Riesling Circa 1900: Vollenweider Schimbock 2009

Posted by Joe Salamone

"Old Fashioned" Mosel Riesling
2009 Vollenweider Riesling Schimbock

Curious what Riesling might have tasted like circa 1900?

What would Mosel Riesling have tasted like, before pneumatic presses and stainless steel, before cultivated yeasts, cold-stabilization and filters?

These are fascinating questions; the answers are explored in today's rather rare bottling.

Using an old-fashioned wooden basket press, today's wine is allowed to macerate on its skin for 24-36 hours. The elevage is done completely in neutral wood and only indigenous yeasts are used. For this particular bottling, the fermentation lasted well over a year, eventually finding its own balance at 18 grams of residual sugar.

The result is both fascinating and compelling. This is a singular Riesling. It's a textural, glycerin-rich wine that presents the tell-tale signature of Riesling (citrus, stone fruit) cocooned in notes of stone, hay, and saline with very faint traces of dark tones, like quince, cassis, etc. Because of the skin contact, one can sense a delicate tannic detail that is freshened and enlivened by a polished and bright acidity.

Even with 18 grams of residual sugar, the effect is more dry than sweet - "dry tasting" would be the best descriptor.

Have no doubt, this is a cerebral wine. It's a Riesling that gains in fine-ness and detail after a good decant or, better yet, after 24-36 hours open. Wines that experience oxygen-rich youths tend to need more oxygen to coax them back into full color. This wine is no exception.

Daniel Vollenweider is one of the most curious winemakers in the Mosel. Swiss by birth, Vollenweider moved to the Mosel driven by nothing other than a passion for Mosel Riesling. In 1999, he bought one hectare of old vines in the Wolfer Goldgrube and immediately made a splash. By 2005 Vollenweider was considered one of the top producers of sweet wines in the Mosel (Kabinett to Auslese and beyond).

The Schimbock is sourced from a small parcel downstream from the main body of the Goldgrube - it has a more extreme western-facing exposition. First planted in the mid-19th century, this parcel has an extensive collection of un-grafted vines.

While Vollenweider remains one of the Mosel's top sweet wine producers and, in the U.S. at least, one of the Mosel's greatest secrets, his story and his production entails more than just sweet wines. The Schimbock is perhaps the greatest example of Vollenweider's breadth.

With only 4.5 hectares, there is never much to go around, whether sweet or dry or in between.

This is a fascinating exploration of what Riesling can be - not to be missed. To order, reply to offers@crushwineco.com or call the store at (212) 980-9463.

Joe Salamone
Wine Buyer
Crush Wine & Spirits

2009 Vollenweider Riesling Schimbock