Thursday, November 24, 2005

The Unity of a Grape and a Terroir
The Mosel, Riesling, and St. Urbans-Hof

I make no bones about it, I love German Riesling. If I win the lotto my first ridiculous expenditure will be to add the Mosel tap right next to the Hot and Cold.

I asked one of my confreres cavistes if he had tasted anything great from Germany recently. He smiled and said all of it. There exists an incredible consistency amongst the better winemakers in the region. In the best examples there is a naturally razor-sharp tension between acidity and richness, minerality and fruit. After a difficult 2003 vintage where the razor was definitely dulled and the Rieslings were too rich, it was a pleasure to taste a couple of classic 2004’s where words like aerian, fresh, steely and opulent could be tossed between smiles. Damn do they drink well.

With owner and winemaker Nik Weis present, it was time to learn about why German reisling is so consistently fantastic. He passionately believes in all aspects of the terroir,: temperature, soil, rainfall patterns. How else could aromatic and taste characteristics be so consistent when Mosel winemakers work in such diverse ways? At St. Urbans-Hof, great care is taken in the vineyard to ensure that the wine reflects the character of the land on which it is grown. The wines quality lies in the authenticity of its origin. Organic fertilizers are utilized in order to maintain the natural balance of the soil. Most importantly, yields are kept at low levels in order to achieve intense and well-structured wines. For optimal flavor development, leaves are thinned and grapes are harvested as late as possible to allow for maximum ripening.

Weis works two main vineyards; Ockfener Bocksteinm whose blue slate lends itself to lively, mineral Reislings and Piesporter Goldtröpfchen whose heavy slate and horse-shoed southern exposure lends itself to smokier, richer and more herbaceous wines. Here’s the rundown.

Riesling QbA 2004, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer ($17.50..importation)
A wonderful aperitif wine, this QBa showed notes of kafir lime and other citrus notes, with the expected smoky minerality on the finish.

Riesling Kabinett Ockfener Bockstein 2004, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer ($22…importation)
Slightly richer than the Qba, which is more to my taste, and with more complex and softer fruit flavours. Lemons, limes, peaches and lychee and again grounded with gun-flint slate.

Riesling Spätlese Piesporter Goldtröpfchen 2004, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer ($31..importation)
The winner of the tasting and where that Mosel tension was the most obvious. The Piesporter terroir offers up slightly duller though more complex and smokier aromas. An almost ethereal mouth feel. Outstanding.

Riesling Auslese Ockfener Bockstein 2002, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer ($50…importation)
Dense and creamy in texture, this has concentration and lushness accenting the apricot, lemon, ginger and mineral flavors. Still, it never gets heavy or cloying. Fine length


Lenn said...

Mmmmm...Mosel. As much as I love some Finger Lakes rieslings...I can't put them above those that I've tasted from Germany.

The tension you describe is the reason...the energy that balance brings...

caveman said...

No need to feel riesling envy, I'm sure even German producers from outside the Mosel scratch their heads from time to time in wonderment.