The vines grow in muschelkalk, the limestone-rich soil full of fossilized oyster shells, which like Chablis and Sancerre, is an extension of the Paris Basin, and completely unlike the Devonian slate that dominates the Riesling vineyards in the Saar. In the glass, the wine has a pale, shimmering, polished German silver color. Aromas of green apples, lemongrass, almond blossoms, and white cranberries emerge in the nose and move in and out of the foreground, alternating with faint suggestions of spiced pears, fresh stevia leaves, and even the smell of crushed seashells, as the wine evolves in the glass. On the palate, the wine is pure and focused, and precise, with with subtle orchard fruit flavors that echo the nose, adding flat-leaf parsley, juniper berries, and lemon thyme, all seasoned with toothsome sea-salty minerality, and vigorous, lacy fruit acidity that carries the flavors through a long, clean, refreshing finish.
About this wine producer: One of the most passionate defenders of Elbling in the Obermosel, Stephan Steinmetz represents the sixth generation of his family to grow vines in Wehr. The youngest of four children, he took over the family estate in 1992, at the age of 23, “because I always wanted to do that, and not because my dad expected it of me.” The six hectares of vineyards are farmed biodynamically, and in a normal vintage, the winery produces 40,000 bottles. There are two still Elblings, a Weißburgunder (Pinot Blanc), an Auxerrois, and a Grauburgunder (Pinot Gris), as well as three Champagne-method sparkling wines, one of which is also 100% Elbling. “We farm a special piece of the earth,” Stephan told me, “and Elbling is its voice.”