The Terrassenmosel – the dizzying stone terraces over this part of the Mosel Valley where Heymann-Löwenstein is a leading light – is such a distinctive place. Vineyards managers and pickers have their work cut out on these back-breaking slopes, and the vines don’t have it easy. The exposed, rocky, drought-prone hillsides have a lot on their plate in a warm vintage. Vines can shut down at times, giving a shorter period for aromas and flavours to develop fully, and making the balance between ripeness and acidity that bit more precarious.
But these same inhospitable terraces are where Reinhard Löwenstein chose to make his home, and the family knows how to thrive here. As David Schildknecht of Vinous Media put it: “In aggregate, it represents a successful meeting of vintage 2018 challenges, but with differences in soil and exposure especially telling.”
And that’s just what you want – the signatures of these dazzling sites shining through in this visionary family’s Riesling.
While unfettered pleasure is the reflex response elicited by classic Mosel Riesling, the often overt power and disorienting range of Heymann-Löwenstein tends to be more thought-provoking. Or, more realistically, mind-blowing. The Schieferterrassen is the cornerstone of the estate’s collection, and is sourced from various terraced, slate-soil vineyards in the region.
Still quite yeasty from long lees contact, this blend of wines from a handful of steep, terraced sites is cool and delicate with minty freshness and white-peach character. The medium-to full-bodied palate is at once ripe, properly dry and silky at the long finish. A very food-friendly dry Riesling. From organically grown grapes. Fair’n Green certified. Drink in 2019. Screw cap.93 points. Stuart Pigott, jamessuckling.com
The Kirchberg site in Hatzenport is fascinating for its mineral and spice structure. Here the slate is reddish-brown and scattered quartz glitters in the stones.
Very peachy and concentrated on the nose with apple strudel and mango dessert. Mouth-filling and seemingly almost off-dry, but the ripe fruit is carried succinctly by mouthwatering acidity. Drink now.93 points. Nick Stock, jamessuckling.com
The soft slate in Röttgen has a yellowish-brown to reddish-brown colour that indicates a high content of iron oxide. The wines from this vineyard are characterized by luxuriant fruit aromas that are always reminiscent of white peaches and ripe melons, with notes of flint and coffee.
Stunning concentration and power to the nose, which is saturated in lemon curd, oyster shell, dried apple rind, lime cordial and dried cloves. Very long on the full-bodied palate with resounding intensity, but focussed, knife-edged acidity that keeps this mineral and taut throughout. Drink now or hold.97 points. Nick Stock, jamessuckling.com
Uhlen wines give concentrated fruitiness with a characteristic echo of sturdy mineral content. Protected from wind in a depression of the cliffs and girdled by trees, the vineyard forms an open amphitheatre facing south. Uhlen Blaufüsser Lay has blue, solid slate that gives the wine a very piquant, mineral note.
Another very floral and fragrant bouquet here of dried honeysuckle, apricot dessert and candied papaya. Rich and supple, but vertical and pure, this is a full-bodied Riesling with lots of density and a pastry-like texture. Drink now. 95 points. Nick Stock, jamessuckling.com September 2019
Uhlen wines tend to develop concentrated fruitiness with a characteristic echo of sturdy mineral content. Protected from wind in a depression of the cliffs and girdled by trees, the vineyard forms an open amphitheatre facing south. Uhlen Roth Lay measures only 4 hectares. The soil is quartzy, dark-red slate, streaked with a light red ochre layer.
Smoky and mysterious in the nose, this is the still point in the centre of the storm. Wonderful harmony on the substantial yet graceful palate, then an exciting touch of “bitterness” climbs out of the depths at the very long, austerely mineral finish. A hint of butterscotch develops. Bottled after almost two years in cask on the lees. Drink or hold.95 points. Nick Stock, jamessuckling.com
Tasted as a sample ready to be bottled, the 2017 Uhlen R Terroir Roth Lay VDP Grosse Lage is fascinatingly wild and intense on the opening, with notes of iron, herbs and crushed stones. On the palate, this is a silky, crystalline, precise, intense and concentrated Roth Lay with a long, tight, intense, complex and very persistent dry finish. Highly promising. A mouth-filling yet precise and salty Roth Lay with warm, lush fruit and a coolish crystalline and flinty soul. This was filtered in early March and was set to be bottled at the end of March, about a week after my tasting on 20 March 2019.95-97 points. Stephan Reinhardt, Wine Advocate