The Schieferterrassen is a cuvée of premier cru vineyards in Heymann-Löwenstein's home village of Winningen, supplemented by a small proportion from the grands crus. These vineyards all have the strong character and identity of the Terrassenmosel. The composition of the wine is the same every year: parcels in "Erste Lagen" Hamm and Brückstück, combined with declassified grand-cru fruit. The vineyards are all terraced, steep and slate-driven, all farmed purely by hand with exceptionally low yields. Then you have the individual site's contribution, such as Hamm's floral characters but also earthy, slaty touch.
What follows after the sorting table is similar every year. The main point is that the fruit has to be perfect. If this is guaranteed, then there’s not much that can go wrong later on. The quality of each plot is designated by the old classification map. All plots from the same terroir get pressed together, until we’re able to fill up a barrel.
So the fruit gets crushed and macerates for about 12 hours in the cooling room. Then we do quite long press cycles – about nine hours with very gentle pressures, always taking it up very gradually. So you can say that the grapes macerate even longer in the press. The juice can free run downstairs, no pumping needed, which is also quite an oxidative way of treating the juice. After a rough filtration we settle the musts once again. We taste regularly to check on phenolic reactions. After a certain amount of time, because of the contact with air, the harsh phenolics polymerise and settle. By racking off we can separate this nicely and get rid of undesirable phenolics. After racking the musts go into big (2600L+) “Dopppelstück Fässer” and stainless steel (about 30-50%). The wines ferment with their own yeasts, usually over four to five months. We’re not able to control the temperatures in the barrels, but fermentation doesn’t usually go crazy anyway with these natural yeasts.
Towards the end of fermentation we taste to start understanding the vintage. As soon as we see the wines are in good balance we stop the fermentation. We don’t look at the numbers for it, because it doesn’t really matter, and the numbers don’t tell us the truth anyway. It’s the palate that matters.
The barrels stay separate as raw material until around May. We taste them all regularly but this is the time when we start doing the cuvées for each wine. This is also the moment when we decide what is good enough for the grand cru and what is not. Those decisions may take a few months because the wines are very young to evaluate. They don´t necessarily already show their true character. In total the wines stay in barrel for 12 months before being bottled unfined. – Heymann-Löwenstein