The mastermind behind the wines of J.B. Becker is the mustache-forward Hans-Josef Becker, affectionately called “HaJo” by the importer Vom Boden. We’ll go with that.
When we first sampled HaJo’s Kabinett Trockens, one of our astute tasting pals made the observation that “these wines taste like German Riesling from the ‘70s… in the ‘70s”. They have the snap-crackle of your favorite album on vinyl—a kind of nostalgic, vintage feeling with bold fruit and savory, smoky undertones. Yet, their nervy acidity speaks very much to present day.
HaJo is the second generation of his family to farm their vineyards organically. His wines ferment in pressurized tanks using only wild yeasts. He then racks them into traditional large barrels and ages them for at least two years, releasing them “willy-nilly,” sometimes after an extraordinarily long élevage. His obsession with dry Riesling started in the 1960s while studying under the cellar master at the now-defunct Schloss Eltz, tasting fresh wines straight from the cask before any süssreserve was added. When he took the helm at Becker in 1971, he made trocken his focus, decades before it became a cultural phenomenon. There are no gimmicks, secrets, philosophies or tricks behind HaJo’s winemaking. The bottles simply speak for themselves.
Walkenberg Riesling Kabinett Trocken
variety: riesling soil type: loess & loam avg vine age: 25 years
Walkenberg is the only Grosse Lage in the village of Walluf. Due to its sunny, southwestern exposure and its relatively rich soil, it tends to produce brawny, powerful Rieslings. This Kabinett Trocken displays that power, magnified by its dryness.
Oberberg Riesling Kabinett Halbtrocken
variety: riesling soil type: loess & loam avg vine age: 30 years
Oberberg is the highest elevation vineyard in Walluf, with cooler, windier conditions and lighter soil. Becker only makes off-dry wines from this site due to the grapes’ higher natural acidity—and only in optimal vintages. If the vintage doesn’t feel “right,” he blends this fruit into the village wine.