Red, gray, and blue slate from Busch's Marienburg vineyard.

2012: Clemens Busch's Crossover Hit

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Clemens Busch is in many ways the conscience of the Mosel. He stopped using chemical pesticides, fungicides, and fertilizers in the mid-1980s and began incorporating biodynamic practices in 2005. Those choices placed him at the forefront, if not making him the leader, of the growing cadre of Mosel winemakers moving towards more natural, ecological methods. Besides this noble distinction, he makes wines that mirror his personality, with a persistent sense of calm set against a mysterious, seeking, haunting nature that resounds with brilliant echoes of slate-ridden vineyards at nerve-racking heights. They are among the most intellectually engaging wines found anywhere. His experience and ability to keenly adjust for each season’s unique weather and complications make every vintage of his worth trying. He made brooding, wooly wines in 2011 that will continue to improve over the next decade. In 2012, conditions were far more fragile and Clemens shortened the harvest to about 3 weeks—half the length of the 2011 harvest. Despite the lower yields, we began hearing good things through the proverbial grapevine. In January of 2014, our own David Lillie was able to sample the wines first, and the news around the vintage began to escalate towards hushed, anticipatory buzz. The wines arrived, and the hype was deserved. They are stupendous.

The essential expression of slate is remains and the cerebral soul still forms the core of these wines as in years past. However, the 2012ers absolutely shimmer against this darker foundation. They are quite bright, and yet acids are in delicate proportion, allowing for nuance and beauty to come through. Since the wines impressed even the scrutinizing palates of those perennially inclined to praise subtle Muscadet over Mosel, perhaps this vintage is a ‘crossover hit’ for Clemens, as it were. It’s safe to say that not just the German wine geeks will be trying to get their hands on this mix. JK

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Busch, Clemens 2012 Mosel Riesling Trocken

Clemens and his wife Rita are at the cutting edge of biodynamic agriculture and minimal-intervention winemaking in the Mosel. Their 2012 Riesling Trocken weighs in at 11.5%, naturally dry fermented. Fresh like a cool mountain breeze through a cabin window. Acid-driven, clean, lean, and mineral-rich. A highly suitable introduction to the wines of Clemens Busch.  Jonathan Kemp

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  • white
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  • $21.99

Busch, Clemens 2012 Mosel Riesling Trocken LS (Low Sulfur)

When I visited in June of 2013, Clemens declined to show most of his '12s as he felt they weren't ready. I have no idea what needed to change about them, but clearly the extra time did the wines well, as everything we've tasted has been a big success. Knock it out of the park success. The LS, a newer cuvée that premiered in 2011, is one of the first "low sulfur" Rieslings to come out of Germany. This vintage is really special, with more purity and linear drive than the basic 2012 Riesling Trocken, and a core of bright melon fruit and beautiful freshness. -jfr

Compared to the regular bottling, the LS is more open, alive, golden, and floral, with just a hint of 'sponti' on the nose as well. Add to this the same invigorating acid and a delicate but generous portion of chalky structure and you've got an astoundingly complex, beautiful wine with a touch of wild, rambunctious, individuality. Bottled with just 46mg of SO2, only 8mg free. Highly recommended. JK

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  • white
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  • $24.99

  • Biodynamic

Busch, Clemens 2012 Mosel Vom Grauen Schiefer Riesling Trocken

Intensely packed with minerals and stark acid. Remarkably structured, edgy, dark, and chewy. Terrific focus and density. JK

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  • $29.99

  • Biodynamic

Busch, Clemens 2012 Mosel Vom Roten Schiefer Riesling Trocken

Lithe, light on its feet, very bright, and feminine. From red slate parcels on the Marienburg, this is rarely fermented completely dry. This vintage has maybe 15-18 g/l of residual sugar, and it stays very much in the background but serves to hold this sprightly wood nymph of a wine together. Delicious, electric, and singular. JK

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  • white
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  • $29.99

  • Biodynamic

Busch, Clemens 2012 Mosel Pündericher Marienburg Riesling Grosses Gewächs

Sourced from younger, 30-year-old vines grown in gray slate parcels of the Marienburg hillside, this Grosses Gewachs shows a finely detailed nose with floral and herbal tones. The palate is weighty and broad, but carried by a firm minerality. Big and bold Riesling!

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  • Biodynamic

Busch, Clemens 2012 Mosel Pündericher Marienburg Riesling Rothenpfad GG

(Tasted in January 2014) Aromatically a bit closed with very subtle yellow fruits, this will need time to open. Sensational palate — a super-complex melange of white fruits and minerals with fabulous intensity and length. This is a great and very young bottle of Riesling that is a testament to Clemens' great work in the vineyard and vinifications with wild yeasts and less sulfur. Highly recommended. DL

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Busch, Clemens 2012 Mosel Pündericher Marienburg Riesling Fahrlay Terrassen

Delicate and subtle with spicy acidity. Loaded with minerals, menthol, and eucalyptus, with a satisfying tingle of energetic potency on the finish. Very expressive and complex, and will continue to improve over the next 5-10 years. JK

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  • white
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  • $67.99

  • Biodynamic

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

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  • $28.99