We drove from the Piesport to Bernkastel, along the Mosel river, vineyard spotting as we went. Our destination was Dr Loosen, one of the most famous names in German wine.
Marcus, our host, explained briefly the story of how Ernie, the son of the Doctor, had been given his dad’s hobby wine holdings because his siblings felt that as an archaeologist he needed a steady source of income. His knowledge of excavation must have come in handy as he has made his six Grosse Lage vineyards, which sit on three types of soil, produce some truly fabulous wines.
From the start Ernie’s focus was on getting away from a traditional German mindset, and exploring wine markets in Asia and America. Over the years he has built a fan base that is worldwide, and we tasted a marvellous cross section of the styles and vineyards.
We started, not with Riesling but with a Weissburgunder, nicknamed “Everybody’s Darling”. The grapes had been acquired with a purchase of a vineyard of mainly Riesling, but as Ernie’s wife Eva prefers Pinot Blanc to Riesling, they have continued to make it – and it was lovely, with a sherberty nose and attractive palate.
Then through some dry Rieslings, Marcus explaining that the higher quality wines qualify not only for Grosses Gewächs designation of having spent 12 months on the lees, but Loosen has pioneered a ‘GGR’ designation (Reserve at the end) for wines spending 24 months on the lees.
2015 entry level Gutswein Estate Riesling – quite restrained on the palate
2014 Graacher Village Riesling – altogether more flavour and finish
2014 Wehlener Sonnenhur GG – Sonnenhur means sundial, and Ernie’s great grandfather acquired a significant part of this vineyard by marrying not one but two members of the Prum family – Delicate with lime and a tiny hint of petrol on the nose, and a rich palate
2014 Urziger Würzgarten GG – Würzgarten means spice garden and this seemed to have a hint of Gewürztraminer though it was definitely all Riesling
As we tasted we learnt that Loosen vines are not grafted onto American rootstocks – Phylloxera had definitely reached Germany but appears to have found the volcanic and slate soils of these vineyards hard to penetrate.
And finally the sweet Rieslings:
2015 Bernkasteler Lay Kabinett – fresh and attractive, with 40g residual sugar
2014 Graacher Himmelreich Feinherb – with 20g residual sugar it was somewhat overshadowed by its predecessor but with a lovely lime/petrol nose
2013 Erdenen Treppchen Spätlese – from the ‘little staircase of Erden’ vineyard, with a bit of botrytis affectected grapes, a rich nose, and gorgeous palate
1998 (yes really) Urziger Wüzgarten Spätlese – a total knock-out. Marcus presented it blind and after much mad guessing revealed its unbelievable maturity – blackcurrant on the nose, stilton on the palate. Absolutely magic.
2012 Urziger Wüzgarten Auslese – 90g of residual sugar, spicy and sophisticated (but my favourite was the previous wine, which of course can’t be bought for money!).
After a short discussion about the ‘bridge to nowhere’ that has created a new busy road above these exquisite vineyards and raised fears about how they might be impacted, we sadly took our leave. I came to the Mosel knowing that I liked the wines, and I left feeling that I had taken another step on my journey to understanding them, and very much determined to continue further.
Back in Wiesbaden by 6.3opm we had an evening at our leisure to stroll around the lovely city and even eat something! A burger and a beer served by super efficient and super friendly staff at Das Burger was just right.