Cult German: Keller "von der Fels"

Posted by CrushWine

2008 Keller Riesling "von der Fels"
The $30 Cult Wine from Klaus-Peter Keller
"High class juice and a flat out steal in this vintage."
- John Gilman

"Flat out steal" is one way to put  it. Another way would be to say Keller's 2008 "von der Fels" presents near-Grand Cru quality at about half to a third of the price of Keller's top Grosses Gewächs - and this isn't hyperbole in the least.

As John Gilman points out in his 2008 German reviews, only about 20% of the production from any of the "Grand Cru" vineyards makes it into the Grosses Gewächs bottlings. A good portion of the rest ends up in the "von der Fels" and a few others. If you want to geek out even more with some Keller trivia: 2008 presents the first "von der Fels" with juice from about 1 hectare of Keller's famed Abtserde vineyard.

The "von der Fels" is Keller's quiet cult wine. There simply isn't a better dry Riesling value in the Keller arsenal and while people are begging to be put on waiting lists for the G-Max, those in the know are loading up on some of the few cases of "von der Fels" that come into the U.S. ever year. (Only a handful of retailers in the U.S. ever see any of Keller's wines, let alone the "von der Fels" and the Grosses Gewächs.)

Have you heard that 2008 was not as good as 2007 in Germany?  Not necessarily true.  In the right hands and the right vineyards 2008 begot some serious wines and Keller's 2008 "von der Fels" is a borderline profound bottle of dry Riesling. Strict vineyard management - including serious leaf thinning - kept the fruit in perfect shape through the fall and the Donnersberg mountains acted as a rain shield, so that Keller's Hügelland was drier than most surroundings. This means Klaus-Peter was harvesting fruit clean enough for his dry Rieslings up until the latter part of November which is absolutely incredible. These are hang-times almost on par with 2007.

Still, the clarity of the vintage speaks and the 2008 "von der Fels" has everything that a purist could want - it speaks to the dazzling detail and nuance of this vintage.

I have not yet had a Riesling from 2008 with a more articulated and mind-boggling nose - distinct notes of rose, lilac, lavender, fresh grasses, watercress and even dried pine needles. If the cliché is "walking through a garden after a summer rain," the von der Fels is more like inhaling each element separately, and then somehow placing one sensory note on top of the other in razor-thin layers of smell. This is FOCUS - which, by the way, Klaus-Peter thinks was brought to a pinnacle in 2008 not only because of the vintage's natural strengths but because of the addition of Abtserde juice. I'd have to agree.

The palate is joyous, compact and stuffed with stone fruit, glazes of grapefruit, peaches, apricot and orange zest. There is amazing clarity here and an energy that makes the wine feel almost pétillant, though it isn't. A prominent minerality is present from beginning to end ("von der Fels" translates to "from the rocks") though the kicker of this wine is the rigor of the stucture - a lemon pith surge towards the end that reveals the cut and refreshing crackle of the vintage.

Complex enough for the wine geek and connoisseur; refreshing enough for just about any summer day.

Keller's Grosses Gewächs are on a different level, no doubt. Yet, for me they differentiate themselves more in form than in substance. They are perfect in proportion, holy specters that float across the palate with equal parts precision and grace. The "von der Fels" is more rustic, more burly and if it doesn't have the aristocratic elegance of the GGs, there is something even more mouthwatering and charming about its energy, its sizeable ambition mixed with an easy going charm. (Note: We will be carrying Keller's 2008 Grosses Gewächs; reply to this email for more information.)

Some people look to the changing of the seasons to mark time; we wait eagerly for the arrival of Keller's "von der Fels." The arrival of this bottle is almost a celebration at the store and when it came in on Monday, we had one in the fridge in about 10 minutes flat. Last year's 10 cases disappeared within weeks, almost all of it right into the cellars of serious German and Austrian collectors. (While it's fun to drink out of the gate, it will also cellar easily for 10+ years.)

This year, Klaus-Peter himself helped us score a bit more wine (vielen Dank KP) and in turn we'd like to introduce this bottle to a larger audience. It is one of Germany's best in 2008 and at this price, it has few rivals. Our special pricing ends Friday, though most likely the wine will be gone before that. Click below or call the store at (212) 980-9463 to order.

Keller Riesling "von der Fels"

*We will be carrying Keller's 2008 Grosses Gewächs, including Abtserde, Hubacker and Kirchspiel. Please inquire by replying to this email.

Special Bottle Price: $33.00

Compare at $35

Special 4-Pack Price: $120.00 ($30/btl)

One to drink now, 3 to cellar!

John Gilman, The View from the Cellar: "The 2008 Von der Fels Riesling was bottled just a week before my visit, but was still showing beautifully despite its recent mise. Keep in mind that only about twenty percent of the production from any of the Grand Cru vineyards here make it into the Grosses Gewächs bottlings, with a significant percentage of each cru’s production going into bottles such as the Von der Fels or the Riesling RR, so these are terrific Keller bottlings of dry Riesling that should not be ignored in the race to secure a handful of bottles of the Grosses Gewächs. The 2008 Von der Fels is superb, as it offers up a complex bouquet of grapefruit, lemon, petrol, orange peel and a topnote of citrus blossoms. On the palate the wine is full-bodied, crisp and very pure, with stunning focus, a rock solid core, great cut and outstanding grip on the long, poised and racy finish. High class juice and a flat out steal in this vintage."


Keller's 2008 "von der Fels" is in stock!

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