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Jonas Dostert
a most unlikely hero
the Obermosel comes of age, part 2

{ ”Jonas Dostert is one of the finest and most exciting talents we have 'discovered' in our now 12-year tenure at Mosel Fine Wines." }
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Jonas Dostert has become, very quickly, a most unlikely hero.

He is, after all, making very extreme, very singular wines in an unknown place.

In two recent trips to Germany, when I asked young growers who they were drinking and excited about, I would say 70% of them mentioned Jonas Dostert as one of their top three. And already, in the U.S., after introducing Dostert's wines in 2021, we have already had multiple inquiries and the wines are all allocated and sold out upon arrival.

This is all a most curious development. I think Dostert and this misunderstood region totally deserve the recognition - I just can't believe it's happened so quickly and so deeply. It's a really beautiful, amazing thing.

I'll repeat what I wrote in 2021: As with the MFW quote above, for me what Jonas Dostert is doing in the Obermosel is one of the most thrilling and provocative developments in German wine in many years. The feeling I have when I taste these wines is something akin to my feeling in 2009, first tasting the wines of Florian Lauer: some combination of confusion, wonder, awe.

This is not to say the wines of Dostert are similar to the wines of Lauer. They are not, at all. But in 2009, tasting the curious, natural balance of Lauer's wines, it was something of a slap upside the head. I had simply never tasted anything like it before.

And this is the similarity with Dostert’s wines: they also seem to come from a completely new, uncharted place.

This email is our second Dostert offer, representing two years' worth of work. We first tasted with Dostert in his cold cellar in the Obermosel in March of 2019, and we basically told him on the spot we'd take what we could get. The first shipment arrived in 2021; this is only our second tranche of these thrilling wines.

Before I continue, I feel I should make two things very clear. First: I am obsessed with these wines. They are delicate, razor-sharp, extreme and bracing. They feel like they are chiseled directly from a glacier; they are essential, elemental, mineral. We have only a few of these 3-packs available and they represent a tour-de-force of what the Obermosel and its Kimmeridgian limestone can shape, from Pinot Noir to a Chardonnay and Elbling blend (the "Pure Limestone") and then a new bottling, the Elbling Crémant.

And as with our original offer, I do feel I should add: These are extreme wines; they will not be for everyone. The last time my teeth throbbed as much as they did after tasting Dostert’s 2019 collection was after tasting with Erich Weber at Hofgut Falkenstein in maybe 2008? The acidity in these wines is incisive, bracing, saturating. But for those of you who crave the mineral austerity of the wines of de Moor, or Stefan Vetter, you will love these wines. This is admittedly pure conjecture, as I wasn't tasting Chablis on release in the 1980s, but Dostert's wines suggest to me what a great Chablis from Raveneau or Dauvissat, from a solid but not too-ripe vintage in the 1980s, might have tasted like on release: stony, raw, primal. There is something about the compact scale of these wines that suggests the cold north.

But to be more exact, Dostert's wines, for me, represent something of a bridge from the Saar to Burgundy.

This is a lot to wrap one's head around, I understand, but stick with me. As with the best Saar wines, Dostert's bottles have a rawness. The great, mid-twentieth century importer Frank Schoonmaker famously described Saar wines as “indescribable: austerity coupled with delicacy and extreme finesse… an attractive hardness.”

Dostert’s wines flaunt these traits. Drinking directly from a mountain stream is thrilling, but it might hurt too. Things so essential, so distilled, are simply not for everyone.

From the experience and practices of Burgundy the wines receive a most sensitive and delicate élevage. It is subtle, to be sure, but the use of neutral barrels on these wines, the gentle oxidation, is simply masterful. The blend of this raw essential quality, with a tapered finesse reminiscent of Burgundy, I find just heartbreaking.

It’s both trite and instructive, I think, to point out that Dostert did spend some time in Burgundy, mostly in the cellars of Leflaive working with the barrels (indeed this is where he gets most of his barrels). It’s trite because pointing out something like this seems to imply a very simplistic recipe: “Go to Burgundy, work with Leflaive for a few months and voilà you can make Leflaive!” Clearly this idea is inane and insulting. These wines have little to no obvious relationship with Leflaive’s wines.

But pointing out this Burgundian perspective is instructive, I think, because as Dostert has told me over and over again, growing up in the Obermosel was a confusing affair. This is essentially a forgotten place, seemingly without a present moment or a history. (I have written extensively about the Obermosel, this limestone-riddled region tucked between the Mosel and Luxembourg. If you are interested in reading more about this place, albeit through the history of the Hild estate, click here.)

While the Obermosel is only minutes, a few kilometers away from the Mosel, from the Saar, it has nothing in common with these more famous places. The Mosel and the Saar are a landscape of slate and a temple to Riesling. The Obermosel is the final, profound crescendo of Kimmeridgian limestone as it pours through France and runs into this wall of slate. The Obermosel, because of this limestone, is a culture based on an ancient grape Elbling, and more and more on Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and the other Burgundian varieties.

The deep, deep potential here is obvious to anyone who can stand still long enough to really look at the place. I do not know exactly what the promise of this very special place holds, though I am fairly confident that Jonas Dostert will prove to be one of the more important voices in articulating this greatness. It's already happening.

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