From the Importer: Hans-Joseph’s (call him “HaJo”) winemaking has less to do with a condemnation or critique of the noble establishment and more to do with a vision that is so singular that it feels irrelevant whether you or I or anyone thinks Becker’s “aesthetic” is genius or folly. It just is.
The wines have an in-your-face, love-it-or-hate-it sensibility. They are unfailingly honest. They present a bizarre vocabulary: dried earth and rocks, herbs, something vaguely subterranean, a savory, briny, smoky atmosphere that slowly reveals delicate layers of bright citrus. For all this depth and mysteriousness, Becker’s white wines are like Becker himself: angular, tensile with awkward elbows and muscle and sinew pulled tightly over a lean frame. They flaunt a rather prominent acidity that recalls the more nervy wines of the Mosel, Saar, and Ruwer, though there is a weight, a density that speaks of the Rheingau. They seem to have more to do with great Chablis than with what we often think of as German Riesling. Becker prefers to use pressurized tanks for fermentation, relishing a quick, warm fermentation (a similar method is used at places like J.J. Prüm, Keller, etc.). Then he racks the juice into the traditional barrels of the Rheingau for at least two years of barrel age before bottling. In other words: Gun the shit out of it, slam on the breaks, and wait out all the others.
Notes of the Importer: "After about ten minutes of tasting this wine, in awe of its slick density, its unending length, its formidable structure, I say something like, "Hans Josef, how the fuck did you make a wine like this in 2021... an Auslese Trocken!" He looks at me, bored as always, and says matter-of-factly: "I made two Auslese Trocken in 2021." And this fact is shocking, startling, without a doubt. Yet the real impact comes from the fact that he says absolutely nothing else. We continue to sit there, just the two of us, and I look around to see if someone is filming this. Is there a German wine-bloopers YouTube channel I'm unaware of? (I make a mental note to ask my twelve-year-old if there is such a channel.) So, after this awkward pause, I say, uncomfortably: "Could I taste this wine?"
"Yes," he says.
This story is relevant, perhaps, because he then does go get the Rödchen Auslese Trocken (not on today's offer), and having the two wines side-by-side is illuminating. The Oberberg is for sure the more impressive, the more powerful and textural. I suspect this will be the favorite for most people - it is just a bit more complete and it's clear why he chose to pour it. Both Auslese Trocken, compared to the Walkenberg Spätlese Trocken, feel riper (which they are, both clock in at 13.5%) yet they also show more fruit, and they are more perfumed - perhaps the higher alcohols make the wines more aromatic. There is plenty of stone fruit and citrus, dense and coated, in both Auslese Trocken.