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Mosel Fine Wines: 2014er Vollenweider Wolfer Goldgrube Riesling Kabinett
Wein-Plus.eu Magazine: Interview with Daniel Vollenweider
A bottle of 1990 Egon Müller Scharzhofberger Auslese, tasted in 1992, made the young Daniel Vollenweider, a Swiss guy with no family connection to winemaking, decide he wanted to make wine in the Mosel.
In 1999, the Daniel Vollenweider purchased a one-hectare plot of old vines in the once famous Wolfer Goldgrube. This is prime Middle Mosel real estate with vines over 80 years old. In his first few vintages, Daniel's focus was almost exclusively on sweet wines; the results were extraordinary. From the beginning, the wines showcased an explosive energy, glossy and kaleidoscopic mid-palates with a sternly Germanic definition and detail. In 2003, Daniel was awarded the winemaking “Discovery of the Year” by the influential wine publication Gault Millau. As early as 2005 Riesling dorks in the U.S. were already talking about the wines.
More than 15 years later, at just over 4 hectares, Daniel's operation remains a one-man show. The winemaking philosophy is as simple as it gets: work hard. There are no short cuts and no compromises. The estate is 100% Riesling and 100% steep, slate sites. Everything must be done by hand in the vineyard. The vinification takes a minimalist approach; it is as hands-off as possible.
Daniel clearly has “the touch” for sweet wines – these are among the most thrilling Prädikat wines you will ever taste. They are full-throttle Rieslings with dense mid-palates and seductive curves. They have weight, yet they also have 100,000 volts of electricity coursing through them, which gives them a lift, a verve, a length that is, well, uncommon. Daniel’s dry Rieslings have only more recently begun to receive the credit they deserve. These wines shed a bit of the gloss, yet the textural density and richness remain, all finely spun with mineral, slate and salt.
"Vollenweider captured an exceedingly ripe array of flavors from 2016, a phenomenon doubtless accentuated by the small size of a crop trimmed by peronospora and in some instances black rot. And that reduction, on top of an absence of noble botrytis and an interest in having enough dry wine to satisfy markets favoring that genre, has resulted in a smaller collection than usual of sweet wines, featuring in two instances less brightness or focus than are typical Vollenweider at his best."
"Inspired by his experience of Rieslings from Müller and Prüm, Daniel Vollenweider moved to the Mosel from his native Switzerland (in fact, from Graubünden, famed for its Pinot Noir), apprenticed at Dr. Loosen, and in 1999 established his own estate. He had quickly recognized that there were many potentially outstanding Middle Mosel vineyards lacking dedicated champions and was able to assemble prime parcels in the Wolfer Goldgrube, establishing residence in an old cellar not far downstream on the edge of Traben-Trarbach. Initially, Vollenweider produced only residually sweet bottlings from the Goldgrube that conspicuously reflected his inspiration by Prüm, among other things through their tendency to retain CO2 and their proclivity to exhibit a youthful veil of fermentative stink. In 2006, Vollenweider launched a second vineyard- and vine-reclamation project under the name “Schimbock” – referring to a riverside parcel of the Trabener Würzgarten Einzellage. He began vinifying and aging in something he felt must approach the manner of an earlier era, incorporating prolonged skin contact, basket pressing, complete fermentation, and bottling only after a year or more. But the 2008 financial crisis brought with it an imperative to expand his domestic market, which required a larger volume of dry Riesling, so from vintage 2009, Vollenweider added to his portfolio first one and eventually several dry wines from vineyards in Traben-Trarbach and Wolf, principally from the Goldberg. Fortunately, it became clear that his exceptional talents swung both ways. The dry wines, all of which save for Schimbock are generally raised in tank, are not labeled trocken despite nearly always qualifying. The 2008 vintage saw Vollenweider’s first wines from the Kröver Steffensberg, and that involvement has expanded over the past several years so that a range of outstanding residually sweet Rieslings from this site can now be compared with those from the Goldgrube. Vollenweider continues to do most of the work himself, and his wines continue to display exemplary purity of fruit, textural refinement and exceptional balance, with a remarkable ability to hide or adeptly integrate high levels of residual sugar."