This is the first time Weiser-Künstler has ever bottled an Ellergrub Reserve.
It was, in fact, something of a happy accident and while it’s unclear if they will ever make one again, they have not made one in the following two vintages (2019 and 2020).
However, because of the plush ripeness afforded by this warm/hot year 2018, Konstantin Weiser and Alexandra Künstler decided to keep a small parcel of grapes in their top site, the Grand Cru Ellergrub, on the vines for a longer time in the hopes that some humidity might finally come and they could make a noble sweet wine.
The humidity never came.
So, weeks later they came back to the grapes, which were still miraculously perfectly clean and ripe, and not knowing what else to do, picked them and allowed them to ferment. The wine went to complete dryness and they let the wine sit in the cold cellar, in a very good neutral barrel and on the fine lees, for two years. The wine was bottled in the fall of 2020 and released only this year.
I will admit to being more than a bit skeptical; for me the signature of Weiser-Künstler is about the focus and diminutive scale. They are profound wines, but they are delicate. They are the songbirds of the Mosel. Here was a dry wine coming to us with 13% alcohol. It seemed antithetical to everything I knew and loved about the estate. And so I opened the wine with a heavy heart, resigned that not every song is a hit, not every work of art a success. The truth of the vintage must also speak, right?
But the truth is that the wine is extraordinary: it is perhaps the most mysterious and most elegant wine I’ve ever tasted from them. To be honest, it feels less like a traditional Riesling and more like a still Champagne, with a superfine, very polished and silken minerality, a green-yellow citrus that is enveloping, gauzy, ultra-light… the wine is somehow, not full, but expansive, like morning mist. It is wonderfully herbal, crushed mint and fresh garden cuttings. It has the airy, creaminess of a great Chablis or Champagne, feeling not at all heavy, but invigorating.
It is 13% alcohol, but not in the least bit hot or heavy. It is a superb wine, even if I honestly can’t explain the how or the why.