Nackenheim, Rheinhessen, Germany
The Fröhlich family has been cultivating vines since 1800 though Weingut Schäfer-Fröhlich was founded in the 1970s through marriage. In the early 1990s, the extraordinarily talented Tim Fröhlich took over the family estate and made his first vintage in 1995. Rudi Wiest was introduced to Tim by Helmut Dönnhoff who told him there was a young man doing some extraordinary work in the village of Bockenau, an area not known for producing noteworthy wines. Fast forward ten years and Tim Fröhlich was chosen newcomer of the year by The Gault-Millau/German Wine Guide. By 2010, he was selected as winemaker of the year by the same guide; the youngest ever to receive such acclaim. Tim stepped into a virtually unknown estate and shaped it into one of the top Nahe estates in a very short period of time.
The outstanding steep vineyard sites are the foundation for unmistakable, authentic wines. In conjunction with these great sites, the recipe for Tim’s success consist of low yields, painstaking vineyard management, a strong adherence to wild yeast fermentation, a focus on minerality, and an almost unnerving perfectionism in the cellar. Oh, and did we mention that he’s rock star handsome? Ridiculous.
Weingut Schäfer-Fröhlich totals 21 hectares today, of which 18 hectares is accounted for by Riesling. 82% of the production is dry.
- Bockenauer Felseneck - Blue Devonian slate, basalt and quartz
- Schlossbockelheimer Felsenberg - Weathered volcanic porphyry soils and quartz
- Schlossbockelheimer Kupfergrube - Weathered volcanic porphyry soils
- Monzinger Halenberg - Blue slate, gravel and quartz
- Monzinger Frühlingsplätzchen - Red slate, gravel and quartz
80% Riesling, 10% Pinot Blanc, 7% Pinot Noir, 3% other grape varieties.
Much of the success was the result of a number of smart acquisitions made by Tim in some of the best vineyards in the region, which nearly doubled the family’s original holdings. He then went on to become a terroir fanatic; developing the best methods to extract the perfect expression of fruit from each of his six Grosses Gewachs classified vineyards. Of considerable note are the blue slate, loess (fine silty sediment) and loam (sand, silt, clay blend) soils of the Felseneck vineyard, considered one of Tim’s most prized holdings, and a virtually unknown location before he started working with it. Schäfer- Fröhlich is making Rieslings as great, or better than, (dare we say it?) any producers in the Nahe. These are some of the most impressive and exciting white wines being crafted anywhere today.
"2016 has been a sensationally good year for us—one of the most relaxing ones of the past decade. Well, the early summer was the most labor-intensive we have ever had, but with August, a terrific late summer started. September and October were also perfect, so that shortfall of ripeness was equalized. Luckily, the ripening fell into the cool period, which causes this magnificent depth of flavors in the 2016s. With the harvest beginning in late September, we picked all our plots at the very best moment, even picking the grand crus until early November to get the full depth of aromas." - Tim Fröhlich
Stephan Reinhardt writes: "As for his Rieslings, even the dry village/terroir wines are gorgeous here and have more expression than many German GG Rieslings. The Felseneck GG is probably one of the finest dry Rieslings produced in Germany so far. I can hardly think of more precision, finesse and elegance in dry Nahe Rieslings. More than this, the sweet predicate wines from this steep, dark slate site are also great wines that deserve all your attention. More and more, Tim's Felseneck is becoming a glorious single-vineyard site that offers the finest Nahe Rieslings along with the Hermannshöhle and the Halenberg, the latter of which is always more compact and powerful but less filigreed compared to the other two aristocrats."
Gunderloch Riesling Kabinett Jean Baptiste 2015
From a blend of Tim's top vineyard sites; all younger vines. Red and blue slate as well as volcanic stone. Beautiful clear color. Limpid. Amazingly focused and elegant aroma.
"Fresh lime and ocean breeze on the nose anticipate the animating, bright juiciness and mouthwateringly saline, smoky, iodine-laced savor of toasted shrimp shells delivered on a polished palate. Suggestions of fresh apple and white currant lend tang and crunch. This finishes with a combination of flavor concentration, lift, clarity, focus and refreshment shared by many of the most striking wines of this vintage. But it’s only an “intro-level” bottling! 90 points" - David Schildknecht , Vinous.com, April, 2018
Gunderloch Riesling Dry Estate 2016
Schiefergestein comes from vineyards of slate in Bockenau and Monger as well as younger vines from the grand cru of Felseneck, planted to soils of blue Devonian slate, basalt and quartz. The 2016 vintage started tough but finished with a very cool picking season that lasted from September through November, allowing Tim to harvest at optimal ripeness. No added yeasts. Healthy grapes means less SO2 and this hovers around 43mg. 25-30 year old vines. Flinty slate-y and spicy on the palate.
"This leads with a remarkably vivid evocation of both wet and crushed stone, along with smoky struck flint, lime, blueberry and grapefruit – impressions confirmed on a polished, generously juicy, palpably dense yet buoyant palate. Accents of citrus zest, the piquant ping of citrus seed, and a suffusion of crushed stone pull the gripping finish in a slightly austere direction, but happily the sense of energy never flags. You can revisit this with pleasure, even awe – and it seems almost relaxed by comparison – after experiencing its more concentrated big brother and dry wine-of-the-vintage – namely, the 2016 Felseneck Grosses Gewächs. 92 Points" - David Schildknecht , Vinous.com, April, 2018
Gunderloch Riesling Niersteiner Dry 2016
Tim considers this traditional style of wine a Blanc de Noir rather than a rose. The color certainly backs up his claim as it's more onion skin in appearance than pink. The Pinot Noir grapes come from Stromberg-- a very steep vineyard full of volcanic rock and planted with 40+ year old Spätburgunder vines. Tim seeks "maximum elegance;" and achieves this by using only free run juice and no skin contact. Direct press. Made like a white wine . Some steel and some halbstück (600 liter barrels). The texture, acidity and minerality belie the light color. Limited.
Gunderloch Riesling Auslese Rothenberg 2016
Vulkangestein consists of vines planted to holdings with volcanic soils in and around Schlossbockelheim as well as younger vines from the grand cru Felsenberg, planted to weathered volcanic porphyry soils and quartz. Fermented naturally in a combination of 600 liter halbstück barrels and stainless steel tanks. Smoky and fruity. Great balance with a textured palate and a mineral finish that goes on and on.
"Fresh lime, white peach and red raspberry mingle with bittersweet floral perfume (gentian, iris) and maritime mineral notes on the nose as well as on the subtly creamy but animatingly, brightly juicy palate. This finishes lusciously full of fruit, yet with invigorating tang and a seemingly protein-rich savor of shrimp shell reduction and oyster liquor that tugs incessantly at the salivary glands. 92 Points" - David Schildknecht , Vinous.com, April, 2018