Jos. Christoffel Jr., Ürziger Würzgarten, Riesling Spätlese, 1993

Jos. Christoffel Jr., Ürziger Würzgarten, Riesling Spätlese, 1993

The Mosel, Germany's best known wine region, hosts many styles of Riesling winemaking: There are the modernists, there are the traditionalists, there are the ultra-traditionalist. And then, there is Jos. Christoffel Jun. The winery's website nicely underscores their brand of conservatism, in that there isn't one. If you want to get your hands on any of the older vintages (back into the 80s, rumour has it) they still have on offer, get your ass down to the Mosel. Or else get lucky on eBay, like your undeservedly fortunate correspondent. For about 12 €, shipment included, I got this Spätlese from the year Frank Zappa died.

Ürziger Würzgarten (spice garden) is one of the Mosel's iconic vineyards, but it's also very unusual for not being of slate, but predominantly of red sandstone, hence its reputation for highly unusual, instantly recognisable aromatics. Let's take a sniff of it:

It's lemon yellow in the Wine Rambler's glass, and off to the strongest start imaginable: A nose like a stroll in King Riesling's secret gardens. Ripe lemons, melons, gooseberry, deep minerality and - here they are, the vineyard's trademarks - raspberries and red currants. Nothing less than sensational.

What's in the palate doesn't completely deliver on the whole promise of the nose, but is still extremely good: Residual sugar completely absorbed into the wine's lively acidic grip and slightly smoky aromatics. A hint of petrol from bottle age, but seamlessly integrated and coated with caramel and raspberry juice. No endlessly long finish, but a perfectly matured wine that seems ageless and effortless. Also, get the extremely light frame that these aromatics are mounted on: At 7,5%, it comes in at half the alcohol that many a hefty California Chardonnay brings to the table.

By no means the rarity, removed from any interest to the regular consumer, that you might mistake it for, this is quite the opposite: A versatile wine for many occasions. You can not only use it to party like it's 1993 (sorry...), you could easily drink this with your sandwiches in your lunch break on a sunny park bench, and go back to the office invigorated and with that raspberry-sandstone faraway look in your eyes for the rest of the afternoon.


Submitted by torsten Saturday, 26/03/2011

In reply to by Julian

I too feel a certain envy here. Even the fact that I just bought a lovely John Dory does not quite get me over it. But then it is indeed a lovely description, so - as usually - I can at least share the delight virtually.