In Praise of Feinherb

Wine Reviews |

Vineyards along the Mosel River

Feinherb, or halbtrocken, refers to wines that are a little over the legal limit of dryness of 9g/l of residual sugar, hovering usually between 12g and 16g. Neither one nor the other, I hear you say, and until recently I would have agreed. However, tasting many 2021s this spring, I was finally converted: they should have a clear place in the line-up for any drinker. Feinherb wines are particularly good with food – there is nothing like a properly aged Spät-or Auslese with a hearty meat dish, but you have to wait decades for these to lose their perception of sweetness and become just off-dry.

With feinherb you’re right there from the get-go – they are a brilliant match with dishes that would be a challenge for dry whites – asparagus, salads, roast beef and so on. I am not alone in my enthusiasm – other merchants had piled in before us so this category was difficult to get hold of, and quantities are correspondingly limited. They are available in the 2021 vintage from Peter Lauer, Schloss Lieser, Maximin Grünhaus and Weiser-Künstler:

Niedermenninger Herrenberg Spätlese feinherb ‘Palm’ [03 22], Weingut Falkenstein
£84 per 6 bottles in bond

Palm is a warmer site in the heart of the vineyard, and always a little riper. It is fine, delicate, and smooth, full of floral fruit, lime pith and fresh herbal notes, finishing with a long silky saline flourish. Drink 2023 – 2035


Niedermenninger Herrenberg Spätlese feinherb ‘Onkel Peter’ [04 22], Weingut Falkenstein
£84 per 6 bottle case in bond

Old ungrafted vines give a dark, rich, but very vibrant wine with melting cool green fruit, a hint of tobacco and a long stony lemon-tinged finish. Drink 2023 – 2035


Brauneberger Juffer feinherb, [19 22], Weingut Fritz Haag
£96 per 6 bottle case in bond

The first time we have offered this. With 10g/l of residual sugar, and just off-dry, this just edges over the legal maximum of 9g/l for a dry wine. It is quite lovely – soft and elegant with gentle lemony fruit, ripe fresh acidity, a dark slaty core and long smooth peachy finish. Drink 2023 – 2030

Juffer feinherb [07 22], Weingut Schloss Lieser
£84 per 6 bottle case in bond

A beautifully balanced elegant wine, delicately floral, with pure green and yellow fruit, finishing on a melting slaty note and a hint of salinity. Drink 2023 – 2030

2021 Steffenberg im Löwenbaum feinherb [07 22], Weingut Weiser-Kunstler
£90 per 6 bottle case in bond

Not tasted, but if this is anything like their other wines, it will be excellent.