Magic Numbers: 2001 Germany, from 1896, for $29.95

Posted by CrushWine

The Mosel Valley, 1896 in 2001
2001 Schmitt-Wagner
Longuicher Maximiner Herrenberg Spätlese
Ancient Mosel Vines in the Glorious 2001 Vintage

The Herrenberg Vineyard has some of the oldest vines in the Mosel (maybe even Europe), dating back to 1896. Today, a small parcel of 2001ers comes out of the cellars to speak.

I'll try and be short here - both because the holiday weekend is almost upon us but also because we have only a few cases of this available, and at this price, well, once again we are reminded of the profound values to be found in German Riesling.

A number of ludicrous calculations provide quality entertainment. How about 28 cents for every year of life for the oldest vines that made this wine? How about $3.33 a year for nearly a decade's worth of storage in the cellars at Schmitt-Wagner?

At $29.95 a bottle for an awesome nine-year-old Riesling, let's just call this a very, very, very good deal.

Bruno Schmitt made traditional wines the traditional way (he's in semi-retirement; since 2008 the wines have been made by Karl Loewen). His style was never showy (ripeness is something he didn't seek for its own end) nor flashy nor even exceptionally elegant, but they are honest, chewy, buxom, and they are deeeeeeeeep - especially the Maximiner, which features the old-vine plots from the Herrenberg.

Yes: At 105 years of age, these vines had a lot to say in 2001. While the glorious, taut, needle-nosed form of the vintage is so wildly evident in this bottle (the freshness is also likely enhanced as these bottles have been buried in the cellar for the last nine years), still this is a kaleidescopic Riesling, a merry-go-round of flavor, ranging from passion fruit to blood orange, cherry blossoms, rock candy, musk, minerals and flowers. What it lacks in refinement, it makes up (in spades) by its joyousness and by... well, it's deliciousness.

(I give the deliciousness of this wine 100 points.)

The town of Longuich is tucked a bit upstream from the most famous parts of the Middle Mosel, a few bends past Trittenheim's Apotheke - in fact, Longuich and its grand Herrenberg Vineyard appear closer to the Saar than their Middle Mosel brothers.

Herr Schmitt had the good fortune to farm some very, very old vines here. Terry Theise, his importer, has written: "This is possibly the largest-oldest stand of ancient ungrafted vines in Germany, perhaps in Europe."

And while it'd be righteous and good to focus on the quality of the raw material and the rarity of old, ungrafted parcels like this, I'd rather focus on the simply beautiful structure of the magical 2001 vintage in the Mosel. As good as these wines were thought to be when they were released (and they were thought to be great), they have only gotten better.

I could go on about the balance, or the finesse, or the purity, or the hauntingly taut and crystalline shimmer of the acidity present in this wine - and while all this is part of the beautiful story of 2001 in the Mosel, it's not the whole story... honestly I don't know what the whole story is - just one of those magical gifts from nature. But the story is available, in the glass. You have to taste.

Unfortunately, this is a small, one-time parcel - so the story is short. Think of it as a novella from the Mosel. Given the reputation of 2001, the earnest fans of Schmitt-Wagner and... well, the price, we expect this parcel to disappear quickly. It is in stock, so if you act quickly, you might be able to grab a few for the holiday weekend.

To order, email us at or call the store at (212) 980-9463.

Stephen Bitterolf
Wine Director
Crush Wine & Spirits

2001 Longuicher Maximiner Herrenberg Spätlese

Wow - what a pungent, wild, complex nose, with ripe juicy notes of passion fruit, orange, tangelo, purple fruit (I get a distinct purple grapeyness), blending into saturating red flavors - cherry blossoms and even macerated cherries. These deep, meaty notes are balanced and bouyed by the finer elements, rock candy, slate, slate and slate with a salty wash, musk, a sassy spice and flowers. On the palate, the shape is bulbous and raucous, joyous, playful. It's a bit rustic, but the super-fine acidity of 2001 pulls it all into form, an elongated and elegant tail... awesome ocean-water finish. A WICKEDLY mouthwatering, peachy finish... Try and keep some in the cellar, though my guess is you will fail and drink it all quite soon!

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