Mosel Trip Notes April '24

I’m new here, but I know a handful of folks here from the NYC wine world. I enjoyed reading some notes from others about the Mosel as I was planning a trip there this month - so I thought I’d share some notes and impressions from my brief (4 days including a Sunday) trip to this incredible region!

OVERALL IMPRESSIONS: everything that I heard from riesling lovers just rang true as soon as I arrived in the Mosel. The place is incredibly beautiful, the weather is dynamic (especially in April), the people are kind beyond belief, and there’s an essential soul of the place reflected in the geography and the humanity. The wines were of course fantastic, but spending time with the winemakers and hearing their reflections on life and on their craft was really what made the experience magical.


Clemens Busch - we had the pleasure of tasting with Lukas, a Danish self proclaimed wine geek who seems to know every winemaker and character in the Mosel. Tasting a '93 spatlese trocken was really wonderful. We mostly tasted through the ’22 lineup from village wines through GGs, followed by a few pradikats. I love that they bottle separate parcels of the Marienburg vineyard denoted by slate color - experiencing the difference between red (fruity, spicy, verging into red berries), blue (floral, mineral, phenolic, powerful) and gray (unusual elsewhere in the Mosel, balanced, elegant, linear) slates was an excellent study. A highlight for me was the ’18 Felsterrase - a gray slate parcel adjacent to Falkenlay, fermented to slightly off dry levels (so not labeled as a GG - something Clemens fought to keep that way when he joined the VDP).

Stein - what can I say to describe this visit? We met Ulli at Haus Waldfrieden, right above the Alfer Holle vineyard, with views of the Mosel and towards the Palmberg vineyard. Over 3 hours with a lively group of other Americans and Danes, we tasted through a mighty lineup; ’23 barrel sample rieslings, ’22 rieslings, natural wines, and finally red wines. Ulli was full of stories and wisdom. He reflected on the importance of showcasing the soul of the Mosel in all of his wines, including the simplest ones which are made for drinking with simple food like potatoes. He told us stories of the vineyards - the Palmberg (‘the most emotional for me’), the Himmelreich, and the Alfer Holle and its 1900 parcel, complete with stories of his tending to the individual vines which all have names. He reflected on the magic of old vines - containing wisdom of life just like an older person even if they are no longer as strong, and showing more of their character in recent warmer vintages. And he regaled us with stories of pioneering red wine growing in the Mosel - fighting the authorities (‘if I grew marijuana here it would be less problem for them than growing red wine!’) and exploring the potential of pinot and even cabernet. When we started our tasting the weather was horrible; over the course of our tasting the weather changed and the views cleared. As we finished I stepped outside and was floored by the sight of a complete rainbow spanning the Mosel - a moment of pure magic, that felt like it only could have happened in Ulil’s company.

Will Schaefer - we were very fortunate to visit Christoph and Andrea especially so soon after Willi’s passing. We started by tasting ’23 barrel samples of 3 kabinetts - Wehler Sonnenuhr (which I’m much less familiar with from Schaefer), Himmelreich, and Domprobst - an excellent side by side comparison of vineyards (WS showed exotic notes, Himmelreich floral precision, Domprobst earthy and darker minerality). We also tasted a number of older wines: 75 Domprobst auslese (incredibly complex and fresh), 04 Domprobst spatlese, 09 Domprobst spatlese auction, 22 Himmelreich spatlese, 13 Domprobst auslese. Christoph and Andrea emphasized that their focus is on maximizing time in the vineyards above all else and this shows in the quality of the wines in the glass. As Christoph mentioned when telling us the story of their label, these wines are intended to be distance runners, so matching trends and current fashions is besides the point.

Ludes - Julian Ludes is a dynamic force and after tasting with him my dominant emotion was excitement at following his career through his wines for decades to come. It was uncanny meeting someone this young (he’s 27) with such passion, paint of view, and knowledge about riesling. We tasted through ’23 and ’22 wines from the Mosel and Hermann wines, through the single parcels, and some older vintages (17, 19) of Monster, Gackes Oben, Gackes Unten, and the Thornicher Ritsch auslese. Many of these bottles had been open for 3+ weeks (Julian had indicated with marker the date opened for each) and tasted incredibly fresh. These wines are intense, spicy, and complex (the ‘23s showed a lot of mint and spice notes); there’s some sponti / reduction on many but it’s faint and blows off with air.

Karthauserhof - this visit gave us an excuse to stop in the Ruwer and complete the Mosel/Saar/Ruwer trifecta. The terroir here is much different - less steep than the Mosel, with no river in sight from the vineyards (we drove over the Ruwer at one point where it was basically a creek). The domaine is historic - with documented history of continuous winemaking in the Karthauserhofberg vineyard since 1335. We weren’t able to taste any GGs but had some great experiences with their kabinetts - the main takeaway was that their terroir shines in cooler vintages, as evidenced by 08 and 21 kabinetts.

Lauer - we got a full experience by tasting at the estate, driving through the Ayler Kupp, and eating and staying at the Weinhotel. We had a great discussion with Florian about his GGs and the aging profile of dry wines - he thinks his GGs enter their optimal zone 8-10 years after the vintage - and enjoyed comparing the 3 best known GGs young (Schonfels backwards and coiled, Kupp open and savory, Feils rounded and most enjoyable). Unfortunately the night before our visit, they had experienced significant loss of grapes to frost in many vineyards (including about half of the Senior parcels).

Falkenstein - an absolutely wonderful capstone to an excellent trip, as Erich hosted us (and we also got to meet Johannes). We talked about Erich’s life’s work of building the estate, the journey from selling solely to private collectors to reaching several international markets, the nature of Mosel/Saar dry wine, and above all family. On discovering that he shared a mutual friend with my dad, Erich remarked ‘the world is a village’. We tasted ‘23s which were so typically Falkenstein - racy, electric, mineral and above all just enjoyable (‘adult lemonade’ in Erich’s words). I hadn’t had much experience before with the auslese (Forster #5) and it was the highlight of the tasting.

Other Notes

We stayed for 3 nights in Zeltingen at Zeltinger Hof and 1 night in Ayl at Lauer. We ate dinners at Wei und Tafelhaus (formal and long but very good), Die Mosel (highly recommended by many and very worthwhile), Zeltinger Hof (more traditional German and had the best old wine list of anywhere we visited), and Lauer.

We also got the chance to meet and spend quality time with @Bobby_Frank over two winery visits (Stein and Schaefer) and one long dinner - amazing evidence that love of riesling brings people together!


Excellent write up, and welcome to the board!

One question: Hiw did you get around? Did you have a car?

Tejas! Welcome!

You must have a car in the Mosel.

Are you ITB? I must say your tasting notes are quite universal. How does the '23 compare to previous vintages like '21, '19, '01?

Indeed - rented a car round trip from Frankfurt airport. There really would have been no other option!

@Andrew_K I am not - am just an enthusiast! I’m still relatively new to the riesling (and wine) world as I only started to follow seriously about 5 years ago ('19 was the first riesling vintage I collected) - so I’m still somewhat ignorant about vintages. As much as we hyped the special '21 cool kabinett vintage in the US, many growers seemed really pleased with '22 (Julian Ludes said he did better than in '21) and described it as a miracle vintage (one that looked foreboding early but came around with the right balance of warmth and rain). Across the board '23s seemed fresh and exciting - the clearest signature to me was that wines that are more savory/spicy showed more of these notes than in '22s (e.g. Stein, Ludes - these were bursting with mint, herbs, spice). Schaefer '23s were particularly excellent. I got the impression from some folks I met that it should overall be a nice vintage but on the whole maybe a vintage where the Saar shines more so than the Mosel.


Welcome to the board Tejas, and thanks for the writeup! We loved our trip to the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer a few years ago, I really want to go back soon.


Will be that way in less than a month! Nice trip notes. I have a full day scheduled on the Nahe. I do have free time and need to book two stops on the Mosel.

Thanks for the great writeup and welcome to the board.

Did you just email the wineries to set up the visits, or did someone help you get in contact?

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If you need tips let me know!

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I am in Germany once a year to visit the producers I am working with over here and import. If you ever need wineries, hotels, restaurant recommendations, let me know and I am more than happy to help organize tastings.


The advice I got was just to email or DM the wineries on Instagram and express interest in tasting. Karthauserhof got set up by Jake at Field Blend Selections (their importer) - but otherwise I arranged everything directly. I found that the winemakers were really appreciative of visitors who showed interest and had some knowledge of their wines (or of Mosel wines in general). It seems that the domestic market doesn’t value/respect the wines as much as they should, so the growers really care about their export markets - and the US is the biggest for most of them.


Tejas, you were very impressive as a relative newcomer to Mosel Riesling. Keep it up. It was a pleasure meeting you and Krish. Fun to spend time with a wine geek like you.


Awesome notes thank you for these wonderful notes. I own a shop called West Palm Wine Co that specializes in german wines. I was in Germany with importer Vom Boden at the same time you were there. We too had very special visits with Stein, Ulli is an icon and Ludes ( did you taste in his little outdoor cabana?) and Lauer. I don’t know about you but so many of the young lauer wines had this beautiful and fierce smokey element to them.


That’s awesome! I got to attend a Vom Boden dinner in NYC last week, and Colin Wagner from their team was in the Mosel roughly a week after I was - hope you got to spend some time with him. The Stein visit was really just so special. We also tasted in the Ludes cabana with Julian - what a unique experience that was! And that’s interesting re Lauer - can’t say I noted that but the '23s had quite an energy to them, and I’m excited to see them on this side of the Atlantic before too long!

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Collin is a dear friend and was my rep when I owned Kingston Wine Co. Agree, the 2023’s are really nice. Less edge than 21,22, but well balanced.

Don’t miss the 23’s from Vollenweider, the new owner, Moritz, is a rising star. His entry level 23 “Felsenfest” is an amazing value.

Prost and nice chatting with you!


The best place for the wine list alone… You can even buy a lot of the bottles “to-go” for a lower price.

Went here and did the “wine wall” dinner, which included a bunch of old rieslings, in 2021. Totally great.
At one point our waiter said he’d be right back “with something funny”, then brought out a cup of espresso and pretended to trip and spill it on me. It was just an empty gag cup connected to the plate, and it was, in fact, funny—but definitely wholly unexpected and the only time a waiter has ever decided to prank me.

Zeltinger Hof was great! We had a Karthauserhofberg 70 Kabinett (probably the most interesting ‘old’ wine we could find… a lot of the other older wines were mid 2000s from some of the bigger producers like Markus Molitor). The winemaker Jorg Thanisch was at the next table and took an interest in the bottle as it was his birth vintage (and a ‘terrible’ vintage as he remarked to us that nevertheless produced some wines that are still alive and well) - we shared a pour with him. Always fun to have that type of interaction with a winemaker.

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