Clustered along the northern bank of a very brief bend in the Rhine river lies the wine growing region known as the Rheingau, home to some of the oldest and most storied wine estates in the world. While associated with sweet wines, the real strength of the region is in its dry wines—championed in the region by iconoclasts such as Hans Joseph (Hajo for short) of J.B. Becker. The estate was founded in 1893 by HaJo’s grandfather, J.B. Becker, and the winery is now in its second generation farming organically. J.B. Becker’s wines are unfailingly honest and crackle with humanity and a vintage charm, almost like the skips and pops on a well-worn favorite vinyl record. They offer a singular range of mineral tones: dried earth and rocks, herbs, something vaguely subterranean. For all of their aristocratic poise, there is also a dirt-under-the-fingernail grit and earthiness.
Hajo ferments the wines in pressured tanks using wild yeasts. He then racks them into the traditional large barrels of the region and ages them a minimum of two years. The wine shows salty, oceanic, tart green apple but also has a bitter, phenolic, rich, almost piney resin on the finish. Refreshing and herbal and a little bitter, it’s a beautiful introduction to the style of the domaine. The wine benefits from being decanted and would be a fabulous companion to an omakase dinner or any multi-coursed meal where you can relish the mysteries within.
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