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Julien Renard
the lower Moselle
etched on the head of a pin
part II

{ “Julien Renard only started in 2018 and his debut vintage was already truly remarkable. Yet, he has gone from strength to strength since... If you have not caught up with this super-star, now is the time!” -Mosel Fine Wines, No. 64 }
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2021 Julien Renard Riesling "Le Ch'ti" 

This is only our second offer for the wines of Julien Renard.

Farming slightly more than one hectare in the fortress-like terraces of the Lower Moselle (photographed above), this is one of the smallest estates we work with.

And this email, for one of the top, truly über-rare wines of the estate, must represent one of our most absurd offerings. We have around seven cases of the “Le Ch’ti” to offer.

I drank this Riesling over four days this week and was simply floored by the hyper-condensed, crystalline detail of the wine. I don’t know that I’ve ever had anything like it. This is perhaps one of the sharpest, most cutting dry Rieslings I have ever had; it feels like it comes from an ice age long past. The "Le Ch'ti" is the most distilled and essential Riesling I have ever had - Riesling dissected to the sub-atomic level.

If there are any precedents, they would have to be the rapier-like wines of Stefan Vetter or Jonas Dostert. Though neither of these two growers focuses on Riesling, and perhaps this makes all the difference.

Truth be told, these are among the most boundary-pushing Moselles – or German wines for that matter – I’ve ever had, a surreal combination of extreme mineral, precision, clarity, luminosity, acidity, energy.

These are wines that truly make any Chablis feel like a bath in lukewarm Jell-O. Here we have simply another level of incisiveness; for me it is unprecedented.

There is absolutely no doubting the quality here; these are profound bottles. Mosel Fine Wines – some of the sternest critics in the world of wine – write about a “...level of quality which we have only found among the very finest dry Riesling … anywhere in the world.”

Yet this is followed by a warning, Mosel Fine Wines, writes: "Just one word of caution though: Julien’s wines do have a very subtle 'natural' touch. While this is very well integrated and the wines turn out to be very clean, it may not be to everybody’s taste. As you will have understood, we absolutely love this expression of Riesling. All wines are full of energy and liveliness yet also show beautiful finesse and elegance. What an awe-inspiring achievement!"

I'm mixed on these sorts of warnings or notes. On the one hand, the buyer should certainly know that these are not "typical" fruity Moselle Rieslings. While much of the language here is similar - profound citrus, complex herbal and palate-staining mineral notes - these wines speak a language that is different... it is a new language of the Moselle that is being explored.

Curiously, these wines may very well be the closest to what the dry Rieslings of the late-19th century tasted like. This is, admittedly, total speculation on my part, but there is some at least general historical data to support this claim.

But either way, what the buyer should know is that these wines do seem to have a reference point that speaks to Chablis (perhaps of the 1980s or even 1970s?), the Savoie and most of all the Jura. This latter region seems to me especially relevant in terms of the extreme play of saline notes, herbs, nuttiness and a rather lemon-pith-driven acidity.

If Mosel Fine Wines writes that these wines have a more "natural touch," this should not infer any level of uncleanliness. In fact, these are among the most pristine Rieslings I have ever had.

As we've written before, what is important is not categorizing wines like this into one camp or the other. The issue is simple: Do the wines speak of the Mosel? Do they speak of the grape from which they are made? Are the wines clean and bright and correct?

When these requirements are met, as they are here (at the absolutely highest level possible), the new story that is being written by these young Mosel growers is beyond fascinating - it is provocative, cerebral... delicious.

And to be completely honest, this bottling represents among the most compelling chapters in this ongoing story. It's too early to tell, really, but as I've written to Robert a few times... I'm not 100% sure, but I think these might be *profound* wines and may prove to be legends of the new Moselle, whatever that new Moselle might be.

Stephen and Robert

2021 Julien Renard Riesling "Le Ch'ti" 
This is the Mosel Fine Wines review for the 2020, yet I think it outlines the basic profile of the 2021 as well - it also provides information about the bottling.

"The 2020er Le Ch’ti (the reference to the name is, as usual for this Estate, only provided on the back label) is an homage to Julien’s father, who lives in Northern France and whose inhabitants are called Ch’ti by their French compatriots. This wine, which carries the lot number 20LC is a bonedry Riesling made from direct-pressed grapes. It was fermented and aged without any intervention on its gross lees in oak (while allowing for some ullage) for 20 months before being bottled unfiltered and with minimal SO2 added (total SO2 is 29 mg/l). It offers a hugely captivating and layered nose of minty herbs, spearmint, violet, grapefruit, cassis, plum, fine bakery elements, lime tree, and greengage, all wrapped into a subtle blanket of Indian spices and volatile acidity. The wine is superbly focused on the playful and energetic palate. It is structured, intense, and still slightly compact, but leaves a magnificent refreshing and vibrating finish. The after-taste proves bone-dry and still has a slightly austere side. Lovers of natural, refined, and bone-dry Riesling will find in this example a model of finesse and tension. What a breathtaking effort!" Mosel Fine Wines, No. 64

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