Germany's Lower Mosel

Posted by CrushWine

The Lower Mosel is famous for its frighteningly steep vineyards and its drier wines of compact complexity and filigreed finesse.

This region includes, perhaps counter-intuitively, the most northerly section of the river, from roughly Zell down to the suburbs of Koblenz, where the winding Mosel empties itself into the mighty Rhein.

Though the region has always played second fiddle to the Middle Mosel, the Lower Mosel includes some very well respected vineyards, such as the Punderich's Marienburg, Bremm's precipitous Calmont and the terraced wonders of Winningen. The quality of the wine from the region's great slopes just cannot be denied; as Stephen Brook writes in The Wines of Germany, "The correlation between steepness of site and quality of wine has been well established."

Favoring a style of wine that is very often on the dry side and decidedly delicate and nuanced, these are exciting expressions of Riesling that should most definitely be experienced by lovers of great German Riesling.

Clemens Busch
2005 "Vom Roten Schiefer"
Crush Price: $20.99

This is a wine that ran me over the first time I tried it; elegant with sappy fruits that stick to your palate like barnacles on a ship's hull. Here are my original tasting notes, in all their glory: "Super-complex nose of rich melon fruits, citrus, roasted earth and savory stones, dried rocks, spice... ultra-perfumed. Rich and full on the palate, clean sappy fruits, dense, yet delicately structured... lean and compact. Very clean and put together... with time the nose becomes deeper and rich, dark brown spices, carmelized fruits (melon), lots of goodness. Wow." This is a stunning Riesling and a killer value.

Wein-Erbhof Stein
2005 Bremmer Calmont Spatlese Trocken
Crush Price: $21.99

Calmont is one of the steepest vineyards in Europe (at nearly 68 degrees!) and Stein's dry Spatlese is a wine of shocking purity and cut. Where dry Rieslings can trip over their own alcohol, Stein's Calmont is well integrated, wonderfully fresh with good cutting stone fruits, plenty of minerality and a lovely heft and texture (the spatlese here offers body, not sugar). I frankly think this wine is one of the best values in dry Rieslings out there.

Reinhard and Beate Knebel
2005 Winninger Hamm Kabinett Feinherb
Crush Price: $21.99

The Knebel wines are the darlings of the German wine critics, supremely delicate and just so compelling and unique. This off-dry Riesling is very complex, with unapologetic notes of earth, smoke and an almost pungent minerality, all framed by kinky citrus fruits with a soft oily edge and a mid-palate washed lightly with limey acidity. Stunning.

Reinhard and Beate Knebel
2005 Winninger Rottgen Spatlese Trocken
Crush Price: $27.99

The Rottgen is one of Winnigen's most famous vineyards (along with Uhlen) and this wine is so good it's scary. The Wine Advocate's David Schildknecht is a big fan of Knebel's wines and I just can't help but quote from his review of this wine, it's so beautiful and spot-on. "The 2005 Winninger Rottgen Riesling Spatlese trocken offers an extraordinarily vivid, complex, and pure perfume of diverse flowers, pear, peach, smoke, and steaming stones. Full, rich, and glossy in the mouth, it persists with flower and orchard fruit essences accented by site-typical, pungent smokiness - indeed if this is not an instance of terroir in action, then that much-abused term is thoroughly bankrupt. For all of its substantiality and nearly 14% alcohol, and the near-overripeness of its fruit, this retains invigorating, juicy acidity and evinces barely a hint of heat in an otherwise superbly smoky, peachy, floral finish. Don't miss this - I'd pay the price just for the smell left in the empty glass!"