Dr. Loosen Urziger Wurzgarten Riesling Spatlese 1998
The red sandstone and slate soil of Urziger Wurzgarten make it unique on the Mosel. Although immediately upstream from the top vineyards of Erden, it produces a completely different kind of great wine, with exotically spicy aromas and a mesmerizing earthiness.
The Dr. Loosen Estate has been in the same family for over 200 years. With ungrafted vines averaging 50 years old, some of the best vineyard sites in Germany (four rated grand cru and two premier cru by both the 1868 German classification and the more current Wine Atlas of Germany), Ernst Loosen has the raw materials for stunningly intense, world-class wines. With crop yields almost half of what is permitted by law, only moderate use of organic fertilizers, and old-fashioned cellar practices, Loosen strives to create wines that unmistakably say, "Riesling, Mosel, and Dr. Loosen." In his own words, "The great winemakers I have met invariably possess a clear concept in their mind of what their wine should be. It's a vision that places terroir over technology, and grape quality over quantity. This is the level of winemaking we pursue at Dr. Loosen. Our goal is to produce wines that are luscious, complex, and true to their roots."
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.