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Wolfram Stempel
psychedelic Mosel Riesling vapor
finding authenticity in the avant-garde

{ The young growers reimagining the Mosel should be celebrated. Not only is this development good, it is vital and yes, inevitable: culture doesn't need anyone's approval to evolve. That is simply what it does. }
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It occurs to me that perhaps it is the status of "outsider" (not born in the Mosel to a winemaking family) that offers someone as thoughtful and inquisitive as Wolfram Stempel the singular perspective to intelligently challenge many of the assumptions of what we know about ”Mosel wine." Born in Bavaria, a student of Japanese culture who spent nearly a decade living in Japan, Wolfram came to the Mosel only in the fall of 2017, on a whim, following an obsession.

When I spoke with him about his journey, he said to me quietly: "If it wasn't for the Mosel, nothing would have made me give up my life in Japan."

Introducing the curious case of Wolfram Stempel.

These wines represent a fascinating trend developing in German winemaking right now; they push boundaries, ignoring many of the "traditions" of Mosel wine (for example, blocking malolactic conversion) and engage in many of the practices of natural winemaking (for example, no fining or filtering, low sulfur use).

And yet, and this is critical, for us at least: The wines speak of the Mosel, their origin; they are clearly Riesling. For those of you who raise an eyebrow when people start talking about natural winemaking, it's important to know these are not wild wines - I believe the wines will appeal to lovers of more classical Mosel Riesling.

The two-pack presents the two - and only - current releases.

The "MHF20" is the only wine Wolfram made in 2020 (remember he is farming only .13 hectares). As with last year's wine the Riesling offers just a wildly complex spice profile, from peppermint and spearmint to cinnamon. As it is a Feinherb - meaning just off-dry - the dark, warm-perfumed sweetness of the herbal character is freshened up and invigorated by more peach and citrus notes as well as a green-lime freshness. And again, it is the textural quality of the wine, a certain airiness, an expansive quality, like brilliant, psychedelic Mosel Riesling vapors being unleashed - this is just so seductive.

The "MHT19_R" is the reserve wine. It is, in fact, the exact same wine Wolfram offered us in 2021, with one additional year of time in the barrel, in Wolfram's cold cellar in the Mosel. It is a beguiling wine honestly; the extra time has given it more depth, but also a certain calmness - the flavors are more seamless and integrated.

At one point, as we were sitting quietly in Wolfram's kitchen having lunch and trying the wines, Wolfram just sorta looked at the glass in his hand and said: "If you listen, the wine tells stories about how deep it is..."

As absolutely tiny as this whole operation is (the tasting room is Wolfram's kitchen; the cellar is simply the deep basement of his home), what Wolfram is doing is part of a larger seismic change happening, right now, in the Mosel. It is a wonderful and wild thing; we have written about it extensively (check out the first Wolfram Stempel offer for more on this).

Have no doubt: a new chapter in the history of the Mosel is beginning - and it's delicious.

2020 Wolfram Stempel Riesling "MHF20" (Feinherb) 
2019 Wolfram Stempel Riesling "MHT19_R" (Trocken) 

Wolfram is farming a small parcel, as described above, in Maring, a tiny village in a side valley away from the Mosel, tucked behind and between the wall of vines that is the Brauneberger Juffer and the Niederberg Helden. The "MHF20" refers to the village (Maring), the vineyard (Honigberg) and the off-dry quality (Feinherb). Interestingly, this side valley was once the Mosel's main path, presumably the oxbow lake that once was there has since dried up. The vineyard is farmed organically. The vines are about 30 years old and are planted on a weathered blue slate soil. Wolfram carries out a rather severe pre-selection; no grapes with any botrytis are used, period. He uses a very long and very gentle pressing cycle (a Champagne cycle), so that the tail of the juice is not used, preserving freshness and acidity. Around 25% of the best whole bunches - they really must be perfect - are put into small nets, like a tea pouch that can steep in the juice. Once these whole bunches are in their nets, the tank is filled with the pressed juice. The wine ferments like this; as the alcohol increases in the must, the extraction of phenolics from the stems and skins can become quite intense. After the fermentation, the whole bunches that were in the pouches are pressed and this juice is added to the blend. The wine then goes into used barrels. In 2020 the wine simply did not ferment to complete dryness - it has about 15 grams of residual sugar. Thus, the wine was lightly filtered and sulfured. It was bottled in the fall of 2021.

The MHT_R19, as described above, is one small barrel of the 2019 wine, aged for an additional year in the cellar.

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