Nelly Busch keeping watch over the Pündericher Marienburg

Clemens Busch - The Mosel Iconoclast

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We love Clemens and Rita Busch. Not only do they make some of the most distinctive, unexpected wines of the Mosel Valley, they also have some of the biggest hearts of anyone in the wine world. Their humility and gentle, giving spirit comes through in their wines and Clemens’ careful biodynamic stewardship of their land is clearly reflected in the glass. Tasting with him is always a joy, and each year we look forward to our visit to their home in Pünderich across the river from the famous Marienburg, a vineyard that is as closely identified with them as any combination of grower and producer in the world. Nature wasn’t kind this past June and neither was fate; a few of their workers fell ill right as pressure was building in the atmosphere and the risk of rot was high. Rita showed us to the river, and we watched as Clemens and son repeatedly climbed up and down the steep slopes, tirelessly spraying their organic preparations in a vigorous fight to save their young crop. As you’d probably imagine, we were unable to taste with Clemens that day as he worked to protect his vines.  Devotion to craft and dedication to the vines are traits that our favorite growers share, and they come through in the finished wine.

The Busches are most well-known for their baroque, richly textured dry whites, the impressive stable that begins with the muscular yet chiseled Marienburg GG and ascends the ladder of parcel specificity and quality up to the lofty heights of such rarities as the Felsetrrasse, Fahrlay-Terrassen and Raffes (all special ungrafted plots within the Marienburg). No one else on the Mosel makes wines like these; they’re unique and riveting and have gained quite a following. Over the past few years, more and more of their expansive line of production has been brought into the States; the various styles all tase so good, from light-bodied and bone-dry to opulently sweet and rich, we just couldn’t resist offering them all!

One new arrival that has really piqued the interest of many here in the shop is the Estate Riesling Trocken LS, a wine that is, as far as we know, the first low-sulfur German Riesling to be imported to the United States in the modern age. It’s terrific, and the comparison with the light-as-a-feather 2011 Estate Trocken is a fascinating exercise. Acidity is a remarkable preservative and Germany has among the highest levels in the world of wine. The time has come for more low-sulfur experiments such as these, and we’re beyond encouraged by this first result.

Additionally, please take note of the Busch family’s contribution to the classic Mosel canon with their Marienburg Riesling Kabinett; at just 9 degrees alcohol it practically bubbles over with freshness. The famous Busch line of monumental, Savennieres-like dry (or almost dry) Rieslings are represented here by the Marienburg GG, the Falkenlay GG and the mind-bending Fahrlay-Terrassen, the 2011 of which is the wine’s inaugural vintage in the U.S.  Going back a bit to the stellar 2010 vintage, we just received stunningly beautiful half-bottles of Goldkap Auslese, a wine that clocks in at a whopping 14 g/l acid, and we still have a few bottles left of the feinherb-style 2010 Falkenlay.*

Also available on demand, direct from the estate, are a number of nobly sweet wines all in 375ml format, including the 2011 Spätlese Goldkapsel ($29.99), 2011 Rothenpfad Auslese ($57.99), 2007 Auslese Goldkapsel ($82.99) and the 2007 Fahrlay Beerenauslese ($234.99).

 

*These nomenclature footnotes seem to pop up in every one of our German emails, but it’s worth noting that Clemens doesn’t believe in adding cultured yeasts to shepherd any of his wines to dryness; thus the Falkenlay is totally dry in 2011 and designated GG (Grosses Gewächs, a dry wine from a producer’s top vineyard), while the 2010 is not labeled as such. Regardless of the VDP’s labeling demands, both wines are well-balanced and both are excellent.               

            

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Busch, Clemens 2011 Mosel Riesling Trocken LS (Low Sulfur)

We're not old enough to say if this is definitively the first "Low-Sulfur" German Riesling to ever be imported to the United States; it's certainly possible (though very, very unlikely) that one was imported 100 years ago or at some other time before modern winemaking techniques in Germany were codified. We can say, though, that this is the first one we have ever seen, and we couldn't be more proud to offer it. Clemens and Rita are not only terrific winemakers, they are two of the greatest people in the Mosel. Their experiments such as this deserve to be applauded and supported simply because they're trying it, but you, as the consumer, have the added benefit of getting to drink this remarkably unique and delicious wine. Here there are only 7 milligrams per liter of free sulfur, well below the average of what you'll find anywhere else in Germany. The flavor profile is quite similar to the basic trocken but with a bit more texture and clearly defined fruit; whereas the Trocken is like mineral-water with superbly racy focus, the LS is slightly richer with a more intense apple note. This is one of the lightest and most delicate wines Clemens makes, and it simply must be tried. -jfr

  • Out of Stock
  • white
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  • $23.99

Busch, Clemens 2011 Mosel Riesling Trocken

Clemens avoided any crushing or maceration in 2011 to help preserve the acids in this vintage. Not surprisingly, his instincts were good. This year his entry-level Trocken is a stylistic return to the 2009, with a creamy texture, notes of apple and pear and of course, a clear and focused mineral tone. Busch remains one of the best and most distinctive growers on the Mosel. -jfr

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  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $19.99

Busch, Clemens 2011 Mosel Vom Roten Schiefer Riesling Trocken

Vom Roten Schiefer is always one of our favorites from Busch's lineup, and the 2011 continues the streak of delicious vintages from 2007 on. It's culled from red-slate parcels, primarily in the Rothenpfad, upstream from most of their grey and blue slate sites.The aromatics are quite nice, with present but restrained hints of flowers, grains, steel and spice. There's plenty of both body and acid, and it seems as if it may be just a hair off-dry, but still perfectly balanced. Really lovely depth and clarity here. -jfr

  • Out of Stock
  • white
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  • $28.99

Busch, Clemens 2011 Mosel Pündericher Marienburg Riesling Kabinett

One of Clemens' lightest and most easy-drinking wines, the Kabinett is a total surprise and the opposite of what most who are familiar with his intricate dry wines would expect. It comes from the same cooler, up-slope, gray-slate parcels from which the Estate Trocken and LS are culled, and fits well with what one would hope for a bright, refreshing Kabinett. It's a Busch wine, so it's a bit fuller than many other Mosel Kabinetten, but it's perfectly balanced and a joy to drink. Pretty green and red fruit up front, followed by a rush of slate on the finish. Everything's in its right place. -jfr

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  • white medium-sweet
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  • $27.99

Busch, Clemens 2011 Mosel Pündericher Marienburg Riesling Grosses Gewächs

The Marienburg GG comes all from gray slate parcels, east of and downstream from the rocky outcropping that is the signature of the Marienburg. The aromatics are very pretty here: honeycomb, white flowers and lime pith all come to mind. Yum. The palate is very expressive and broad with notes of cinnamon, pear, apples and peach pits. Clemens chose not to do any pre-fermentation skin contact in 2011 to preserve what would otherwise have become low acidity levels. This was a good decision as the wine retains just enough freshness to keep things in balance, and there's plenty of crushed rock minerality to keep things interesting. -jfr

  • Out of Stock
  • white
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  • $47.99

Busch, Clemens 2011 Mosel Pündericher Marienburg Riesling Falkenlay GG

Falkenlay lies between Fahrlay and Rothenpfad (to the left of the rocky outcropping in the center of the vineyard) and is a bit of a botrytis trap. Nobly sweet wines frequently come from this parcel but enough clean grapes were harvested in 2011 to produce this wine, one which had no problem fermenting fully dry on its own. The aromatics are really killer here: cool-toned with green and yellow fruit notes and wispy, salty minerality. This is the brightest and freshest of his 2011 GGs; honestly, I'm surprised at how refreshing it is and the minerality is out of this world—it's very clear, salty, elegant minerality. Piercing. It puts on weight in the glass and I think this particular one is best enjoyed slightly cooler than the others. -jfr

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  • white
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  • $54.99

Busch, Clemens 2011 Mosel Pündericher Marienburg Riesling Fahrlay Terrassen

No offense to sweet Nelly Busch, but Fahrlay-Terrassen is really the big dog here. It's not classified as a GG since there's probably 11-12 grams RS; this puts it in "feinherb" territory, but I wouldn't want it anywhere else. Botrytis hit hard here in 2011 and this is a rather Wachau-esque take on the Marienburg; think Hirtzberger on the Mosel, with creamy richness and flavors of tangerine and apricot, all on a much lighter frame than you'd find over in Spitz. Superior length, breadth, ornate detail and a clear, vivid finish make this one of Clemens' most stunning wines of the vintage and one of the best we've tried from this estate. This is a textbook example of the Busch style and everything they do so well. Epic Mosel! (it was even better than the 2011 Felsterrasse, in my opinion, but don't tell that to Clemens since that's his favorite parcel of old vines) -jfr

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  • white
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  • $44.99

  • Biodynamic

Busch, Clemens 2010 Mosel Pündericher Marienburg Fahrlay Riesling Auslese 375ml

Wowwee — this is 2010 in all its wacky glory: just 7% alcohol and over 12 stupefying grams of acidity per liter. This is just incredible Auslese and it will live forever. The Busches made three auslesen in 2010 (one of our favorite vintages of theirs ever) and the blue-slate Fahrlay was the winner for us; with 60% botrytitised grapes, this is as exotic and concentrated as many Beerenauslesen you're likely to find. If you're at all curious about the other deliriously good sweet wines that we have available by special order, give this a try to see the magical heights this estate can acheive with nobly sweet wine. Delicious! -jfr

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  • white sweet
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  • $57.99

Busch, Clemens 2010 Mosel Pündericher Marienburg Riesling Falkenlay

While Clemens is known for (and we adore) his robust dry Rieslings, Falkenlay, a gray-slate parcel within the Marienburg, stopped fermenting after a whopping 11 months with almost 18 grams residual sugar remaining. This is squarely in feinherb territory, especially when the slight sugar is balanced out by 10.8 g/l acid. That's enough analysis, though, the wine is simply gorgeous. Aromatically it reminds of lees, straw and apple, and on the palate there's screaming freshness. The small amount of sugar adds another dimension of fruit to this wine but it's quickly overwhelmed but dense minerality on the finish. Clemens seems to think this wine is too young and should be enjoyied in 5 to 6 years. We think it's great now, but wouldn't discourage you from laying some down. -jfr

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $47.99