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 2016
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
Schafer Frohlich Riesling Dry Schiefergestein 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
Schafer Frohlich Riesling Felseneck GG 2016
Limited! Also available in Magnums!
A 7.5 hectare vineyard 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.
"Cooling mint and high-toned evocations of bittersweet floral perfume (iris, gentian) mingle with struck flint, sea breeze, wet stone and other anticipations of the remarkable diversity of mineral nuances that characterize the polished, vibrant midpalate. Nor is there any lack of luscious primary fruit in the familiar but not for that reason any less alluring guise of white peach and lime. The striking interaction of fruity, floral, and stony, smoky, crystalline, nearly ineffable mineral elements on the finish takes on kaleidoscopic dynamic and complexity, while a strong upwelling of maritime salinity serves to milk the salivary glands. The sense of sheer energy and penetration here goes beyond even that of the old-vines-dominated Stromberg, leaving one’s gullet reverberating like the swelling of an overtone-rich organ pipe. 97 Points" - David Schildknecht , Vinous.com, April, 2018
"The 2016 Nahe Riesling Felseneck "GG" is super pure, precise, crystalline and flinty on the nose and palate, a great expression of the slatey terroir. There is a fascinating blueberry and floral expression like that of the Halenberg but even more fragrant and intertwined with notes of crushed slate. Harvested at the very end of October, this is a highly elegant, finessed and balanced Felseneck with perfectly ripe, juicy fruit. The wine is dry but perfectly balanced, while the finish is long, piquant and salty, full of crushed stones, fine tannins and lingering fruit intensity. The 2016 is a great dry Riesling and probably the best I have tasted here so far. 98 Points" -Stephan Reinhardt, The Wine Advocate # 235, Feb 2018
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 2017
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.
Schafer Frohlich Riesling Dry Vulkangestein 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
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