St. Urbans-Hof, Nik Weis New Releases
When meeting Nik Weis for the first time, I slowly began to grasp the extent of effort and willpower one has to put in when working in a vineyard along the Mosel. Ten meters into (and uphill) one of the most famous vineyards in the area, “Piesporter Goldtröpfchen”, and I surrendered – to be more precise: my calves did. Working in dizzy inclines and heights like this is nothing for the fainthearted (or weak-calved), kudos to the champions that invest their sweat and heart year-in and year-out to produce and harvest the best fruit in this terrain.
Monorail in Piesporter Goldtröpfchen vineyard, Mosel river in the background. Photo: Nik Weis, St. Urbans-Hof
Nik Weis’ philosophy, 'con natura – no invicem’, with nature not against it, becomes apparent as a rather holistic approach throughout vineyard and winery. "For me it is self-evident that great wines can only be produced, and the viticulture related cultural landscape, can only be preserved for future generations, if work is done with nature and its environment and not against it. Many of the older generation are not able to take care of their vineyards anymore. The work is physically demanding and very labour intensive, most of the wineries are looking for cost efficient ways to manage their vines. In cases where retiring growers are struggling to find successors, vineyards - and some of them are dating back to Roman times - are being abandoned. It is my objective, wherever possible, to rehabilitate and maintain these parcels to preserve not only the culture of the region, but the terroir so distinctive to our Mosel wines." Being part of FAIR'N GREEN, St. Urbans-Hof does not only commit to the protection of the environment and sustainable management, but also fair social and cultural interactions.
As a VDP member since 2000, St. Urbans-Hof has vineyards spread across 4 Grand Crus (or "Große Lage") alongside two rivers: Mosel & Saar. They are all planted with 100% Riesling on blue, grey and red slate, depending on the location. While Mosel wines usually display more feminine, softer attributes with round edges, Saar wines are known for their acidity, vivacity and lightness. Laurentiuslay on the Mosel is one of his Grand Crus. While the higher alcohol levels for these wines have some of the markers of more southerly winegrowing regions, the elegant style and fine acidity bear the unmistakable stamp of a Mosel upbringing. Wines from Goldtröpfchen Grand Cru vineyard in the Mosel are traditionally left with residual sweetness and retain their fresh and youthful flavors even after over 30 years. Located on the Saar river, Bockstein Grand Cru wines deliver floral notes and an almost salty minerality, complementing the smokiness of the slate. These are probably the most striking and polished wines the estate has to offer. As the name already indicates, Saarfeilser is another Grand Cru vineyard from the Saar and grapes are grown in one of the warmest sites. A 90° bend in the Saar occurs here, bringing together numerous soil types. The mix of young river sediments and old slate stone translates into wines of striking lightness. The Wiltinger site, not classified as a Grand Cru but nonetheless just as delightful, is beloved for its light, refreshing off-dry Kabinetts - labeled as Wiltinger "Alte Reben."
After the careful selection of fruit in the vineyard, the grapes are picked by hand and transferred to the winery. The whole bunches are gently crushed and allowed some time on skins, before a soft and long pressing takes places. Ferments start naturally and the wines undergo a gentle filtration before being bottled.
As a rule of thumb in regards to the labeling of Nik Weis wines: Dry style wines carry a white label, fruity and sweet style wines carry a black label. Dry "Große Lage" wines have to be labeled as "Großes Gewächs", meaning Großes Gewächs = dry.
Mosel wine region. Image: Wine Folly
The Mosel is one of thirteen winegrowing regions in Germany and takes its name from the Mosel river, which originates in the Vosges mountains in France and moves all the way up to Koblenz in Germany. It prides itself on being the oldest winegrowing region Germany, dating back to Roman times more than 1,800 years ago. The Mosel region is the third largest in regards to wine production, yet plays probably the most important role in international markets. The Mosel valley can be segmented into three different parts, namely 'Upper Mosel', the southern-most section located closest to Luxembourg border centered around Trier; 'Middle Mosel', which is the main wine growing region and includes the villages of Bernkastel and Piesport; and 'Lower Mosel', which marks the region just south of Koblenz.
The region is famous for steep slopes huddled along the riverline, some of them as steep as 70° degrees incline - the steepest recorded vineyards in the world! Considering the cool continental climate, the steepness of the vineyards and the proximity to the water play a crucial role in the success of these wines. The most common soil type across all three parts is (broken) slate, benefiting the ripening and maturation process with its great drainage effects as well as the absorption of heat from the river throughout the day and reflection at night. A special vine training system plays an equally important part in this equation: canes are tied in the shape of a heart (heart-binding) to 8-foot wooden stakes. This method is also known as the Hill Post/Mosel trellis (or Mosel Arch) (sometimes used in parts of the Rhone), which requires calves made of steel and putting your fear of heights aside - once and for all.
The Urban Riesling is 100% Mosel Riesling. It has a complex floral and smoky nose, a juicy, fruity, elegant mouthfeel with a minerality that finishes dry and leaves a desire for the next sip. This wine reflects the traditional taste profile of top quality Mosel Riesling wine: brilliant fruit, lively acidity, delicious on its own, or a perfect accompaniment to light or spicy dishes.
"When I decided to create a non-estate Mosel wine, I didn't want to make just a varietal Riesling that could as well have grown anywhere else on the planet. I wanted my URBAN Riesling to be a true Mosel wine. I wanted it to be the best ambassador for the Mosel region. My name on the bottle indicates that this wine is a "Nik Weis selection" and guarantees the same quality level that I expect from from my Estate wines." Nik Weis
Indigenous yeasts ferment the VDP Estate wine in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. Lively and light, the dry-minded wine delivers a beautiful, refined acidity and aromas of dried and fresh spice. The fertile alluvial soil surrounding the estate lend this Riesling its refined structure. This wine marks the ‘entrance’ to the Nik Weis wine world.
The fruit-driven and juicy version of the Estate Riesling is rich with body and balance. It captivates through its blend of expressiveness and irresistible drinkability – everything that a Saar Riesling should be. Light, with a subtle touch of residual sweetness. Full of fruit and elegance.
Distinctive echoes of wet stone are accentuated by a delicate smokiness and blended with ripe fruits and sophisticated saline finish. A good structure and complex body guarantee a long-lasting taste on the palate.
This wine represents the perfect fusion of the lithe, elegant style of traditional Mosel wine and the spicy, floral aromas of the region’s red slate soils. Beyond its dry flavour profile and elegant fruits, the Riesling offers a taut structure with tremendous depth. On a side note: "Alte Reben" means old vines.
The warmth of the Saarfeilser vineyard rises from the glass like the first morning sun. Fine, floral notes, rich with lilacs and peonies, carry over onto a palate of dried cherries and honeydew melon. Balanced, not bracing; radiant with a clear, saline minerality.
Low crop yield and the selection of fully ripe grapes form the basis for this outstanding Riesling. Indigenous yeasts have fermented this wine in a traditional wooden barrel called ‘Mosel Fuder’. Characterised by structure, power and density, aromas of pink grapefruit and other citrus join the flavour profile. Due to the full-bodied style and the well-balanced acidity, Laurentiuslay GG is a wine to store for a couple of years or to pair with high quality, complex dishes.
Richly ornate aromas of tropical fruits and a sophisticated structure lend this wine its powerful personality and traditional Mosel characteristics.
An opulent wine with a wide array of aromas, with tropical and yellow fruits as well as blackcurrants. The full-bodied fruits, deep mineral structure and lingering finish transform this wine from beverage into experience.