Markus Molitor

It happens all over the world—young men and women inherit their ancestral wine estates and head into the future with a clear vision. When Markus Molitor took over his family’s eighth-generation winery in the Mosel in 1984, he was barely 20 years old. His vision was to produce world-class wines true to the terroir of the Mosel’s steep slopes, and he has succeeded admirably.

The Molitor estate, as it was known in 1984, comprised 7.5 hectares (about 19 acres) of vineyard land. Today he owns 38 acres (95 acres) in some of the region’s most prestigious sites. He began this expansion by entering into a sharecropping arrangement with families that owned vineyards but had no winery facility; Molitor would help with the cultivation, and make the wine in exchange for part of the production.

Eventually he was able to buy them out, and his holdings read like a Who’s Who of Mosel vineyards: Erdner Treppchen, Urziger Wurzgarten, Bernkasteler Badstube and Wehlener Sonnenuhr. The largest parcels are located in Zeltinger Sonnenuhr and Wehlener Klosterberg. Winemaking is classical—natural yeasts and long, slow fermentations, resulting in wines with bright acidity, crisp fruit and a strong mineral backbone.

Molitor adheres to the traditional system of classifying his wines according to their ripeness levels. While he is capable of producing dozens of labels from a particular vintage, the wines the average consumer is likely to see are those bottled as Haus Klosterberg (these are sourced from a different site each year, but do not carry a vineyard designation). The 2008 Riesling QBA ($15) is off-dry, with good acidity and tart flavors of green apple. From a hotter and riper year, the 2007 Kabinett ($18) is rich and unctuous, revealing flavors of apple and lemon custard that blossom with food. The 2008 Spatlese ($20) is rich and lush, with the acidity enhancing the citrus flavors and resonating on the finish.

A good introduction to Molitor’s estate-bottled wines is the 2007 Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Kabinett ($25). The acidity sparkles on entry, enhancing flavors of citrus, ripe melon and apricot. There’s a profound base of minerality running through the wine from the first sip to the finish. Perfectly balanced, rich but not cloying, it’s everything a Riesling from the Mosel should be.

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