Mosel Manifesto: A Call to Action

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Re: Mosel Manifesto: A Call to Action

Postby Lars Carlberg » Tue Oct 16, 2012 5:48 am

Andrew Bair wrote:A year ago, Jean Fisch and David Rayer of Moselfinewines.com came out with a Mosel vineyard classification, based on their vast collective experience drinking Mosel Riesling. One of the vineyards that they rated as a ""Premier Cru", alongside the likes of Lieser Niederberg-Helden and Leiwener Laurentiuslay (both Grosses Gewächs/Lagen per the VDP) was a forgotten site in the Saar named Pellinger Jesuitengarten. In fact, Pellinger Jesuitengarten had its vines ripped out. Fisch and Rayer rated it highly based on the quality of the wines that the sole owner, Friedrich-Wilhelm-Gymnasium, made there between the 1950s and the 1970s.

With Friedrich-Wilhelm-Gymnasium not what it once was as an important Mosel producer, it would be great if they could find someone with passion of Ulli Stein to purchase, replant and resurrect this once-great vineyard. At least I can hope. For that matter, I'm a bit surprised that someone with the financial resources of Roman Niewodniczanski hasn't already bought the land.


Andrew, several years ago, Roman purchased vines nearby in Oberemmeler Altenberg, which is another underrated site adjacent to Hütte. I've never tasted an older wine from FWG's Pellinger Jesuitengarten, but I'm sure it's a great site. (FWG belongs to BWG now.) I, however, question the ranking of vineyards, including the VDP's. Jean Fisch and I have corresponded about this in the past. Although I appreciate his and David Rayer's tasting experience, it's an impossible task to judge that this vineyard is better than that one from merely drinking older bottles of wine and looking at old maps. So much depends on the vintage and whether the site has a good producer, much less a great one. Then, we have to factor in climate change. Some top areas are more affected by drought and have more heat stress nowadays. What are the age of the vines? Are the vines ungrafted or modern clones? What type of clone? What are the boundaries of the vineyard (not all sections are prime sites)? Was the vineyard remodeled and how? In addition, the Prussian tax maps are based on net profit, not merely on the prices achieved at auction or their reputation alone. As with the VDP today, politics played an important role in ranking (taxing) the vineyards back then. In addition, certain vineyard owners had more clout than others, both in the past and today. Before we try to rank vineyards, I think it'd be better to acknowledge pre-1971 vineyards, that is to say, to do away with the Grosslagen, to delimit the expanded sites, and to allow each producer to reclaim old site names. In addition, all slate sites, especially on steep slopes, need to be marked separate from those vines grown on ground better used for other crops during the vineyard expansion in the 1970s. Riesling grown on slate should be recognized as the "true" Mosel wine. Of course, some vineyards have always been recognized as being special, such as Scharzhofberg, and remain so today. Others are given grand cru status, despite little historical backing, as the producer in question is making great wines from the site. This, however, doesn't mean that other vineyards are less good. As Schildknecht puts it, it's silly to claim that "my dirt's better than yours."

By the way, Hofgut Falkenstein, which I represent in the States, rebuilt FWG's former cellar in the Saar region, where the FWG formerly vinified the Rieslings from Jesuitengarten.
Last edited by Lars Carlberg on Wed Oct 17, 2012 4:55 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Mosel Manifesto: A Call to Action

Postby Andrew Bair » Tue Oct 16, 2012 8:01 pm

Lars -

Thank you for your thoughts and your up to date information about FWG, and their former cellar in the Saar.

To comment on a couple of things: First of all, I generally agree with your perspective with regard to vineyard classifications, and was just using this one as a way to bring attention to a forgotten site that might well have potential for replanting. Your points about climate change, rootstocks, and clones is well taken, and I have often wondered myself if certain sites are considered "great" because they happen to be associated with a top grower/winemaker.
Of course, I'm completely with you on getting rid of the Grosslagen, not to mention the Bereichen. They are confusing and beyond ridiculous at this point; plus, the old market for cheap, generic-named wines that seems to have begat the concept of Grosslagen dried up long ago. My hope is that those quality-conscious producers who still put Grosslagen on some of their labels will abandon them, even for second labels and negociant bottlings, such as those of J&H Selbach.

We are definitely seeing more pre-1971 names on labels these days, which is certainly a move in the right direction.
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Re: Mosel Manifesto: A Call to Action

Postby Lars Carlberg » Tue Oct 16, 2012 8:12 pm

Andrew Bair wrote:Lars -

Thank you for your thoughts and your up to date information about FWG, and their former cellar in the Saar.

To comment on a couple of things: First of all, I generally agree with your perspective with regard to vineyard classifications, and was just using this one as a way to bring attention to a forgotten site that might well have potential for replanting. Your points about climate change, rootstocks, and clones is well taken, and I have often wondered myself if certain sites are considered "great" because they happen to be associated with a top grower/winemaker.
Of course, I'm completely with you on getting rid of the Grosslagen, not to mention the Bereichen. They are confusing and beyond ridiculous at this point; plus, the old market for cheap, generic-named wines that seems to have begat the concept of Grosslagen dried up long ago. My hope is that those quality-conscious producers who still put Grosslagen on some of their labels will abandon them, even for second labels and negociant bottlings, such as those of J&H Selbach.

We are definitely seeing more pre-1971 names on labels these days, which is certainly a move in the right direction.


What a great reply, Andrew.
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