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The wines of Ernst Loosen: Rieslings from the Mosel, the Pfalz and Washington State

Ernst Loosen (pronounced 'Low-zen'), the great ambassador of German wines, is famous for his Mosel Rieslings and also his superb PR skills. But since 1996 he's also been making wines in the Pfalz, at the revitalized J.L. Wolf estate. More recently a collaboration has been initiated with Château Ste Michelle in Washington State, called ‘Eroica’. Forty-something Ernst comes across as an astute and articulate proponent of Riesling, with intelligent, sensible things to say about the issues of terroir and typicity. I tasted Rieslings from all three estates, each with their own distinctive style.

Weingut J L Wolf, Wachenheim, Pfalz, Germany
Website: http://www.jlwolf.de/index_e.htm

In 1996 Ernst Loosen took over the somewhat run-down estate of J L Wolf, which owned vineyard parcels in some top sites in the Pfalz. He has revolutionized things, reducing yields and farming organically. Altogether there are 10 ha of vineyards (not a great deal), 80% of which are Riesling. Annual production is 500 cases per year. I was really impressed with these wines. Although they are heavier in weight and alcohol than their Mosel counterparts, they still have lovely complexity and are expressive and well balanced. They are top flight examples of dry Riesling.

1999 Wachenheimer Riesling Trocken
AP no 5142 202 03 00; 12% alcohol. A rich style of Riesling, with a full rich nose of honey and apples. The palate is attractive, rich and spicy with good minerality, some citrus fruits and good concentration. Very good+

1998 Forster Pechstein Riesling Spätlese Trocken
AP no 5142 2020 09 99; 12% alcohol. This wine shows a delicate, lifted, limey nose with racy acidity and some honey notes. There's plenty of minerality on the palate, which is rich but still delicate, with lively acidity, good balance and some spice. Finishes dry. Very good/excellent

1999 Wachenheimer Belz Riesling Spätlese Trocken
AP no not complete; 12.5% alcohol. The expressive nose shows delicate, racy, lime and mineral notes with some creamy, honeyed undertones. The strongly mineralic palate is quite delicate but concentrated, with lovely zingy acidity. Very good/excellent

Weingut Dr Loosen, Bernkastel, Mosel, Germany
Website: http://www.drloosen.de/index_e.htm

Loosen’s reputation has been built on 12 ha (30 acres) of vines in some of the prime vineyards of the middle Mosel. These exclusively Riesling vines are almost all on the original rootstocks (non-grafted) with an average age of 60 years. The estate has been family owned for over 200 years, and Ernst Loosen took over in 1988. Since this time it’s reputation has soared. It’s fair to say that these wines are made in a rich, full style, and while I liked them very much, I’m going to be a total heretic and declare that I probably prefer Ernie’s efforts in the Pfalz, on this showing. Light up that bonfire! Perhaps I need to try more of these wines -- and some older examples, too -- before I make any firm conclusions.

Dr L Riesling 2000, Mosel Saar Ruwer Qualitätswein
8.5% alcohol. A lively lime and floral nose leads to a rich citrussy palate. This is quite powerful with a rounded spicy character and some residual sugar on the palate. A nice wine for the price. Very good

2000 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett
No AP number; 8% alcohol. Quite rich citrussy nose is just a little shy at the moment. The palate is rich with full-on spice and honey notes. Bold and full flavoured with some sweetness on the finish and good density. It lacks a little something now, but may age well. Very good+

2000 Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Spätlese
No AP number. Spicy nose has a touch of herbiness to it; it’s youthful, shy and there’s some minerality in the background. Concentrated, intense palate with rich spiciness and some citrus and honey complexity – the sweetness is quite evident. This is nice stuff in a full-on style. I’d expect this to improve with some bottle age. Very good+

1999 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese 1999
AP no. 2 57616224 00; 8.5% alcohol. Complex full nose of limes, honey and spice, with some minerality. The palate is rich and rounded, with come class. It’s powerful, bold Riesling, showing creamy lime/citrus flavours with honey notes, some acidity and lots of extract. Very good/excellent

A collaboration between Ernst Loosen and Ch Ste Michelle in Washington State, USA

Eroica Riesling 2000, Washington State, USA
Eroica produces just two wines, this and a trockenbeerenauslese. The regular Riesling is a blend of three vineyards, with an average vine age of 30 years. Ernst Loosen is adamant that he is not trying to make a Mosel Riesling; just the best Washington State Riesling possible. There's no way you'd mistake this for a Mosel wine. It has quite a prominent boiled sweets edge to the nose and some bright fruity notes. The palate is quite strongly flavoured, with a touch of citrus fruit, some spice and a little residual sugar (actually 12-13 g residual sugar). I'm not overly keen on this style. Good/very good

Tasted May 2001 

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