Clemens Busch Marienburg Riesling Spatlese 2018
An elegant and refreshing Spätlese, its density hidden into an almost Kabinett-like feel.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Clemens started in 1974, when he was 17 years old. At the time, it was normal to learn everything from father to son in the winery; going to school for viticulture and oenology was unheard of. The first vintage he helped produce was 1975. Clemens took over his family winery in 1984. He is the fifth generation winemaker at this estate (all the previous ones were also named Clemens; ever the iconoclast, he named his sons Florian and Johannes).
Obsessively dedicated to one grape, Clemens and Rita Busch are among the pioneers in the development of organic and biodynamic viticulture in the Mosel. In the winery, Clemens works with wild yeasts, and ferments mostly in very old 1000L barrels. Their belief in the benefits of such practices and careful stewardship of their land is clearly reflected in the glass, pure expressions of their terroir—richly textured, deeply concentrated and complex Rieslings. Their wines are unique, riveting and have gained quite a following.
The grapes are grown on the extremely steep Pündericher Marienburg Grosse Lage (Grand Cru) vineyard that spans an entire hillside facing the Mosel river and the village of Pünderich. Predominantly old vines; most are 40, 50 years or older.
In 1971, a law hoping to unify the identity of the area's varied terroirs declared that the entire hill be re-named Marienburg. This decision never sat well with Clemens and has devoted his career to rectifying this mistake; as the fifth generation working this land, he knew that these vineyards featured different soil compositions and micro-climactic variables. In such, Clemens vinifies and bottles his wines based on the original vineyard names. Fahrlay, Falkenlay, Rothenpfad, Felsterrasse, and Raffes. He further delineates his wines by their soil type, using the color the capsule on the bottles to indicate the type of slate (blue, gray or red) that dominates the source from which each wine comes.
?80% of the wines are fermented and aged in very old 1000l barrels; the youngest are 48 years old, and many were built by Rita's father. Nothing is ever added to the wine, a low dose of sulfur at bottling. The wines are never fined. For the sweet and noble sweet wines, Clemens prefers halting the fermentation with a deep freeze followed by a filtration, allowing him to drastically reduce sulfur, which again is only added at bottling.
Following the Mosel River as it slithers and weaves dramatically through the Eifel Mountains in Germany’s far west, the Mosel wine region is considered by many as the source of the world’s finest and longest-lived Rieslings.
Mosel’s unique and unsurpassed combination of geography, geology and climate all combine together to make this true. Many of the Mosel’s best vineyard sites are on the steep south or southwest facing slopes, where vines receive up to ten times more sunlight, a very desirable condition in this cold climate region. Given how many twists and turns the Mosel River makes, it is not had to find a vineyard with this exposure. In fact, the Mosel’s breathtakingly steep slopes of rocky, slate-based soils straddle the riverbanks along its entire length. These rocky slate soils, as well as the river, retain and reflect heat back to the vineyards, a phenomenon that aids in the complete ripening of its grapes.
Riesling is by far the most important and prestigious grape of the Mosel, grown on approximately 60% of the region’s vineyard land—typically on the desirable sites that provide the best combination of sunlight, soil type and altitude. The best Mosel Rieslings—dry or sweet—express marked acidity, low alcohol, great purity and intensity with aromas and flavors of wet slate, citrus and stone fruit. With age, the wine’s color will become more golden and pleasing aromas of honey, dried apricot and sometimes petrol develop.
Riesling possesses a remarkable ability to reflect the character of wherever it is grown while still maintaining its identity. A regal variety of incredible purity and precision, this versatile grape can be just as enjoyable dry or sweet, young or old, still or sparkling and can age longer than nearly any other white variety. Somm Secret—Given how difficult it is to discern the level of sweetness in a Riesling from the label, here are some clues to find the dry ones. First, look for the world “trocken.” (“Halbtrocken” or “feinherb” mean off-dry.) Also a higher abv usually indicates a drier Riesling.