2011 in the Mosel is a loud, ripe vintage, and it wasn't easy for producers to craft silky, restrained and, above all, mineral-driven wines. Two growers on the Mittelmosel fought against the odds to create delicate, contemplative, nuanced wines, and we'd like to sing their praises lest they be drowned out in a vintage in which many are shouting. Perhaps because we like to celebrate the underdog, more likely because we love the wines, we want to draw your attention to these two impossibly tiny family estates that excel at what many think of as the classic, off-dry Mosel style. While the wines below won't necessarily be eternal, they're drinking beautifully now and will continue to show well for at least another 15 years. They seem to echo one another in their purity, their generosity of fruit, their finely balanced acid, as well as their ever-present under current of slate-y richness.
Schaefer's story is well-known by now. They only work 4 hectares, and while Willi Schaefer is still involved, he's turned the reigns over to his talented and genial son, Christoph. The production is so small that we usually sell out right away and these wines are often impossible to find. The gods of the yield were kind in 2011, and not only are there a few stray cases of Spätlese still available, we just got our hands on a additional miniscule allocation of Kabinett to offer. If you love German Riesling and love Schaefer, you owe it to yourself to try these, especially since the '12s are going to disappear quickly. You won't be disappointed.
Now let's head downstream a bit, around a few bends in the Mosel, but roughly only 4 miles away as the crow flies. The slate is still blue here, and the vineyards still face west over the river. This family estate, Weiser-Künstler, is even smaller, at around 3 hectares, and is run by Konstantin Weiser and Alexandra Künstler. This pair works so hard in the vineyard and in the cellar, avoiding pesticides and herbicides and doing everything on the steep slopes by hand. Thanks to their work and that of Immich-Batterieberg, Ellergrub is soon going to be as renowned a site as the Wehlener Sonnenuhr or Bernkasteler Doktor. And while those sites offer abundant stony, slate-y finesse, Ellergrub brings older vines and a more scrubby, rugged element. In addition to mastering the "classic" Mosel off-dry style with their lovely Ellergrub Kabinett and Spätlese, W-K makes dry Mosel wines that are second to none in complexity, texture, balance, and gripping minerality. Try the Gaispfad Kabinett Trocken, which has the freshness of mineral water, or the stunningly slate-y Ellergrub Spätlese trocken. Weiser-Künstler has injected new life into the classic, delicate Mosel style and we hope you'll check in to see how they're doing. -jfr