My first visit to Weiser-Künstler was in the summer of 2010. I dubbed the Volkswagon Golf rental Silver Stallion, and motored around the Mosel, Saar, Ruwer, Nahe, and Rheinhessen for a couple weeks. It was the only time I drove a car in the nine years I lived in New York City. A handful of early-aught CDs salvaged from a box of nostalgia, a faulty GPS, and a notebook kept me company.
Weiser-Kunstler’s wines had only just debuted in the US through importer friends at Mosel Wine Merchants (now represented by friend and tireless Riesling advocate Stephen Bitterolf at Vom Boden). I was eager for an extended visit to get to know the vineyards, the wines, and the couple behind the quirky, hip owl label.
Konstantin Weiser and Alexandra Künstler have been bottling their estate wines since 2005. Also as part of der Klitzekleine Ring collective, they work with other local winemakers to bottle “rescue” wines from endangered Mosel sites that would otherwise go fallow. In these ways W-K’s focus has always been to preserve and reclaim the glory of the somewhat forgotten old-vine sites around Traben-Trarbach. Limited returns for the strenuous labor of farming these super steep, terraced sites has deterred a new generation of winemakers, and so many historic vineyards, consumed by blackberry bushes, will go untended and unharvested. Alexandra and Konstantin, along with der Klitzekleine Ring, are leading the valiant effort to care for and salvage these sites.
We know from studying 19th century maps (you can order them here!) that the stretch of vineyard sites W-K farms are historically of equal value to famous sites like Goldtröpfchen and Sonnenuhr. The upside of these sites being overlooked during the later part of the 20th Century is that they weren’t subject to the modern replanting and reconstruction that removed old vines and ancient terraces. The sites Weiser-Künstler farms still have single-pole trellised pre-phylloxera vines that are 80 to 100 years old. Sure, it’s a pain in the ass to farm, but the resulting wines are undeniably profound.
Since that trip seven years ago, it’s been an honor to support these wines each vintage. They are notably reflective of the unique growing seasons, while also holding consistent terroir character. I find Sonnenlay to be finessed and perfumed, Steffensberg is cut and chiseled, and Ellergrub manages to be both completely charming and cerebrally complex. The terroir here is often saline, textural, even chalky. While the fruit of Piesport, the flower of Brauneberg, the citrus of Ayl all have a place in your cellar too, these wines provide yet another angle on the beauty of Riesling.
2016 Weiser-Kunstler Riesling Feinherb – $22
2016 Weiser-Künstler Sonnenlay Kabinett Dry – $28
2016 Weiser-Künstler Sonnenlay Kabinett – $26
2016 Weiser-Künstler Ellergrub Spätlese – $37
2016 Weiser-Künstler Steffensberg Grand Cru Dry – $37
Though the 2016 vintage was challenging for the estate with a loss of 50% of the crop, they are happy with the bottled results. Losses were largely in Ellergrub, which is why there will be no Kabinett from that site in 2016. We will see Ellergrub GE and Gaispfad eventually. Konstantin has liked the vintage to a riper version of 2014 according to Mosel Fine Wines.
All orders will be fulfilled by Convive Wine & Spirits in New York City. To secure an order please email requests to email@example.com before Wednesday, August 2, 2017.