August 30, 2012
The 1992 Ürziger Würzgarten Auslese from Jos. Christoffel Jr. captured my heart before I planned my visit to Germany. High quality Riesling, and a reputation for holding wines in the winery cellar to release later made this one of the wineries I most hoped to visit. A local importer and friend, Ewald Moseler, was able to set me up with an appointment. My original date had to be modified because David Schildknecht of the Wine Advocate was going to be tasting there that week as well! This turned out very nicely for me, as there would be wines open from his visit that I’d get to taste!
Thankfully, Ürzig was within walking distance of my hotel in Rachtig. More thankfully, some fellow Americans, Barnaby and Olga Tuttle from the Teutonic Wine Company, had tasted there recently, and they drove me by the door in advance to help me find the place. With modesty that seemed characteristic of the Middle Mosel, the winery was indicated only by a tiny sign near the doorbell.
I left very early, to be sure I was on time, and to give me a chance to walk through the vineyards on the way. Leaving the highway on the river bank, I hiked up a road into the vineyards, gaining elevation and strolling past rows upon rows of Riesling vines.
A bit of hail damage was visible here and there, but for the most part, the vines looked healthy. The grapes were nearly ripe, and it was an enjoyable sight to see so many of them growing from the rocky soil.
The roads through the vineyards however, are designed for agricultural access, not wandering tourists. At a fork in the road, the “obvious” branch back toward the town of Ürzig was clearly signed as a dead end. I was early, but not early enough to spend an hour lost in the vineyards. It was also a long way to backtrack down the road I came up. The obvious solution was to cut through the vineyards to get back down to the road along the river. I managed to stay upright, but I gained further appreciation for how steep these vineyards are. My boots dug into the rocky soil, step by step, until I finally made it to the road near the preserved ruins of a Roman wine press.
Looking at red stones that were placed 2000 years ago really forced me to contemplate the history of these vineyards. Thankfully, my misguided scenic tour didn’t set me back enough to miss my appointment. I arrived in Ürzig just in time.
KaJo Christoffel is the owner and wine maker here, and he seated me at a large table in a beautiful gathering room. Everything was decorated precisely, and there was a sense of class that would have been intimidating if not for the warm hospitality and cheerful nature of my host.
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I was quickly given a handful of open bottles, and a glass. KaJo asked if he could take care of other things around the house while I tasted. I quickly agreed. Of course, it was the polite thing to do, but it also allowed me to really dive into the wines and focus on putting my impressions into words. We had some grins over my poor German, and he asked me which of his wines was my favorite. I told him that I was most fond of the 92 Ürziger Würzgarten Auslese. He nodded, and left the room while I started tasting.
- 2010 Jos. Christoffel Jr. (Christoffel-Prüm) Erdener Treppchen Riesling Spätlese – Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer
The nose on this wine is lovely and immediately striking. Floral scents mingle with complex apricots that have been dried a little bit. Apricot juice shows itself on the palate while lime flavors appear on the sides of the mouth. The flavors are lovely! Soft fruit fills the mouth, and great clean acidity lingers through the entire experience. Some light honey flavors appear on the finish while the apricots linger long. The balance is excellent, the finish is clean, and I feel like I could drink glass after glass of this all day. 93+ (93 points)
- 2010 Jos. Christoffel Jr. (Christoffel-Prüm) Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Spätlese – Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer
Earthy scents show in the glass backed by dried red apples. It’s clean and lovely as it touches down on the palate, with light apple juice flavors starting out the experience. Full flavor intensifies late on the mid palate and into the finish. The acidity is slow to evolve, but it’s really beautiful when it comes into its own. The overall experience is full and complex. It has gorgeous flavor and complexity with a polite sense of elegance. The flavors are wonderful! (94 points)
- 2010 Jos. Christoffel Jr. (Christoffel-Prüm) Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Auslese – Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer
The nose is very light, showing a touch of dried red apples. Honey and red apple flavors are light on contact. The acid is crystalline with a firm edge on the finish. This firm touch works well with the sweetness. It’s a little disjointed on the transition into the finish, but I expect that will even out with time. (90 points)
- 1999 Jos. Christoffel Jr. (Christoffel-Prüm) Graacher Domprobst Riesling Spätlese – Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer
Aromas of apricot candy are backed by plenty of petrol and wet, stony earth. It’s light and clean on contact, with the petrol flavors settling in the center of the palate. The acidity is slow to build and it brings a feeling of dryness along the sides of the mouth. Light richness lingers in the center of the palate. (89 points)
Ürziger Würzgarten Spatlese
After a few minutes, he returned, with another handful of bottles, all Ürziger Würzgarten. Now this was exciting! I began to set them in order, and he again excused himself. Spatlese and Auslese were mixed in here, but I’ve separated the notes for clarity.
- 2001 Jos. Christoffel Jr. (Christoffel-Prüm) Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Spätlese – Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer
Pure apples with a sweet touch of honey show on the nose along with an interesting cream note. It’s clean all across the palate. Apples with peels intact show themselves early. On the mid palate, the apples taste as if they had been dried out a bit. The acid shows a lovely evolution, growing slowly from the mid palate to dry fully. The full acid settles deep into the corners of the mouth as excellent apricot and rhubarb flavors sparkle on the finish. (93 points)
- 2004 Jos. Christoffel Jr. (Christoffel-Prüm) Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Spätlese – Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer
It’s a bit faint, but the scent of dried apples with peels intact shows lightly. Acid and fruit pop right onto the palate. The apples are crispy and tart, and a touch of lemon flavor appears with full dryness late. Acidity runs out to be quite large later giving the wine a very full feeling. (89 points)
- 2009 Jos. Christoffel Jr. (Christoffel-Prüm) Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Spätlese – Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer
The aromas on this wine are killer! Great honey scents blend with fresh decadent apricots. Notes of mineral back things up, making it even more interesting. It’s bright and clean on the palate delivering flavors that suggest alfalfa touched by the summer sun. Limes, red apples, and minerals roll across the tongue like a trickling stream. Later, honey flavors balanced wonderfully by acidity linger evenly on the palate. (94 points)
- 2009 Jos. Christoffel Jr. (Christoffel-Prüm) Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Spätlese feinherb – Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer
I don’t have notes on the palate. I think I was caught up in conversation. Some age shows on the nose, with wet cellar stones backing the fruit.
Ürziger Würzgarten Auslese
To my great surprise, this exchange repeated itself a few times, and the wine continued to pile up on the table. He would regularly ask how I was doing on the lineup. Consistently, he would seem surprised at my slow progress, but happy that I was taking my time to write notes and enjoy the wine. Like nearly every producer I’ve encountered, he was happy to see someone enjoying and contemplating the wines he shared.
As I got well into this flight, I realized that I was in rare territory. I’ve had a few tasting experiences that will remain remarkable no matter what else I taste in my life, and this is one of them. Not only is it incredible to taste this many vintages vertically, but the quality of some of these was spectacular. I’m certain that many of these picks were intentional, and I’m humbled every time I think about it. I’m not an importer, I’m not a famous critic, I’m just a traveling American who loves Riesling, and KaJo chose to share some incredible examples from his cellar. As I write this, I’m sure that there’s nowhere else in my notes that you can find a cluster of wines scored this high. I’m suspicious that it will remain that way for a long time. These wines were magnificent, and across the board they show a deft expression of acidity that lingers on the palate like a ringing bell lingers in your ears.
- 1992 Jos. Christoffel Jr. (Christoffel-Prüm) Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Auslese – Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer
The nose is full and lovely showing great dried apple and mineral scents backed by a touch of rose petals. It’s delicate and elegant on contact, with a faint touch of red apples. The apples slowly intensify as the acidity sets in with lime flavor. Fruit grows in roundness and intensity as the acidity dries more and more fully through the mid palate. Peaches decorate the apples a bit on the mid palate. As well. Very late, the full and rich apple flavors have wings of pure and vibrant acidity. The acidity makes the mouth water on the finish, and the experience seems to last forever. (95 points)
- 1996 Jos. Christoffel Jr. (Christoffel-Prüm) Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Auslese *** – Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer
Age shows with elegance on the nose. Scents of red apples with peel show hints of being dried, and something that reminds me of dry earth in the summer appears as well. The apples show cleanly on the palate. They’re red at first, and they evolve toward younger apples as the wine progresses. This goes so far as to deliver green apple flavors later on the palate. This is like an animation showing the full spectrum of apple flavors available in wine! The acidity is clean, delivering a touch of lime to go with the green apples. (94 points)
- 1995 Jos. Christoffel Jr. (Christoffel-Prüm) Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Auslese *** – Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer
Red apples and golden raisins show on the nose. The fruit is very pleasant, and it gives the wine a friendly introduction. The acidity quickly settles into the center of the palate while fruit flavors work their way around and above it. Gentle red apples transition toward green apples as the flavors settle into the sides of the mouth. A deep and rich texture sits above the acidity in the center of the palate. The acidity in the green apples dry things out on the sides, and the drying sensation slowly works it’s way across the whole tongue. Peaches and limes show very nicely on the finish. I love the juxtaposition of the richness and acidity through the entire experience of this wine. This is truly exceptional! (97 points)
- 2002 Jos. Christoffel Jr. (Christoffel-Prüm) Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Auslese *** – Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer
Apple and mineral scents show lightly on the nose. The wine is lovely and clean on the palate, with ripe red apples and a touch of spice showing immediately . The apple flavors fill out on the mid palate becoming fully delicious. The acidity hits the sides and makes my mouth water as the apple flavors continue to linger. A hint of honey on the mid palate adds a touch of richness. 92+ (92 points)
- 1997 Jos. Christoffel Jr. (Christoffel-Prüm) Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Auslese *** – Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer
The nose is complex, showing pineapple and pepper scents on top of some apples. The spice is full here, making it interesting. It’s lovely on contact with the palate showing full rhubarb flanked by ripe and juicy red apples. The apple flavors remain excellent through the experience while the rhubarb flavors and acidity run strongly down the center of the palate. (93 points)
- 1998 Jos. Christoffel Jr. (Christoffel-Prüm) Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Auslese *** – Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer
Scents of leather, stones in a stream, and dried apples show in the glass, leaving an impression of complexity rather than obvious fruit. On the palate though, clean and lively apple flavors come into play right away. They stick around, continuing to contribute well, and evolving to deliver good intensity on the mid palate. Limes appear on the mid palate too, and their acidity gently dries the sides of the mouth. Pure apple flavors linger long. The wine feels very clean and full. (93 points)
- 2008 Jos. Christoffel Jr. (Christoffel-Prüm) Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Auslese ** – Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer
The nose has a fairly dark character to it, showing the red earth of the vineyard along with overripe apples and some floral notes. The floral suggestion is fulfilled on the palate coupled with good apple flavors. Lime flavors settle into the sides of the palate. The dark heavy note from the nose lingers underneath the fruit all the way across. The floral note is interesting because it seems to come and go on the palate, moving around the apple flavors. (88 points)
- 2009 Jos. Christoffel Jr. (Christoffel-Prüm) Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Auslese *** – Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer
The nose is entirely decadent showing rich elderflower scents as well as tempting peaches. Suggestions of minerality add some backbone to the rich nose. Lovely acidity leaps onto the palate right away, but remains polite. Young, crisp peaches work with red apples and some great minerality on the palate. The acidity is soft and refined, but it’s just strong enough to keep the experience clean. The flavors become more delicate toward the finish making the lighter acidity a great compliment. (93 points)
- 2006 Jos. Christoffel Jr. (Christoffel-Prüm) Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Auslese *** – Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer
AP #3: The nose delivers scents of spicy apples and rhubarb crisp. On the palate, I taste juicy apples sweetened with a touch of honey and balanced by lovely lime flavors. The wine has a great feeling of richness cut by clear and vibrant acidity. A floral flavor appears along the sides of the mouth, and a bit of pie crust shows on the finish. The acid dries politely on the finish. (93 points)
- 2010 Jos. Christoffel Jr. (Christoffel-Prüm) Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Auslese *** – Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer
AP #4: The nose is deep and full. Complex apples are in the forefront, showing characteristics of both fresh and baked fruit. Lime scents work their way in with the apples, and a suggestion of minerality is in the background. The lime flavored acidity is bright enough to deliver a spritzy feeling on entry. Apples flavors roll in quickly, becoming bright as they blend with the limes. Minerality shows fully on the mid palate as the acid grows and grows. It’s fully dry on the finish, and the apple flavors linter long on the sides and back of the tongue. Way out on the finish, the fruit continues to evolve with excellent depth. I get a bit of pie crust very late. Lovely length and complexity! 94+ (94 points)
- 2010 Jos. Christoffel Jr. (Christoffel-Prüm) Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Auslese *** Goldkapsel – Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer
AP #5: The wine shows good complexity on the nose, with flowers and minerals showing alongside baked oatmeal and light nectarine scents. On the palate, it’s clean, pure, and expressive. Apples, nectarines, and light oranges show, and the texture is rich and delicate at the same time. The acidity is full, with a friendly touch on the sides and back of the palate. There’s a lovely interplay between the apples and oranges while the acidity blooms to provide backbone. The finish delivers full strength and slowly fades at great length into lovely echoes of fruit and acidity. This wine is wonderful and contemplative. 94+ (94 points)
Erdener Prälat Auslese
Within the treasures above, a few Erdener Prälat Rieslings were shared as well. They were mixed in, but again, I’ve separated out the notes to make it easier to read. Considering their quality, I’m pretty sure that they were included to show some high points from this vineyard.
- 2004 Jos. Christoffel Jr. (Christoffel-Prüm) Erdener Prälat Riesling Auslese *** – Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer
Baked apple scents appear on the nose, backed by rhubarb. Light and delicious peaches start things out on the palate. They develop to deliver great complexity on the mid palate. The peach flavors are incredible, and some bananas appear in the background. A faint richness works its way alongside the fruit reminding me of vanilla. Beautiful acid lingers with wonderful purity. The balance between the acid and fruit is wonderful! (94 points)
- 2010 Jos. Christoffel Jr. (Christoffel-Prüm) Erdener Prälat Riesling Auslese Goldkapsel *** – Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer
AP #7: Fresh and dried apple scents show in the glass. Scents of full limes, with the peel intact are there too, along with a touch of minerality. The wine is soft and elegant on contact with the palate. After entry, it launches into a slow and graceful evolution that goes on and on! Red apples start things out, and oranges and green apples pop on the mid palate to add complexity. The intensity of the fruit and the acid grows and grows until the acid becomes strong enough to deliver rhubarb flavors toward the finish. Golden apples and gentle limes persist above the tart rhubarb on the finish. Everything sloooowly falls off leaving apple flavors resting on the center of the palate for well over a minute. This is spectacular. (97 points)
Included in the wines above were a few 375mL bottles with tape on them. He explained that these were dessert wines and when I read the tape, I couldn’t believe my eyes. This is stuff is rare, and quite expensive. Very little, if any of this makes it into the American market. Every time I look at these notes, I’m still in awe of the opportunity, and grateful for his generosity.
- 2003 Jos. Christoffel Jr. (Christoffel-Prüm) Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese – Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer
Aromas of deep apricots and honey rise from the glass. Smelling deeply delivers spice and mineral notes as well. Lovely richness washes over the palate when the wine is tasted. Apple flavors and acidity retain high textural notes while apricot flavors sink into the sweet richness and drag out forever on the finish. The acid shows great refinement and balance, showing some green apple flavors on the finish. This is decadent, full, lovely, and long lasting. A real treat.
- 2006 Jos. Christoffel Jr. (Christoffel-Prüm) Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Beerenauslese – Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer
The nose is primarily showing sugar cookies and flowers with light apricot scents in the background. This delivers a wonderfully delicate texture on the palate for a BA. Light apple flavors start things out, and they evolve into peaches backed by fantastic acidity. A touch of cream and a bit of pie crust both appear towards the finish. It’s like a complete dessert of prepared and baked fruit! The mouth feel, structure, flavors, and evolution on this wine are all spectacular! (97 points)
- 1976 Jos. Christoffel Jr. (Christoffel-Prüm) Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Beerenauslese – Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer
The nose is deep and enthralling in the glass. Scents of honey, apricot, ginger, and cinnamon work wonderfully together to draw you in. On the palate, it shows lovely fruit. Apples and apricots show quickly with a pure mineral core in the background. The acidity is gentle, but it works well with nutmeg flavors on the mid palate to slowly dry the palate. Mineral notes become more full as the wine evolves, and rich apricots and great spicy notes persist. The light acidity remains lively long into the finish, making the mouth water while rich apricot flavors go on and on! Contemplative and delicious! (97 points)
- 1989 Jos. Christoffel Jr. (Christoffel-Prüm) Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Beerenauslese – Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer
The nose reminds me of apricots baked into a pastry with a dusting of nutmeg. When tasted, it’s gentle on contact with acid and fruit rolling in shortly. The pastry on the nose reminds me of a croissant on the palate. Apricots with spice show firmly on the mid palate, and they linger long. The evolution of acidity from beginning to end is marvelous. As it continues through the finish, lime and green apple flavors lighten the sweet apricot flavors. All the while, the croissant crust lingers in the background providing a gentle frame to the lovely fruit. This is spectacular, with many things going on all at once. What a treat! (98 points)
I was left with an incredible sense of gratitude, along with awe of his skill. He’s been working with the Ürziger Würzgarten for many years, and it shows. Some brilliance jumps out of the glass and shakes your palate, while other bits of genius are ethereal. The ethereal elements tease your brain as well as your palate. It’s shocking to realize that these qualities aren’t in your imagination, or generated by your excitement, but that they’re a part of the wine. They’re a part of many of these wines. In this context, it’s evident that these ethereal qualities are intentional, and tied into the vineyards themselves. KaJo knows that he’s working with wonderful grapes, and these wines are creations of love and joy that reflect decades of experience. Jos. Christoffel Jr. Riesling is some of the best wine being made in the world today, and priced accessibly to almost everybody. His cellars offer the retail market an opportunity to taste aged wine in a way that very few modern producers can.
Posted from CellarTracker
Our friend Ewald Moseler joins us again to discuss some Riesling from his home town of Zeltingen. We taste four wines from three producers we enjoy. The wines were showing very well, and they received a lot of enthusiasm from both of us. Ewald is a true expert at bringing in delicious and affordable wines from family estates in the Mosel valley, and it’s always fun to taste his latest imports. All of these producers are worth checking out, and we think they’d be enjoyable to newcomers or experienced drinkers of German Riesling. We taste the 2010 Selbach Blauschiefer Trocken, the 2011 Weingut Ackermann Zeltinger Himmelreich, the 2010 Herbert Pazen Zeltinger Deutschherrenberg Spatlese, and the 2009 Selbach Oster Zeltinger Schlossberg Auslese.
What was the first German Riesling that made a big impression on you?
March 14, 2012
I just finished writing up some notes from my visit to Weingut Willi Schaefer over the past summer. He makes some amazing wines!
March 12, 2012
This week we taste three wines that Dan brought back from his trip to the Mosel valley. They’re all from producers that he met personally, and they all have wines available in the Portland retail market. We’re both huge fans of German Riesling, so we’re excited to share these three wines with you. I also included a brief discussion I had with Harald and Anne Junglen about the “Steinmauer” section of the Zeltinger Schlossberg vineyard. We taste the 2009 Herbert Pazen Zeltinger Himmelreich Spatlese, the 2010 Jos. Christoffel jr. Urziger Wurzgarten Spatlese, and the 2010 Weingut Ackermann Zeltinger Schlossberg Spatlese.
If you could take a trip to any wine region, where would you go?
The other two don’t have their own site, but here is a link to Ewald Moseler’s website. He imports the wine, and he has a brief description of the Christoffel and Pazen wineries here.
April 4, 2010
It’s been a while since we’ve featured some German Riesling, and Dan had a few on hand that he wanted to try out. Today we taste the Joh. Jos. Prum 2007 Kabinett, the 2007 Von Schubert Maximin Grunhauser Abtsberg Kabinett, and the 2007 Dr. Loosen Urziger Wurzgarten Spatlese. We get to work on experiencing more corked wine , but the other two are quite enjoyable.
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August 1, 2009
Welcome, and thanks for watching! For our first episode, we wanted to taste two wines that we’re familiar with and fond of. Chas picked the 2006 De Ponte Cellars Dundee Hills Pinot Noir ($30-$36)and Dan picked the 2004 Saint Urbans-Hof Piesporter Goldtropfchen Spatlese. (~$25. I say sub-20 in the video, but I was thinking of the Kabinett level wine, which is a bit cheaper.)
We’d love to hear what you think! Please leave comments with your thoughts, input, and the sort of wines you’d like to see us review in the future.