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Enjoying Wine and Beer in the Augusta GA area

Nik Weis Produces Crisp, Complex Riesling From Mosel

Nik Weis St. Urbans-Hof Ockfener Bockstein Kabinett 2018, Germany

Cost: $25-27

Some of the best riesling wines in the world come from the Mosel region in Germany.

The Mosel River and its tributaries carve steep valleys as they wind their way from the western border of Germany northeast to the city of Koblenz where the Mosel joins the Rhine River. The vineyards of the region are on these slopes, which can reach 60 degrees or more.

The slate in these slopes gives the wines of the region their distinct minerality.

Third generation winemaker Nik Weis has shown a passion for making these wines, and his passion has brought worldwide attention to his winery. His wines often get 90+ scores from the major wine critics.

Weis makes some 30 different wines each vintage, most of them riesling, and one of the best is the Nik Weis St. Urbans-Hof Ockfener Bockstein Kabinett 2018 ($25-27).
The Bockstein is a fabulous wine, aromatic and full of fresh fruit flavors overlaid with a crisp acidity.

It is a beautiful rich yellow in the glass, with inviting aromas of peach, apple, pineapple and lime. Those characteristics come through on the palate as well, carried on a creamy, smooth mouthfeel. The complex flavors are heightened by an underlying minerality. In keeping with Weis’ style, this wine is slightly off-dry and very easy to drink.

Even people who think they don’t like sweeter wines will love this elegant wine. There is just a hint of sugar, and the clean acidity and mineral notes make it a perfect food wine. It comes in at only nine percent alcohol.

The grapes come from a single vineyard in the Saar Valley of the Mosel region. The vines in the Bockstein VDP Grosse Lage (Germany’s equivalent of grand cru), are 40-60 years old.

The grapes have to be hand picked because of the slope of the vineyard. They are gently crushed and left to rest for up to three hours to allow the skins to release their characteristics into the juice.

Them a pneumatic press squeezes out the juice which is gravity fed into stainless steel tanks. The sediment settles overnight and the juice is racked into tanks. Then the wine is fermented in stainless steel tanks and large oak casks using indigenous yeasts. The winery recommends serving the wine very cold, 42-46 degrees.

Contrary to what you might think about white wines, the Bockstein can be aged up to 30 years. The winery says the wine will be at its peak between 2025 and 2045.

Riesling lovers know about the Mosel and Saar wines, which traditionally are more aromatic and mineral flavored. Wines from the Saar are especially prominent for riesling fans. But the cool climate made it difficult to produce great wines every year, so they typically yielded about three good vintages every 10 years. But now thanks to better viticultural techniques and global warming, nearly every year produces great wines.

Weis calls riesling from the Mosel “the sports car” of white wines: It has a lightweight frame with an elegant and beautiful body on top. He believes Mosel wines are better with just a hint of sweetness.

Winery: Although the Weis family has been making wine for more than 200 years, the winery Nik Weis-St. Urbans-Hof was founded in 1947 by Nicolaus Weis. He sold the winery he previously owned and moved to a nearby hillside, where he built his own cellar and vine nursery and named it after the patron saint of winemakers, St Urban.

Nik Weis was only 26 when he took over the winery in 1997 after his father Hermann had a heart attack and stepped back from running the company. Nik Weis immediately started making changes. One of the biggest changes was starting to sell the wine overseas. He also allowed the wines to finish with more residual sugar despite the local practice of produce dry wines.

Ockfen is an ancient wine town located in one of the Saar River’s tributaries. Its claim to fame comes from the vineyard “Ockfener Bockstein,” a seep south-facing slope. Though it is a far northern site, it gets full sun by facing south. The slate on the hillside also absorbs the sun’s heat and helps the grapes to ripen slowly and fully.

Since 2000 the winery has been a member of Germany’s VDP (Association of German Wine Estates). It uses sustainable agricultural techniques and minimal interference in the cellar to let the wine reflect the terroir.

Grapes have been grown in the Bockstein vineyard since the Middle Ages. Today they are only six producers with vines in the 136-acre site, and Nik Weis owns 25 acres.

The winery grows mostly riesling with minimal amounts of pinot noir, pinot gris and pinot blanc. Wines with black labels cover the entire spectrum from fruity to noble sweet wines, while white labels indicate dry and tart wines. 

Goes with: We had this refreshing riesling with a delicious, simple meal, shrimp creole from a package. All I had to do was add rice, shrimp and tomatoes, mix it in the pan and let it boil. I added extra celery because I like the flavor.

The result was rich and creamy, fully of bayou flavor. There is some spiciness but you can add more if you like it hotter.

Sometimes I like to put together all my spices, or deviate slightly from a recipe. But sometimes I only have enough energy to use a pre-mixed package of ingredients. Luckily, we have many of these packaged meals to choose from, and many of them are terrific.

That was the case with the Louisiana Fish Fry Products shrimp creole base that I found on sale at the supermarket. I suspect that if I didn’t tell someone ahead of time that this was from a mix, most people wouldn’t be able to tell. It helped that we had wild caught shrimp from Edisto Beach, but the meal was superb.

Nik Weis says riesling can go with many dishes.

“Riesling is like a chameleon,” he said. “It adapts to a lot of kinds of food. If you have a cross-cultural dish that has influences from East and West, and with complex flavors, you cannot match it with a high-alcohol-content, woody chardonnay…The acidity the riesling has is like the acidity of drizzling lemon juice on a dish. You don’t do that to make it taste sour, but to bring the flavors out.”


If you have questions about wine you can email Dennis Sodomka at dennis@bottlereport.com

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