Riesling (alter-) Native
The Mosel, in Germany, is an extraordinary place known for its Riesling, which accounts for over 60% of vineyard grapes, and for its dizzying steep slopes that are breathtaking to admire, and incredibly difficult to work, particularly in the Middle and Lower Mosel, where you will find Pünderich and the Marienburg vineyard belonging to iconoclastic winemakers Clemens & Rita Busch. Understanding the geography of the region is key- sun exposure is what you’re looking for, and if you’ve got steep, southern-facing slopes, you’ve got some of the best land in the Mosel, maybe in the world.
The Marienburg vineyard is inseparable from Clemens-Busch- they are gracious hosts and loving stewards of their vineyard, which has been in the Busch family for five generations. Clemens has dedicated his life to shining a light on unique parcels of the Marienburg, by vinifying all the wines from the different parcels separately, knowing that they each produce distinct wines, and labelling his bottles with the proper historic names of their original parcels within the Marienburg, and capping the bottles with the corresponding color of the slate.
At the age of 17, Clemens began working at the family winery, learning from his father, rather than through formal education. By 1976, he had stopped using herbicides. He converted to organic farming in 1986 and founded the German organic grower association, after meeting fellow winemakers in the Middle Mosel interested in organic farming, though rather than this decision being based on principles, it was based on the noticeable positive effects he observed in his vineyard and his wines. At the same time, he began experimenting with low to no-sulfur winemaking, and continues to experiment with no sulfur winemaking. Beginning in 2005, he began embracing biodynamic principles, becoming certified in 2015.
Beginning with 2 ha in the Marienburg, Clemens chased opportunities to expand his reach in the 80’s as the heirs of his father’s generation of winemakers were largely disinterested in continuing the hard work required to maintain these challenging vineyards. The Busches now own over half the Marienburg- or at least what he considers the true Marienburg, the 25 hectares on the hill- totaling 16 hectares. The vineyard lies just across the Mosel River outside their home- they can sip a bottle of their own Riesling and gaze upon the vines outside of their kitchen window.
The tremendous care, devotion, and love for this challenging terroir radiates from each glass of Clemens-Busch wine. Their work is measured and precise- so transcendent as to be magical.
Vinification notes: Grown in grey slate on the Marienburg. Spontaneously fermented, macerated extra time on the skins, then matured 15 months on the lees in Clemens’ big old (50+yr) German oak barrels. Unfiltered and unfined. A tiny amount of sulfur was added at bottling, even less than usual. Residual sugar: under 4 g/l. 11.5% alc. Hazy color; “orange wine” in spirit, but fantastically fresh, energetic and delicious.