Historical Haag: 1st Ever Juffer-Sonnenuhr GG

Posted by CrushWine

Grand Cru DRY Riesling from Fritz Haag
2008 Fritz Haag Juffer-Sonnenuhr GG
The First Ever Haag Grosses Gewachs!

When an estate with the prestige of Fritz Haag puts their reputation on the line by crafting a "Grand Cru" dry Riesling from their greatest vineyard site, you pay close attention.

If the Fritz Haag estate is famous, worldwide, for their angelically sweet Kabinetts, Spätlesen and Auslesen, it's time to reconsider the possibilities at this estate.

Yes, Fritz Haag has a dry side.

And it's a very impressive (and important) side of the estate. While I had the wine twice in Germany this spring (and was very impressed), it is now, with 6+ months of bottle age, a wine of superb focus and balance. I took a bottle up to Vermont for this past Labor Day Weekend and to be perfectly blunt: It's a stunning dry Riesling, with incredibly vivid and present flavors matched to a flawless, delicate frame. Just awesome aromatics, acidity and minerality.

For the money, it is the top Mosel dry I've had from 2008.

It is also a historic bottling: This bottle is the first Grosses Gewächs (GG) from the hallowed Fritz Haag estate; and, of course, it comes from their top site, the Jüffer-Sonnenuhr.

To celebrate - and to spread the word about Germany's great dry Rieslings - we are offering it at a price as razor-sharp as the wine itself. Grosses Gewächs, especially from the top producers, easily command $50-$70; at ~$35 today's offer is (another) great example as to why German Riesling offers such incredible value.

Suffice it to say, this wine comes *highly* recommended.

The context of this wine's performance last weekend is important: My wife's family from Alsace was visiting - the small farmhouse was crammed with people, all of whom have very strong feelings about food and wine.

If the reoccurring theme was grilled meats and Burgundy, we did indulge in some Riesling. (Would you expect anything less of me?) A 1997 Clos St. Hune was opened, as I figured what else can you do with a house full of Alsatians? An older Rebholz made a great showing. The highlight though was the Haag GG, which I poured blind. It was the white wine of the weekend, easily.

Haag's 2008 GG is intense; green is the theme with waxy Granny Smith apples and lime zest coating the palate on entry. It's interesting that as the wine has evolved over the last 6 months it feels more expansive - there are more layers of fruit and mineral exposed, like a stack of cards once bulky, now laid out exposed on the table. Everything is more vivid and alive.

Yet somehow, even with all these added dimensions, the wine has slimmed down. It feels less gushing and chaotic, less like the hammer-of-a-Riesling it was early this year. It feels more elegant, more linear. This is the magic of the Mosel: So much flavor within a wine that feels nimble and graceful. It is SUPERCHARGED, yet still somehow almost delicate.

My father-in-law said he'd take a case if I could get it for him. This is significant because he's another Alsatian who is decidedly not a card carrying member of the "URFFL" (Unabashed Riesling Fanatics For Life). I don't have that much of this wine and I was not at the holiday weekend dinner table giving my family the hard sell - the wine really did all the talking.

Joe and I, (and Ian, Tom, and just about everyone here) are, however, active members of the "URFFL," and as such we had heard rumors of Haag's 1st GG late last year, gossiping with friends in Germany. For a German wine fan, this is big news. When I landed in Germany in late April of this year, the Haag estate was literally the first stop I made and the new (and still painfully young) GG was the third bottle I tasted. Oliver poured it for me with a smile on his face. The wine was absolutely searing - incredibly impressive with an obvious depth and great material - but a dry Mosel wine in its early youth is nothing short of bone-chilling. I personally think the VDP's mandate with Grosses Gewächs, that they must be held back until the 1st of September the year following the vintage date, is a smart thing. (See below for more.)

The wine is just now coming into its glorious first phase of drinking, when the entire spirit of the wine feels alive, fresh. Wildly vivid. Soaring. Sunshine in a bottle. It's an awesome thing to experience. Enjoy this wine now and through the winter - though we are offering a 6-pack price because this wine will age! My guess is sometime next spring the wine will begin to shut down and then the best thing to do is wait 2-3 years before the 2nd drinking phase beings. It'll be worth the wait!

This special price will not last so please reply to this email or call the store at (212) 980-9463 to order. All orders subject to confirmation.

Stephen Bitterolf
Joe Salamone
Wine Buyers
Crush Wine & Spirits

2008 Fritz Haag
Brauneberger Juffer-Sonnenuhr GG

Special Email Price: $35.95
If this wine appears at other retailers in the U.S. (only a small amount was made), it is likely to be $45+

Special Email 6-Pack Price: $204.00
($34.00 / bottle)

Net / No further Discount

"Grosses Gewachs?"
Grand Cru?

What is a "Grosses Gewächs" and what does this all mean?

Grosses Gewächs, literally, translates to "Great Growth," and the best comparison is, I think, with Burgundy's Grand Crus (though admittedly, it's not perfect).

In German winemaking, a "GG" is always dry - in fact it is considered the best dry wine the estate makes from the specified vineyard site. To make a GG, among other things, the yields are controlled (must be under 50 hl/ha), the wine must be at Spätlese Oechsle level or higher, the grapes must be selectively hand-harvested and the wines are not allowed to be released until September 1st of the following year.

Can any vineyard produce a GG? No. This is where the Germans are trying to emulate the Burgundians. Only the top sites, the greatest historical sites, have been given "Grosses Gewächs" status. A vineyard site that is not Grand Cru, cannot produce a Grand Cru wine.

While the GG system is far from perfect, so far it's been a positive step towards marketing quality dry German wines. At the moment the most obvious problem with the GG system is that only winemakers in the VDP (an elite German winemakers organization) can make GGs. In other words, even if you had vines in a GG site, unless you were in the VDP you would not be able to label it as such. There is an obvious inconsistency here - if someone makes a wine that is in all ways of GG quality, why do have to be a member of a group to call it a GG?. Hopefully this issue will be dealt with in the near future.

A Sad Day in the Mosel

A great article by Slate's Michael Steinberger about a proposed bridge to soar above, and across, the Mosel. Only problem is its footprints will stamp down in some of the world's greatest and most historical Riesling vineyards. As the journey between points A and B becomes ever more efficient, easy, economical - we slowly begin to forsake any reason to make the journey in the first place. When we're all done, what is going to be left in between? Click here for the sad tale.