Widely regarded as Germany’s oldest city, Trier (pop. 110,000) is home to no fewer than six UNESCO World Heritage sites – many of them Roman – and was the birthplace of Karl Marx. It also plays host to one of the most exciting events of the Vinous calendar: the VDP Prädikatsweinversteigerung (Prädikat wine auction) for the Mosel region. The auction is in many instances the only opportunity to buy the most prized bottlings from members of the Grosser Ring, the aristocracy of wine estates from the Mosel, Saar and Ruwer.
Typically taking place in September, this year’s auction – the 134th – was pushed back by a later harvest in 2021 to Friday last week. The auction followed a frankly mind-blowing tasting of a selection of the 73 wines on offer, the vast majority of them from the 2020 vintage.
2020 was a cooler year than 2018 or 2019, albeit one with a precocious growing season and relatively early harvest. Chilly nights from August onwards maintained very high levels of acidity and kept botrytis largely at bay. Growers reported a crop of pristine quality, though it was necessary to hurry to finish the job before the rain set in in mid-October, meaning little Auslese was made (and even less BA and TBA, which rely on botrytis occurring).
The verdict from the growers we work with is unanimous: 2020 is a truly great vintage for Kabinett wines in particular. The best boast sublime balance, combining a wealth of ripe fruit with pulsating acidity and a mineral imprint that will become more prominent over the coming decades. Typically lower in alcohol than the ‘18s or ‘19s, another characteristic of the 2020s is simply how refreshing and digeste they are – categorically, they will be wines to enjoy at every stage of a meal, as well as before after and, of course, on their own.
We are today delighted to offer five wines purchased at last week’s auction. Based on the quality of the producers and the vineyards, all were pencilled down on our wishlist prior to the tasting, then were emphatically underlined during its course. These are offered at the sterling equivalent of the hammer price plus a 5% commission. VDP Auction Releases represent the nec plus ultra of each of the wines in question; the most exquisite fuder, barrel or tank as selected from their cellar by the winemaker him or herself. The size of the lots varies, but this year ranged from a single bottle to a maximum of 600 bottles. Bearing a special versteigerung label, they command a premium over “regular bottlings” and can be highly collectable.
Scroll down to see the wines