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Stefan Vetter, Sylvaner Steinterrassen 'Sandstein' Karlstadt 2020
Germany / White

Stefan Vetter, Sylvaner Steinterrassen 'Sandstein' Karlstadt 2020

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Notes from Vom Boden:

"Stefan is at the forefront of the natural wine movement in Germany. As such, he farms both organically and biodynamically, as would be expected. As he works only old vines, only in steep, terraced sites and everything is done by hand. Pressing is done gently with either an old screw press or a basket press and can take four to six hours. For the most part, Stefan picks earlier, looking for ripe, clean grapes with higher acidities.The juice may see a short bit of skin contact, but for the most part it is just moved directly into old barrels – or one of the few newer 300 or  600-liter barrels Stefan has acquired directly from Stockinger. During the élevage, the wines are topped off, but that’s about it. The wines are bottled without filtering and with a minuscule addition of sulfur for stability.

It is hard to contextualize what Stefan is doing within the history of Franken. As with the Rheingau, the wines here were once among the most celebrated in Germany. Würzburg, the region’s largest city, became very wealthy from the wine trade and many giant old domains still exist, churning out mostly nondescript, wine-like creations that do no justice to the estates, the vineyards and the region as a whole.

Stefan is changing this, a few old vines at a time.

The “Steinterrassen” wines are something like Vetter’s “1er Crus” – they are sourced from older vines from within the stone terraces. Vetter has two Sylvaners at this level, each one corresponding to a unique soil type: “Sandstein” or sandstone and “Muschelkalk” or limestone.

Normally the “Sandstein” is the more exuberant wine, but in 2020 the wine is deep with citrus and fruit, yet very restrained. There are ultra-fine shavings of citrus fruit and citrus oils – white grapefruit, mandarin orange. Honestly it’s incredible the ravishing simplicity of this nose – just crystalline fruit shavings, bright slivers of citrus that almost extend into the herbal, leaning into menthol, lemon thyme and mint. While the wine is absurdly delicate (bone dry and only 9.5%) it is incisive and focused and linear. Sylvaner at its best.

Vetter’s technique is worth noting, as it’s unique. The grapes are whole-cluster pressed without any maceration or crushing and put directly into old/neutral barrels. The wine is topped up while in barrel, but not sulfured. The wines are normally racked only once and then bottled unfined and unfiltered with lower SO2."

Sandstone and limestone
Aged in neutral barrels.