Axel Pauly, 'Helden' Mosel Riesling Trocken 2016
Axel Pauly is one of the rising stars of German wine. He took over the Pauly estate from his father after doing vintages in California, New Zealand and other parts of Germany. Most of the seven hectares of vineyards are in the heart of the Mosel Valley in the village of Lieser, with the exception of a small parcel in the highly regarded, neighbouring village of Bernkastel. The majority of Axel's wines are dry or off-dry in style and are closed with screwcap to preserve the purity and freshness of the Riesling grown on the famous slate soils of the Mosel.
The 'Helden' (meaning 'heroes' in German) Riesling, was harvested from the steeply sloping, south-southwest facing vineyard in Lieser. The soil here is 80% blue slate stone and the vines are trained on a single wire. Stringent crop-thinning, leaf removal and a long ripening period ensured excellent ripeness and flavour in the grapes. Fruit was sorted and picked manually to ensure that only the best and healthiest berries were selected at harvest time.
The beginning of the 2016 season was typical, but high rainfall in early summer created serious disease pressure, which required careful vineyard management. Late frost and hail in the spring threatened the entire harvest. However, the weather improved from July onwards and the crop quality recovered, resulting in wines lower in alcohol and higher in acidity than 2015.
Post-harvest, the grapes underwent a cold soak for a period of 36 hours. Gentle pressing followed, aimed at extracting the precious Riesling flavours. Fermentation involved both wild and cultivated yeasts, with no malolactic fermentation. The wine was oak aged in large barrels on full lees for a period of four months which resulted in a mellow, smooth wine devoid of any oaky hints.
The wine has a light yellow-green sheen, with the vibrant acidity that is distinctive of Riesling. Fresh aromas of apples and pears dominate the nose, while the palate offers subtle minerality, great inner tension and a long finish.