Mapping Mosel - Markus Molitor

By FINE+RARE

Jul 9th, 2020

Markus Molitor talks us through the terroir profile and characteristics of his top single vineyard cuvees, plotting the wines on the map as we taste the latest vintages from each site.

Tasting through 24 cuvees from Markus Molitor is a wonderful journey through the Middle Mosel (with four additional cuvees from the Saar region), identifying the nuances of each site but also how the tension in the wine becomes tighter and tighter as you move up the quality ratings. His three star (***) wines just hum with poise, incredible focus and pulsing energy. In the classic cuvees whilst the tension does not reach the heady heights of the three star wines, the interplay of acidity and unctuous richness in the wines is captivating. To have so much rich fruit and at the same time such linearity to the wine and mouthwatering freshness is what makes Molitor's Middle Mosel wines so fascinating. These cuvees provide such excitement on the palate and remain remarkably well priced for the purity of fruit and the elegance you find across the entire range.

The wines were so alive and the aromas would change and develop considerably with more air, these wines require some dedicated time to taste. All the wines tasted were from Molitor's white capsule (dry) range. Even the Spatlese and Auslese wines in the white capsule range are later picked and fermented to dryness or as dry as possible.

Middle Mosel

Graacher, Wehlen & Zeltingen

The sheer range of wines from Markus Molitor can make it difficult to know where to start. But the vineyards of Graacher, Wehlen and Zeltingen is a good a place as any. Wehlen is where the estate is based and the vineyards of Sonnenuhr (both Wehelener Sonnenuhr and Zeltinger Sonnenuhr) are some of the most captivating wines in the range.

Wehlener Klosterberg

This is at the heart of our vineyards, and stretches up the steep slopes around the winery buildings. It is located in a side valley directly opposite Zeltingen, and faces almost due south. Light to medium-heavy stony soils of decomposed slate with a high proportion of iron to produce mineral-flavoured and long-lived wines with delicate, elegant fruit. Apart from Riesling, our elegant Pinot Blanc (Weissburgunder) grapes are also grown here.

Wehlener Klosterberg Riesling Kabinett 2017 (White Capsule)

Mouthwatering acidity, ripe apple, white pear, pink grapefruit very clean delineated fruit. Slight muskiness. Some pleasant pithy citrus bitterness on the on the finish gives a zing, poise, tension to the wine. Not overly complex but very pure and elegant.

Wehlener Klosterberg Kabinett 2018 (White Capsule)

Grassy, mint and jasmine aromas. Richer and riper fruits than the ’17 and more oily in texture, prickly peach, pink apple, apricot, sultanas and lovely florality too – citrus blossom, candied lime, lime peel. Impressive spectrum of fruit. Classic Middle Mosel, rounded texture in the mid palate balanced by laser-like acidity. Excellent. Clear winner over the ’17.

Wehlener Sonnenuhr

This world-famous top vineyard site borders on the Zeltinger Sonnenuhr but is much more extensive, and thus more variable in quality. The soil is also very stony, but in sections somewhat deeper. It would be splitting hairs to compare the wines of the two Sonnenuhr sites, as both are of exceptionally high quality. Whereas the Wehlen wines are always impressive for their juicy fruit, their unique balance and interplay of nuances, and their slightly piquant acidity, the Zeltingen wines often have an even more impressive ripeness, and an even more incomparable filigree delicacy.

Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese *** 2018 (White Capsule)

Very complex nose with huge spectrum of aromas - floral (iris, peonies), Unctuous sun drenched, honeyed fruit - citrus, pink apple, ripe pear, dried apricot and liquorice spice. Great linear acidity. Three dimensional structure on the palate, unctuous, oily whilst retaining a firm intensity. Light spritz. Tense and very long finish. A very vertical wine but with ripe tropicality offset with savoury slatey minerality.

Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese *** 2015 (White Capsule)

More mineral slate coming through on the nose than the 2018. Classic Mosel nose. Lime, citrus peel, pink grapefruit, ginger, jasmine. Precision of fruit on the palate is fantastic. Acid is immense, absolutlely fizzles. So intense the acid is off the scale. Deceptively linear for an auslese, creating so much tension. Very long length with strong mineral tones on the finish.

Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese*** 2010 (White Capsule)

Truffles, honey, cumin, caraway very savoury indian spices. Preserved manadarin,lime and mango chutney, High intensity. Electric acidity. More oily in texture with age and very long finish. Very distinct character.

Zeltinger Sonnenuhr

Covering less than 20 hectares, this top Middle Mosel site has mainly very old, ungrafted vines (often more than 80 years old) with fine but also very stony soils of mostly quite light blue Devon slate. The oldest and best plots are often located on small terraces with very little soil, producing very low yields (10-20 hl/ha) of exceptional quality. This site produces our greatest dry and off-dry wines as well as many of our top botrytis wines. All wines grown on the Sonnenuhr have an incomparably elegant ripeness relative to the vintage.

Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Auslese *** 2018 (White Capsule)

Mineral fresh slatey mineral tones with subtle floral notes – citrus blossom jasmine, lemon verbena. Full, focused and fragrant . Soft, silky texture with a verticality at the centre the wine is both opulent and focused. Unctuous yet so tense. with mineral edge running right down the middle of the palate. Great focus and intensity.

Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Auslese *** 2017 (White Capsule)

Leaner on the nose than the ’18. Less floral and more restrained. Great bubbling retention of energy. Texture is so fine giving great finesse on the palate. Incredible balance of fruit, florality and minerality – the subtlety is beautiful. Lovely tension, freshness. Less overt opulence. Very balanced.

Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Auslese *** 2015 (White Capsule)

So fresh no obvious signs of ageing. Subtle balance of fresh fruit, minerality, light florality. Nose is sensational. So delicately balanced. More oily texture with age. Unctuous yet still retains lovely freshness. Bristling with acidity this will age amazingly!

Zeltinger Schlossberg

This vineyard site is located above and around the Sonnenuhr site. It is also very steep and has to some extent even richer slate soils than found in the Sonnenuhr, producing crisp and hearty wines with firm acidity and a mineral aftertaste. Ideally suited for particularly dry wines.

Zeltinger Himmelreich

The largest vineyard in Zeltingen with steep slopes as well as flat sections. 95% of the areas owned by the Molitor winery are located on steep and extremely steep slopes, with only 5% in moderate slopes. The soil is made up of fine and decomposed slate, ranging from light to quite deep. Elegant, often beautifully full-bodied and juicy Riesling wines with elegant yellow fruit notes and an interplay of slate.

Graacher Himmelreich

Not as steep in all sections as the Domprobst site, but to some extent with even richer slate soils, the site produces very racy, crisp Riesling grapes with firm body. Particularly good for dry or off-dry wines. This is our oldest red wine vineyard, producing Pinot Noir with lots of fire and power, needing a long time to mature and develop.

Graacher Domprobst

This is one of the top sites of Graach, relatively small and facing south-west. Here we own some very steep plots of vineyard with a fine, stony slate soil that is not too dry, and indeed is close to perfection. Full-bodied, slatey wines with great character in the dry range, but also produces extract-rich, late harvest and botrytis grapes with a wonderful acid aftertaste.

The Domprobst has strong floral aromas but the variation between the 2018 and 2017 is strikingly different in their flavour profiles. The 2016 and 2018 were more riper stone fruit character whereas the 2017 was more grapefruit giving the wine more zippy quality.

Graacher Domprobst Kabinett 2018 (White Capsule)

Honeyed nose, peonies, roses, jasmine and citrus blossom – floral, perfumed nose. Rich, unctuous, honeyed fruit on the palate - (tinned) peach, grape, melon, stone fruits as opposed to sharper citrus. Fine texture, mouth watering acidity. Rounded but still has tension. Finishes very clean with nice acidity.

Graacher Domprobst Kabinett 2017 (White Capsule)

Fragrant, perfumed, citrus blossom, rose water, passion fruit, musk. More bitter than the ‘18 with distinct ruby grapefruit – very pure fruit, lovely combination of acid and fruit. Love the bitterness in the 17 gives it depth, dimension. Slight spritz gives lift.

Graacher Domprobst Spatlese 2018 (White Capsule)

Ripe, juicy, rich, unctuous. Silky texture, less delineation of fruit, pepper spice and ripe mandarin fruit. More oily than the 17. Fantastic weight and energy. Graacher Domprobst Spatlese 2016 (White Capsule)

Preserved citrus fruit, lychees, peppery spice and light musk. Touch of tutti fruity bubblegum notes offset the spice character with sharper grated granny smith; dry and clean palate.

Ürzig, Erden & Kinheimer

The top wines from Urzig, Erden and Kinheimer offer incredible aromatic complexity. Urizig quite distinct in its strong mineral tones but a fatter, rounded profile to the more linear wines of Zeltingen further south. Erden and Kinheimer become more linear but retain the strong mineral tones.

Ürziger Würzgarten

The "Urziger" site is traditionally considered to be a speciality among the Middle Mosel vineyards due to its red iron-rich soil mixed with fine slate. This gives the grapes grown here a totally distinctive character, with spice and opulent fruit as well as a crisp, hearty acid backbone, which produces a tremendously full-bodied wine when combined with emphatic residual sugar, particularly in our Spätlese wines.

The Urziger wines are very mineral and savoury on the nose rather than floral but much rounder, oilier, fleshier and less linear in texture on the palate, less classically what you expect from Mosel in terms verticality.

Urziger Wurzgarten Kabinett 2016 (White Capsule)

Strong savoury scorched earth, struck match minerality on the nose. Oily, rich, rounded, softer texture on the palate. Not linear but fat, nectarine, tangerine, apricot fruit sits on the palate but overriding savoury, mineral tones dominate. Thicker not featherlight but with laser-like acidity contrasting with creamy texture, and a real lick of slate on the finish.

Urziger Wurzgarten Kabinett 2018 (White Capsule)

Spicy, petrol, struck match minerality and liquorice tones. Warmer dry earth notes too. Soft, round, unctuous oily texture. fleshier, nectarine and apricot fruit – more riper fruitier than the 2016 with light aniseed spice, Silky, opulent rather than linear but still mouth watering acidity.

Erdener Prälat

A new vineyard site for Markus Molitor and one of the most iconic in Mosel. Another very steep south facing slope made up of blue slate and red iron ore. The majority of the vines are ungrafted and produce Rieslings of intense power and aromatic opulence.

Erdener Treppchen

One of the most famous and legendary top-quality sites of the Middle Mosel. An extremely steep, classically south-facing slope, characterised by stony blue and grey slate soils that are not too dry. Produces most impressive full-bodied, elegantly fruity wines with tremendous ripeness and finesse.

Erdener Treppchen Auslese*** 2018 (White Capsule)

Deeper colour, complex nose of petrichor intersperses with floral perfume, preserved fruit, fennel and bergamot. Rich, unctuous tropical fruit (pineapple), concentrated palate with fine textural finesse. Exceptional poise persistence and intensity. Very exuberant style.

Erdener Treppchen Auslese*** 2015 (White Capsule)

Vet complex nose, truffle, honey notes comes with age yet still retains florality (lavender, roses, peonies) – citrus blossom jasmine. Rich, oily, viscous, texture blances with razor sharp acidity. Tense, incredible texture, length. Ginger lemongrass, manadarin fruits on the palate. More verticality than Kinheimer . Incredible length and energy.

Kinheimer Hubertuslay

The Kinheimer Hubertuslay is a classical south-facing steep slope. A deep grey slate soil is responsible for Rieslings with a powerful minerality on the palate in a delicate interplay with ripe fruitiness.

Kinheimer Hubertuslay Auslese *** 2018 – (White Capsule)

Incredible mineral dominated tones on the nose. Oily texture with sultanas, musk and honeyed fruit flavours. The intensity and tension is phenomenal. Waxy, oily but razor sharp acidity brings great balance.

Kinheimer Hubertuslay Auslese *** 2017 (White Capsule)

Very mineral, very slatey, petrichor, pink pepper, rose petal and lime zest. Unctuous, creamy palate, with orange, and mandarin fruit. Opulent, rich but retans real focus on the finish incredible tightness, tense finish. Amazing persistence..

Kinheimer Rosenberg

For Markus these vineyards were initially completely underrated and underestimated, and has been on a quest to show the potential quality of this and Hubertslay and in an attempt to raise their profile to the level of the more established Grand Cru site of Middle Mosel.

Brauneberger Klostergarten

Overall a very mixed site made up of two very steep and two medium steep plots with finely granulated slate soils and a large proportion of stones, mainly planted with Pinot Noir clones of French origin.

Brauneberger Mandelgraben

Another very mixed site, ranging from flat to steep. A sloping site that stretches up to the forest, and has ideal water availability even in hot, dry years, with grapes retaining their acidity very well. The rich slate soil is stony with hard quartzite and gravel, producing piquant acidity and finesse.

Brauneberger Juffer & Juffer-Sonnenuhr

The Brauneberg Juffer vineyard is one of the most prestigious vineyards in the Mosel. Brauneberg translates as Brown Mountain. The slope is extremely steep in some places, as much as 80% gradient leading to a very thin layer of topsoil and therefore difficult growing conditions. It is recorded that Brauneberg was Thomas Jeffersons's favourite wine of the Mosel. The minerality of the site produces a distinct spiciness to the wine.

Bernkasteler Graben

This site is located directly beside the legendary Bernkasteler Doctor vineyard, the most expensive vineyard site in Germany (possibly the world), and is very similar in quality. Planted with extremely old Riesling vines. A relatively rich slate soil that is stony, but never dries out. The wines have an unobtrusive but highly elegant and rich fruitiness and a clear, slatey flavour. The sweet wines from this site are extremely complex and complete.

Bernkasteler Doctor

The vineyard site Bernkasteler Doctor has always been legendary. This mythical vineyard encompasses only 8.1 hectares, but is famous all over the world. This site is completely south-facing and very steep. The deep soil is composed of very dark grey weathered slate. The old vines are mostly ungrafted, older than 100 years. It has an outstanding microclimate producing a good hydrologic balance, it never has any problems caused by drought or heat. Markus believes one reason behind what makes the wines so special from this site is a natural drainage system coming from the other side of the hill, from the thermal springs of Traben-Trarbach.

Bernkasteler Badstube

The vineyards located towards the upper end of the Doctor site consist of fine slate soils with very good water-retention properties. This produces a very fresh, lively, exceptionally typical Mosel Riesling wine with stable acidity and very good maturation potential, even in the case of the lighter dry wines.

Bernkasteler Lay

Another small top-class terroir in Bernkastel, whose reputation is overshadowed somewhat by the better-known Doctor site. Here we own very good quality plots in the heart of the site with extremely old vines. The slate here is decomposed and fine, regularly producing excellent quality, very ripe harvests with extremely elegant and filigree fruit.

Bernkasteler Lay Spatlese 2018 (White Capsule)

Very mineral nose, slatey, petrichor, citrus blossom and jasmine lift on the nose. Lovely combination of stone and flowers. Citrus peel, light floral notes. The poise on the palate is fantastic. Subtle in style beautifully elegant, understated wine.

The Saar Vineyards

The Saar region is named after an off shoot river that runs north to south perpendicular to the main Mosel river. The region is cooler than Middle Mosel and only south facing slopes can reach adequate ripeness. That combination of ethereal lightness, delicate fruit and steely minerality combined produce some of the finest Riesling anywhere in the world. The most famous Grand Cru site of the region is Scharzhofberg, thanks to the wines of Egon Müller. Other noticeable Grand Cru sites include Ockfener Bockstein and Saarburger Rausch (two single vineyard cuvees produced by Markus Molitor).

Saarburger Rausch

Ockfener Bockstein

In 2012 Markus was able to also secure  some parcels in the famous steep slopes of Saarburger Rausch and Ockfener Bockstein in the Saar-Ruwer part of Mosel. In 2016 Markus got the chance to buy the former Staatsdomaine of Serrig which was built in 1903 by the Prussians as one of the first of their government-led quality driven wineries in Germany. Markus was able to add 25 hectares of vineyards in one go, a unique possibility that he could not resist.

Molitor’s Ockfener Bockstein wines all have a grassy, elderflower, mint, wet stony element with less fatness and roundness in the mid palate compared to his Middle Mosel single vineyard sites although there is depth, weight and unctuosity in the wines typical of Molitor’s style, no doubt from the long lees ageing. These wines have a wonderful richness for the Saar, whilst retaining the mineral featherlight typicity of the region and distinct sharpness and sourness to the acidity.

Ockfener Bockstein Spatlese 2018 (White Capsule)

Green nose, flinty, grassy, dry stone minerality and a light play-doh sweet spice gives a fragrant lift. Lovely texture – very silky, with mid palate concentration. Ripe apricot, old fashioned lemonade fruit flavours. Unctuous yet featherlight at the time. Extraordinary. Very pure fruit with sustained length.

Ockfener Bockstein Spatlese 2016 (White Capsule)

Sherbert, with light medicinal pepperyness, lime cordial, ginger– more aromatically Riesling, elderflower. Light petrol first hint of development. Oily, unctuous texture, rich, weighty mid palate yet lots of finesse, lithe, slight fine edges and oily mid palate. Very savoury tones but with white peach comes through with a bit of air.

Ockfener Bockstein Auslese*** 2018 (White Capsule)

Grassy-nose, flinty, dry stone, yellow pear. Weightier palate than the Spatlese, unctuous soft fat texture, mouthfilling – huge depth to the wine and tremendous finesse. Pink apple, white pepper  and ripe pear flavours. Great tension on the finish with beautiful length. Just hums on the finish very very long. Delineation of fruit is outstanding!

Ockfener Bockstein Auslese *** 2017 (White Capsule)

Retains grassy tone, undergrowth, wet leaf, quite mellow initially than super expressive with a bit of air. Deeper savoury tones. Rich, oily, unctuous texture balanced with incredible acidity contrasting with the rich, fat, juicy pink apple, ripe pear fruit, slight caramelised apple , sultana, straddle edge. The energy of the wine is outstanding. So much tension, poise -Elegance and finesse. Length incredible –Texture, energy and poise of the wine is fantastic.

Niedermenniger Herrenberg

This region has really its own character. The Saar and the Ruwer represent special variations of the Mosel Riesling. The side valleys are located on a bit higher altitude, they are not as narrow. The average temperature is therefore a bit lower than in the Mosel region. Due to these facts the vegetation period takes a bit longer (approx. 7-10 days). All of these components lead to Riesling wines with an acidity a bit more intense, a sharp and clean expressive mineral and lighter fruity flavours than in the middle Mosel region.

We have put together a number of mixed cases for you to discover the different single vineyard sites of Markus Molitor for yourself. Click below for more information and availability:

Markus Molitor Terroir Collection Case Kabinett & Spatlese (2020)

Markus Molitor Terroir Collection Case: Auslese (6 bottles)

Markus Molitor Terroir Collection Case: Auslese (12 bottles)

Maison Albert Bichot 2018s

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