Weingut Wwe. Dr. H. Thanisch, Erben Thanisch
“A year of beautiful ripeness, with precise acidity and lively energy.” – Sofia Thanisch
The estate was founded in 1636, amidst the turbulence of the Thirty Years’ War. The house and cellar, impressively neo-renaissance in style, was built in 1884, on the Kues side of Bernkastel, the left bank of the Mosel. Fashionable and highly esteemed, increased interest in the region’s wines allowed top estate owners to invest in both bricks and mortar as well as cellar infrastructure. It is recorded that between 1893 and 1908, the wines from Dr Hugo Thanisch’s estate attained the highest auction results in the region.
The view from the top of the Doctor vineyard, looking down at the town of Bernkastel, must be one of the most breathtaking sights in the world of wine. You feel that one false step would send you crashing down the precipitous slope. It would be a terrible waste of good grapes.
The size of the estate is a modest nine hectares, the Thanisch vineyard parcels lying within a stretch of the Mosel which is relatively straight, a run of south-facing vineyards of world renown – within Zeltingen, Wehlen, Graach and Bernkastel.
These sites provide concentration and layered complexity. As we did last year, we have focused on two vineyards, at the varying ripeness levels, the better to get under the skin of the vineyards. We loved the wines of Bernkasteler Badstube. The vineyard is named after historic communal bathhouses – public bathing having been imported by returning
crusaders. The soil here, fine slate, makes for wines with racy acidity and long ageing potential.
The Badstube vineyards lie astride the town’s most famous vineyard, the Berncasteler Doctor*. This includes parcels which the Thanisch have owned for 200 years. In 1882, the family expanded their holding of the Doctor vineyard – a wise investment. The Doctor has a favoured south/south-west aspect and a precarious 65% gradient. As can be seen from the image below, the snow here melts earlier than on the neighbouring slopes. The Thanisch family practise sustainable viticulture, coaxing the best out of their mature, largely ungrafted
vines, planted on Devonian slate. In the early twentieth century, Riesling from the steep slopes of the Mosel was in extraordinarily high demand, commanding higher prices than first growth Bordeaux. Undoubtedly, the quality is even greater now, making these an absolute bargain in today’s world of fine wine.
The 2017 Vintage
“A small harvest, but one of excellent quality, reflecting the richness of the vintage. The wines offer ripe and opulent fruit and presence as well as weight on the palate. With their pronounced acidity, they taste drier than one could expect from the analytics.” – Sofia Thanisch
After a vibrant 2015 and a sensual 2016, the 2017 season delivered a perfect spring, with warm temperatures in March and early April, fostering hopes for an excellent vintage. Unfortunately, the estate was hit hard by frost in the second half of April, after budbreak. This affected the best parcels and destined the crop to be a very small one. This was further compounded by some hail in May. May and June were largely sunny and dry. However, early July, whilst remaining hot, saw some rainfall, with temperatures dropping markedly at mid month. July ended at around 20°C. August and September were both rather unstable and humid, with moderate temperatures. Harvest started on 25th September, the earliest in the history of the estate. Picking started with a small team, more pickers joining in the second week, to help with grape selection. As usual, harvest began in the Kues vineyards on the left bank of the Mosel. In the third week, the team moved to the Bernkastel side, to the Grosse Lage vineyards of Bernkasteler Lay, Graben and the famous Berncasteler Doctor.
Sorting was absolutely crucial in 2017. Sofia Thanisch describes this as “a really hard but necessary job”. The grapes came in at high must weights, especially those from the Bernkastel vineyards, many falling into the Spätlese and Auslese categories, with 90 to 100° Oechsle. The overall yield in 2017 was 50% less than in 2016.
Find out more about Thanisch 2017 here