The precipitous vine-covered hillsides and tight, twisting valleys that surround Germany's Mosel River make up one of the most beautiful wine landscapes imaginable. Some of the finest white wines in the world are produced here, made from the noble Riesling grape. And while the past several years have been good to the Mosel, a northerlyregion often subject to bad weather, the work of three gifted winemakers has arguably had an even greater influence, as their high standards and innovative techniques have helped to make Mosel wines that much more spectacular.
ERNST LOOSEN riesling revolutionary
Every winemaking region needs someone like Ernst Loosen of Dr. Loosen winery, a risk taker capable of defying conventional wisdom. Loosen, 40, took more than a few leaps of faith in order to realize his revolutionary vision of what a Mosel wine should be. "I asked myself, Why should things be fundamentally different here than in other grape-growing regions?" he says. "Why shouldn't old vines and low yields produce more intense and expressive wines in the Mosel just as they do in Bordeaux or Burgundy?" The questions first arose when Loosen inherited a number of vineyards from his father that ranged from 50 to more than 100 years old. The age of these vines inspired Loosen to implement a low-yield policy (along with many other changes) as soon as he took over the almost 30-acre family estate in Bernkastel before the 1987 harvest.
On the day Loosen suggested selective picking to his staff, they responded by walking out. He immediately appointed Bernard Schug, an out-of-work friend and a former student of animal husbandry, as his winemaker. From that moment on, neither man looked back.