The estate was founded in 1893 by Hans-Josef’s grandfather, Jean Baptiste Becker. He was a cooper and began accumulating some vineyards and voila, he started his winery. Hans-Josef’s father grew the estate and in the 1930s befriended a young importer by the name of Frank Schoonmaker – they became good friends and Becker acted as Schoonmaker’s consolidator for some time.
Hans-Josef’s passion for wine developed in the cellars of Schloss Eltz in the early 1960s. Schloss Eltz made some of the greatest wines of the Rheingau in the 1950s through 70s – the wines are just epic, if rather unknown these days because the estate sold its land in the 1980s. Becker was studying with the cellar master of Schloss Eltz, a gentleman by the name of Hermann Neuser, in the early 1960s and this is where he first began tasting and fell in love with dry Rieslings. He took over the family estate with vintage 1971 in hopes to perpetuate his new found obsession with this varietal.
Becker’s wines have a similar in-your-face, love-it-or-hate it sensibility. They are unfailingly honest. They present a bizarre vocabulary: dried earth and rocks, herbs, something vaguely subterranean, a savory, briny, smoky atmosphere that slowly reveals fine layers of bright citrus. They flaunt a rather prominent acidity that recalls the more nervy wines of the Mosel, Saar and Ruwer, though there is a weight, a density that speaks of the Rheingau. They seem to have more to do with great Chablis than with what we often think of as German Riesling – thus the hashtag that’s taking over the internet #Chabliesling.