Sparkling STEAL: Back-up-the-Truck (Grower) Bubbles at $17

Posted by Joe Salamone

Sparkling STEAL:
Back-up-the-Truck (Grower) Bubbles
Hild Elbling Sekt Brut

Five hectares, a father-and-son team, limestone soils, EXTREME refreshment – a July Back-Up-the-Truck special edition.

Here is the answer to just about every question of refreshment likely to pop up between now and the end of August. Grower bubbles – méthode Champenoise – with all the chalky, cutting, high-toned refreshment usually reserved for wines at two or three times the price.

Matthias Hild and his son Johannes farm about five hectares in Germany’s upper Mosel. This is a truly forgotten region, long in the shadow of Germany’s famous Saar Valley to the east (think Egon Müller, Zilliken, Lauer) and Luxembourg’s posh enclaves to the west.

Yet here we have one of the eastern-most outcroppings of the Paris Basin, that geological mass of limestone that informs parts of Champagne, Chablis and Sancerre. We also have a singular wine culture that celebrates one of Europe’s oldest, indigenous grapes, Elbling.

In the upper Mosel, Elbling is something of a religion. When grown on limestone, the wine flaunts a nose of wild herbs and soil, a palate of high-toned citrus fruit and gunflint. Think of Elbling as Riesling’s great, great, great grandmother and you’ll have a sense of its profile: This is a wine with electricity, with a stony acidity that cuts through just about everything, including humid NYC days.

Make no mistake, the price is not a reflection of quality, it is a factor of the complicated history of the region. The upper Mosel has long suffered from the sins of the local coops that farm for quantity and not quality. It has long been overshadowed by the Saar and Middle Mosel.

The easy comparison is France’s Muscadet region. It wasn’t that long ago that the wines of this region were damned by faint praise – sure, they were refreshing but they were not wines of terroir. Sancerre and Pouilly-Fuissé, those were the grand wines. Yet growers like Marc Ollivier, Luneau-Papin and Jo Landron have crafted profound wines from this "humble" region. They have turned a simplistic paradigm on its head.

Growers like Hild show what is possible from the upper Mosel, from Elbling. At the moment their example is the exception and they farm only a few hectares – the production is miniscule. Yet the wines have such clarity, such energy, another paradigm may be upended.

Our one-and-only parcel of Hild has just arrived and it is the final batch of sparkling for this release. If you have a truck, well, back it up!

To order, please email us at or call the store at (212) 980-9463.

Joe Salamone
Wine Buyer
Crush Wine & Spirits