Last Friday the new Prince Wine Store in Sydney hosted a very special tasting of rieslings from some of the world’s top winemakers and emerging stars, most of whom had come to Australia for Melbourne’s Riesling Downunder extravaganza.
One of the highlights of the tasting was the opportunity to meet one of the major stars of the German wine industry, the very personable Erni Loosen of Dr. Loosen in Mosel.
Like pinot noir, riesling is a grape capable of doing a brilliant job at expressing the sense of place, and the wines of Dr. Loosen are unmistakably the product of the very special Mosel terroir.
Dr. Loosen has over 25 hectares of south-facing vineyards in Middle Mosel, spread across some of the most spectacular and steepest vineyard terrain in the world. Here the soil is a mix of pulverised volcanic rock and broken-down red and blue slate over a hard slate base.
Interestingly, the composition of the top soils can vary markedly according to the vineyard’s altitude and its location along the Mosel River. Over the last few decades, Erni has invested a great deal of energy in nurturing the very best fruit from his labour-intensive vineyards. Organic fertilisers, restricted crop size and careful fruit selection are just some of the practices employed to ensure that even the most subtle differences in terroir are expressed in his range of sophisticated, single vineyard wines.
The Dr. Loosen Bernkasteler Lay Riesling Kabinett 2012 for example, which was one of the highlights of the tasting, comes from Bernkasteler Lay, a Grand Cru vineyard that hugs the slopes of the Mosel River near Bernkasteler Village.
Here ungrafted vines of up to 70 years of age are grown on soils of predominately blue slate that are deeper and heavier than in the neighbouring villages. It’s an ideal site for making light and delicate kabinett because the slightly richer soil lends texture and palate weight to this low alcohol wine. Imbued with wonderfully intense floral and fruit aromas, the wine has a delicate yet racy slate-infused acidity that threads through the unfolding layers of elegant flavours.
Wine has been made in the Mosel region since Roman times, and in fact the area is dotted with Ancient Roman ruins. The Dr. Loosen estate has been in the family for over 200 years. Erni took over from his father in 1988, and has been very successful in elevating the quality of the estate wines and improving the reputation of German riesling in general.
In recent years Erni has expanded the family’s operations, which now include Villa Wolf in the Pfalz region of Germany and US partnerships with Chateau St Michelle in Washington and J Christopher Wines in Oregon.
The Dr. Loosen Bernkasteler Lay Riesling Kabinett 2012 is available from the Prince Wine Store for $39 a bottle.