Monday, 29 February 2016

KOT Selections adds Mosel Rieslings to its portfolio

Producer: Daniel Vollenweider, Weiser-Künstler

(Pictures from Weingut Vollenweider and Weingut Weiser-Künstler)

Fate can have a serendipitous effect. Seventeen years ago, when Ong YiXin was a cellar hand at Dr. Loosen, it would have been a long shot to imagine that the friendship he struck with fellow intern and budding winemaker Daniel Vollenweider would evolve into a business partnership today. In his current role as Managing Partner of wine merchant KOT Selections, YiXin reminisces about those early days. “We both young, crazy and didn’t have girlfriends back then, so all we could talk about was wine and more wine,” quipped YiXin. Subsequently YiXin worked several vintages with Daniel, starting off in a small one room apartment that doubled as a makeshift winery.

Originally from Switzerland, Daniel purchased a vineyard in the Mosel which came with a rare cache of old ungrafted vines. The original vineyard of Wolfer Goldgrube has been supplemented by two others, Kröver Steffensberg and Trabener Schimbock, a total of 5 ha all planted with Riesling. As in other parts of the Mosel, the vineyards are so steep as to induce vertigo when looking down from the top. His approach leans towards non-intervention – a gentle pressing of the grapes, stainless steel fermentation and no fining. The result is supercharged Rieslings; a blistering line of acidity cuts through any residual sugar and makes them seem austere, even tart. “These are not the easiest wines,” said YiXin. “They’re not dry, but they’re not sweet either; they work through a combination of texture and acidity.”

It was through Daniel that YiXin was introduced to another fledgling winemaker – Konstantin Weiser. Konstantin, who hails from Franconia, interned with Daniel and met his future wife Alexandra Künstler in the Mosel. Konstantin now manages the wine cellars for Weingut Weiser-Künstler while Alexandra takes care of the managing the estate. They own three vineyards – Enkircher Ellergrub, Enkircher Zeppwingert and Trabener Gaispfad. Their philosophy is about the natural approach – shunning the use of herbicides and pesticides while encouraging populations of useful micro-organisms and insects in the vineyard. Comparing the two producers, YiXin comments that “To me Weiser-Künstler is always about elegance and laser sharp precision, while Vollenweider is more about intensity, concentration and power.”

Both producers have been winning acclaim from critics such as Jancis Robinson and the Gault & Millau Wine Guide. These are the first German wines that KOT Selections is introducing into its portfolio, already well-known for its selection of distinguished Loire growers. Reflecting on the timing of the introduction, YiXin comments that “These have always been wines that I’ve wanted to import but up until very recently we’ve never felt that the market was ready for wines of this quality.” Riesling fans rejoice.

Tasting notes:

Weingut Weiser-Künstler 2014 – Pale lemon with a medium intensity nose, lemon sherbet and apricot flavours. Tight and zippy acidity dominates at first but opens up to a filigree delicateness given some air.

Weingut Vollenweider Wolfer Riesling 2013 – From younger wines, positioned as a village level wine. Pleasantly bitter fruit with a touch of quinine. Acidity is pretty searing. Lovely density of fruit if you don’t mind being whipped by the acidity. Vineyards planted on grey slate, all 50 shades of it.

Weingut Weiser-Künstler Enkircher Ellergrub “Grosse Eule” 2014 – From the main vineyard with old vines planted on blue slate. Nose opens up with a note of struck match and smoke with lemon and fresh stone fruit dominating. Clean, well-defined flavour. The words “Grosse Eule” mean great owl and is a reference to their logo (and also a play on words – the VDP designation Grosse Gewächs means great growth).

Weingut Vollenweider Schimbock 2012 – The Schimbock vineyard faces west and has been managed by Daniel since 2005. Boasting ripe stone fruit with notes of nectarine and peach with a quinine finish, this wine is impressively structured and promises to get even better with age.

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