Erich Weber's Hofgut Falkenstein embodies much that we love about our favorite German wines. There is the meticulous, hands-on farming. There is the love of nature and a strong non-interventionist spirit. There is the deep respect for tradition. There is the great terroir of the Saar.For years, Falkenstein's wines could not easily be purchased here in the United States, as the winery—with only 8 hectares' worth of wine to sell—only sold directly to consumers. A few years ago, however, they started working with importers here in the U.S., and many of us fell in love with the wines right away. Falkenstein's fame grew so quickly that the estate now belongs to a tiny group of elite German producers whose wines are subject to strict allocations.There are lots of interesting details about Falkenstein, and not much space here, so I'll just focus on a couple. Falkenstein is one of the few producers we know that does everything in barrel. The wines ferment in barrel and then just stay there for their elevage. This is a winery with no tanks. It's how the ancients did it, and it works. All of this, along with the Saar's geology and climate, help Eric produce wines that are feather light, yet deeply concentrated with a distinctly mineral quality and trademark Saar acidity. This being Germany, the bulk of what the estate produces is Riesling and they are amongst our top picks.
Is there a better grape than Riesling? Is there a better value? Its fruit purity, its perfume, and its mineral nuance are all unparalleled. And for centuries, the top German Rieslings were priced accordingly: at least as expensive as the top red wines of Bordeaux and Burgundy. But nowadays you could spend a lifetime exploring Germany’s great Riesling-producing regions while staying well within your budget. You might take an occasional break to try Germany’s other white grapes or perhaps a glass of Spätburgunder (the local name for Pinot Noir). It’s time to get started!