Walden Selections is proud to partner with Vom Boden in Washington State to offer a crazy good selection of German wines.
Vom Boden represents “Rieslings for advanced learners,” a quote they borrow from the passionate Saar winemaker, Florian Lauer. They are German wine specialists who focus on that overlooked category of dry and off-dry Rieslings. In the words of Stephen Bitterolf, founder of Vom Boden, "Minerality and clarity are paramount. Rieslings with cut. Slate and razors".
Matthias Hild farms 12 acres in the upper Mosel (near Luxembourg) - working by hand the old, terraced parcels of Elbling. He, like the work Thierry Allemand has done in Cornas, is credited with a great deal of painstaking revival work on the old terraces. The upper Mosel is distinct from the lower Mosel in that the soil type is the same limestone continuation of the Paris basin (Champagne, Chablis & Sancerre) - rather than slate. This brings a totally different structural and aromatic profile to the wines (they're all about pithy citrus and herb aromas with a salty/mineral edge). The local grape is Elbling, which is genetically related to Riesling (and Chardonnay). Although Elbling once dominated Riesling plantings throughout Germany, it is now perfectly matched to the Upper Mosel, where it is easier to ripen than Riesling. Vom Boden's Stephen Bitterolf has the best analogy: "If Riesling is Chenin Blanc, then Elbling is Muscadet. The joy of Elbling is its acidity, vigor and energy".
Julian Haart burst onto the Mosel wine scene with his first vintage, 2011. He didn't grow up in a winery but he shares a village (Piesport) with his uncle, Theo Haart of Reinhold Haart. Julian's wine studies took him through a stunning roster of top producers, including Egon Müller, Klaus Peter Keller, Heymann-Löwenstein and Emrich-Schönleber. He and friend Andreas from AJ Adam split the purchase of an old-vine parcel of Goldtröpchen and he's working with his own 50-year-old vines in Wintricher Ohligsberg and ungrafted 100-year-old vines in Schubertslay, along with a few more plots, including some leased from Reinhold Haart.
Karthäuserhof's origin traces back to the Middle Ages. The Tyrell family has owned the Eitelsbach property for several hundred years. It is one of two classic estates (with Maximin-Grünhaus) of the Ruwer valley, a sleepy river tributary of the Mosel. The area is dense with pine trees, appearing more forested, less vineyard-centric than either the Mosel or Saar. The winery practices organic farming. Its monopole vineyard Karthäuserhofberg, legendary for its longevity in bottle, is now available as a GG wine. In addition to the traditional Prädikat styles, there are a few dry wines that equal roughly 70% of the winery's production. These typically show a more herbal array of aromatics than wines from the Mosel or Saar. Absolutely classic, stunning wines.
In Florian Lauer's own words: "It's so drinky!"
Lauer's focus is dry and off-dry Riesling. All but one of the wines take a cask (Fass) number that indicates the vineyard parcel where the grapes came from. Prior to the legal consolidation of vineyard names in 1971, there were many vineyard sites comparable to the "lieux-dits" of Burgundy. Lauer still ferments each of the six vineyard sites that are now part of Ayler Kupp separately so each barrel gets a number that corresponds to a parcel. These vineyards range from warm, south-facing sites near the river all the way up the hill to the cold & windy hilltop, contributing a huge range of flavors and structural components to the wines. Florian is a minimalist in their cellar in the village of Ayl. The only interventions are temperature control, a clarification prior to fermentation and battonage. Spontaneous fermentation and lees contact are the norm here.
Ulli Stein and brother Peter own about 13 acres of seriously vertical hillsides near Bullay, down the Mosel river from Bernkastel. Everything is old-vine and hand-worked up to slopes of 68°. Viticulture here is focused on low yields from ungrafted rootstocks in blue slate. Organic viticulture is challenging here but this is how they work, finding eco-alternatives in wet years. In addition to top sites Himmelreich, Calmont, Hölle and Palmberg, the winery purchases fruit from growers farming the best vineyards with similar principles. After a period of skin contact post-crush, the grapes find their way through a pneumatic press and ferment spontaneously before lees aging in 1,000L Fuder. These are racy, delicate wines.
Dynamic couple Alexandra Künstler & Konstantin Weiser (Wei-Kü) met in the Mosel. They released their first vintage in 2005. Before this, Konstantin made wine at Leitz, Immich-Batterieberg and Theo Minges. Their blue, 19th century house with a deep cellar is centered in Traben-Trarbach (near Erden). Grapes come from around 8 acres of vines sourced from six vineyards in Enkirch and Traben. Like many young growers, Alexandra and Konstantin eschew vineyard applications that work against nature. They prefer to work ungrafted vines on steep slopes by hand with a hoe. As a member of "Der Klitzkleine Ring" they further the cause of preserving ancient terraces of Riesling. Organic certification is in the works. In the cellar, while the focus is on traditional Prädikat wines the dry and off-dry wines are equally intentional. Fermentation occurs spontaneously in their cold cellar. After brief skin contact (helping to reduce acidity), pressing occurs in an old pneumatic Willmes press. Stainless steel, Fuder and old barriques are used to influence the wines' structure.
Florian Fauth (brother-in-law of Klaus Peter Keller) is the 5th generation winemaker at his 43-acre family estate in Westhofen, within Germany's Rheinhessen region. This swath of vineyard area between the Rheingau and Pfalz is Germany's largest production region, fueling the likes of Liebfraumilch and other big box brands. However, there is a contrasting side to the region, reflected in the high quality of benchmark producers such as Keller, Wittmann and Gunderloch and a handful of young winemakers that call their band "Message in a Bottle".
Hans-Josef Becker ("HaJo" to his friends), has been both vine-grower and winemaker at his organically-farmed 30 acre property in Walluf since 1971. His sister Maria runs the business side. At the center of quality here is simplicity...quick, warm, spontaneous fermentations prior to racking into the traditional, large oak casks for a minimum of two years. And there is a passion for continuous improvement. Which is why Becker was the first German winery to use the glass Vinolok closures in 2002. The wines reveal the roundness and weight of the Rheingau with a definition that leans to the Mosel. Vineyard sites are parceled between Eltville and Walluf and include Berg Bildstock and Walkenberg in Walluf and Sonnenberg in Eltville. Mature vintages of Becker's wines are frequently available.
More about Vom Boden and these producers: