Bockenau, Nahe, 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."
Schafer Frohlich Riesling Estate Dry 2017
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.
"Here is one of those Nahe Rieslings from a vintage that leads with unusually Chablis-like animal and mineral elements. Saffron and sea breeze mingle with lemon rind, struck flint and chicken stock on the nose as well as on a polished, infectiously juicy palate, where an influx of ripe white peach serves for succulence and the piquancy of peach kernel and lemon pip for further counterpoint. The buoyant finish – by no means for the first time in a Schäfer-Fröhlich Gutsriesling – gets a remarkable purchase on the salivary glands while both enthralling and refreshing the lucky consumer. In its own way, arguably, this wine testifies as vividly to the value of Bockenau terroir as do Schäfer-Fröhlich’s two Grosse Gewächse from his home village, because nowadays this entry-level offering labors under the handicap of being sourced almost entirely from very young vines. Yes, the “Vulkangestein” and “Schiefergestein” bottlings that serve as the estate’s middle-tier dry Rieslings are more overtly concentrated. But in vintage 2017, they aren’t more complex than this ostensibly lesser sibling, and lack its sheer charm, buoyancy and infectious drinkability. 91 Points" – David Schildknecht, Vinous, Apr 2019
Schafer Frohlich Riesling Dry Schiefergestein 2017
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. 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.
“For all intents and purposes the second wine of the estate’s Felseneck Grosses Gewächs, this leads with scents of apple, purple plum, lime and wet stone. The polished palate delivers a corresponding combination of lusciously juicy fruit transparent to a stony undertone and accompanied by tangy, zesty and piquant counterpoint of citrus rinds and fruit pits. The long finish delivers a vivid sense of fresh fruit juiciness as well as of stone-licking. 91 Points”– David Schildknecht, Vinous, Apr 2019
Schafer Frohlich Riesling Felseneck GG 2017
A 7.5 hectare vineyard of blue Devonian slate, basalt and quartz.. No added yeasts. Healthy grapes means less SO2 and this hovers around 43mg.
“In no previous vintage has Felseneck found Stromberg breathing down its neck to the same degree; but Schäfer-Fröhlich’s flagship rises to the challenge and once again emerges with top honors. Penetratingly pungent but also hauntingly, bittersweetly-perfumed notes fill the nose: grapefruit, white currant, struck flint, violet and iris. The satiny but fundamentally firm, indeed, almost implacably dense palate presents a vibrantly tangy welter of citrus with crunchy tart berry and coriander seed, smoky, fusil and otherwise mineral nuances, and striking inner-mouth florality, all underlain by wet stone. Savor of fleur de sel improbably paired with bitter chocolate, adds to a mouthwatering, vibratory, dizzyingly complex finish that just won’t quit. 97 Points” – David Schildknecht, Vinous, Apr 2019
Schafer Frohlich Riesling Fruhlingsplatzchen GG 2016
Frühlingsplätzchen , meaning "Little Place of Spring" consists of red slate, gravel and quartz.
"Scents of red currant, red raspberry, white peach and lime are mingled with a lot stronger suggestion of diverse mineral matter – stony, smoky, and saline – than I usually expect from this site. Tart-edged but ripe red fruits get the upper hand on a subtly creamy palate, where crunchy evocations of berry seed and carrot, a sizzle of cinnamon stick and prickly suggestions of peach fuzz convey invigoration if also a bit of phenolic rusticity to the long, stone-, peat- and mineral-salt-tinged finish. In a reversal of what I would have anticipated, this conveys less polish or sheer juiciness than the two Grosse Gewächse from Schlossböckelheim. But that observation must be interpreted in the context of an exceptionally fine collection, not to mention taken for the snapshot that it is. I suspect that this wine is just acting youthfully obstreperous and those who cellar it will be richly rewarded. 93 Points" - David Schildknecht , Vinous.com, April, 2018
"From roughly 55-year-old vines on red slate and in a very steep plot, the 2016 Nahe Riesling Frühlingsplätzchen "GG" opens with a super pure, precise and herbal/stony bouquet with flint stone aromas and a touch of red berries. Full-bodied, intense and very elegant on the silky-textured palate, this Riesling has a firm structure with piquant acidity but also shows great finesse and elegance. This is a dense and well-concentrated but highly delicate Riesling with a long, very precise and crystalline finish. 95 Points" -Stephan Reinhardt, The Wine Advocate # 235, Feb 2018
Schafer Frohlich Blanc de Noir Dry Rose (Spatburgunder Weissherbst Trocken) 2018
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.
Weissherbst Definition: white wine made from black grapes of a single variety, the must being separated immediately from the skins
Notes On 2018 Vintage
Warm and sunny spring
Blossom 3-4 weeks earlier than 2017
Warm and dry summer
Regional differences in rainfall in autumn
Earlier harvest possible because of the early blossom (ripe grapes)
Cool nights in October = perfect grapes
25-40 years old Pinot Noir vines
Volcanic soil (Porphyry) Wine
Grapes collected into small boxes
Gentle pressing for maximum of elegance
Fine and delicate
500 cases produced
Schafer Frohlich Riesling Dry Vulkangestein 2017
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.
“From mature stands of vines, largely in the Stromberg, this was harvested around a week ahead of the corresponding Grosses Gewächs. Crushed stone is suggested already on the nose, along with pit-tinged peach and zesty grapefruit. The palpably dense palate displays strong piquancy and palpable stone suffusion to complement its rich, generously-juicy fruit. The bright finish, in typical Schäfer-Fröhlich fashion, really gets a purchase on the salivary glands. 92 Points” – David Schildknecht, Vinous, Apr 2019
Schafer Frohlich Riesling Felsenberg GG 2016
In addition to the dry wines, Tim makes a range of pradikat level wines from this vineyards of weathered volcanic porphyry soils and quartz.
"A site-typical aromatic amalgam of struck flint, huckleberry and crushed stone mingles with hops, papaya and green mango, anticipating the piquant, smoky, slightly austere impression on a silken palate. Wisteria perfume adds allure that persists in the mouth, while white peach wells up to convey unexpectedly generous finishing fruitiness. To an even greater extent than with this year’s Vulkangestein blend (around half of which originates in Felsenberg), there is a remarkably persistent and profoundly mouthwatering evocation of toasted shrimp shells and oyster liquor with all of the mineral and animal diversity and intrigue those convey, as well as striking clarity and an exhilarating sense of lift. 94 Points" - David Schildknecht , Vinous.com, April, 2018
"From the earliest of the grand crus, the Schlossböckelheimer, 2016 Nahe Riesling Felsenberg "GG" opens with a fascinating, fine and complex bouquet with spicy/vegetal, herbal and stony aromas, whereas the fruit is subtle, very clear and precise. On the palate, this is a round and juicy Felsenberg that reveals intense fruit, with ripe but fine acidity and a long, well-structured and powerful finish. This is a warmer type of Riesling, coming from a cru that Tim harvests with respect to the berry skins, which should still have buoyancy since the grapes of the Felsenberg tend to become overripe in a very short time, even within a day. Tasted December 2017. 94 Points" -Stephan Reinhardt, The Wine Advocate # 235, Feb 2018
Schafer Fröhlich Riesling Kabinett Bockenauer Felseneck 2016
Knee bendingly good. Stunning and spicy. Lifted. Goes on and on - signature smokiness here too.
"Picked ahead of even this year’s generic Riesling, this delivers scents and infectious juiciness of fresh lime, apple and white peach with cooling mint and fennel as well as crushed stone and pungently smoky struck flint accents. At 9.5 grams of acidity, there is a vibrant and animating cast to the wine’s buoyant, subtly silken palate. Invigorating nips of cress and mouthwatering mineral minerality add to the irresistible appeal of a vibrant, refreshingly sustained finish. (The preceding note was taken from a natural cork-finished bottle, representative of the majority of bottles. A screwcapped bottling tasted alongside displayed more pronounced salinity but marginally less silken texture, vivid fruit or cooling green herbal character. It also introduced an overt albeit subtle charge of tingling CO2.) 92 Points" - David Schildknecht , Vinous.com, April, 2018
"From a steep, terraced, southwest-facing plot on weathered phyllite slate, the 2016 Nahe Riesling Felseneck Kabinett was picked early at 83° Oechsle. It is a lovely, clear, piquant and crystalline Kabinett with lush fruit and a long, stimulatingly salty finish. It is light, fresh and buoyant, a highly elegant and filigreed Kabinett classic at its best. It is ripe but nevertheless vital and piquant. The finish is long and aromatic. A great Kabinett from the Nahe. 91 Points" -Stephan Reinhardt, The Wine Advocate # 235, Feb 2018
Schafer Frohlich Pinot Blanc (Weissburgunder) Estate Dry 2017
“This is sourced from fifty year-old vines and raised in a combination of tank, cask and used barrique. Around half of its volume was yeasted, because although spontaneous fermentation now completely dominates his Riesling vinifications, Fröhlich says he has found it inexplicitly tricky when it comes to his deeper-soiled, less stony, Pinot-suitable sites. Sweet corn, zesty lemon and apple, almond, ocean breeze and chicken stock on the nose anticipate the lusciously fruited but also umami-rich impression on a creamy but generously juicy and animatingly tart-edged palate. The mouthwatering finish here evokes the saline tang and complex savor of oyster liquor. This surprisingly Chablis-like libation is as fine a Schäfer-Fröhlich Pinot Blanc as I have yet tasted, and I won’t be surprised if I end up to have underestimated its window of prime drinkability.” 91 Points– David Schildknecht, Vinous, Apr 2019