Monday, August 16, 2010

Weingüter Mönchhof & Joh. Jos. Christoffel Erben – Ürzig / Mosel, Germany

Mönchhof has been a fixture in Ürzig for centuries, with their estate dating back to 1177 when it was a monastery. A cellar located under the beautiful building lies under the high water line of the Mosel and reliably floods every winter. When the cellar was still in use, the barrels would be strapped to hooks in the floor in order to prevent the flood water from damaging the barrels or tossing them around the cellar. As a result, the current winery and production facilities are located in the city to be outside of the flood zone.

Weingut Mönchhof, which now includes Joh. Jos. Christoffel Erben, owns plots in three well known vineyards near Ürzig. One of the most famous is Ürzig Würzgarten which is located just behind the estate and is comprised of red slate soils. Erden Treppchen, a blue slate vineyard, is the second well know vineyard that Mönchhof shares with Dr. Loosen, among others. The gray slate Erden Prälat vineyard rounds out Mönchhof’s trio of notable plots and provides a good foundation for quality wines.

During my August 2010 visit to the estate, I sampled over 15 different wines with many affordably priced. Mönchhof and Joh. Jos. Christoffel Erben feature a large selection of trocken (dry) and feinherb (half dry / semi-sweet) wines that perhaps differ from the traditional expectations of a German Riesling but cater to changing consumer preferences. Some were rather good while quite a few were average and common. Reviews and notes for some of the better wines can be found below.
  • 2009 Mönchhof Erden Treppchen Riesling Spätlese trocken – This 400 year old vineyard of blue slate gives way to an aromatic wine with a nose of berries and tropical fruit. A trocken Spätlese seems like an oxymoron, but the wine had some residual sweetness and was a reasonable value at € 11.90 from the estate. 6+ / 10
  • 2009 Joh. Jos. Christoffel Erben Erden Treppchen Riesling Spätlese – The sweeter Spätlese from Erden Treppchen vineyard had an herbaceous and vegetal nose combined with sweet apples on the palate. Also priced at € 11.90 at the estate, this wine was more of my style and nice 6+ / 10
  • 2009 Mönchhof Ürzig Würzgarten Riesling Spätlese – Red slates soils define this steep hillside vineyard, the “spice garden” creates some of the best wines in the region. This Spätlese was quite nice and was defined by green apple and a sweet residual. Again, it was a quite reasonable € 11.90 for a nice wine. 7 / 10
  • 2007 Mönchhof Erden Prälat Riesling Auslese – Undoubtedly my favorite wine of the lineup, this Auslese from the grey slate vineyard had distinct peach and apple flavors along with a pleasurable minerality. Perhaps the most well rounded wine offered, the 2007 Erden Prälat Riesling Auslese was priced at € 19.80 and accompanied me back home to the U.S. 7+ / 10