The quote above comes from two of the most scholarly and considered tasters I know, Jean Fisch and David Rayer, of the online publication Mosel Fine Wines.
When they pen a line with this much weight, I’ll admit, I pay attention.
As it were, this review came out around the same time I got another raving review, in the form of a text message from a colleague in the Mosel. He texted simply, declaratively (as one does in a text) that the 2017 Pinot Noir from Twardowski was “maybe one of the greatest German Pinot Noirs I’ve ever had... at the level of Wasenhaus.”
I had heard of Daniel Twardowski’s project many times, and had tried a few bottles here and there, which I’d add is no easy feat as they aren’t easy to find (Daniel is farming only about three hectares).
In fact, as far as I know, this offer represents the first time these wines have been officially offered in the U.S.
Twardowski first came to wine as a fine wine trader, a Burgundy specialist (and a Burgundy fanatic). He has used the deep connections he forged in Burgundy to source top vine material, from Clos de la Roche, Richebourg and Romanée St. Vivant and more. He began planting his Pinot Noir in 2006 in the Hofberg, a site made famous in the last few decades by the winemaker A.J. Adam.
Twardowski employs Burgundian techniques in the cellar, which is to say some inclusion of stems (both wines on offer today, the 2016 and 2017, were made with roughly 30% stems), a more delicate, nuanced extraction than is common for most German Pinot Noir, and an élevage in what one has to admit are among the finest barrels being used in Germany for red wine, sourced from the likes of DRC, Leroy and Rousseau.
This will be among the most obvious lines I’ve ever written, but if you are interested in Burgundy do not miss this offer. We have been able to source only a few cases, each and every one direct from Daniel’s cellar.
Obviously, projects like this are the work of many, many decades, if not many lifetimes. Still, the potential here was revealed early and it was obvious. Already, nearly five years ago, Jancis Robinson was calling Daniel’s Pinots “one of her favourite wines” in the German Pinot Noir tastings.
Yet with every year, the wines are getting better, deeper, clearer.
For his U.S. debut, Daniel was kind enough to release two vintages of the same wine, so our introduction, at least for a select few, can be something of a mini-vertical.
We have two vintages of Twardowski’s Pinot Noix “Ardoise” - the “Noix” is a wordplay, meaning “nut” in French; “Ardoise” is the French word for slate, referencing the soil here in the Mosel.
We’ve included the Mosel Fine Wines reviews below.
While these wines will be trading at around $150, in the context of the production costs, including the laborious hand work on the steep slopes of the Mosel as well as the spare-no-expense mentality of the entire estate, these are fairly priced and, it should be added, have the potential for a significant upside.
Compared to top Burgundy, well, this is a steal.
The title of this email, the “present-future Mosel,” is meant to contextualize the fact that Daniel Twardowski’s three hectares of vines represent nothing less than the shattering of a deep, deep cultural assumption some 234 years old.* And this assumption is so woven into the expectations of most serious wine drinkers that we rarely consider it, let alone question it.
And that assumption is: The Mosel is the home of Riesling, and Riesling is the soul of the Mosel.
Twardowski’s project is, quite simply, a profound reckoning with this assumption, and with climate change. It is the first estate in the Mosel in well over a century*, to focus solely on red wine production. As you likely know, there are at this point some very serious Pinots being made in the Mosel (from Ulli Stein, who farms some of the oldest Pinot Noir in the Mosel and has recently acquired a barrel from Twardowski, to Heymann-Löwenstein, Günther Steintmetz, Später-Veit and Hofgut Falkenstein in the Saar), yet all of these estates are founded on Riesling. Their Pinot Noirs are, even if very good, always secondary.
With Twardowski we see a profound break from this lineage, this assumption. While, at present, Twardowski is a pioneer, one has to admit that this project is likely a harbinger of things to come. Pinot Noir will likely be a very important part of the Mosel’s future.
2017 Daniel Twardowski Pinot Noix “Ardoise”
“The 2017er Pinot Noix Ardoise, as it is written on the consumer label, was made with 30% of stems. This medium-light cherry-red colored wine offers an absolutely marvelous and captivating nose of peony, rose petal, raspberry, warm earth, cinnamon, a hint of cassis, and fine spices. The wine proves gorgeously smooth and multi-layered on the refined and almost airy palate with perfectly integrated, silky, and subtle tannic structure. The wine oozes complexity right into the light-footed and hugely persistent finish. This has all the classy elements of a fine Burgundy with an added zesty presence in the aftertaste. This gorgeous Pinot Noir is easily the finest we have ever tasted from the Mosel! 2022-2037”
2016 Daniel Twardowski Pinot Noix “Ardoise”
“The 2016er Pinot Noix Ardoise, as it is written on the consumer label, was made with 30% of stems. This medium-light brick-red colored wine offers a beautifully aromatic nose made of warm earth, spices, herbs, ripe red berry fruits (including strawberry puree), blackberry, and a hint of tomato compote. Intense flavors of black-berried fruits, tar, and dark spices make for a rich and ripe feel on the palate. Some tannic presence coupled with some zest make for a still slightly tangy and tart feel in the bone-dry and gorgeously persistent finish. This impressive expression of Pinot Noir now only needs some patience for its tannins and sharpness to melt away. 2024-2033+”
* While there is evidence that during a warm spell in the middle ages the Mosel had a briefly lived culture of red wine, the general rule through most of recorded history is that the Mosel was a white wine region. The famous “Edict of Trier,” issued in 1787, made the relationship between the Mosel and the Riesling grape specifically, a formal mandate. Since 1787, it’s fair to say the viticultural tradition in this valley has been based almost solely on Riesling, certainly at the upper echelons. One notable exception to this rule, and I have to thank Jean Fisch and David Rayer of Mosel Fine Wines for this history, is the Gensterblum estate which was based in the Saar and which apparently won a gold medal for a red wine at the 1900 Worlds Exhibition in Paris. It’s worth pointing out this is the same award that the Egon Müller label still proudly mentions.