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Richard Mark James' wine and travel blog

18 December 2012

Germany: St. Urbans-Hof, Mosel & Saar

2011 vintage Riesling tasting with Nik Weis


Owner - winemaker Nik Weis (right with cellar manager Rudi Hoffmann left) was in London back in the summer with his UK importer The Wine Barn to preview their 2011 vintage Rieslings from most of their middle-Mosel estate vineyards. These prized plots - some dramatically sloping up from the Mosel in picture-postcard paint-strokes (see photo of Piesporter Goldtröpfchen below), others rising more gently and flattening out a little - are found in six disparate sites with three of them on or near the Saar river (a tributary of the big 'M') up to 40 km away. These varied and pretty vineyards - amply fitting the "if it's beautiful, it's good" criterion, as a French wine producer rightly once said to me - are dotted around the villages of Leiwen (where the winery and family home is), Piesport, Mehring, Schoden, Ockfen and Wiltingen (the latter three are in the Saar region).

Nik - who took over the family wine business in 1997, which he runs with wife Daniela who's also from wine-growing background - described the 2011 vintage, understated, as "very unusual." This was yet another year marked by rollercoaster weather patterns and the resulting challenges for any winegrower/maker. Nik added: "I prefer to bottle early, especially the 2011s for example, to capture the freshness. For dry wines and wines for food, it's better to do it a bit later." He finished off the tasting nicely with a couple of top 10-year retro Rieslings, as a timely reminder of what a great age-worthy vintage 2001 was in Germany - and elsewhere in Europe actually, often overshadowed by  the hyperbole attached to 2000. More info on St. Urbans-Hof's individual vineyards etc. @ www.urbans-hof.com, including worldwide distributor contacts e.g. HB Wine Merchants in NYCThe Wine Barn sells these wines mostly to restaurants and hotels plus posh shops like Selfridges in London (approx cost prices in £ stated below).

Estate Riesling 'old vines' - yeast lees notes, delicate vs concentrated profile, quite tight and 'chalky' palate with oily honeyed side too, touch of sweetness vs gentle acidity underneath. Nice balance and style.
From 11 ha (c. 27 acres) of vineyards in Leiwen at 130 metres altitude (over 400 feet), mix of young and up to 60 year-old vines. 9.5% alcohol (alc), 36 grams/litre residual sugar (RS) and 6.9 g/l acidity (TA).

Saarfeilser Riesling Spätlese trocken - floral peppery almost, delicate juicy spicy mouth-feel with ripe citrus fruit vs chalky and crisp; has a touch of roundness vs subtle zest and acidity, honeyed vs 'mineral' finish with touches of lees / SO2 perhaps; well-balanced again. 12.5% alc. £18.25



Wiltingen Alte Reben (old vines) Riesling Kabinett feinherb - mix of citrus and floral celery notes, fairly intense citrus palate vs honeyed oily texture, lively crisp and mineral, concentrated vs light and elegant with intense long finish. £11.40
Average of 40+ year-old vines in 3 ha at 150 m, all south-facing. 10.5% alc, 21 RS, 7.2 TA.

Ockfener Bockstein Riesling Kabinett - a little closed up on the nose, delicate vs intense honeysuckle notes, tight mineral mouth-feel closing up again on its subtle finish with attractive lingering flavours and fresh acidity. £13.70
5 ha southwest facing at 156 m, vines c. 50 years old. 9.5%, 40 RS, 5 TA.

Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Riesling Kabinett - leesy with zesty citrus on a chalky palate, again delicate acidity running through it vs underlying sweetness (52 RS), tastes drier in the end with that long elegant crisp finish. £15.95
2.3 ha on the steepest part of "one of the finest Crus in the entire Mosel" according to Nik. 30 to 90 year-old vines too. 9%, 5.7 TA.

Piesporter Goldtröpfchen vineyard sliding into the river

Leiwener Laurentiuslay Riesling Spätlese - yeasty edges vs concentrated citrus fruits, towards lime even; quite rich vs leesy vs very tight acidity (a little awkward still when I tried it), attractive sweetness vs mineral celery side vs more exotic fruit too, lightly zesty with subtle length again. Should be very good. £25.80
1.2 ha at 126 m, although steep, southwest facing. 60 yo vines. 10%, 42 RS, 6.3 TA.

Ockfener Bockstein Riesling Spätlese - floral honeyed nose with almost 'slatey' undertones, lively spicy notes vs richer citrus and oily texture, lovely long crisp mineral finish vs towards exotic fruit and sweetness, very long with fine balance. Yum. £19.75
9%, 58 RS, 6.6 TA.


Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Riesling Spätlese - aromatic zesty peppery and 'phenolic' (from skin contact), sweet citrus vs oily texture vs concentrated and intense; long zesty and delicate with almost rounded exotic fruit vs lovely 'cut' and length, delicious tasty finish. £22 - 9%, 65 RS, 5.6 RS.

Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Riesling Auslese - more exotic and richer with lees/SO2 edges still, enticing mineral celery palate, juicy and zesty with lovely acidity underneath vs sweet richness (80 RS); surprising weight and length for 8% alcohol with delicate mineral tones vs oily and honeyed, drinking nicely now actually yet still tight and long on the finish. £32

Ockfener Bockstein Riesling Auslese - spicy leesy edgy mineral celery notes vs rich and exotic, towards peach and raisin flavours almost, honeyed and sweet with a touch of botrytis fruit in there vs delicate acidity lending chalky texture; weight vs light touch balancing exotic and elegant well, long sweet and zesty too on the finish. £28

2001 Saarfeilser Riesling (Spätlese 'level', 10% alc.) - developing 'toasty' oily notes, mineral and nutty vs richer side vs underlying green fruit and acidity; chalky fresh tight and zesty still vs mature oily flavours/textures. Wow, lovely mix of mature and still lively, complex with towards dry finish almost.

2001 Ockfener Bockstein Riesling Kabinett (9%) - a tad 'richer' toastier and oilier yet more mineral and celery-edged too, intense concentration vs acidity vs nutty flavours, complex peppery notes vs rich lime vs oily toasted nuts; lovely freshness with chalky acidity vs rounded maturing mouth-feel, very long and classy. Double wow, superb, still has life in it yet.

LOTS MORE ON GERMAN WINES AND RIESLING HERE (goes to Germany archive page).

1 comment:

  1. So glad to see this write-up review of the St. Urbans-Hof wines and Nik Weis. We carry the St. Urbans-Hof Zickelgarten Riesling, 2011 on our site at Bacchus Selections--www.bacchusselections.com. Thx!

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