World Atlas of Wine map with Middle Mosel in lilac and beginning of Lower Mosel in green

Mosel Masters or A Tale of Two Himmelreichs

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Initially this was meant to be just a tale of the Middle Mosel Masters newly arrived on the shelves here at Chambers Street Wines. But then I thought it would be interesting to stretch the definition of the Middle Mosel up into the green reaches of the Lower Mosel literally across the border in the town of Alf in order to be able to compare two Himmelreich vineyards. We shall start farther southwest in the town of Neumagen and Piesporter (as seen in square 230 above) at the domaine of A J Adams. Brother and sister team Andreas and Barbara have basically retaken and revived their grandparents' winery that was abandoned by their parents in the 70s and 80s as so many others of that generation left the grueling steep vineyard work in favor of big town/city life. Yet, the vineyards of the Dhron Hofburg were famous in the 50s and 60s and graced the lists of the finest restaurants. The Dhron as seen in square 230 of the map above, is a side tributary emptying into the Mosel just south of Piesport at Neumagen. The valley and vineyards are extremely steep and cooler than those of the Mosel and reach higher altitudes. As Andreas tell it, the area was ripe for revitalization: “The sites were steep and very hard to work, so the land was very inexpensive. There was no demand because everyone had abandoned vineyards and Dhron didn’t have a famous name like Würtzgarten.” They also recently aquired a parcel in Piesport's Goldtropfchen vineyard skewing all blue slate as opposed to the Hofburg's grey, over 100 years old and completely ungrafted. Moving downriver just past the town of Bernkastel before the river's next bend at Zeltingen lies the town of Graach (square 232 above).

Town of Graach and Willi Schaefer's vineyards

This is home to the wonderful world of Willi Schaefer who is absolutely, without question, one of the greatest producers in Germany. Records show that the Schaefers have been cultivating vineyards since 1590, but their vineyards were already classified as Grand Crus by the Romans and in the Prussian classification of the Mosel vineyards from 1816 to 1832, Graach’s vineyards had the highest ratings. Since 2015, Christoph Schaefer and his wife Andrea run this storied family winery in Graach. The pair met while studying enology at Geisenheim (as is often the case in Germany). Their winemaking philosophy is not much different than that of Christoph’s father or grandfather. The focus is not on numbers or analytics, but on how the grapes taste. As seen in the map above, Graacher Domprobst rises steeply directly above the village of Graach. Domprobst is an enclave of Graacher Himmelreich,  The deep topsoil, with plenty of clay, gives the wines from this site its distinctive more powerful character. It needs time to mature, in order to show off even more elegance and mineral finesse. Very often Domprobst wines are more wild, earthy and spicy than the ones from Himmelreich which mostly tend to be more silky and charming, with a fine fruity acidity and minerality. The aroma is often characterized by citrus and yellow and white peaches.

Moving farther Northeast down the Mosel, we arrive at the town of Enkirch just past Traben (as seen in the top right corner of box 232) and home to the famous Immich-Baterrieberg.

Steffansberg vineyard circled in green

As I have already written an article about Immich Baterrieberg on April 5th in Middle Mosel Heroes, we will look specifically at their Erste Lage vineyard of Steffansberg that sits directly above the town of Enkirch facing due south. This 1er Cru is all red slate and  the bottling is sourced from the best grapes in the middle of the parcel where they ripen best (the rest go into the Detonation bottling) Fun fact: the vintage on the label color changes each year according to the energy of the vintage so 2022 is a hot orange! Continuing northward down the river, we cross the border technically from the Middle to the Lower or Terassenmosel which begins in the wine village of Pünderich (seen in green next to box 232 in top map) and ends at its confluence in the city of Koblenz where it empties into the Rhine. Just after Punderich, we arrive at the town of Alf where the large Elf on the Shelf Ulli Stein lives and works his vineyard magic. The irony is that the Lower Mosel vineyards are even higher in altitude and steeper than the Middle Mosel and hence offer great QPR wines since the real estate is cheaper as no one wants to work them!

St Algedund HImmelreich circled in green just north of Alf and Bullay

We have written about Ulli Stein at length in Two Wines from Stein so we will just discuss his Himmelreich. Himmelreich ( aka Kingdom of Heaven in German) is on on the northern edge of the village. Consider this Stein’s “1er Cru” vineyard; though it’s a 1er Cru vineyard with 80+ year-old ungrafted vines and a serious terroir of mostly blue slate. This is the “other” Himmelreich and similar to its more famous sibling in Graach; the wines from this site always show a slimmer profile, a pronounced mineral fine-ness and lift. Naturally, I reccomend getting both Stein's and Schaefer's to do a side by side tasting!

Lehmener Ausoniusstein circled in green and town of Winningen at purple dot along the Mosel

Lastly, as we have already crossd over the border into the Lower Mosel or Terassenmosel, I'd be remiss if I didn't include Materne & Schmidt. hailing from the northernmost stretch of the Mosel before it empties out into the Rhine at Koblenz. Their base of Winningen (also home to Knebel and Lowenstein) is home to the Mosel's steepest and wildest vineyards. As I have written about the region and the producers in Heroes of the Terrassen Mosel's steepest vineyards, we will just look at Materne & Schmidt's single vineyard  Ausoniusstein. Named after a Roman poet who was the first to write about the Mosel whilst sitting up on top of this site, it's ironically  full of Mediterranean herbs and flowers with very old, small and aromatic grapes  This is always the most precise, firm, mineral and herbaceous of the three single vineyards and a rare treat to offer as the yields are microscopic and some years aren't enough to produce this single vineyard wine. As we wrap up our little odyssey down river, I can't recommend enough trying out at least 1 bottle from each producer to have a sense of change in latitude and terroir. Next week we will look at some Rhine Royalty new to our shelves. Until then, PROST!!! Giselle Hamburg

Immich-Batterieberg 2022 Mosel Steffensberg Riesling

As per the distributor: " If these wines were classed like Burgundy, this would be a 1er Cru for the estate. Steffensberg is located on a side valley of Enkirch, composed of deeper, softer soils dominated by copper-tinted red slate. Spicy, fragrant wines are made here from extremely old, pre-phylloxera vines on their original rootstock, hand-harvested and aged in barrel." Steffensberg Riesling is a powerful yet elegant white wine from one of the steepest and most storied vineyards in the Mosel.  A wine with an unprecedented structure that stands out as a companion to rich dishes with it's balanced interplay of sugar and acid, Mosel minerality and fruity/spicy notes. GH

  • white
  • 14 in stock
  • $54.99

  • Organic

Materne & Schmitt Lehmener 2019 Mosel Lehmener Ausoniusstein

The only single vineyard wine our fave Thelma and Louise dynamic duo bottle. An incredible Grosse Lage, of gray and green slate with pockets of rare limestone from a coral reef speckled with fossilized seashells.  Perched high up on a super steep site above the river, it still manages to have a good water supply, necessary for the 100+ year old un-grafted vines. Vinified in steel to a seriously dry 1.4g RS and 6.6g acid (but it feels way higher than that thanks to the wine's innate minerality and very low RS). An incredible, rare wine of penetrating aromatics, terrific nerve and purity.

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  • 2 in stock
  • $57.99

  • Organic
  • Biodynamic
  • Low Sulfur
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Adam, A.J. 2021 Mosel Riesling Im Pfarrgarten Feinherb

 Dhron is named for a river that flows into the Mosel. Its steep, slatey vineyards form the tributaries northern bank. There, the sites are steeper and at higher altitude than most of Mosel. The wines are a little wispier and saltier and the fruit skews cooler and whiter. The Pfarrgarten is part of the Dhroner Hofberg. The steep, southwest facing Hofberg was given the top rating in Clotten’s 1868 Vineyard maps and was famous up until the exodus of younger winemakers and generation to the cities and flatter lands easier to machine cultivate and harvest. The soils are all Devonian grey slate and the vines are 50 years old. Herbaceous, wet rocks, faint peach and petrol with a beautiful kiss of juicy lemonade, peach fuzz with vibrant acidity and a lithe body clocking in at 10%abv. No sharp edges on this dreamy number.! Giselle Hamburg

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  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $22.99

  • Organic
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Adam, A.J. 2022 Mosel Riesling Dhroner Hofberg Kabinett

The Grand Cru Hofberg is one of the greatest Mosel vineyards. In 1868 the vineyards of this hill were classified by the Prussians as an extraordinary place to make great Rieslings. It`s in a  lovely quiet side valley on the Dhron river with weathered Devonian slate mixed with quartzite. Riesling vines are 30 to 65 years old and some are still ungrafted. Sun comes out late in the morning and settles early; the perfect microclimate for our Hofberg Kabinett! The grapes from this part of the Hofberg are fermented spontaneously in big stainless steel tanks.

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  • white off-dry
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  • $32.99

  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur

Schaefer, Willi 2022 Mosel Graacher Domprobst Riesling Kabinett (AP03)

As per the distributor's website: In the village of Graach, with south-to-southwest exposition, the vines have great sun exposure all day as well as natural spring that runs through the hillside, guaranteeing good water supply even in warm vintages. The Romans already knew the benefits of Graach’s sites and cultivated vines here. In the Prussian classification of the Mosel vineyards from 1816 to 1832, Graach’s vineyards had the highest ratings. Compared to the wines just slightly northwest in Zeltingen, the wines from Graach show cooler green and white tones rather Wehlen and Zeltingen’s more orange and red flavors. These wines perfectly reflect this unique terroir and show the distinct differences between these two sites right next to each other. Domprobst is more mineral, smokier, shadowy, and takes longer to emerge while Himmelreich is buoyant, more floral, lighter in texture, and is open from day one. The '22 is pure, cool and flinty on the deep, dark and discreet, more aristocratic nose compared to the Himmelreich. It is utterly complex and with bright shimmers in the darkness of the Domprobst due to the flavors of juicy Sicilian lemons. Highly refined and saline, beautifully balanced and weightless as well as seamless with a savory finish.

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  • white off-dry
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  • $52.99

Schaefer, Willi 2022 Mosel Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett

As per the distributor's website: In the village of Graach, with south-to-southwest exposition, the vines have great sun exposure all day as well as natural spring that runs through the hillside, guaranteeing good water supply even in warm vintages. The Romans already knew the benefits of Graach’s sites and cultivated vines here. In the Prussian classification of the Mosel vineyards from 1816 to 1832, Graach’s vineyards had the highest ratings. Compared to the wines just slightly northwest in Zeltingen, the wines from Graach show cooler green and white tones rather Wehlen and Zeltingen’s more orange and red flavors. These wines perfectly reflect this unique terroir and show the distinct differences between these two sites right next to each other. Domprobst is more mineral, smokier, shadowy, and takes longer to emerge while Himmelreich is buoyant, more floral, lighter in texture, and is open from day one. The 2022 shows a coolish, flinty character with ripe, well-concentrated fruit and dark slate notes. On the palate, this is a round and charming, mouth-filling and fruity but finessed and balanced. This is a very elegant and alluring style, but it will be even more so after some years of bottle age. The finish is delicate, fresh and frisky, saline and citric but not at all aggressive.

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  • white off-dry
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Immich-Batterieberg 2020 Mosel Zollturm Riesling

Winemaker Genot Kollman added another grand cru vineyard site in 2014, the dizzyingly steep Zoltrum (Toll Tower) in neighboring Traben.  Historically, the Tower was the defacto toll booth for river traffic as it was high enough to see approaching boats in both directions giving the tollkeepers enough time to run down the hill and collect the toll!The Trabener Zollturm is sourced from the old-vines portion of a hectare recently acquired from a Kröv vintner in a once highly rated site just upstream from Gaispfad and Ellergrub.

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Stein 2022 Mosel Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett Feinherb Alte Reben

Perhaps the purest Mosel of them all in Ulli's range; it always ends up as a  Feinherb, and is sourced from 80+ year old ungrafted vines in terraced vineyards on mostly blue and some grey slate. Compared to it's "sister" vineyard in Graach, Ulli's Himmelreich is slimmer with pronounced minerality and citrus lift. Just beyond dry with only 15 grams RS, this is a restrained and chiseled, old-school Feinherb. A sheer delight! Giselle Hamburg

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  • white off-dry
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  • $36.99

  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur

Stein, Ulli 2022 Mosel Riesling Weihwasser Feinherb

Ulli knocks it out of the park again with this breathtakingly ethereal "Feinherb". Weihwasser means Holywater and Holy Moly is right; almost imperceptibly off dry clocking in at 11.5%, it wafts slightly saline lemonade, white flowers and pear on the nose. Flavors of wet rocks and honeydew underscored by herbaceous spearmint dance above the lithe body with a long, elegant finish. Dangerously gulpable so buy two for your next picnic! Giselle Hamburg

  • Out of Stock
  • white off-dry
  • 0 in stock
  • $22.99

  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur