NECTO Riesling 2011

At the Mosel we have many small parcels of fruit (many small vineyard blocks). The advantages of having varying vineyard sites at the Mosel are differing altitudes, orientations, soil structures, vine ages and rootstocks. This leads to lots of interesting ingredients when making a wine….a touch of primary fruit from there, some lively acidity from up there and some palate weight from over there.

That is how we make our new Riesling range – NECTO (in Latin – to connect/bind).

NECTO is produced in three styles to show off the diversity of riesling from the Mosel:

NECTO 1: trocken (dry)

NECTO 2: feinherb (medium-dry)

NECTO 3: edelsüss (Botrytis sweet – dessert-style)

Below are a few images depicting the production of NECTO 2011:

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Gudrun’s Game in the Garden of Bella

My mother in law, Gudrun, stayed with us a couple of months ago whilst we adjusted to an expansion in family life. This image was taken during one of those special events when time stops and all focus is placed on the moment. Gudrun has been the catalyst of such events in my life for the past ten years. This was no exception:

It’s classic how often you find images of food on the web after people come down from such sensory experience highs. I’ve been reveling in this current comedown for months.

Two hands sent me back to 2005 at the Barossa in a bottle of Shiraz whilst Gudrun conjured up the smells and tastes of a Rethem forest in Germany. Australia to Germany and back with every sniff, slurp and chew…

Mosel Riesling – Intricacy at it’s finest?

Growing exciting riesling wines at the Mosel in Germany allows incredible creativity, in both the vineyard and cellar. Creativity in winegrowing requires direction and clarity in order to achieve the best results in the glass. Making riesling at the Mosel is all about style. Each mesoclimate (individual vineyard sites or areas within vineyards) has a set of characteristics which we aim to preserve by caring for the microclimates (around the vines themselves) within. You can choose to blend these mesoclimates based on their attributes (i.e. the higher site has a tighter structure in comparison to the site closer to the Mosel which displays a riper composition) or bottle single-vineyard wines. Blending these different attributes can create a unique outcome in the form of a riesling which defines the winemakers philosophy. To suffocate this creativity with a rulebook is a crime. A crime we unfortunately endure on an annual basis.

At the Mosel you can work endless hours in the vineyard, fine tuning the microclimates to grow the grapes needed for a particular style of riesling. The grapes are harvested and pressed to juice so the fermentation process can begin. The ferment is tasted daily to track flavour development and the intricate balance between sugar and acidity. You enter the cellar one day and taste the ferment – the very style you spent a year planning has been achieved. You analyse the residual sugar and get a result of 12g/L. At this point your creativity comes to a screaming halt as the maximum level of residual sugar for a dry riesling at the Mosel is 9g/L. In order to write dry (trocken) on your label you have to adhere to this restriction. Your customers want to know if the wine is dry, medium-dry or sweet and you want to give them the most harmonious result from that vintage whilst disclosing the wines’ taste profile which is well-suited to certain foods and occasions. What do you do? You post your dilemma on a blog 😉

“Slate soil Riesling with 15 grams of residual sugar can taste perfectly dry.”   Echensperger, Romana. “The Diversity of German Riesling.” TONG 21 March. 2011: 3-16. Print.

But don’t worry, in 2000 the authorities added two new categories to give the producers some breathing room, “Classic” and “Selection.” Just what the winemakers needed – a need to further educate their already bewildered customers. And don’t think the fun stops with residual sugar. We could write a book on the lack of continuity in the so called, ‘Qualitätsstufen.’ The Germans have created a logistical nightmare for anyone trying to market a Mosel riesling. It is astonishing to think that a system introduced to provide direction and clarity can produce such a grey zone for the people who really count – the consumer. As climates change and styles of riesling evolve, winemakers at the Mosel will adapt and redesign their approach to producing riesling. Unfortunately the current framework in which they are forced to create their wines, is dictating the final outcome in your glass. The 3 grams of sugar could be the difference between a good wine and a great wine.

Solution: Transparency! Write the exact residual sugar level on the label. It would be a lot easier to explain that anything between 10 and 12 grams tastes ‘more or less’ dry, 12-25 medium dry and anything over will be relatively sweet. This pared with the second tool (which the riesling fans already use) % alcohol will probably solve a few problems. In any case the Mosel producers will be growing their best (most harmonious) wines.

Perhaps a scale – like the one used by Domaine Zind-Humbrecht:

  • Indice 1: analytically dry or tasting dry.
  • Indice 2: not analytically dry, but the sweetness is not apparent on the palate
  • Indice 3: a semi-sweet wine
  • Indice 4: a sweet wine;
  • Indice 5: high sweetness, 
Ah, ventilation! So, I’m off to design our new labels and don’t be surprised to not find the words Trocken, Halbtrocken, Feinherb, Lieblich or Süss on there. Wine quality won’t be jeopardized by a term. Hauptsache: the wine is the best it can be!

Welcome to the Shire


The Hobbit Project is alive! If you had ever dreamed of making your own wine or you’d like to become part of a global team of winemakers – here is the chance. The Hobbit Project is a great way to expose yourself to winemaking whilst becoming part of the a very unique culture found only at the Mosel Valley in Germany. Click the link above to join our clan…..

Crushpad at the Mosel


The word on the grapevine is that Crushpad will be announcing a project at the Mosel Valley in the coming weeks for the 2011 vintage. So, all you riesling fans (and anyone interested in a unique cultural experience from the comfort of your own living room) get on over to the Crushpad website to see how you become the winemaker. More detailed information regarding the Mosel Valley coming soon….


Thought Pruning

I’ve spent some quality time in the vineyards recently. After hours of pruning the shears carve their way down the row whilst you subconsciously design two years worth of growth.

Most conscious thoughts are random at best! I call them 10 viners (i.e. they occupy you for ten vines).  Once and a while I’ll find myself challenged for a few rows or so. Occasionally I’ll smell, hear or see something which is distinctly foreign to me.  A normal reaction no doubt, for an Australian pruning away in a Mosel vineyard. Recent thought pruning has inspired a little research. What is the Mosel Valley? What is a Mosel Riesling? I did what any tourist does, ask the locals. Throughout the year I’ll post some of their answers. To get the tractor rolling, Johannes Selbach of Weingut Selbach-Oster wrote:

The Mosel is……a beautiful winter wonderland this year (2010/2011).

Mosel Riesling is……. an utterly delicious testimony to almost 2000 years and countless generations’ efforts of singling out the best sites, the best suited grape and ( still ongoing ) best viticultural practices for one of the most beautiful places on earth to make fine wine. 

And I didn’t translate a thing! Respect. The words, ‘countless generations’ efforts,’ capture the essence of this place. These people aren’t going to work each morning just to feed the family and sponsor their next Ryan Air holiday. Each time a Moselaner enters the vineyard, he or she is protecting, maintaining and providing a culture which cannot be imitated.


December is a great time to reflect. What worked well? What could be done better? How can we achieve this next year? It’s also a great time to step outside the realm of Riesling production at the Mosel. One of my biggest fears as a Riesling producer, is developing a ‘cellar palate.’ Because we work so intensely with one variety, adaptation can lead to acceptance – losing your ability to be critical. Exposure is the key. A colleague, Daniel Vollenweider, had invited me to a Burgundy tasting he was hosting. I knew Daniel had acquired much knowledge through a passion for Pinot Noir from Burgundy. Without further delay, I reserved my seat with Pinot&so and took the sensoric journey through Côte d’Or and Côte Chalonnaise……wow, what a trip! If you find yourself all Rieslinged out whilst at the Mosel, expose yourself by visiting Pinot&so in Traben Trarbach.
Below are a few questions I had for the team at Pinot&so:
Who is Pinot&so?
Daniel Vollenweider, Riesling winegrower; Roland Hölzenbein, a true Mosel guy out for red experiences, and Peter Wurm, Berlin based wine-photographer and grafic artist deeply in love with the Mosel and Burgundy.
Why Pinot Noir?
Other than Riesling (plus Silvaner and some Piemont varieties) the most interesting grape for our taste – a red with as much delicatesse as it’s got muscles. Perfectly balanced between refinement and being straight forward, more firm than the Bordeaux styled wines, and singular, unimmitable.
Describe Burgundy in one sentence:
Still the best place to grow Pinot Noir – forgive me, all you other regions …
Which characteristics do you  look for in a Pinot?
Delicacy combined with strength, etheric fruitiness underlined with minerality, seductivity with a hint of intellectual challenge.
How do you choose your Burgundian producers?
Recommendations, own research in the British and French wine journals. And sometimes, chance helps, like picking a good glass in a vinotheque.
When is the best time to visit the region?
Any time from May to October … depending on what you expect. During harvest (late September to mid October), tastings may be a bit hard to arrange … Winter or spring may be better for cellar visits.
What should I eat when I get there?
Try the typical dishes: Sausages, Beef Bourgouignon, Pâtés, Quiches … In Beaune, there is also a special Gingerbread, and in Dijon, mustard is a typical.
But good look if you’re vegetarian. The Saturday market in Beuane is highly recommended for a visit.
Which wines would you recommend I buy to get an overview of the region?
Red: A Mercury, a Volnay, Beaune or Pommard, a Nuits-St-Georges, Morey-St.-Denis or Gevrey-Chambertin.
White: a Pouilly-Fuissé, a Rully, a Meursault or a Chablis. But keep in mind that like with the reds, the higher qualities need quite a few years to show up their full potential.