Müller is based in Scharzhof in Wiltingen. Among the highest rated Riesling wines in Germany (on www.riesling.de) Egon Mueller has three of the top eight wines.
Notorious for their low yields, the wines of Egon Müller tend to be richer and fuller than others of the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer.
Saar Rieslings are known for their well balanced, fine acid compositions. I love them for their explosiveness, zest and intense aromas. They have structure and balance, are low in alcohol (although higher than those from the Mosel) and usually impress with a long finish, lingering on your tongue like a ballerina which you can still see before your inner eye long after they left the stage.
I had the great pleasure of trying the 2017 Kabinett a while ago. MIND BLOWN!
The precision, poise and definition here is epic. An incredibly pure core of fruit with such persistence. So fine and long. Insanely good.
Looking at the numbers it’s got an extra 1% alcohol over Dr Loosen’s Wehlener Sonnenuhr Kabinett and around the same sugar. Meaning it was picked riper by around 18g/L of sugar and all of that sugar was fermented out. The consequence, riper fruit profiles and increased vinosity.
Müller’s Trockenbeerenauslese ofter reaches the price of a small car per bottle!
Fortunately, we have an array of special wines at much more affordable prices.
About Egon Müller
Superlatives abound when it comes to Egon Muller, the undisputed king of German Riesling. The estate’s top bottlings have fetched some of the highest prices at auction among any white wine in history and, considering quality, it is easy to understand why. In the well-drained, gray slate soils of the legendary Scharzhofberger vineyard, considered a “Grand Cru” of Germany’s Mosel region, Egon Muller cultivates ancient Riesling vines, many of them ungrafted and planted in the 19th century.
The legendary Scharzhofberger vineyard of Egon Muller is believed to have originally been planted by the Romans and cultivated by the St Marien ad Martyres monastery during the Middle Ages. Now part of the Rhineland-Palatinate area of Germany, this estate in the Saar district of Mosel on the banks of the Rhine River was French during the 18th century. During the French Revolution, the vineyards were seized from the clergy and resold as national property. It was a man by the name of Jean-Jacques Koch who acquired it in 1797.
Throughout the 19th century, the estate came under the ownership of the Muller family through the marriage of Koch’s daughter, who would bear a son by the name of Egon Muller I (the first of five Muller men with the same name). In 1954, Egon Muller III extended the vineyard by purchasing 6 acres of the Le Gallais estate in Wiltingen, which include the single vineyards of Kupp and Braune Kupp. In 1991, Egon Muller IV of the 6th generation became the manager of the estate and was left as the sole manager when his father passed away in 2001. Just one year before, in 2000 Egon Muller V was born. The Muller family is today the only German member of the prestigious 12-strong Primum Familiae Vini group, established in 1993 and including other leading producers, like Vega Sicilia in Spain, Chateau Mouton Rothschild in Bordeaux and Tenuta San Guido in Tuscany.
Check out Egon Müllers Podcast with Levi Dalton
In the Vineyards
At the heart of the Egon Muller estate is their 21-acre piece of the 70-acre Scharzhofberg vineyard, situated southeast of Wiltingen on the banks of the Saar River in the Saar Valley region of Mosel in Germany. Scharzhofberg is considered one of the best in the world for Riesling (and white wines in general), akin to a Grand Cru site in Burgundy. The south-facing Egon Muller Scharzhofberg plot is even home to some ungrafted vines originally planted in the 19th century. These densely planted vines stretch their roots deep into soils of grey shale (slate), producing a very small yield of incredibly fine Riesling, considered some of the best in the world. The slate soils of the vineyard are considered the origin of quality at Egon Muller. They are well-drained (in a region that receives quite a bit of rain) and they warm up quickly, keeping the vines warm under the sun even during the coldest seasons.
The estate cultivates 10 acres of smaller vineyards in Le Gallais, further down the Saar River between Wiltingen and Kanzem, including the Kupp and Wiltinger Braune Kupp single vineyard plots (which are vinified into their own eponymous bottlings). The rest of these vineyards are used to produce their less expensive, generic Scharzhof Riesling. Outside of Germany, Egon Muller also collaborates with winemaker Miroslav Petrech to produce world-class Riesling in Slovakia under the label Chateau Bela. He works with Michael Andrewarta of East End Cellars to produce a dry Riesling by the name of “Kanta” in the Adelaide Hills of Australia.
From Weingut Egon Müller
At Scharzhof we favour a traditionally minimalist approach to winemaking. Our work continues to be based on the quality driven philosophy of the late Egon Müller III
One hundred per cent of the quality of a wine is generated in the vineyard. It is impossible to reach even 101 per cent in the cellars but it is a great achievement to pack the full potential of the vines into a bottle
Like most great estates, old vines, perfect sites, low yields, respect for the environment, no herbicides, or pesticides, as few fungicides as possible and no additions to the wine bar sulphur are the norm.
Following a manual harvest, the Riesling grapes are pressed without the skins, then fermented and aged in the large oak casks of 1,000 liters traditionally used in Mosel. For most of their cuvées, fermentation takes place using exclusively indigenous yeasts. Despite the global trend towards dry wines, Egon Muller proudly produces Pradikätswein Riesling wines in a broad range of styles by harvesting their fruit at different times and vinifying them at various levels of sweetness. They produce everything from an off-dry Kabinett Riesling to Spatlese and Auslese with residual sugar, as well as sweet Beerenauslese and Trockenbeerenauslese from grapes infected with Botrytis cinera (noble rot) and Eiswein in vintages where weather conditions allow for it.
The 2019 vintage at Weingut Egon Müller-Scharzhof
Another mild winter. December brought the much needed rain but 2019 started dry. Until the end of April the weather was mild and dry and the vegetation was well ahead of normal. In May the weather deteriorated and on May 4th. after a long dry spell, we had rain and sleet. During the night the temperature dropped to – 1°C. In dry conditions this would not have been sufficient to damage the young shoots but the combination humidity and frost had a devastating effect particularly in the lower parts of Scharzhofberg and Rosenberg. During the following night a strong northerly wind drove cold air over the hill and at this time the damage was greatest in the higher parts of Rosenberg, Braunfels and even braune Kupp along the “Grätenbach” ravine. It remained cold until May 22nd and the growth of the vineyards slowed. Flowering began late and slowly but a few days of very hot weather at the beginning of June sped things up and by June 20th, flowering was finished.
June and July were mostly hot and dry and it was easy to tend the vines and vineyards. From July 20th to 26th it was extremely hot. On July 26th the weather station in Kanzem registered a maximum temperature of 41.6°C. It was the moment when the vineyards were being hedged and in those plots where the grapes had been recently exposed to the sun we saw considerable sunburn. Plots that had not yet been hedged weren’t damaged at all but in the very old vineyards which are less vigorous and have smaller leaves the damage was great throughout.
The weather remained mostly fine and we were preparing for another September harvest. After September 20th the weather became less stable. The temperatures were still warm and it rained intermittently. Botrytis began to spread. We started picking on September 30th. The first few days were fine and the results were quite satisfactory. We even harvested a first batch of Trockenbeerenauslese. From October 6th to 10th it was rainy and we had to interrupt our picking. Fine and warm weather followed and we harvested more and more Botrytis grapes, but at the same time tried to maintain speed since the long range forecast was not favorable. We finished on October 18th.
Since 2014 the summers had been dry and hot and in such conditions the resistance of the old un-grafted vineyards to Phyloxera seems to decline. One of our old plots had been infected by the louse for many years but in 2018 many vines died and the trend continued in 2019. When we harvested this vineyard we were shocked not only by the small quantity but also by the bitterness and lack of taste in the grapes. With great sadness the decision was taken to uproot and replant this plot.
The 2019 crop is small but of very high quality. We only harvested 20 hl/ha but there’s a great variation between vineyards: While braune Kupp was relatively good at 25 hl/ha, Scharzhofberg because of frost, sunburn and Phyloxera only yielded 18 hl/ha. Unlike 2018, this is a Botrytis vintage and Botrytis years often have trouble fermenting. Fermentations started well enough but a long cold spell in November cooled down the cellar and the casks that were still fermenting almost came to a halt. At this time, quite a few casks aren’t finished yet but those that are, show great promise.
Where in the World is Weingut Egon Müller-Scharzhof?
Egon-Müller is in the Saar valley a smaller tributary that runs off the Mosel river.
The German VDP has an excellent interactive map covering the wine growing regions of Germany. Clink on the Map to go to the live version.
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