The Enkircher Ellergrub

Mosel Riesling Moonrakers

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The highest rigged sail on the wind ships of the 19th century would be called the moonrakers or the hopes-in-heaven. They provided the ships that raised them with that pivotal extra bit of speed and lightness. The heyday of those sailing ships long passed, who stands watch over that highest sail, over the sail that seemed closer to heaven than to the decks below?

Such questions might be asked of some of the world’s steepest vineyards, in the Mosel Valley, planted for the practical purpose of meeting the challenge of ripening grapes at what once was the northernmost limit for growing grapes. Climate change has mitigated those challenges and ripeness is now reached, more often than not.

Though the golden age of Mosel Riesling was long ago, those halcyon days may soon return for what can be the most lithely elegant and electrifying of white wines. If that hope exists then it exists because of growers like Konstantin Weiser and Alexandra Künstler (W-K), who have become care-takers of historic Middle Mosel vineyards like their top site, the Ellergrub, which holds ungrafted Riesling vines up to 100 years old.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Enkircher Ellergrub, the third vineyard north of Starkenburg (shown in the late 19th Century Prussian tax map above), is located on the rocky outcropping of the Starkenburger Hang and it has been highly regarded for well over 100 years. Konstantin and Alexandra preserve and honor this history by using neither herbicides nor pesticides in their vineyards.

Their commitment extends to the use of natural and biodegradable vine fasteners.  In-vineyard harvest selection is rigorous and depending on the vineyard and vintage quality they will choose a light crush and slow pressing or a direct whole-cluster pressing in their pristinely maintained Wilmes bladder press (pictured below).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The rest of their cellar work takes an equally traditional and minimalist tack with native-yeast fermentations in old fuder, stainless steel, and secondhand barrique. We’re delighted to offer their 2014 new arrivals, which are proving to be classic Weiser-Kunstler, in addition to a few favorites from the 2013 vintage.

Several kilometers down river in the Lower Mosel, another grower stands watch over some of the steepest, slate vineyards in all of the Mosel and the world. Dr. Ulrich “Ulli” Stein is a bit of a man apart with a jazz musician’s soul, a biologist’s training, and the drive of a reformer. He is above all a man unwavering in his principles and absolutely devoted to his vineyards (Bremmer Calmont pictured below).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ulli avoids all mechanization in tending to his mass-selected, largely ungrafted, and often centenarian vines. Alongside his brother Piet, he grows 6 hectares of vines around their family’s village of Sankt Aldegund. Stylistically-speaking, Ulli prefers low alcohol, dry to off-dry, zippy Mosel Riesling. A hallmark example is his wonderfully lean, spicy and slightly off-dry 2013 St. Aldegunder Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett Feinherb. It is hard to find Mosel Riesling that speaks more of place than the Stein wines!

Finally, we come to Karthäuserhof (Tasting Room pictured above), one of the greatest historical estates in all of Germany, located in a small side valley of the Ruwer, a tributary of the Mosel. Archaeological evidence suggests viticultural activity, dating back to the Ancient Roman period, in the Karthäuserhof vineyards. 

The estate was officially founded in 1335 by Balduin of Luxembourg, who gifted the land to the Carthusian order.  The present day 18 hectare vineyard, the Eitelsbacher Karhäuserhofberg, a south to southwest-facing monopole hillside, was among the most highly rated vineyards in the Prussian Tax Maps of the late 19th century.

Karthäuserhof is now helmed by Christian Vogt, who has had a noticeably positive influence on the quality and style of the wines. Christian has enforced strict vineyard selection during harvest and rigorously controlled maceration temperatures. The results speak for themselves as the 2013 Karthäuserhof wines are among the most aromatically complex Rieslings we have on our shelves. We are truly excited about his future vintages.

I have had the privilege of lengthy visits with each of these growers and I’ve trekked up and down their historical and numinous vineyards. Without any qualifications, they are very deservedly among Germany’s elite wine growers.

-David Salinas

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Weiser-Künstler 2014 Mosel Riesling Feinherb

Neither fruity nor sweet, this is instead an exciting display of edgy, tantalizing acids and chalky minerals accompanied by subtle floral aromas, white grapefruit, and lemon. This is very bright, refreshing, energizing wine that carries the distinctive purity we've come to adore from Weiser-Künstler. The grapes for this bottling come mostly from the south-facing Wolfer Sonnenlay vineyard, in a side valley of the Mosel. At 9.5% alcohol, this is an unflinching example of the cleansing, remunerative properties of light, tangy Mosel Riesling. Jonathan Kemp

  • Out of Stock
  • white off-dry
  • 0 in stock
  • $19.99

  • Organic

Weiser-Künstler 2014 Mosel Enkircher Ellergrub Riesling Kabinett

This finely elegant Kabinett (85 Oeschle) adds luster to W-K's reputation for refined and graceful wines. The nose floats spicier aromas of cinnamon, cloves, mace, and fresh ginger that dance around a core lime juice, orange blossoms, and orange marmalade. The palate is remarkably lifted by a high wire act of minerality, lime zest and ginger before an orange blossom finish. This has all that one could hope for in a Kabinett and holds high the tradition of great Mosel Kabinett!

- David Salinas

  • Out of Stock
  • white medium-sweet
  • 0 in stock
  • $26.99

  • Organic

Weiser-Künstler 2014 Mosel Trabener Gaispfad Riesling Kabinett Trocken

The grapes for this wine were picked at 84 Oeschle and the wine retains a refreshing zippiness, a hallmark of classic Mosel Kabinetts. Aromas of Bartlett pears, white hyacinths, and tangerines are noticeably present on the nose, before transitioning to more herbal notes of thyme and tarragon. The palate is absolutely bone-dry and wonderfully gripping with a minerality that carries notes of white peaches and nectarines. This is one of the highlights of the 2014 vintage.

- David Salinas

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $26.99

  • Organic

Weiser-Künstler 2013 Mosel Enkircher Steffensberg Riesling

From south-facing slopes and younger vines, this is edgy, focused, and impressive. Lots of texture to accompany the crispy acids and subtle, Granny Smith fruit. Powerful and expressive, but not missing the trademark purity and heady depth we've come to love from Weiser-Künstler. Will only continue to develop and improve. Jonathan Kemp

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $35.99

  • Organic

Weiser-Künstler 2013 Mosel Trabener Gaispfad Riesling

From ungrafted vines roughly 80 years-old on iron-rich gray slate. This takes the high acidity of the vintage and reins it into an remarkably focused structure that harnesses a wide range of detail and nuance. Subtle, pretty fruit, white peach, apricot, and minerals with understated textural elements on the finish. Jonathan Kemp

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $39.99

  • Organic

Stein 2013 Mosel St. Aldegunder Himmelreich Ries Kab Feinherb

Utterly inspiring! A delicious display of acid, with just enough sugar to bring out the stone fruit - subtle apricot, nectarine, and peach. Finishes with electricity and minerals. There is so much bracing energy and soulful majesty in this wine but it's hard to resist the temptation to empty the entire bottle in one glorious slug. Jonathan Kemp

  • Out of Stock
  • white off-dry
  • 0 in stock
  • $26.99

  • Organic

Karthäuserhof 2013 Ruwer Riesling Eitelsbacher Karthäsuserhofberg Kabinett

2013 was not a vintage free from challenges, but the Karthäuserhof wines speak volumes as to the potential quality of the vintage. This brightly yellow Kabinett offers a rich and varied nose of heather honey, roses, ripe yellow plums, and honeydew melons. The palate is full-bodied, but poised with aromas of freshly ground ginger and lemon verbena.

- David Salinas

  • Out of Stock
  • white off-dry
  • 0 in stock
  • $37.99

Karthäuserhof 2013 Riesling Alte Reben Trocken

Perhaps my favorite 2013 Karthäuserhof, the Alte Reben trocken is bone-dry and full-bodied. Aromas of white flowers, cloves, ripe white peaches are vividly expressive. The palate carries a nervy, taut, and finely delineated acidity with edges that carries notes of tangerines and orange blossom honey through to a deliciously tart finish!

- David Salinas

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $42.99

Karthäuserhof 2013 Ruwer Riesling Auslese Karthäuserhofberg 375ml

An initial tasting in January and a more recent tasting this week confirm that this is a Ruwer Riesling for the ages! The nose effortlessly floats aromas of apricots, green plums, tupelo honey, lemon blossom and a hint of cayenne pepper. The palate is refined and understated with highlights of candied limes, candied ginger, and candied green plums before a lengthy finish of perfectly ripe and juicy nectarines.

- David Salinas

  • Out of Stock
  • white medium-sweet
  • 0 in stock
  • $35.99