Mosel musings

Its not easy to take notes when on holidays, and with limited access to the internet. A few thoughts follow. Photos may be added later.

There are dozens of wineries in Bernkastel, and hundreds in the surrounding areas. Most are small, so the wines are not exported. Insider knowledge is needed to determine makers of decent wines. And the larger wineries may make more than 50 different wines each year, so what is available to taste and for sale can cover multiple vintages, sites, levels of quality; and it is certainly not feasible to try every possible wine, so we relied on the abilities of the hosts to take us through a range of wines. Further, although English was spoken everywhere we went (and my partner Robyn is fluent in German) there are only so many questions that can reasonably be asked, and notes scrawled in a limited time. The logistics to get any purchased wines back to Australia are awkward- I felt guilty buying so little.

The Mosel area is based around the  winding Mosel River, so it is quite a long area, with vines planted mostly on “the good side” of the river. This means the wines swap sides as the river meanders. Slopes can be death-defying, and it’s amazing how the vines can be cared for under such conditions. There are many paths suitable for cycling too.

Many wineries are only available to visit by appointment, and the car GPS was invaluable! Once opened, bottles can be safely refrigerated without degrading for at least one week (not a capability I seem to need).

The Mosel has had a dream run without poor vintages since the late 1980’s. This came to a crashing end in 2013 and 2014, vintages that winemakers described as “difficult” or worse. Buy with caution.

A special mention needs to be made of Rieslinghaus (formerly called Porn) in Bernkastel. There were >20 wines available by the glass, of varying vintages, makers etc. In addition, bottles, magnums etc were available for sale at very fair prices and covering again a range of vintages from makers such as JJ Prum, Schloss Lieser, Willi Haag and many more – plus some “auction” wines. This was an excellent resource – although we were busy revisiting wines purchased on our last trip in 2009. And this time around we wanted to try some different makers to gain a portrait of style (previous visits included MF Richter, Willi Schaefer, JJ Prum, R Haart, Dr Loosen).

A few random dinner wines -with scanty impressions included

fe riesling

2004 Trimbach Frederick Emile Riesling – We had to start with a dry wine, and one from Alsace; delightful, pale, spicy, stony, dry. Drink now – 2025, score 93

bernkastel dinner wines

2003 JJ Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr spatlese; this was a very hot vintage, and many wineries struggled; Prum described the wines as “sulky” and that the sites would take time to overcome the vintage vagaries – rich, mouthfilling, lush sweet tropical fruits, ready. Drink to 2020, score 90

2004 JJ Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr spatlese; very different! Lively acidity and more classical limes, apple and energy. Drink to 2025, score 93

2004 JJ Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Kabinett; acidity powers this wine; minerals, lively; Here we are with an older Kabinett that will endure for at least another 5 years, but can’t quibble with drinking it; drink to 2020, score 90

2007 R Haart Kreutzwingert Piesporter feinherb 12.5%; Happy to drink this, although its drying out a bit. Red berries, stonefruit, white peach, and orange bitters.  Drink now, score 87

2008 R Haart Goldtropchen Auslese; 2008 seems to be the vintage that never retreated into its shell; this is a very sweet wine where the bottle mysteriously seemed to empty rapidly. I cannot really see further improvement and am happy to drink with its now – although the wine will hold. Drink to 2023, score 91.

2010 Schloss Lieser juffer sonnenuhr spatlese.  A year of high acidity, but once again the wine had the pleasurable balance of acid, sweetness and texture. Drink to 2025, score 93


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