Hans-Joseph Becker remained resolute in his belief that dry Riesling should be added to the great wines of the Rheingau, even at the risk of losing his customers back in those early days. A tasting of the renowned Schloss Eltz wines proved formative for the young Becker and decades before interest in producing quality dry wines from the Rheingau increased, he knew this was the style of wine he wanted to produce. His first vintage at the family estate in 1971 heralded a lifelong pursuit. Singular in ideal, uncompromising in delivery, the wines of JB Becker have come to represent Riesling and Spätburgunder of finely constructed pleasure, layered with complexity and finesse.
Hans-Joseph Becker is a man of thick white hair, a magnificent moustache curled at the edges and skin speaking to decades outside tending vines. Known to his friends as HaJo, he forges his own path in pursuit of quality and the proof is in the bottle. Becker is one of few producers using the German predicates for dry and off-dry white and red wines and in the 2015 Wallufer Walkenberg Spätburgunder Auslese Trocken, Stephan Reinhardt finds a wine that is “Incredibly deep, ripe, sweet and intense on the nose … Silky, elegant and powerful on the palate, this is a rich and intense, highly concentrated yet refreshing crystalline red with a very firm tannin structure and tobacco flavors … this is a unique, rich and powerful German Spätburgunder that can be cellared for decades.” He awarded the wine 96 points.
Becker’s Rieslings are also known for great intensity of flavour and the ability to age exceptionally well. He will not be hurried, and it is his unwavering confidence in the potential of wine from his estate together with an exceptional talent as a winemaker that delivers a compelling addition to the library of German wines. Threaded through with a mineral seam, the wines retain freshness and elegance for decades. The Riesling Wallufer Walkenberg Kabinett trocken 2017 was described by David Schildknecht for Vinous as “An enticing amalgam of sea breeze, hyssop and mint with crushed coriander and mustard seeds … herbal, seedily piquant and mouth-wateringly saline elements combine for a palate impression that is at once soothing, refreshing and crunchy.” As with so many of Becker’s wines the finish is long and exhilarating, as Schildknecht puts it, a “wine [that] simply refuses to loosen its grip on your salivary glands.”
At JB Becker, the fruit is harvested by hand and the vineyard has been managed according to organic principles for decades, yet official certification was not sought until 2008. Indigenous yeasts are used for fermentation in pressurised tanks, although recent experiments with open top fermenters have taken place, and aging is in large format before bottling. As of 2003 all wines are sealed with glass closures but perhaps most important and in the words of Stephan Reinhardt, these are wines of an “unrivalled balance of fruit and salty-mineral piquancy that makes you reach for another glass again and again.”