The historic Reichsgraf von Kesselstaat estate, which dates back to 1349 and enjoys prime vine-holdings in the Mosel, Saar and Ruwer river valleys, is based in the municipality of Morscheid, due east of Trier, in an imperious, slate-roofed castle that could happily feature in a fairy tale. Their 'Alte Reben' Riesling makes for a remarkably accessible introduction to their wines. Made from grapes sourced from mature rootstock in several locations across the Mosel, it has bright orchard fruit scents and flavours underscored by nervy mineral notes and a fresh acidity. The 'Ockfener Bockstein' Riesling, from a precious, southfacing, 0.64 hectare parcel of vines in the Saar, is off-dry, zesty and citrus-edged and perfect with cheese or charcuterie. The jewel in the crown at Von Kesselstaat is the Grosse Lage 'GG' Riesling that emanates from the famous 4 hectare monopole 'Josephshöfer' vineyard. With alluring white peach aromas and a rich, complex palate with subtle lychee, citrus and spice notes and a long, dry, persistent finish it will cellar well for 10 years or more. We are delighted to have secured a parcel of stellar, sweet half-bottles of Riesling Spätlese from the blue Devonian slate slopes of the 'Sonnenuhr' vineyard that is drinking beautifully and, with just 8% alcohol, tastes remarkably fresh and vibrant. It makes a superb partner to stollen or strudelor as an uplifting pre-prandial treat.
A fringe benefit of the discovery of Jürgen Hofmann's wines in Appenheim was his wife Carolin's 'Schiefer' Riesling from her family's 'Willems-Willems' wine estate in the Saar. Carolin is a fifth-generation wine-maker (the Willems-Willems estate has always been run by a woman) and the slate soils of the Rosenburg vineyard add a terrific crystalline purity to her wine. Redolent of wild flowers and white currants it has a tangy, mineral-streaked finish and makes a fine foil for spicy Asian dishes.