Recommendations for Mosel Producers

I’ve recently been smitten with a few rieslings from Mosel and am looking to explore the area further by trying new producers. I’ve tried J.J. Prum and Max Ferd. Richter (both some of their kabinetts and spatleses from a variety of recent vintages). I am interested in any recommendations people might have on other generally widely available Mosel producers to try in similar styles. Thanks in advance!

Fritz Haag
Jos Christoffel
Carl Loewen
AJ Adam
Peter Lauer
Markus Molitor
but don’t limit yourself to just Mosel. There are some fantastic Rieslings from Nahe, Pfalz, Rheingau, Rheinhessen and other regions of Germany

I think Maximin Grunhaus (von Schubert) is really underrated and I don’t really quite understand why except maybe because they’re distributed by Loosen Bros.

Otherwise, I think Schloss Lieser and Selbach-Oster are ones to try. Lauer mentioned above is quite delicious too, but it’s very different in style in my opinion. Of course, anything in the Theise portfolio and pretty much all the producers mentioned above are worth trying.

I like J.J. Prum and M.F. Richter and especially agree that Fritz Haag, Schloss Lieser, Selbach-Oster, von Schubert, and Zilliken are great for Spatlesen.

I’m surprised Willi Schaefer wasn’t immediately suggested. I also think Clemens Busch, von Kesselstatt, Thanisch-Erben, Weins-Prum, and Weiser-Kunstler are worth trying in some vintages.

Of course, Egon Muller is at the top, but you pay for it.

Great recommendations above, all of them solid producers.

Some my personal favorites:

  • Albert Gessinger
  • Günther Steinmetz
  • Immich-Batterieberg
  • Martin Müllen
  • Melsheimer
  • St. Urbans-Hof
  • Weingut Stein
  • Van Volxem
  • Vollenweider

Also the combined production of Friedrich-Wilhelm-Gymnasium and Bischöfliche Weingüter Trier are great - probably not among the greatest of Mosel, but the wines are often very reasonable priced in comparison to their quality.

Julian Haart
Reinhold Haart
Von Hövel

I think Mosel producers need to be divided into two groups. Wines from the middle of the Mosel (which I will call Mosel) producers and wines from the Saar or the Ruwer (which tend to be zippier with more acidity).

Some of my favorite Mosel producers are JJ Prum, Reinhold Haart, Schloss Lieser, Selbach, Willi Schaefer. There are a lot of other good ones, but these are a good place to start.

In the Saar and Ruwer (a great place to buy wines from warmer vintages as these wines tend to retain acidity and be less soft), my favorites are Zilliken (from the Saar) and von Schubert from the Ruwer. I also like wines from Lauer when they are not trocken.

One thing to pay attention to in Mosel wines is the current religion in German wines is for bone dry wines. This is really evident in virtually all posts here by German posters and a decent amount of the posts from other German wine lovers from other European countries. You have to decide for yourself whether you want wines that have the traditional balance among good acidity, extract and balancing residual sugar or the more austere dry wines coming out of Germany in larger and larger numbers today. Certainly, Prum, which you mention, is one of the leaders in making wines with more of the traditional balance and the producers I have mentioned (esp. if you leave out Lauer) make a lot of these traditional type of German wines. If you want German wines in the more austere style, look to some of the producers Otto has mentioned.

What you like, of course, is up to you.

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+1 to Howard’s comments, as Otto tossed in some wines that are from the Mosel but failed to highlight that they largely conform to the dry style, and will not align to the OP’s initially articulated interest / expectations for wines similar in style to Prum and MFR kabinetts & spatlese (off dry).

Somewhat passive aggressive uses of ‘religion’ and ‘tradition’ there Howard, but I generally agree with you. I don’t look first to the Mosel for dry wines but there are some excellent ones.

I can’t comment on the ‘widely available’ in your market.

My top producers are Prum (10% of the cellar), Willi Schaefer, Grunhaus, Lieser, Fritz Haag, Egon Muller and adore their wines at all levels of sweetness.

Then Julian Haart and Lauer (both predominantly for their Kabinett).

Thanks everyone for the recommendations! I have some searching to do!

Funny thing is, in Burgundy there are so many decisions to make: new/old oak? Malo? Pump over? Battonage? And so on.

In the Mosel it’s usually just stainless steel, yet for all the great producers above there are plenty of less-than-stellar producers!

I really don’t understand why my recommendations were singled out as examples of the dry, austere style, since I love sweeter Mosel Rieslings and most of my recommendations were based on that.

Sure, there are some wineries that are emphasizing the Trocken style, but most of them don’t really make bone-dry, austere modernist Mosel Rieslings - in my books there are two schools of dry Mosel: the lean and austere modern style and the more harmonious, somewhat off-dry old school style. For example Van Volxem makes dry, yet remarkably rich and concentrated wines that can be dry-ish or off-dry, depending on how the wine will finish itself, as they are not made according to a set rule.

Most of the producers I like (and listed here) make wines that really aren’t modern, but instead made in the very old-school Mosel style, which means fermenting the wines spontaneously and vinifying them with a rather hands-off approach as dry as they naturally end up - often retaining something like 5-20 g/l of residual sugar - and then aging them for a long time in oak fuders to further soften down the racy acidity. Although these old-school wines can be dry, to me they are often very balanced, harmonious and a world apart from the racy, steely and bone-dry Mosel Trocken Rieslings, which I really don’t like. All in all, the wineries make their wines basically the same way the winemakers did more than a century ago - for example according to Gessinger, they have done very little to nothing with the style of their wines for several centuries. Martin Müllen famously releases their wines as soon as they are ready (occasionally it taking more than a decade). Also producers like Immich-Batterieberg, Melsheimer and Stein are pretty much ultra-traditionalists in style. Why I recommended them here was not because they make almost exclusively medium-sweet to sweet wines, but because I think they are on par with the quality with the producers mentioned by the OP - no matter the sweetness level.

However, as I pointed out in my very first sentence here, their sweet ones are the ones I truly love. Gessinger’s Caldo Infernale 2010 is one of the greatest young sweet Rieslings I’ve ever tasted; I’ve lost count how many spectacular medium-sweet and sweet Martin Müllen wines from the 1990’s I’ve had; and most of the Immich-Batterieberg wines I’ve tasted haven’t been dry but either medium-dry or medium-sweet, even sweet.

Lol, basically what I just wrote contradicts all this. :smiley:

I don’t have any problems recommending drier German wines for people who like them. But, when an OP indicates he does not have that much experience with German wines and says he likes Prum, I think there should be some indication in a post that the wines being recommended are going to taste quite a bit different from Prum. Maybe something like “While JJ Prum makes a lot of great wines and has for a long time, you may want to try some of my favorite producers that make German wines in a [drier style] [more austere style] [something indicating you are taking him in a very different direction toward wines that are from well regarded producers but ones making wines tasting very different from Prum].”

Otto’s recommendations are fine from a style perspective. The OP did not request wines with notable residual sugar. He merely said he had really enjoyed Prüm and Richter, not that he only wanted wines in the same style.

Where Otto’s list falls down is availability. A number of the producers are hard, or nearly impossible to get outside of Germany, unless one is in a particularly Riesling savvy area (e.g. New York City, but less than 5 blocks from Chambers Street Wines). That being said, his citations of St. Urbans Hof (widely available) and Vollenweider (tough to source but worth the search), fit the mold of the OP’s original producers.

Taken in sum, this thread so far lists just about every Mosel producer I see with any regularity in the US marketplace.

For my part, Willi Schaefer, Fritz Haag, JJ Prum and Von Schubert are the four Mosel producers I most closely follow, and I think it is safe to say I have a more rabid passion for the Mosel than any other wine region in the world- even Burgundy.

Before getting into specifics- let me please offer one piece of advice that I learned the hard way, and which many- if not most- people never learn. I won’t open these wines with certain tasting groups anymore over this issue. That advice is simply to give the wines a LOT of airing. When tasting young wines- especially the Auction bottlings or anything Auslese and above- double decanting and leaving the bottle open overnight is generally a must. You should try the wine right at opening and for a few hours after- but you really should save at least half the bottle for the following day. And if you drink more than a glass or so, you can recork the bottle for the overnight rest period. This is not as essential for Kabinetts and Spatlesen in most vintages- but it still can be a useful exercise.

Similar goes for older wines for that matter. If I am serving older wines in the evening, I will generally open the bottles in the morning, double decant and then assess whether to recork or not.

I say this because I know people with large Riesling collections who absolutely insist on pop 'n pour at tastings, and the wines are consumed long before they even have a chance to show their best. It is maddening.

On specifics- your timing is excellent because we have had several good vintages in a row. 2015 and 2017 are epic vintages with long term potential- but don’t miss out on the 2016s. They are nicely showy but not abnormal like 2003 was- for example, have good acidities and are showing a lot of their character young. It is a perfect vintage to get started with because these wines will show well the first 1-2 hours out of the bottle for the most part (I have not had the Prums yet- but have been advised they are unusually reluctant- which is the exception to the rule in 2016)- but I would still advise saving some overnight.

As for producers- I would advise getting your hands on a Kabinett and/or Spatlese from as many of the producers listed in the various posts as you can. 2016s should be widely available and not terribly expensive- I would expect under $40 for either a Kab or Spat from just about everyone except Egon Muller where $100ish is the new entry point (and for Kabinett only.)

If you want to narrow it down some, I would suggest you go for the following to cover a good range of styles while sticking to wines that are, and should be in future, readily available in the United States,

Peter Lauer
Willi Schaefer
Von Schubert
Fritz Haag
JJ Prum (only if you want to do side by side comparisons since you already have tried the wines)
AJ Adam

Just in case it matters to you (it matters to me a great deal as I am a traditionalist on the manner of closures and refuse to cellar wines that do not have corks), be aware that a couple of these producers (the last 2) are bottling many of their wines- including Kabinett and Spatlese- in screwcap. You can find plenty of long threads on the subject here if you wish to dive in- but do be aware that screwcaps have come into wider use with the more age-worthy German wines.

If you do not mind spending $135 on a single bottle- Dee Vine Wines in San Francisco currently has a large stash of the 2005 Willi Schaefer Graacher Domprobst Riesling Spatlese Auction. The Auctions are held annually and certain Mosel producers will present special bottlings of their finest for the auction. Schaefer usually does 1 Spatlese and sells between 400 and 600 bottles. It does not always work out so in the end- but generally these are the best of the best, and naturally quite rare. The 2005 Schaefer is just entering maturity now and is an absolutely magical bottle of wine. If you want to see the kind of outcome we Mosel lovers dream of- this is the best option I know of in the current marketplace with impeccable provenance.

Commenting on the producers- my preferences are based on the wines that, with cellar age, tend to have a bit more backbone and zest to them- courtesy of the acids. They can still be quite ethereal in their way- certainly the case with Prum and Schaefer- but they always have a bit of fire to them as well, which is all the more wonderful when expressed in a sort of celestial and effortless way.

Lauer, Selbach and Molitor do not really have that I think- I expect them to be more like Nahe wines with time. Still pretty, but lacking that earthy and citrus acid base. Christoffel I have always loved, but I don’t do screwcaps- period. YMMV. AJ Adam wines are well made, and quite distinctive with pineapple and sometimes coconut notes, but as with Schafer-Frohlich in the Nahe I find them too sweet and heavy for my personal tastes anymore. Even by modern standards, their Spatlesen are essentially Auslesen to my palate.

The wines of Egon Muller can be incredible- the 1999 Spatlese Auction remains one of the greatest wines I have ever tasted. And in many respects, if one were forced to create a top 10 list- in order- of the Mosel producers, Muller belongs at the top of that list. But the wines have become too freakishly expensive for me, and so I do not cellar or drink them anymore. I would also note that the real Muller sweet spot- so to speak- is Auslese level and above, where I tend to focus on Spatlese. So if you prefer the stickies, then the Muller premium may well be worth it.

I certainly agree with you 100% - if it weren’t for that basically almost all the producers I listed make some stunning Feinherb and Halbtrocken wines as well. If one (like me) enjoys sweeter Mosel Rieslings, why should they go straight for the trocken wines? The more logical disclaimer would’ve been “These producers also make some great drier wines as well, but if you are looking for wines similarly sweet and fruity like the producers you listed, go for the Feinherb, Halbtrocken and Auslesen wines.”

The more understandable criticism is the availability of the wines, but since I have no idea what producers are imported to the US and what aren’t, I really can’t base my recommendations on that. It might be nigh impossible to get my hands on great US wines, but at least most of the German wines are just a few mouse clicks away from my hands - and usually the German delivery fees are something like $0.8-$2 per bottle!

Agree with your points on opening the wines early enough. And with young Kabinetts and Spätlesen the airing is almost mandatory as well.

We’ve had our own Kabinett Cup for a few years now (Kabinett Cup 2016 last spring, Kabinett Cup 2015 the year before that) and most likely we’re going to have Kabinett Cup 2017 this spring again. That’s about 35-50 Kabinetts we order from Germany and taste them blind in a randomized order.

From the experience we had with KC2015, I insisted that a) we’d concentrate on non-trocken Kabinetts, since those fared so poorly when tasting them blind; b) we’d open and decant the wines the day before. Even then, relatively many wines were still either somewhat mute or showing some Böckser skunk after a whole day of breathing. However, I still think that the wines benefited from that breathing, because so many more wines felt more open and expressive in the glass - I doubt they would’ve performed equally well had they been p’n’p’d.

Also, if I’m having some Prüm or other Mosel Rieslings of equal style in my tastings, I always double decant them the day before the tasting. It’s basically a must.

Schloss Lieser is one of the very best producers. Crisp. Mineral. Balanced and seductive. If you can find them, they are buy every vintage kinds of wines.

By the way, forgetting Tom’s useless vendetta against screw caps, J. J. Christoffel is not remotely what it once was. I would no longer recommend the wines, and not because of the closure.