 degrees Oechsle with full botrytis is a wine that will please for years to come.

One of the best vintages in decades

A warm, but by far not as hot a summer as 2003, continued into a beautiful sunny autumn. This allowed a perfect ripening of the grapes in 2005 vintage. Especially the always late ripening Riesling grapes achieved exceptional quality with must-weights similar to 2003 but with higher acidity levels and mineral concentration similar to 2004.

The harvest started around the middle of October and lasted until the second week of November. The grapes were very healthy with some amounts of noble rot in the best vineyards such as the Weissenberg. Here we were able to select the botrytised fruit and the accurate selection of these grapes allowed us to sort out grapes for Beerenauslese and Trockenbeerenauslese.

The must went into fermentation right away but under temperature control took its time to finish fermentation as late as March 2006. Some contact on the fine lees is helping the wines to be very polished and rich in aroma. The wines show very ripe fruit and mineral finesse with a very well balanced finish.

We view the 2005 vintage as the best vintage in our estate in years even though it is following several great vintages such as 2001, 2002 and 2003. We are very excited about this great vintage.

A late harvest with relatively good ripeness

During the moderately warm summer the vines had a much easier life than in the extremely hot 2003 vintage. While ripening slowly, due to the moderate temperatures accompanied by sufficient water during the ripening season, the grapes were not quite ripe at normal harvest times. The fall turned out to be rather cold and wet, and we had to wait for the phenolic ripeness to occur in the grapes.

With all that, the start of the harvest was not until the last days of October and stretched over all of November into December, since we had to interrupt harvest several times. This was the latest harvest in our winery since 1994.

The ripeness of the grapes was good, but not exceptional so we decided not to produce any Auslese in this vintage.

After fermentation the young wines showed good minerality with a pronounced acidity, which soon after started to integrate and made the 2004 wines develop nicely during the first year after the vintage. The wines have mellowed very nicely and are great wines to enjoy young.

The hottest vintage since the 16th century

According to research out of monastery records, this extremely hot vintage has no modern parallel. Even though some of the old vintners compare the vintage to the legendary 1959, where acid levels were low but concentration was high.

In our winery, the vines in the top terraces of the Uhlen dried up completely, preventing the vines from producing any useable fruit, while in the locations where enough water was available to the vines, the grapes achieved enormous ripeness with hardly any botrytis.

Botrytised berries for Trockenbeerenauslese were rather rare but could be selected during many hours of sorting. We made a small amount of TBA at 240 degrees Oechsle.

The other wines had great ripeness as well. Nothing was harvested below the Spätlese ripeness level. The wines show a combination of rich and ripe fruit aromas and a very distinct creaminess due to the high percentage of tartaric acid instead of the normally more prevalent malic acid. This made the wines less approachable when young but will allow them to age well for a long future.

Tasting the wines in the spring of 2006 shows them to develop fast towards a more elegant balance than they had in their first 24 months.

A great vintage to put down and enjoy later.

An overlooked treasure

A vintage that did not get the credit it deserves due to the high media attention that the 2001 vintage received. While the 2001 was great in the middle Mosel and the Saar, the 2002 was actually the better vintage overall, but not recognized in the press for it.

At von Schleinitz we had a good warm summer and nice fall leading up to the harvest. We started mid October and continued through beginning of November. The grapes were mostly healthy with just small amounts of noble rott affected grapes from the best vineyards.

While the acidity was more pronounced than in 2001, the 2002 needs more time to mature and develop. (In the meantime the 2003 stole the show.)

We produced a good quantity overall. With ripeness levels starting at low Spätlese we had to declassify grapes for the estate Riesling and Kabinett levels.

This vintage is definitely an overlooked treasure with the wines showing great balance and mature fruit with rich minerality.

When last tasted in the spring of 2006 we see the wines at their first stage of maturity and can recommend to continue drinking these wines over the next years.

Small yields and high must weights

A warm summer 2001 with rain whenever needed provided for an early ripening of the grapes at high levels. Strong growth of foilage led to a very good sugar production in the vines. A cool and wet September stopped the development and promoted a wide-spread attack of noble rot. This led in parts to a substantial decrease of the yields. In some vineyards fewer than 20 hl/ha were harvested.

A very sunny and warm October contributed to rising Oechsle levels, so the low yields were rewarded with high must weights especially in the berries that were affected by noble rott. We spent many hours sorting and selecting the dried berries to make dessert wines and our efforts were rewarded by a Beerenauslese with 148 degrees of Oechsle and a Trockenbeerenauslese with 180 degrees of Oechsle.

In the area of estate Riesling and Kabinett we harvested small quantities as well, but the clarity and finesse of the wines make for wonderful 2001 vintage wines.

The 2001 vintage shows clearly that the vineyards of the Terrassenmosel belong to the best vineyards of the Mosel Saar Ruwer area capable of excellent highly concentrated wines. It also emphazises that extremely high quality can only be achieved with small yields and careful hand selection.