Wine with Leslie Williams: A focus on the Mosel

A focus on the Mosel and its tributaries this week as I have found myself drinking it in a couple of restaurants recently.

Wine with Leslie Williams: A focus on the Mosel

A focus on the Mosel and its tributaries this week as I have found myself drinking it in a couple of restaurants recently. Last week I reviewed Frank’s wine bar in Dublin and praised its Markus Molitor Mosel riesling and it turns out Bradleys and others stock it so I thought I would mention it along with some Karwig bargains and two new wines from Wines Direct.

The Mosel rises in the Vosges Mountains in France and twists and turns all the way to Koblenz where it joins the Rhine.

Vines grow along its steep banks for most of this journey, the slate soils adding stony minerality and allow the vines to dig deep. Riesling is the best grape but it only thrives on south-facing slopes with a view of the river whose reflection aids ripening.

The steep slopes make this one of the world’s most difficult places to farm vines but the wines are among the most celebrated in the world so thankfully people persevere.

Finding decent German wines under €15 isn’t easy but as I mentioned a couple of weeks ago Karwigs is winding down so I picked out three solid inexpensive examples below (all have a 40% reduction) including a fruity red from Baden, with the pick of the bunch being the Dr Wagner from the Saar, a tributary of the Mosel.

The Saar has similar slate soils to the Mosel but can be cooler with easterly winds. In a good vintage however, it can easily match and even surpass its more famous neighbour. Coaxing the grapes to ripeness in the Saar used to be a problem up to two thirds of the time, but as the climate has warmed winemakers here are finding it easier.

Incidentally the most famous Saar producer, Egon Muller in Scharzhofberg, holds the number three place on Wine Searcher as the third most expensive bottle of wine in the world (after Romanée Conti and Leroy

Musigny Grand Cru) — his Trockenbeerenauslese dessert wine has an average price of over €12,000 per bottle such is its rarity.

If you are not familiar with the Mosel you can typically expect wines with lower alcohol (8% to 12%) that are honeyed and complex on the nose with apple pie and lemon oil aromas, fruity and ripe on the palate but with steely crisp acidity on the finish. The joy is in their poise and balance and they are especially good to drink in summer.

Best value under €15

Killian Hunn Spätburgunder, Baden, Germany — €10.98 (was €18.30)

Stockist: Karwigs Carrigaline

Baden is easily the best German red wine region, located across the River Rhine from Alsace. This Spatburgunder (pinot noir) has bright raspberry and cherry fruit aromas with an earthiness and is half the price of a similar quality Burgundy. Light and fresh with lingering crunchy cherry flavours. Great value. Also available is its pinot gris for the same price.

Moselland Riesling Classic, Mosel, Germany — €9.50 (was €16)

Stockist: Karwigs Carrigaline

One of the Mosel’s bestselling wines and despite the relatively low price this still shows the classic Mosel fruit-acidity balance. Bright apple and pear drops on the nose, fruity and ripe with a touch of residual sugar but dry and fresh on the finish. At 11.5% this is the driest Mosel in this week’s recommendations. Try with Thai food.

Dr Wagner Ockfener Bockstein Riesling, Saar, Germany — €12 (was €20)

Stockist: Karwigs Carrigaline

Founded in 1880 with good stocks of old vines, this is the from one of the best Saar vineyard sites of Ockfener Bockstein. At just 8% ABV this does have residual sugar but excellent lemony acidity. Honeyed apple and lemon-curd aromas, ripe pear and apple-confit flavours. The Grand Cru versi

Best value over €15

Markus Molitor Haus Klosterberg Riesling, Mosel, Germany — €20.95

Stockists: Bradleys, 64 Wines, Searsons Monkstown,

Markus Mollitor has been a driving force in the Mosel in recent decades, increasing the family’s estate from 7.5ha to 125ha and operates sustainably using natural yeasts. This is absolute classic Mosel, beautifully poised between dry and sweet, with ripe pear and apple fruits and perfect balancing acidity. It’s great for summer at 10% abv.

Bender I Love Mosel Riesling Kabinett 2017, Germany — €18.25

Stockists: Wines Direct Mullingar & Arnotts Dublin,

New to Wines Direct from a young winemaker — at just 8% abv this has more residual sugar but is still nicely balanced. Stony citrus aromas with a hefty dollop of ripe apple, juicy and soft on the palate with sweet apple fruits and citrus on the finish. This might sound a little sweet for some of you but chill it down and it will work brilliantly with a cheese plate.

Bender Weissburgunder QBA 2017, Mosel, Germany — €18.25

Stockists: Wines Direct Mullingar & Arnotts Dublin,

Weissburgunder is the German name for Pinot Blanc, a simpler grape than Riesling but one that does have its charms — from 30-year-old vines grown on a steep slate slope fermented dry (12%abv). Aromas of crisp green apple with a solid touch of white peach, cleanly made with textured fresh apple and stone fruit flavours and a crisp finish.

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