There are three dozen wineries that are acknowledged to be among the greatest practitioners of their craft. It’s an unofficial list that necessarily includes names like Romanée-Conti, Pétrus, Chave, Salon, Ridge, and Giacosa. We think it’s time to add another name: Willi Schaefer. This small producer in Germany’s Mosel Valley turns out some of the most enthralling Rieslings imaginable, wines that combine great elegance with an almost electric energy. They make us swoon, they make other wine geeks do the same, and there is just no denying that Schaefer deserves a place among the Chosen Ones.
The 2011 Willi Schaefer Graacher Domprobst Riesling Kabinett ($23) is a fabulous example. It shows a deliciously subtle nose of lime, peach, and minerals, along with the herbal twang you often find in Mosel Rieslings. On the palate, it is lithe and filigreed, yet also packs great concentration and depth – quite a trick. The residual sugar-characteristic of Kabinett-level wines is parried by brisk acidity and a nice dollop of saline minerality. All the elements are perfectly balanced, and the wine exudes a sense of completeness. It is a flat-out gorgeous Riesling that will go well with roast pork dishes and mildly spicy foods, but at the risk of incurring wine-must-be-drunk-with-meals dogmatists, we think it might even be best savored on its own.