Product information

Max Ferdinand Richter Wehlener Sonnenuhr Spätlese 2019

Riesling from Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Mosel, Germany


$71ea in any 3+
$68ea in any 6+
Closure: Cork


“From 80- to 90+-year-old vines in the original plot below the sundial, the 2019 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese is very precise and fresh on the flinty, slatey and crisp fruit bouquet. Juicy-piquant and sweet on the palate, this is a tight and crispy, very intense yet still sulfuric Spätlese from a really great terroir. The fruit is still fresh and precise and was picked together with the dry GG selection, which is picked from the inner part with a higher acidity, whereas the Spätlese is from the outside berries that have more ripeness. The 2019 should be aged for at least 10 years.”

Stephan Reinhardt, The Wine Advocate

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Check out all of the wines by Max Ferdinand Richter

Why is this Wine so Yummy?

Richter’s Rizza’s have a divine harmony, and, layering to them. These are stunning Mosel wines. There is something about fermenting and ageing in old wood that works wonderfully for these wines. The gentle oxidation and fermentation kinetics bring the wines together beautifully. I guess 400 years making Rizza in the Mosel may have something to do with it too!

Despite their 400+ year legacy, Weingut Max Ferdinand Richter is a producer focused on the here and now. The winemakers at Richter believes that great wine comes from the vineyard, not the cellar. They strive for precision in their daily viticultural work, cultivating vines on the steep, slate slopes of Mosel to produce wines of complexity, finesse and exceptional longevity. This is perfectly reflected in the recent release of the 2019 vintage with a range of impressive wines that confirm Richter’s position as modern-day Mosel classic.

About Max Ferdinand Richter

Weingut Max Ferdinand Richter has been producing Riesling in the Mosel since 1680. The Richter wines exude great class and breeding along with their classical Mosel raciness, fruitiness and mineral complexity. This Estate relies purely on must weight for the quality and grip which makes Richter not only one of the most exciting estates in Germany, but one of the finest exponents of Riesling anywhere in the world. They ferment in old oak demi-muids and assemble the finished wine in an inert vessel following stabilisation and prior to bottling. The noble Riesling grape is amazingly resilient on the steep slate slopes of the magnificent Mosel, a run of great vintages has witnessed Mosel Riesling climbing back onto the mantle were it so deservedly belongs.

In the Vineyard

The winemakers at Richter believe that great wine comes from the vineyard, not the cellar. With this in mind they strive for precision in their daily viticultural work. The challenge of cultivating vines on the steep, slate slopes of Mosel is overcome by fastidious handwork, small crop sizes, all-natural fertilizers and sustainable farming practices. Additionally, all harvesting is done by hand.

Max Ferdinand Richter’s 48 steep acres are spread out in the Middle Mosel Valley between Erden and Brauneberg. Plantings consist of 95% Riesling and 5% Pinot Blanc grapes. The average age of Richter vines is 40 years.

In the Winery

Vinification starts with gentle pressing and slow temperature controlled fermentation in traditional old oak barrels (fuders). This careful, deliberate process preserves the vineyard-grown quality of the grapes, develops the unique character of the single-vineyard cuvees, and to gives Richter wines exceptional longevity.

When possible, they utilize natural yeasts and eschew chemical fining agents.

The German System

Wow, even the most dedicated wine geek often has trouble getting their head around the German naming systems, something they’ve been working on simplifying!

When it comes to wines containing some level of grape sugar, the Germans have a classification that dictates ranges of sugar levels grapes for a specific wine must be picked at, in essence establishing a framework for the ripeness, amount of Bortytis and shrivel / raisoning the fruit should have when picked. The amount of grape sugar left in the wine after it has fermented, is up to the maker.

All of this super detailed information is interesting to know.

At the end of the day the most important thing is whether the wine meets those standard criteria for good wine. During Riesling Down Under it was great to hear winemakers from around the world, all saying they don’t care much for the numbers, they picked their fruit on flavour and made their wines to achieve balance and harmony.

The following is courtesy of Dr Loosen, who sums up German Riesling styles with sweetness beautifully

The Versatility of Riesling

Riesling is one of the few grapes that is capable of producing a complete spectrum of wine styles, from bone dry to lusciously sweet. The key to maintaining top quality throughout this broad range lies in a rigorous selection process. As the harvest progresses, we make daily decisions about each vineyard parcel based on the maturity of the fruit and the prevailing weather conditions. Healthy grapes are painstakingly separated from botrytis-affected fruit, and the various selections are vinified separately.

Classic Wines with Sweetness

Our traditional wines, with residual sweetness, are selected from the harvest according to their ripeness and flavour development. The finest lots from our classified vineyards are bottled with their corresponding single-vineyard name and ripeness (Prädikat) level. For the non-botrytis wines, there are two Prädikat levels, Kabinett and Spätlese.

Beyond the lightly sweet Kabinett and Spätlese bottlings, made without botrytis, there are three Prädikat levels of botrytis-selection wines that get progressively sweeter: Auslese, Beerenauslese [berry selection] and Trockenbeerenauslese [dried berry selection]. In addition, when vintage conditions allow it, we produce Eiswein from grapes that have frozen on the vine.

The picture from Dr Loosen above is a great illustration of the different conditions of grapes at harvest and the styles they are destined to make. You can see the level of Botrytis and shrivel / raisining increasing as we move through the styles from Kabinett to Trockenbeerenauslese. The Botrytis or Noble Rot, imparts wonderful flavours and textures to the wine, and is to be revered like the blue moulds of Rocquefort and the washed rind cheeses of Munster in Alsace, appropriately both cheeses marry beautifully with a glass of Riesling.

Note how the buckets are colour coded according to the end destination of the fruit and how little of the Trockenbeerenauslese is produced. The skill of pickers and willingness to pass through the vineyard several times to ensure all grapes are picked at the optimal time is the key to success.

The freshest style is Kabinett and as you move up the scale you’ll see additional complexity added by botrytis and other winemaking influences in addition to greater levels of sweetness. Each style whether Kabinett or Eiswein being perfect for consumption on different occasions with different foods. The Beerenauslese, Trockenbeerenauslese, and, Eiswein being exceptional dessert wines. Kabinett and Spätlese being suited to table wine consumption. The standard line for the German’s being that where the English offer tea to guests in the afternoon the German’s offer Kabinett or Spätlese wines, more akin to a table wine. That said I devoured a Wagner-Stemple Kabinett, with pasta and cheese on a 38°C day in Melbourne, perfection! Auslese sitting on either side depending on the style the estate makes.

This intense sorting process is beautifully articulated by Ernie Loosen from 2min 25sec in the vineyard below.


The 2019 Vintage at Max Ferdinand Richter

This is yet another HUGELY impressive collection dished up by Dirk and Constantin Richter. The Kabinett wines, be they dry, off‐dry, or fruity‐styled all share this common lightness and freshness which has made the success of the Estate over the years. The dry Graacher Himmelreich Kabinett is a model of lightness, finesse, and complexity, and the fruity‐styled Elisenberg Kabinett is one of the highlights of the vintage. The sweet and noblesweet wines are topped by the magnificent Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese *** Fuder 42, but many of them are true classics in the making. And, as if the Estate had not yet been successful enough, the debut vintage of its Pinot Noir is hugely promising. Overall, lovers of refined and playful Mosel wines will find much to like at Max Ferd. Richter in 2019: Bravo!

Mosel Fine Wines

Dirk Richter & Constantine Richter’s Vintage Report – A Quality Vintage Despite a Rainy Harvest

What a summer! Sunshine from April through September. Had it not been for rain during the harvest we could have simply copied our report from 2018.

2019 had a similar start to 2018. A mild and moist winter season was followed by warm and sunny weather in March and April, so that bud started perfectly in good time. Thanks to the lack of a late frost, vines and shoots grew rapidly and flowering began in late May, somewhat earlier than usual. June and July were blessed with sunny, warm weather, including some heat waves with temperatures beyond 40 Celsius. Newly planted vineyards suffered from drought and required irrigation. Older vines with their deep roots in the slate stone terroir were able to get enough moisture to keep the grapes growing. A rainy period at the end of July and early August came just in time to allow the vegetation to progress. The negative consequences of the heat wave caused a large amount of grapes to suffer from sunburn. Those berries shrivelled and those that did not fall off naturally had to be cut from the bunches during harvest time.

Until mid-September the grapes benefited from sunny, warm days and cool nights, leading to perfect final ripening conditions and the development of ideal healthy aromatic structure. Everything was set for a promising grape harvest. Sugar and acid content had reached levels necessary for a classic Riesling vintage.

We started grape harvest on the 20th of September, handpicking grapes for low alcohol Kabinetts and delicate off dry style wines. Most of that first pass through the vineyards was finished when a major weather change turned our plans upside down. Beginning at the end of September through the month of October the weather was rainy and wet. We had to “steal” our grapes during the intermittent dry days in order to get them home. Fruit and vegetable farmers welcomed the rain, but it caused headaches to winegrowers during harvest. The warm and humid weather accelerated the ripening of the grapes and Botrytis began to grow. The Oechsle level was high enough to create perfect grapes for late harvest. Botrytis resulted in the positive development of noble rot, enabling us to pick selected portions of Riesling grapes for high end wines. Unfortunately, due to the loss of the shrivelled grapes the quantity of the harvest was diminished by 30% compared to 2018.

To sum up we handpicked an assortment of grapes for Quality- and Predicate wines up to and including what will surely be a spectacular TBA from the Wehlener Sonnenuhr. At the end we are very happy with the 2019 vintage. The incredible amount of sunshine during the vegetation season will positively characterize the style of the new vintage. We are expecting wines with great ripeness and balanced sugar/acid levels, creating wines with ageing potential and longevity.

Where in the World is Max Ferdinand Richter?

Max Ferdinand Richter is in the middle Mosel.

The Mosel River Valley is probably the most famous and arguably the most admired wine region in Germany. In its wider sense, it includes the adjacent Saar and Rüwer (hence Mosel-Saar-Rüwer), both tributaries of the Mosel River, however, it is the middle Mosel (mittelmosel), in particular between and including the towns of Bernkastel-Kues and Erden that the most brilliant wines tend to be produced. Bernkastel, Grach, Wehlen, and Zeltingen are some of the most famous wine towns here.
You can see just how incredibly steep the vineyards of the Mosel can be and how dominant the slate rock is, often driving the root systems meters into the hillside.

The best vineyards of Germany’s Mosel Valley are incredibly steep, south-facing slopes with mineral-rich slate soil and a favourable position near the river. Excellent drainage and the heat-retaining quality of the rocky slate soil also help to produce fully ripe, concentrated wines. The combination of these elements results in racy, mineral-inflected Rieslings that are fruity, crisp and very refreshing to drink.

Map by Fernando Beteta, MS @fernandobeteta on Twitter
92 Points

The 2019er Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese was made from fruit picked at 95° Oechsle, and was fermented down to almost noble-sweet levels of residual sugar (95 g/l). It offers a hugely aromatic and creamy nose made of pineapple, honey, apricot blossom, almond, grapefruit, and floral elements. The wine develops the creamy side of a refined Auslese on the palate and leaves an intense feel of whipped cream, apricot, honey, and fine floral and herbal elements in the engaging and nicely racy finish. This sweet wine will please lovers of suave yet light-footed and engaging expression of the genre, but needs more than a decade to reach its drinking window.

Mosel Fine Wines

95+ Points

From 80- to 90+-year-old vines in the original plot below the sundial, the 2019 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese is very precise and fresh on the flinty, slatey and crisp fruit bouquet. Juicy-piquant and sweet on the palate, this is a tight and crispy, very intense yet still sulfuric Spätlese from a really great terroir. The fruit is still fresh and precise and was picked together with the dry GG selection, which is picked from the inner part with a higher acidity, whereas the Spätlese is from the outside berries that have more ripeness. The 2019 should be aged for at least 10 years.

Stephan Reinhardt, The Wine Advocate

Where in the world does the magic happen?

Weingut Max Ferd. Richter, Hauptstraße, Mülheim (Moselle), Germany