2021 J.B. Becker Sonnenberg Riesling Spatlese Rheingau, Germany
Like I said, no Kabinetts in 2021. Yet, also, Spätlesen like no Spätlese you've likely ever had before. All the "sweet" Prädikat wines have around 20 grams of residual sugar - some a bit less, some a bit more - like the Auslese at 21 grams, referenced above. For context, most Kabinetts these days have around 30 to 50 grams of residual sugar, Spätlesen and Auslesen 50-60+ and much more. All this to say, these are very dry Prädikat wines. Yet they were picked later (in 2021 we are likely talking November) and have healthy ripeness levels - over 90 Oechsle in the case of this Sonnenberg Spätlese. This means they have some alcohol; again in the case of this Sonnenberg Spätlese we are talking 12% alcohol. For context, again, most Spätlesen and Auslesen have 7%.
This is all pretty wild. What's really fascinating here is that these wines are a throwback to a style of wine that made the Rheingau famous in the 19th century - a style that most growers abandoned in the 20th century for any number of reasons. Yet I can't say I've tasted anything like these wines in the Rheingau, or in Germany. They are so anachronistic that the standard critical engagement feels a bit ridiculous. This is just a whole different thing. You have to taste it. The Sonnenberg is perhaps the most famous vineyard Hans Josef farms; von Simmern made some legendary wines from the site in the 1950s, 60s and 70s. The wines have undeniable elegance, including this one, yet part of the stock and trade of these wines is their textural quality matched to the brightness of Riesling, matched with the powerful acids of this vintage. - Vom Boden