J.B. Becker, Riesling Berg Bildstock Spätlese (2000) 1.5L

J.B. Becker, Riesling Berg Bildstock Spätlese (2000) 1.5L

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These wines taste like NOTHING else coming out of the Rheingau (or most anywhere for that matter) and Hans-Josef Becker just doesn’t give a fuck. I struggled with a more elegant way of introducing this estate, some poignant lines describing the dirty-fingered, weathered-skin, mess-of-a-tasting-room aesthetic of J.B. Becker. But at the heart of the matter, "HaJo", as his friend call him, will get up in the morning, go into his vineyards, and make the kinds of wines he wants to make. And that’s about it. They are unflaggingly honest and present a vocabulary that few white wines can match; dried earth and rocks, vaguely subterranean, with a savory, briny, smoky atmosphere that slowly reveals fine layers of bright citrus. 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, a mysteriousness that speaks of the Rheingau. How exactly all this comes together is up for grabs. If there is any grand system here, it is inscrutable. Consider on the one hand, Becker's farming is exclusively organic. On the other hand, this rather important fact is mentioned exactly nowhere at the estate. Becker believes the Rheingau has been particularly devastated by the decades of commercial agriculture; he says it took him many years to bring back to life a healthy, diverse population of yeasts in the vineyards and the cellars. Thus, he is a strong advocate of wild-yeast fermentations. This puts this graying statesman of German winemaking right next to the hip, new generation of young German winemakers. He ferments in pressurized tanks, preferring a quick, warmer fermentation. Then he racks the juice into the traditional barrels of the Rheingau for at least two years of barrel age before bottling. Even with this very long élevage, Becker seems to release wines willy-nilly, which is why we are able to offer wines going back to the '80s today. The wines all have enormous aging potential, but even a couple of years in bottle unlocks their soul. These are Rieslings that make no concessions to modernity or to fashion, and are defiantly old school. They are living fossils, the likes of which we may never see again.

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