2021 Staffelter Hof, Mosel Riesling Feinherb "Paradies"
2021 Staffelter Hof, Mosel Riesling Feinherb "Paradies"

2021 Staffelter Hof, Mosel Riesling Feinherb "Paradies"

Mosel, Germany 2021 (750mL)
Regular price$29.00

2021 Staffelter Hof, Mosel Riesling Feinherb "Paradies"

There’s something deliciously nostalgic about a bottle of Mosel Riesling that’s super bright, airy, almost prickly in texture, and balanced perfectly between ripe fruit and zippy acidity. The right wine is an instant transport to a summer pic-nic on a New England (or old England) lawn, and that is exactly how I felt when Staffelter Hof’s “Paradies” hit the tasting table. Then I learned that this is one of the oldest wineries in Europe, and that the current winemaker/proprietor has rocketed the estate into the 21st Century. It’s a fascinating story, and the wine itself is brilliantly refreshing–not sweet, but crisp, fruity, and exceedingly exuberant–of the kind that disappears so fast you’ll want another bottle or two in the basket. And given the low abv, natural winemaking, and sub $30 price tag you can make that happen guilt free!

Jan Matthias Klein is the seventh generation from his family to helm the estate of Staffelter Hof, which is nestled in one of the many famous Mosel River curves, in the small hamlet of Kröv. Seven generations is a long time, but the winery is actually much older. Local records indicate that the “Hof,” aka “farming estate,” has been producing wine continuously since at least the year 862, which makes this not just one of Europe’s oldest operating wineries, but really one of its oldest businesses, period. 

Given all that you’d expect that we’d be talking about Jan as a bastion of tradition, steadfastly doing things as they’ve always been done for the past millennia plus. Well, not exactly. The devotion to working by hand in the vineyard is certainly ancient–Jan is constantly hiking the incredibly steep, slate strewn vineyards to apply organic treatments by hand while he watches helicopters and drones spray pesticides on the next hill over–but his natural, non-interventionist approach and his experimentation with a slew of grape varieties not named “Riesling” is decidedly cutting edge. It’s an approach that has introduced the wines of the Mittelmosel to a whole new audience, and Jan’s playful labels are now seen in natural wine bars and wine shops all over Europe and the U.S. 

However, Jan has not abandoned Riesling, far from it in fact. He still produces some very traditional wines–both Pradikat and drier VDP styles–under his family label (the more adventurous wines are just under his name) and today’s “feinherb” is actually a bridge between the two parallel styles that Jan uses. The farming is organic, as it is for the entire estate, and the winemaking is doggedly non-interventionist. The only difference between this bottle and his full on “natty” wines is a small addition of SO2 at bottling. So it is a cutting edge, natural wine that also tastes very much like a “Feinherb” would have 100 years ago–I would say it’s a “best of both worlds” wine, because it really is!

What is “Feinherb?” This is a style of wine that is not bone dry, but definitely not sweet either. There is a small amount of natural residual sugar allowed, but generally these wines are made from fruit harvested earlier so the acidity is truly electrifying. The best way to think of the wine then is as “fruity” but with a clean, super dry finish. The best–and Jan’s version is among the most pitch-perfect I’ve tasted in a long time–are almost feathery, airy and deliciously light. There’s also a tiny prickly from some trapped CO2, and the crunchy orchard fruits play perfectly with lemon-lime zest, sea salt, and loads of slate driven minerality. Because it is harvested a bit early and the fermentation doesn’t go completely dry, the alcohol is a very modest 10%, which makes this the perfect bottle for sipping by the pool, or with a light lunch, or while playing bocce or even pickleball. In other words this is the wine to have on hand at all times during the warm days of spring and summer. Oh, and it’s also very affordable, so no reason not to stock up!

2021 Staffelter Hof, Mosel Riesling Feinherb "Paradies"

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