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.
The 2019 Riesling Kabinett is pale straw in color. Given some time to blossom in the glass, the wine showcases a nose of pronounced intensity and aromas of white peach, green apple, lime pith, honeysuckle, petrol, and slate. It’s very floral overall, and fairly delicate. Meanwhile the flavors are also of pronounced intensity, with the palate displaying notes of green apple, lime zest, kiwi, jasmine, wet slate, and mineral. There’s an interesting note of fennel on the finish as well. This off-dry Riesling is medium-bodied with high acidity, low alcohol, and a medium (+) length finish. No doubt this is too young and perhaps slightly closed off now, but it’s already showing beautiful balance.
Price: $30. This is a great value, even though you should be patient with it and let these rest for a few more years. It has great intensity and acid, and while it’s not the most complex wine right now I think this will improve tremendously.
If this wine seems like something you might enjoy, you may find this link helpful in locating it.
Weingut Dr. Loosen is a storied wine producer located just outside Bernkastel in the Mosel region of Germany. The winery has been in the Loosen family for over 200 years, making them one of the most well-known producers of Riesling not only throughout Germany but throughout the world. The winery and vineyards came to Ernst “Erni” Loosen in 1988, and he immediately set about improving the quality of wines that ungrafted 60+ year-old vines in some of the Mosel’s best vineyards can produce. Erni believes that great wine should be both a sensual and intellectual pleasure, with each bottle showcasing the unique terroir, passion of the winemaker, and a snapshot of history. This philosophy feeds through to his winemaking style, where Erni strives to balance traditional and family-honed winemaking practices with experimental studies (such as time on lees) to make the best and most transparent wine possible. Nonetheless, all the Dr. Loosen wines ferment spontaneously in wooden barrels and see a minimum of 12 months on lees with no racking and no bâttonnage so as to not add excess weight or cover any nuances provided by the variety or site.
Dr. Loosen has been part of Germany’s VDP (Verband Deutscher Prädikatsweingüter) since 1993, showcasing the incredible pedigree of their vineyards. What’s more, seven of the Dr. Loosen vineyards are designated VDP Grosse Lage (Grand Cru) and these wines are bottled as single vineyard bottlings since 1988. Any other wines produced by Dr. Loosen are labeled Estate or Village Rieslings. The vineyard sites under the Dr. Loosen umbrella include Bernkasteler Lay, Bernkasteler Johannisbrünnchen, Graacher Himmelreich, Graacher Domprobst, Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Ürziger Würzgarten, Erdener Treppchen, and Erdener Prälat. As a whole, the variety breakdown is 98% Riesling and 2% Pinot Blanc.
The 2018 Erdener Treppchen Riesling Kabinett is medium straw in color. This takes some time in the glass to blossom, but once it does the aromas are of pronounced intensity and the nose showcases notes of green apple, pear, white peach, orange zest, chamomile, honey, and saline mineral. Meanwhile the flavors are of medium (+) intensity, with the palate displaying notes of green apple, lime, ripe pear, nectarine, white florals, and stony mineral. This medium sweet white is medium-bodied with high acidity, low alcohol, and a medium (+) length finish. Very good and a serious bottling for Kabinett.
Price: $25. I think this offers solid value. While there are cheaper Rieslings around the $15-18 range that I’ve enjoyed about as much as this one, the balance, intensity, and length certainly showcase the high quality here especially relative to all the Riesling I’ve tried.
Reichsrat von Buhl was established in 1849 by Franz Peter Buhl, and the estate quickly became a benchmark of quality for Forster Riesling. Thanks to uncompromising quality, von Buhl Rieslings became some of the most expensive in the world and even filled the glasses of those toasting the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869. Even Otto von Bismarck became a loving fan of von Buhl wines and praised their Ungeheuer which is sourced from the best plot of the 29 hectare Grand Cru Ungeheuer vineyard.
In 1909, Franz Eberhard Buhl (the son of Armand von Buhl and Juliane Schellhorn-Wallbillich) orchestrated the marriage of the von Buhl and Schellhorn-Wallbillich wineries, establishing one of the largest privately owned German wine estates at over 200 hectares. At this point, Franz Eberhard changed the winery name to Reichsrat von Buhl (adding his title as a member in the house of Lords in the kingdom of Bavaria). Franz Eberhard passed away young in 1921 and his widow Frieda Piper von Buhl adeptly ran the estate until her death in 1952. With no familial heirs to the estate, Reichsrat von Buhl went to Georg Enoch Freiherr von und zu Guttenberg who was a political friend of Franz Eberhard.
Over time, Reichsrat von Buhl decreased in size to about 52 hectares of vineyard land thanks to financial challenges, though they maintained ownership of some of the greatest sites in Deidesheim and Forst. From 1989 to 2013, von Buhl was leased to Japanese business man Toyohiro Tokuoka but changed ownership in 2005 to a local businessman named Achim Niederberger. When Tokuoka’s lease ended in 2013, von Buhl went back to being a family-run estate and winery.
All vineyards owned by Reichsrat von Buhl are certified organic and the current team is unified behind natural and sustainable viticulture. All white wines from von Buhl are Riesling (except for two noble sweet wines) and all red wines and rosé are made from Pinot Noir. Of all the land planted to vine that von Buhl owns, 45% is classified as either VDP.Erste Lage® (Premier Cru) or VDP.Grosse Lage® (Grand Cru) – source. For more on this historic German estate, check out the website here.
The 2018 Armand Riesling Kabinett is pale gold in color. Aromas are of pronounced intensity, with the nose showcasing notes of white peach, apricot, lemon peel, honeysuckle, petrol, and white pepper. Meanwhile the flavors are also of pronounced intensity and the palate displays notes of yellow apple, white peach, tangerine, jasmine, honey, and flint. This off-dry Riesling is light- to medium-bodied with high acidity, low alcohol, and a medium (+) length finish.
Price: $17. I think this is very well-priced and offers solid value. While it’s not the most complex wine, it is rather young and still offers great intensity and length that I desire in a Riesling. Quality here is definitely significant as well for the level of wine.