Honest Mosel Riesling With a Lot of Heart and a Great Value

Today’s Story: Weingut Clemens Busch

Weingut Clemens Busch is a highly regarded family-owned wine estate under the guide of fifth generation winemaker Clemens Busch and his wife Rita. Clemens began working with his father on the family’s two hectares (five acres) of vineyards during the mid-1970s, however he and Rita inherited the estate themselves in 1984. The winery is located in the town of Pünderich along the Mosel River in Germany, and the majority of their vineyards sit across the way on the iconic hillside known as Marienburg. Over time Clemens and Rita have adeptly added to their vineyard holdings while their neighbors moved elsewhere to focus on Pinot Noir during the 1980s, so today the family property consists of about 16 hectares (39 acres) of vineyards planted to 99% Riesling and 1% Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir). The “house specials,” if you will, are Rieslings made in a dry style though they also produce some noble sweet Riesling as well which many consider some of the finest in the Mosel.

Not one to follow the norms of the region, Clemens believes wholeheartedly that organic and biodynamic viticulture, alongside minimal intervention in the cellar, produces the greatest wines. Clemens and Rita were early adopters of organic farming when they converted in 1984, and they are also early adopters of biodynamics which they fully converted to in 2005 with certification. Clemens also goes against the grain when it comes to his bottlings. The hill of Marienburg became “one site” thanks to a government ruling in 1971 that combined all the individual sites of this 23 hectare (57 acre) hillside into a 90 hectare (222 acre) area. While this was initially supposed to “help” its recognition, Clemens knew that all the different soil types and historic vineyard names are important to maintain so he vinifies, bottles, and labels all the wines by their historic, pre-combined names.

In the cellar specifically, Clemens practices minimal intervention winemaking in an attempt to best showcase the unique terroir of each bottling. This includes fermentation with only native and spontaneous yeasts and aging the wines in very old 1,000 liter barrels (some of which are over 40 years old). Amazingly, most of their fermentation take eight to ten months due to this method! Clemens does not like adding sulfur to his wines either, so to minimize this he only adds a small dose prior to bottling. These wines are never fined as well, again in an effort to show the variety and terroir in the most honest way possible.

Fun Fact: The color of the capsule on each bottle of Clemens Busch tells the consumer what color slate the fruit for the wine grows in. A grey capsule represents grey slate, a blue capsule blue slate, and a red capsule red slate.

Today’s Wine: 2019 Riesling Trocken

100% Riesling; 10.5% ABV

The 2019 Riesling Trocken is medium yellow in color. This takes a couple hours to really open up thanks to its youth, but once it does the aromas are of pronounced intensity and the nose showcases notes of white peach, lemon and lime zest, green apple, honeysuckle, petrol, smoke, wet slate, and stony mineral. The flavors are also of pronounced intensity, while the palate offers up notes of lime peel, green apple, dried apricot, white peach, jasmine, a hint of smoke, slate, and mineral. This dry white is medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity, low alcohol, and a medium (+) length finish. Good quality for this entry-level bottling.

Price: $23. This is pretty well-priced for its quality level as an entry-level bottling. While it takes some coaxing at this stage to come out of its shell, there’s great intensity and depth to this wine for its price-point. Not a bad one to have while you wait on the higher-end bottlings to mature.

If this wine seems like something you might enjoy, you may find this link helpful in locating it.

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